Is recording a song one of your goals as a singer? It’s an amazing feeling to pour your heart out and have a finished product to be proud of! Here, Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T. shares some important tips to remember before you head into the studio…
Before going into a studio to record vocals for a song, it’s important that you prepare yourself to make the best use of your time! Recording a song in a studio can be quite expensive, because most are rented by the hour — so here are some tips for singers on how to make the most of your upcoming recording session!
1) Research recording studios
First, do a little research on the recording studios in your area, or engineers you are going to be working with before you go into the studio. Make sure you have talked about all fees and how much time you will have, and if that includes setup and breakdown. How will you get your recording after? What kind of equipment do they have? Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You don’t want to show up on the big day and be surprised they don’t have the microphone you had hoped for! Also, see if you can listen to some of the work they have produced beforehand, to get an idea of the recording quality.
2) Make a plan
Go into the studio with a specific goal in mind! For example: “Today I’m going to do just vocals for one song, or vocals and guitar on the chorus.” Keep your plan as simple as possible, and make sure your goal is clear and concise. Write it out, and share it with your engineer or producer before going in, so everyone is on the same page! It also helps to send them a rough version of the song before, with a lyrics/lead sheet.
3) Have your track ready
If you are recording vocals over a pre-existing track, it’s a wise idea to send the mp3 to your engineer beforehand, to make sure it will work in the studio. If you are going to be recording the track from scratch, take your time and record one instrument at a time. If you do not have your full band track ready to record over, you can still record your song with a solo piano or guitar track.
4) Always allow for more time
Don’t go into the studio rushed or pressured to record in a short amount of time. Have some extra time available, so that if you do go over a little bit you don’t have to worry. Usually two hours per song and per instrument is sufficient to get in multiple takes. Everything always takes longer in recording than we think, due to circumstances beyond your control (engineers setting up, testing levels, finding the right microphone, etc.). So book yourself extra time, and if you end up having free time at the end, use it for another song!
5) Work with your vocal coach
Make sure you prepare with your vocal coach beforehand, or even see if he or she can come into the studio with you as you’re recording your song! You want to be at your “vocal best” on the day of the session, and practicing the music with your teacher will put you ahead of the game (and impress the producers/engineers)! Recording a song requires a bit of different training than performing live on stage, and there are specific techniques that your vocal coach can teach you.
If you follow these tips, I ensure you will be very pleased with the outcome of your recording. As a singer, always remember to bring water and wear comfortable shoes, as you will be on your feet for a while. It’s also best to warm up before you go into the studio, so you are ready to go. Finally, remember to get plenty of rest the night before, and avoid any alcohol, which dries out your voice. Enjoy your vocal recording session!
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!
Photo by JBLM PAO