In this edition of the Maseed Productions Blog Series, we will discuss the 10 things you should know before booking a studio session.
- What is your budget for the project? It is very important to know how much you are able to spend on a project before you actually start to work on it. Knowing your budget will instantly give you a baseline on what types of recording studios you should approach because studios typically range in price based on reputation, gear and availability. If you know that you are only working with $50 to $100 dollars to record your song/album with, it would make no sense to even contact studios whose rates start at $50 per hour.
- Does the studio specialize in your genre of music? This matters more than you think. Often, midrange and major studios specialize in recording live instrumentation and vocals often found in rock, alternative, country, ect. These studios are equipped with a lot of high end vintage gear designed to be used with those styles of music. Usually the recording engineers at these places have an ear for and are trained in recording/mixing that style of music. That’s all good if you are a rock band or a country artists but if you are doing urban music like hip-hop, rap, R&B, EDM, ect? These genres of music are usually produced using electronic or computer based instruments, AKA in the box. That means that for the most part, the individual sounds in the composition are already mixed to an extent and may not require all of the high end outboard gear that these studios have to be used on your record. More importantly, the engineer would need to have an ear for mixing this style of music because it is not the same as mixing a rock record. It important that you know ahead of time, exactly what type of music the studio specializes in recording so that you can be assured that they are skilled and equipped to take on your project.
- The vibe: Does the studio you want to record at inspire your artistic creativity? You may think that is not an important factor to consider but, it is. There are studios all over the world with a wide range of equipment and recording environments, so what would make someone want to record at a studio in Europe when they live in the US? You guessed it, “the vibe”. There’s just something about being in a certain space that will open up your creativity, your mind and spirit. Sometimes, it’s not even the studio itself but rather the actual recording engineer you are working with that inspires that vibe. In either case, finding a studio that has that vibe will become an important factor in the outcome of your project.
- Studio policies: Most commercial recording studios have policies meaning, requirements that you as the customer must adhere to in order to contract their services. Some studios do not allow smoking or the use of drugs or alcohol in their studio. Others require upfront deposits before you can book a session. Some have rules about who can and cannot be with you while you are recording. Perhaps they have policies about the number of times they will go back and do edits to your song before they start charging you. Most of them have stipulations regarding cancellation of a session. Whatever it is, If you want to insure that you get the best possible results from your session, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the studio’s policies.
- Recording studios provide a service; they are not trying to sign you. Often, inexperienced artists will call up a recording studio saying that they want to record or need production. They’ll go on explaining things about their style, talent, aspirations and why the studio should work with them. This would be a great approach if they were looking to get onboard with a record label but you must understand that a recording studio is not interested in hearing any of this because they are just there to record and mix your record. Therefore, your talent level, fan base, etc. is of little concern to them. The studio is a business and for the most part, they are looking to make money from you, not necessarily with you. Don’t waste time trying to sell the studio on offering your talent in exchange for their services unless they approach you with the offer of a production or promo deal.
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