You’ve got the instruments, put together a band, and you’re finally ready to hit the studio. For many musicians this experience is a sacred creative endeavor, an opportunity to manifest your vision, turning those hours of writing and rehearsal into the polished product you’ve envisioned all along. Unfortunately, many musicians go into their first (or sometimes second and third) recording session in a state of naiveté that results in frustration, unexpected expense, and worst of all, an unsatisfactory product.

Over the years the team at Rusty’s has worked in a plethora of studio environments; here are some tips, based on our endeavors, that will help improve your experience.

1. Do Your Research

Ask your friends in the music community about their experiences with different studios, thoroughly peruse studio websites, and listen to work samples. Different studios often produce different sounds, know what you’re looking for, and make an informed decision.

2. Be Realistic About Your Needs

Is this your first record? How many instruments will you be tracking? How many songs NEED to be on the record? How consistent are you in your performance? These are important questions to consider. Having realistic expectations will play an important role in cost management. Should you choose to work in a professional studio that charges by the hour or has high per song rates, you will likely see costs spiral out of control as a significant chunk of time is spent navigating the ‘learning curve.’ Many independent/home studios produce quality results and can provide a significant connection to your local music community. Lower rates and a personal touch can result in not only a satisfying product but also valuable experience that will prepare you for larger commitments in the future.

3. Get To Know Your Producer

When making a record, your producer is the secret weapon. Building a positive relationship is the key as you prepare to entrust someone with your creative vision. Spend time sharing stories, favorite records, or funny videos. Bring beer to a late night mixing session, or invite your producer/ engineers out for a drink after a long day of tracking. Building this rapport can improve the overall process, gel creative discussions, and lead to new opportunities in the future.

4. Don’t be a Diva… Yet.

Utilize the experience of others to achieve great results. As your resume grows you can begin to take over more individual creative control. Collaboration can be frustrating at times, maintain your composure and make something great.

5. Learn to Record Yourself.

Home engineering software has become increasingly refined and affordable in recent years. Learning the recording process at home is invaluable as you prepare to go into the studio. Making demos of songs is THE MOST efficient way of communicating your creative vision to those around you. Practice recording your parts to a click track, to software instruments, then practice singing along to your recorded parts.

These seemingly small practices will prepare you more than you can even imagine. In addition, having a foundational knowledge of the recording process opens up a tremendous learning opportunity, as you will soon be seeing how professionals handle now familiar tasks.