Getting into a recording studio can be exciting and terrifying for a new artist, so here are three important things to think about before you book your session.
1. Know your music.
When you've entered the fancy studio, and the pretty assistant is asking you what type of water you'd like to drink, and you're staring at thousands of dollars worth of musical gear and equipment, your brain begins to freeze up. Then the producer sits you down in a luxurious leather chair and asks you what this song means to you and what kind of personality it is going to have. This is the part where too many artists suddenly forget everything they have ever known about music. What does that bridge mean and why is it in this song? Why does the guitarist play the G in that measure instead of an E minor?
Being sure of your music in the studio is a beautiful thing. Making it sound like every note, chord, word, and beat was purposeful and intentional will make you stand out in a sea of thoughtless artists. Know your music.
2. The producer doesn't care about you (or your music).
When you walk through the doors of a recording studio with a track that you have been perfecting for months, you need to know that you are the only one who cares about that piece of art. The producer will try to make it sound "good," but you know what it's supposed to sound like. You gave birth to the lyrics, you labored for each note and chord, you know what the harmony is supposed to sound like. The producer doesn't. You need to be brave and stand up for your art. At the end of the day, you leave with a reflection of your artistry on a CD or memory stick and the producer will forget about you and your art before you even make it home.
If you don't like that third harmony in the second chorus, stop everything and tell the producer. You are a walking dollar sign in a studio, and most of the time, the producer doesn't care about you or your music.
3. It's going to sound different when you leave.
There is something magical about being in a recording studio. Maybe it's the ridiculously expensive speakers, maybe it's that delicious-smelling candle, or maybe it's the huge painting of Bob Dylan on the wall. Whatever it is, it does something to the music to make it sound like audio gold. Once your song has been compressed and shoved onto a flimsy CD and stuck into the stereo of your 1998 Bronco, it's not going to sound anywhere near as glorious as it did in that musical heaven.
Don't panic. This doesn't mean your song suddenly sucks. The quality of playback is so different in the real word that it's recommended that you take a break and squeeze your work in progress onto a CD and test it out on an old car stereo. If you do this, you'll realize that bass solo after the second verse is virtually invisible unless played in a studio. You can then decide how to fix it or move on. Just remember, it's going to sound different when you leave.