When your band books time at a professional studio, you’ll quickly realize how expensive recording time can be. Many studios (even non-professional recording rooms) charge about $40 an hour, and that’s just the starting rate. You’ve got to show up with the right attitude and preparation, or you’ll be throwing money away.
If your band is recording a demo, single, or album, here are some tips to help you save money and reduce the overall length of your recording sessions.
1. Practice together. This should go without saying, but I record bands occasionally–it’s shocking how many bands don’t practice in the days leading up to a recording session. Frankly, you can’t make a much bigger mistake.
Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes good enough. Without practice, your band’s going to sound loose and unfocused, no matter how long you record, and you’ll pay way more for you recording session. Work together and actively listen to your band mates’ parts for errors. You should practice at least twice a week for the month leading up to your studio time.
2. Get used to recording. Recording is very different from playing live, so get used to it ASAP. Start recording your band practices. Don’t worry; you don’t need anything really expensive, just a tape recorder. You’ll start listening to your playing in a different way, and it’ll help you make decisions about your tone and playing style. Each individual band member should also try recording their parts alone and listening to them as much as possible.
Buying a cheap 4 track isn’t a bad idea to get an idea of the mixing process, or you could set up some recording software on your computer. The more you know about recording, the faster the in-studio process will go. You can find 4-tracks for about $100 or less, which will be worth the money you’ll save.
3. Keep things moving. When you’re recording, make sure you don’t spend a lot of time doing…well, nothing. Plan the session in advance, and if one band member is having some difficulty laying down a part, switch him (or her) out and let the guy (or, er, girl) take a break for a while. Keep things as simple as you can, and concentrate on creating a constant work flow. Sorry to use business terms here, but it’s a good way to think about your band’s recording session.
4. Listen to the recording engineer. Finally, realize that the recording engineer knows more than you do. Listen to his (or her again) advice, because there’s no other professional in the room in most cases. Disagree on creative decisions when it’s appropriate, but don’t disagree with the engineer on things like mic placement, who records when, and so on. Every reputable recording engineer is more interested in getting a good-sounding project than a big paycheck–heck, they’re the same thing to a good engineer–so put some trust in the studio.
Do you have any other tips for saving money during a recording session? Post in our comments section below.