Preparing for Your Commercial Recording Session

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OK, let’s say you have researched commercial studios in your area and have decided on one to use for your upcoming project. You have visited the space, talked with the engineer and feel comfortable that he/she is the one who can help you realize your artistic vision for your song(s). You have scheduled your session and are ready to proceed. Now what? What do you need to know before going into the studio to record that will increase your chances of a memorable experience and keep you on budget? 

Be Prepared

  1. Know your material. There is nothing that cuts into a budget more than when an artist and/or band members come to a studio without rehearsing songs and song parts. You may not be able to help this if you are using session musicians for your project. In that case, make sure you provide these musicians with the charts of your material days or weeks before the session and talk over the material with them so everyone understands what you’re after.

    The better the session musicians (e.g. A-List session musicians in Nashville, L.A., etc.) the easier this process will be for you. Many of these musicians are good enough to chart their parts hours before session begins and while the engineer is setting up for the recording. Just make sure you check with them about how they usually handle things ahead of time.

  2. Call the engineer at the studio at least one or two days before you are scheduled to record and provide them with the following…
    • The number of songs you plan on recording that day.
    • The type (genre) of music you are recording. This can help the engineer decide what mics and preamps to use for best results.
    • Any specific equipment needs or requests for the session such as instruments, mics, tequila.
    • Ask about file type and delivery methods if you plan on working with existing tracks. Do Not bring your external files on your phone. I can tell you from experience, it never works out.
    • Ask about the earliest time you can arrive with your equipment for setup. Session setup is a laborious but necessary process for a successful recording session. The engineer may spend one or more hours making sure mics are placed optimally, things are wired to the proper outboard gear and levels are set, headphone mixers are in place, etc. etc. etc. The sooner things get set up, the sooner you can begin recording.
  3. Bring music charts and lyric sheets for each song you plan on recording. Make sure you have enough copies for each musician in the session as well as one for the engineer.
  4. Make sure the instruments you intent to use in the session are in good working order. New strings on a guitar will sound crisp and clear. Some drummers may want to change heads on drums if there is excessive wear. Bass guitar strings usually don’t need changing but you might think about running some steel wool on them to clean them off. If you plan on using any of the instruments provided by the studio, let them know so they can prepare them as well. Be sure and bring extra guitar strings, picks, and drum sticks.
  5. If you plan on taking the session files home with you, make sure you bring either a portable external hard drive, flash drive or arrange for files to be uploaded to a cloud.
  6. If your drummer plans on using the studio drum set, it’s a good idea for them to also bring his/her own cymbals, snare, and kick drum pedal since these items tend to be more personal.
  7. Get plenty of rest the night before your session and if you plan on recording vocals that day, take care that you don’t do anything to strain your vocal chords.
  8. Remember to Have Fun!

Brought to you by Swedespot Studio

You make the music. We'll make it magic.
With Swedish roots and recording and mixing influence from Nashville to Los Angeles, SwedeSpot is a full-service recording studio based in Cincinnati. If you’re looking for world-class engineering and production that includes recording, editing, vocal tuning, mixing and mastering, all in a collaborative, creative and comfortable environment, SwedeSpot is your sweet spot. 

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