• Mark Mathews

Top Tips Before You Record Your Music

Studio time ain't cheap and so unless you're Ed Sheeran and have the financial backing to spend as much time recording as possible, it's best to be as prepared as possible for when you go in to record your latest masterpiece(s). So here are my top tips for being ready and prepared for the studio.

Demo your songs

The day I bought a Tascam 4 track tape recorder was the day I entered into the world of music production and since that day I have always made demo tracks. Initially the recordings were for fun and helped with my songwriting craft, but soon they became necessary in making complete records for release.

Though my demos have since become more sophisticated and I've moved on from the Tascam to Logic Pro X, the principles of a demo recording have remained the same: A template or sketch of the song destined to be properly recorded. By having this you have a very clear idea and understanding of the structure of the song and each part, which is particularity useful for a solo artist like myself who plays every instrument on recordings. this doesn't mean that there can be no creativity in the studio and that things cannot be moved around and changed, but what this gives you and your Producer if you have one, is a frame work to build from. Time is saved trying to work out bass parts or harmonies as you already have it down.

Gig the song(s) first

I play songs live that I recorded years ago, and they have naturally adapted and been improved over time from simply playing them out. With this firmly in mind, I tend to try and gig and play these songs as much as possible before I head to the studio or start work on a demo track.

It allows a song to bed in and become what it is supposed to be, with all it's nuances and details as well as really familiarising yourself with the track so as the message and feel of the song can really come out when you hit that record button. This is slightly tougher this year, what with my #newmusiceverymonth project, but even with limited time available I still play shows and busk any news songs I have so as I can be as quick and fluid in the studio when the time comes round to record.

Discuss the songs with your Producer/Engineer

Being on the same page with your Producer or Engineer, when it comes to recording new tracks, is vitally important because it is this relationship that gets the best out of your music. Not only that, but if you both understand what you are trying to achieve you will avoid mistakes and misunderstandings and thus save time, money and effort.

You should discuss the sound you want and offer up references to other bands and artists to get across the feel and style of the song you want - allow them to understand what is going on in your head! Obviously giving them a demo is a great way of getting the idea across but at the very least play the song to them live. These initial meetings and discussions will prove invaluable later on down the line as they make the recording process much more creative and ten times more fun.

Be prepared

Sounds totally obvious but make sure that you have all the equipment needed for when you come to record your track(s). There is nothing more frustrating than realising half way through a session that you are missing that particular tambourine or weird Afghan flute that you wanted on your record! Believe me, it has happened to me before...OK, maybe not the Afghan flute, but I've forgotten to take something to the studio and had to make do without it on the record. WELL ANNOYING!

Talk with the studio and work out what equipment they have that you can use and then locate and bring everything else you need. Check and double check, because otherwise it is going to take more time and once again MORE MONEY!

Now, time to record! Good luck and have fun!

Do you have any tips for studio recording? Let me know in the comments below!

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