You Better Work, Bih: 5 Ways to Make Your Studio Session Work for You

By: Cree Armstead and Damario Major

Anyone who has ever stepped foot inside a recording studio can attest to its magic: the energy vibrating through the air, the collective creativity, passion and celebration when a fire track has been born; these all contribute to an atmosphere of enchantment. Ready to be part of the magic? Follow these tips to make the most of your time in the lab!

1. Be on time: Time is money and when it comes to a recording session, truer words have never been spoken. Your session begins at the time you booked it, and arriving late hurts you and only you. If you show up after your predetermined start time, the studio will still charge you for the full session, and when the scheduled session ends, your time is up. Studios are often booked back to back (shameless Drake reference), so get there on time and use every minute efficiently.

2. B.Y.O.P.P (Bring Your Own Producer and Plan): It’s a common misconception that the studio engineer is also *your* engineer. This isn’t the case. The studio engineer’s job is to track your recordings and mix a listenable copy. They are not a voice coach or critic. This is why you should bring your producer to every session. We talked about the importance of a producer-artist relationship here . By bringing along a producer who understands the direction of your work and your goals, you won’t waste any time trying to find the right sound-you’ll have a set of ears already tuned to it. Since time is of the essence, devise a plan of action with your producer prior to your session. Know what songs you’re going to tackle and what you specifically wish to accomplish with each one. This will keep you on track and make for a solid session.

3. Find Your Vibe but Watch the Turn Up: Larry Crane said, “people lose 25% of their abilities when they walk through the studio door.” Though the statistic may be invented, studio jitters are very real and totally normal. Do what you need to do to get comfortable for your session but don’t go overboard. Despite the crazy stories of production teams downing a bottle and turning up in the booth, unless you own the studio, you probably can’t afford the cost of getting f*cked up in one. What I mean is more often than not, getting blasted before a session leads to unusable tracks and wasted time and money. Have a shot or take a hit to calm your nerves and get the creative juices flowing, then go do work. Save the celebration for after the session- the turn up is that much sweeter once you’ve created something worth celebrating.

4. Don’t Forget the Flash Drive: 99.99% of the time, the studio does not keep a copy of your work. It is imperative that you bring a flash drive to your session and utilize it. Make sure you save your work so you can reference it for your next appointment.

5. Leave Time for the Magic: If a studio session is a journey, the listenable mix is the long-sought after treasure. It’s the gold at the end of the rainbow and it takes time to create. Be sure to leave a reasonable slot (at least 30 minutes) for the engineer to work on a track suited for listening and reference. It takes time to layer sounds, filter through multiple takes and create a clean copy. You’ll likely use this mix as a springboard for your next session so make sure you allot time for its creation!

Are you seasoned in the studio and have advice for newcomers? Drop your own tips in the comments below!

Ready to book your first session and make magic? Click here.

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