Before You Go Into the Studio
You’ve written an awesome song with tight lyrics and feel you are ready to lay down tracks in the studio. Wait a minute though. Are you sure you’re ready? Studio time is not cheap. And if you’re a member of a band, it could be even more expensive, as well as time consuming. Before going into the studio, there are steps you should take to make sure your studio time is used to its fullest potential. A common mistake many artists make is to go into the studio unprepared, then rush the quality of the song to save money because you’re watching the clock. The Internet is full of advice on what you should do, and although there are few wrong answers, it’s best to follow the advice of those in the business. For this post, I consulted Kevin James, who works with me at ECHE and is a broadcaster on CJB Radio and asked him what you should do before you go into the studio.
According to Kevin, your first step should be to research costs and make a budget. Even more specifically, when looking at a budget, make sure to include the costs for:
- Studio time
- Producer’s time and expertise
- Mixing and mastering
- Social media
- Local events
- Artwork/Graphic Design
- Vocal coaching/training
- Image (your personal style, theme of your music, etc.)
- Stage performance training
- Fan base (Where’s your market?)
- Find out if there’s a market for your type of music. If there is, how much will it cost to reach them where they are?
Once you’ve determined that you have the funds to begin a music career and/or really support a new song or project, here are some other steps you should take before you actually start recording your first song:
- File your Form PA (for published or unpublished works of the performing arts) with the Copyright Office.
- Get legal agreements in place with all contributors to the songs (musicians, all vocalists including friends and family)
- Spend some time doing vocal training. Even the best voices need tuning from time to time.
- Get permission to do any behind-the-scenes video in the studio.
- Get the proper licenses if you are recording any cover songs.
- Write down a marketing budget and plan.
- Find the right studio for your type of song.
- Practice and be prepared so you don’t waste time and money.
By doing your research, developing a realistic budget and proactively planning what will be done once you’re in the studio, you will get the most out of the money and effort you put in. Recording a song, especially your first song, is an exciting feat. Don’t let your excitement be diminished by being unprepared for the challenges.