Advice for the novice OR seasoned Professional
The recording process is exciting and can be fun. Every new artist who comes to the studio feels a sense of pride as well as awe ... and at first it can be overwhelming. Recording your first piece can be VERY exciting, and it should be. However, the expense of recording in a professional studio can be intimidating too. While it is cool and fun, recording is a business service that is for YOUR benefit, so it is best to approach it as serious WORK when you come to the studio, and here we offer some advice to help you do that:
- When you come to the studio for a session, you should be prepared to go right to work. So we recommend that you schedule a visit to the Studio in advance, to see the facility, to know what to expect, and enjoy the amazement and awe without the pressure of a work schedule. When you come back for a scheduled session, you won't waste time that you are paying for ... with excitement and learning basic familiarity.
- Practice, Practice, Practice, then REHEARSE. You are Paying to record, not to practice in the studio. Rehearsal is NOT Practice - The Studio is NOT the place to Learn a song ... you should know it very very well before you ever come to the studio to record. So Practice on your own, and then REHEARSE once you have the song down COLD. We recently had a very young artist visit to record a track, and she rehearsed for several days before her session. When she arrived, she came early, she rehearsed in advance of the session while we set up ... and she got a perfect recording on the first try. You can do that too, but it takes LOTS of focused work.
- Arrive at the studio EARLY. Bring your equipment in, if there is not another session in progress ... and let your gear acclimate to the studio temperature and humidity. If there is not another session, come in, set up and rehearse. If you are a singer, go into the isolation booth and warm up your voice, Before your session begins.
- When you are playing live and you make a mistake, you just keep on going. You can't fix a mistake when playing live, you must just continue. In the Studio however, because your fans will be playing your recording over and over - you want your recording to be Perfect. We can edit, create new tracks, replace sounds, even correct vocal pitch. And if everything else is perfect, we will "fix it in the mix". However, it costs a lot less to do it right the first time. A 3 minute song where the singer is not on pitch can take an hour or more to pitch-correct, and in general its not appropriate to spend that much effort to correct your performance; Its a lot more effective and better for you and the project, to record it properly in the first place. Practice and being ready will help some of that but if you are having a bad day it can be better to work on instrumental tracks and come back another day to get the vocals.
- Remember all your gear. If you are Drummer, Bring extra Sticks, Heads, and Don't forget your drum tuning keys and equipment. While the studio has SOME of these things, we can't promise to have the sticks you are used to, or the heads you prefer. If you are a guitar player, bring extra strings ... of the brand, type and gauge you use. Unless you make prior arrangements, bring all the instruments you will need for a recording. You will be much more comfortable using your own gear than someone else's. While we have 18 guitars, they are probably not setup with the strings you prefer, the action you like, and the neck width may not fit your hand. The advice is to either use your own gear OR make arrangements well in advance, come play the instrument and make sure it meets your needs before planning to use it in a session. We do have keyboards and synthesizers - and while you are welcome to use them, you need to check them out in advance and make sure they have the patches and samples you need. If not, make sure you bring those in advance ... ON A MEDIA FORM that can be loaded into our devices ... if you are planning to use our equipment.
- Tune, Tune, Tune. Your instruments should be completely set up prior to the session. If a guitar, your action should be well established for your playing preference. The Intonation of your guitar should be perfect. Before coming to the studio is the PERFECT time to have your favorite Luthier fine-tune your guitar. If you re-string the guitar, do it several weeks in advance so that you break the strings in and they will stay in tune. The same goes for any other instrument. If you play a violin with Gut strings that are sensitive to temperature and humidity, we recommend dropping your instrument off at least 4 hours in advance so that it can acclimate to the Studio. This will save you and us lots of headache during the session. And of course, arrive early and TUNE your instruments. In the studio ... you Check Tuning between EVERY Take.
- COMMUNICATE. Sit down with the engineer and producer well in advance of the session and develop your relationship. Don't be intimidated or embarrassed to admit a mistake. If the take is not PERFECT to you, don't be afraid to speak up - We're here to help you. In the middle of a song ... remember THIS IS NOT LIVE. If you play a foul note and it throws you off, do not be afraid to stay "STOP - I want to do that again". We'll probably set up another track and keep the first one ... then we can choose the best of the two when we mix.
PLAN YOUR PROJECT WELL. If you are planning to record an album of 12 songs, we recommend that you record 14 songs and pick the best 12. In the past record labels would limit albums to a certain number of tracks due to the available recording time on the physical media. That is still a good idea since fans and listeners tend to download an album and burn it to a CD, even with today's modern digital distribution. However, you need to prepare a list of songs, and for each song and discuss the recording process with your producer and recording engineer. IF you need a special part, like a unique instrument or artist that you don't have, TELL US. We are connected with lots of professional musicians and can bring them in as SESSION PLAYERS for your project. Properly scheduled and planned, the cost is not unaffordable. The list of songs in your project should be a spreadsheet with the name of the song on each row and the performer information in columns, per the list below for each song.
- The Name of the Song
- The Name of each performer in the song
List Each Instrument that each performer will be playing -
- Tom - Drums
- Tom - Vocals
- Dan - lead guitar 1
- Dan - backup vocals
- Harry - Rhythm guitar
- Harry - Backup Vocals
- Adam - Lead Guitar 2.
PLAN THE WORK FLOW: The normal recording order is to cut the rhythm track first, against a click track (electronic metronome). If your team has not practiced and rehearsed with a metronome, and are not experienced studio musicians, then we'll cut a reference track where the entire group are recorded together. Since each part of the song must be recorded on a separate track, we play back the parts already recorded together with the click track or reference tracks ... in your headphones as you record each new part of the song. This may change depending on the song and the needs of the musicians ... this is why this discussion is so important before beginning the project. The Normal recording order is:
- rhythm guitar
- lead guitar
- lead vocals
- backup vocals
- anything else
- BE PREPARED. Its best to plan your sessions so that you are not rushing to the studio directly from work; Come to the studio well rested and ready to do your best. If you have had a long and/or hard day, DO NOT rely on substance abuse to get you through ... and don't show up intoxicated - that's just unprofessional. If your day was that bad, call the studio and cancel. As an alternative, call the studio and tell us you'll be an hour late ... and go to the beach and relax in front of the ocean to get yourself into a better mood and ready to perform at your best. We would rather have you reschedule than do a terrible job.
- BE ON TIME. Unless you cancel a session with adequate notice (usually 24 hours), you are paying for the time you book, even if you don't show up. Obviously if a studio has booked you, they cannot book anyone else in the same recording room, at the same time. We always take emergencies into account. One artist we know was injured on his regular (day) job and taken to the hospital - clearly a situation far beyond his control and we would not have charged him even if he had not been able to call us. However, our business is selling studio TIME, and when we don't have paying clients we are losing money. So booking a session and being late costs us and you money. Please be on time, and at least CALL if you are going to be late.
We hope these tips will help you when you come to the studio. At TeraNote, we are here to help you. Everyone on the staff is a musician with performance and recording and in some cases high-end producing experience; we are all professionals. In many cases, we have experienced the problems you will come up against and either know how to solve them or know someone who does.
One final point: We're all human; we all make mistakes. The difference between amateurs and professionals is that professionals persist until the mistakes and problems are overcome. We think that YOU should expect to make mistakes, because WE expect you to. But we also expect you to put forth a best effort ... and when you do ... it is no problem at all to say "oops, I made a mistake, can we do that again?" ... and you'll hear back "sure, no problem!"
We look forward to working with you and making magic with you, to having fun and creatively bringing your project to life.
Welcome to TeraNote Studios
Where Your Music Takes to the Air and FLIES !