In my last post, The Value of Pre-Production, I detailed for you just how important it is to devote some serious time in the rehearsal room to making sure you are ready for your next recording project. A little time there can save a LOT of time in the studio.
Now, I wanted to give some practical tips to artists attempting to execute their own pre-production sessions.
The BEST possible scenario for you, the one that will produce the nicest results, is that you would be working with a really good record producer, one that saw the value in spending time with you as an artist ahead of the final tracking sessions. A person who makes records for a living will run those sessions, as well as the recording, editing, mixing, and mastering sessions with the highest level of efficiency, and ensure that you achieve the greatest possible creative result.
Not-so-subtle-hint: If you’re looking for a person like that, please call the studio at 832-500-4272 or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected] to schedule your free consultation.
However, if you’re in a boat where for whatever reason (budget, geography, time constraints) you need to get yourself ready for a recording project without a producer, here are some practical tips:
1) Separate record pre-production from other rehearsals. Don’t just lump your rehearsals into one big jumbled mess. Preparing for the studio and preparing for the stage are completely different animals.
2) If you can, do your pre-production sessions all in one clump. Whether it’s every day or a cluster of days in as tight a block as possible for your schedule, doing pre-production close together will help keep everyone on the same page. You don’t want to make adjustments to songs to make them more radio-ready only to have half the band forget those changes the next time they get together.
3) Start with as many songs as possible. Don’t decide you want to do a 12-song album and start pre-production with 12 songs. If you could start with TWICE as many as you think you’ll need for this project, that’d be great. But as a rule, I tend to tell bands and artists that they’re ready to begin pre-production for a full album when they’ve got 20 original songs worth considering for the record…when they’ve got 10 songs worth considering for an EP…and when they’ve got 4 songs worth considering for a single.
4) Start pre-production with everyone knowing their basic parts and song structure. Record pre-production is not for learning new material, but refining what you’ve got. Don’t confuse the two.
5) Begin the pre-production sessions by playing through each song you’re considering and recording those performances in whatever method you can. Recording quality is not crucial so long as you can hear the basic parts and arrangements.
6) Be mindful of tempos, track length, key, beginnings and endings, and any other critical elements of each song.
7) LISTEN to those early pre-production recordings and react accordingly. Talk as a band about what sounds good about each track and what could improve. Make sure rhythmic elements of different instruments cooperate with each other — make sure chords and notes being played by each band member all fit into the same scale, at least. Try to collaborate on the changes that need to be made.
8) When you have a track sounding the way you want it, make sure to record it again. Use those final pre-production recordings to listen to between the end of pre-production and the beginning of your tracking sessions. Practice to those recordings. In this way, each member of the band will be ready to go into the studio and give top-notch performances based on the arrangements you hammered out ahead of time in the rehearsal studio.
These are just a few ideas of ways you can improve your preparation for the studio. If you stay mindful of the end result and rehearse accordingly, you can take a huge step toward a better result!