5 Tips for Recording Artists + Vocalists
We have so much access to music and music production these days, and this access makes the world of tracking vocals and mixing beats truly inspiring. However, walking straight into recording without knowing some basics can quickly crush your inspirational dreams. Follow these 5 beginner steps and you can save yourself some agonizingly long sessions, embarrassing performances, and even a lot of money.
1. On-the-Fly vs Unprepared
Some people like to wing-it during their time in the booth – and that definitely can make for a powerful and adrenaline-pumping performance, however, not everyone can pull it off. If you don’t have any experience recording your tracks on-the-fly, the best thing to do is practice. Knowing your material front to back will help build your confidence and self-esteem. This includes knowing the pre-chorus, verse, back-ups, harmonies, and the hook.
You’ll quickly realize, once you step into the booth and the mic goes live, performing becomes a whole other experience. Nothing can truly prepare you for a studio recording session – only doing it will. However, arming yourself with your own material will keep you one step ahead.
2. The Booth is Different Than Your Shower
As I just mentioned, you’ll quickly realize being in the booth with dj-style headphones and mic in your face is a verrrry, very different than the shower you’ve been singing in all these years.
Outside of our talking voices, most people don’t have a concept of how sound works. Singing on stage is not like singing in a studio, and singing in a studio isn’t like being in your bedroom. Once you’re inside the studio, the doors shut, the lights get dimmed, ears now covered by a large, squishy, amplified version of earmuffs, you place yourself in front of this foreign object called a microphone aaaand… GO!
What I’m saying is this: it’s going to be awkward for a little bit, but it will get better. Ask your studio friends and your engineer for some mic tips, and don’t be afraid of it not being perfect the first few run-throughs.
3. Finding the Right Engineer is Like Finding Your Best Friend
Okay, maybe it’s not that hard, but it can lead to heartache if you don’t have a good foundation first. Meeting with your potential engineer to see if there’s a good vibe between the two of you is key. You’re hiring them for their services, and not all engineers are equal, so sit down and start interviewing. Ask them about their clients and who their repeat customers are. Ask them to listen to their past work, and definitely check out the gear they have.
Yes, like performers, engineers can also have big egos. Make sure their ego isn’t too big that it takes up all the space in the room. You want to feel at ease with an engineer. Unless you’re working with a producer, your engineer should be drawing the best performance out of you as possible.
4. Be Kind to Your Vocal Chords
I have been singing for 25 years, and I will tell you – your voice CAN falter with age. But if you smoke, drink, and refrain from filling your body with H2O on a regular basis – you WILL destroy your vocal chords.
Things TO AVOID on your singing day:
coffee, black teas, smoking, alcohol, not eating.
Things TO DO on your vocal tracking day:
get enough rest, stay hydrated, eat fresh fruits and salads.
Now let’s say you were up all hours and stink like the bar you walked into the night before… Here are the best vocal chord softeners just in case you can’t re-book your session: honey and warm water, licorice tea at room temperature, and radishes. Yup. Radishes. And keep the liquids a-flowin’.
(Do note: if you cancel your session last minute, most studios will charge you anyway. Consider this Tip #6.)
Even gabbing with your friends for just an hour will help, but make sure you warm up your voice before you start recording. Check out some videos online if you need some vocal warm-up exercise ideas.
5. Saving Time and Money
Short and simple – if you consider all of the points above – practicing, treating your voice with respect, getting comfortable in the booth, and working with the right people – you will undoubtedly save time, and saving time will save you money.
If you’re looking to finally piece together your long-awaited music project this spring and summer, come and check out Puppy Machine’s recording and mixing deals. With our experienced engineers, comfortable atmosphere, and fully-equipped recording facility, we’ll make sure the music you sing in your head gets brought out into the world.