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Recording Preparation & Ettiquette

If you’re the band or musician / podcaster, etc embarking on a recording session, no matter how humble, you’ve likely invested time and money on getting to the stage where you’re ready to record. It’s vital that, to avoid this going to waste, you’re as prepared as possible. Here’s a few notes for how to make sure you’re prepared for a session: Make sure you have no avoidable clashes / time conflicts The session is important. Let people know you’re unavailable for other things. Other people (band / engineer, etc) are also likely spending time and resources on the project and it’s good courtesy to be full engaged with the session.

If there is something unavoidable to do during the session, make sure everyone is aware beforehand and do everything you can to stick to the agreed times. Know your material If you’re a band be sure to have practiced, if you’re a singer, know the words and phrasing. If you’re recording an audiobook be familiar with the material and how you’re going to approach it. The recording will be so much smoother and results more natural if you’re not having to wing it through the performances. Have a plan This goes for the engineer too. You should have all discussed the session and know what to expect. Especially if recording on location or with time constraints. During the recording isn’t time to discover the drummer has a huge issue with how the engineer plans to mic the overheads, etc. You should go into it knowing:

  • Roughly how you’re setting up in the room.

  • What is getting mic / di and how the recording is to be done.

  • All understand any limitations of the room / equipment available and what to expect from the end product.

  • The recording process. Is it a whole live recording, drums with guide tracks then overdubs or a mixture.

  • Length of session including breaks, food and any other requirements known about in advance (e.g. nipping out to collect giro or see a man about a dog).

To achieve this everyone involved in the session should ideally meet prior, if possible in the recording venue, to iron out the details. Be flexible Bearing all of the above in mind. Things will get fucked up and sometimes a completely unexpected approach with need to be adopted. Don’t be sidelined by this. Expect it and work with it. Look after your equipment and yourself It’s very important to sound as good as possible. Make sure you have fresh strings, fresh drum heads where possible and that your kit is in tune. Things like crackly leads and noisy power supplies should also be put to pasture as they’re often a chink in the armour that causes delays and stress during session. Have spares of anything critical! Probably the most important and most overlooked aspect is to arrive at the session yourself ready to go and put full effort in. Pitching up late, hungover and in a huge downer isn’t going to produce world beating performances. Likewise if you’re a singer, take care of your voice prior to the session by eating and drinking the right things (honey & hot water rather than coffee or vodka, for example). Life takes over sometimes and we have to squeeze a session in around unavoidable stresses but it’s something to bear in mind. Take it easy, cheesy You’re obviously recording for a reason and want it to be as good as possible. Everyone, however, benefits if we leave egos at the door, expect a few disruptions and technical issues and work together to make the most out of the experience. One part of the team could be having an absolute howler and I guarantee that getting wound up and adding pressure will only make things worse. Easier said than done but it really does pay to approach each session as an experience, however it seems to be panning out. If everything seems to be going horrifically askew, don’t be afraid to take a step back, re-evaluate and try doing something else (if at all possible) for a bit. Even if it’s just recording a different song or going for a coffee/tea/beer. Refreshments As daft as it sounds, make sure you have what you need for the session. If it’s an all day job you’ll definitely need food and water so either come stocked up or have a plan where you’re going and roughly when. It’s never a bad idea to stop for an actual lunch break as you’ll be refreshed when you return, as will the engineer. In summary, you should approach any recording session, however casual, as an experience to learn and try things out but also treat it with the respect to be on time and prepared. You’ll only get out of it what you put in so make sure you’re set up for success beforehand. .Foll.

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