Hey UPSTAGE family! Happy Tuesday. Today, we're taking an inside look at the the recording studio world.
For many of my readers and UPSTAGE artists, the definition of what a recording studio is/ does is commonly misconstrued or just unclear.
Being just 23 years old myself, I'm not afraid to share that maybe even four years ago, I was still a little unsure myself. But- I can happily say that this happens to be a world I've learned tons about over the last few years of working in one.
Often confused with terms like "recording label" or "record label", the term "recording studio" has no direct relation to the other two. A recording studio is simply a place to "record." That said, record labels may have their own "recording labels" which may consist of an in-house recording studios or specific label-affiliated studios.
When an artist signs with a record label, they will likely be recording their work under the terms of the label.
This may include timelines, due dates, shared ownership of the product and publishing, set marketing/distribution plans, creative influence from the label, or copyright of masters. When not under a label, independent artists can reach out and inquire to record wherever they want, whenever.
Depending on the reputation and prominence of the studio itself, you may have to book out months or years in advance. In some scenarios, if studios are affiliated with specific labels, producers, engineers, or artist managers that have choice or influence over the clientele, you may not be accepted to record at a specific location. All recording studios are different. However, there are tons of studios, if not the majority of the independent ones, which do not do any sort of "gate keeping" of the artists that they allow in their doors based on the artist's experience or career success.
Beyond getting into a studio to record your music, you may meet a variety of industry professionals once you arrive! These vary based on the size of the studio, but you may meet studio owners, management members, studio booking managers, studio interns, assistant engineers, recording engineers, mixing engineers, mastering engineers, or creative producers. Commonly in independent or small business studios, one individual may fill several or all of these roles. In larger studios, these roles may all be split up with professionals who specialize in their varying areas of expertise. Some engineers may be employed by a studio, others may work as contractors.
Now, a few tips to prep you before you go into the studio:
1. Come ready to play. If you have an instrument that requires cables, D.I. boxes, pedals, power supply, ect. please bring it with you. This isn't for the benefit of the studio- its for the benefit of you. The last thing you want is your built- in tuner dying right before you're ready to record sending an engineer scrambling for some energizer D batteries or a clip on tuner. We'll happily, happily do it. But remember -it's your time and you're on the clock. If you're working with a friendly engineer they may not hold you to every single minute or even hour that you spend. (That's how I am) but - be respectful or time and don't waste it.
2. For the love of god- please come prepared. Getting to the studio is not the time to be figuring out parts. Yes, certain genres have exceptions & if you have the budget to allow improv and a lot of time- go for it. But if you are not a jazz musician or live - styled improv band, you can't just show up having no plan of what you're about to do. Further- don't do this to your session musicians. They deserve to feel confident about what they are showing up to play for you. Send them their parts at least a month in advance and give them time to practice. They should feel confident in their keys, chord progressions and hopefully parts. Don't bring a studio musician into a studio for their first time recording without telling them what to do. Or do it- but then don't expect your engineer to magically make it sound good or your musicians to want to work with you again. If you're a band- great. You should have it all figured out. If not.. I don't know what to tell ya.
3. Don't bring your friends, aunts, cousins, kids, and your cousins dog and his kids. Bring the people you need to be there so you can focus on getting a good product and so that your engineers can focus on their jobs. Again, we LOVE moms, we LOVE photographers and video teams, we also LOVE being hosts but we prefer to have a heads up. It's always a huge plus if everyone can be respectful of the professional environment they are in. But - do with you want with your time and money.
4. Ask about your call times. Can you get their early to set up? Or will there be people booked all the way up to your time slot? Do you want to start recording right away with downbeat right at the beginning of the hour? Any of these things can be possible. If you want to make the most of your time, ask about setting up in the studio's down time. You could even come set up the night before if arrangements are made with your engineer. This isn't always possible, but you can certainly ask. Now, be respectful of their work hours. Ideally, ask if you can come set up during the down time of daily work hours. We love these people. Like during an engineer's prep session or breaks. This way they are not staying late or making additional time for you. Engineers are hard- working and tired people, many of whom are generous of their time with artists.
If you can set up during a downtime, you might even have an assistant engineer their to help you, because they might be running lines and prepping for your session during that time anyways!
5. Be confident and comfortable. Do you need to have a snack every few hours for your blood sugar like me? Cool, same. Bring your own snacks but ask before doing so. There's likely a place for them to be kept like a kitchen or lobby to ensure gear and equipment stay clean and un- damaged. Do you need to be warm and cozy? Bring your blankets and sweats and slippers for all I care. Whatever you need so you can show up to make your best product. Lots of rooms in studios are temperature controlled for stringed instruments. This can be uncomfortable for some individuals. Adversely, when lots of people get in a room for several hours it gets hot with amps, computers, and all other gear on and running. Bring your own caffeine and water- though most studios will happily provide these basics. Bring your notes, lead sheets, and scores. Bring your pencils and picks and capos and moon gels. We have them all- but if you have them on you, you're showing up like a pro, and you're saving time and money.
I might have to make a part two. But thats all for today folks!
Jada & UPSTAGE LLC