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10 things you should do before you go into a pro recording studio

If you fail to prepare, you're preparing to fail

Working in a commercial studio is quite different to working at home. Some of the techniques (or should we call them bad habits?) that you've picked up over the years just won't apply when you record in a place where you're paying by the day.

Effective and focused working is king in the pro recording studio – you need to make sure you're properly prepared. Here are ten things you should do before you arrive.

1. Set a goal for your session. How many tracks are you recording? What are they for? How will this session move your career forward?

2. Finish your writing before you get there. There's nothing worse than turning up for a studio session with a half-written song. Writing in the studio is an expensive way of achieving very little, so finish everything before you arrive.

3. Check your equipment works. Hiring in a replacement amp is very expensive - you could avoid the problem by having your gear serviced, or at least checked over, before you arrive.

4. Have a working backup of your files. In fact, you should have three backups of your work: one with you on DVD, should your computer fail; one at home, in case you're mugged on the way to the studio; and one stored on the internet, in case of disaster. This might seem a little paranoid, but how much longer will it take to recreate the work than it will to back-up?

5. Do not assume that the studio will have the plug-ins that you use at home. Bounce to audio all tracks that depend on software instruments or effects. This will guarantee compatibility between your working setup and the setup at your destination.

"Writing in the studio is an expensive way of achieving very little, so finish everything before you arrive."

6. Get some food to take with you. You need fuel when you're working hard. Assume there'll be nowhere to eat near the studio and be pleasantly surprised when there is.

7. Rehearse. You've written your songs, but have you rehearsed them? More importantly, have you rehearsed your songs to the point where everyone is playing to the best of their abilities?

8. Research the studio. Know how to get there. Find out which DAW you'll be using and who will be engineering. Is it a highly regarded studio? How much will it cost? Will you need to hire in additional equipment?

9. Don't arrange to mix on the same day as you record. Your ears will be too tired to have a clear perspective on what you've recorded. Set aside a separate day to mix if you can afford to.

10. Aim for excellence. These tracks are the ones that you want to release to the wider world, so you owe it to yourself to make them as good as they can be. The bottom line: prepare well and work hard!


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