Hey everyone, it’s Jack here - today I’m sharing some of what I’ve learned over the years when it comes to approaching a session professionally by having great Recording Studio Etiquette. If you’re heading into the studio and you are super excited, that’s great! But there are some things it pays to keep in mind...
Gear Check Prior To Recording
Make sure you have everything you need before heading to the studio. It sucks logistically and psychologically to realise you forgot your stick bag or guitar pedal just before you start recording! If you’re a drummer, suss out this studio drumming checklist on our blog - and if you play another instrument, watch this space for more handy lists to come!
Notes and Charts
If you don’t already know the material back to front, prepare for the session by compiling some song notes and chord charts. Having the chord changes, tempo markings, and any sudden musical surprises written out can help you get through the session much more smoothly, and deliver the best take possible.
Be On Time
A crucial part of good studio etiquette is to be on time. No one likes to waste studio time. It’s expensive and precious, especially since you’re likely to have lots of gear to set up before you can actually start recording. We’ve seen plenty of situations where the majority of a band’s members are on time, but they’re waiting for 1 member before they can actually do anything. As one of my old music teachers once said - if you are early, you are on time.
Be Polite and Respect Yours and Your Bandmates Time
Once you do get going, be polite and try not to disturb other band mates when they’re recording. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having fun in the studio (it should be a really fun time for everyone), but no one wants to be in a band with ‘that person’ who takes it too far. Make use of any area where you can hang out and socialise with your bandmates away from where the recording is happening. Also, be respectful to your producer and any other studio staff - they’re working hard to give you the best product they can!
If you’re not sure about anything before or during the session, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the process. Discussing simple things like song tempos and instruments available for use at the studio will really put you and the engineer at ease, and promote cooperation. If you’re a session musician, it’s helpful to routinely ask the main artist whether your contribution matches what they’re looking for. Also, keep your questions constructive, because destructive behaviour can turn sessions sour very quickly.
Be Prepared to Challenge Your Sound
If you want to make the best-sounding record possible, keep an open mind - if the producer has different ideas, be receptive and try not to take them to heart. It’s normal to be protective of the sound you created in the jam room, but discussions with the engineer or producer about your guitar tone or the way your drums are tuned can sometimes get a better result in a recording context. Remember it’s a group effort and the producer is the newest ‘member’ of your band in the studio. Also, if you’re a session musician, remember you are being employed to make this record sound awesome, and if that means having a lower or higher tuned snare drum or tom tom, then so be it. Plus, you never know - the sound you try out on the recording may become your new favourite!
Clean Up After Your Session
Make sure you leave the studio the same way you found it. Keep things tidy throughout the session, put cables and microphones back where they belong when you’re done using them, and offer to help others clean up. Many hands make light work!
Enjoy Your Studio Experience!!
Time spent in a recording studio is fun, exciting, and a unique opportunity to see your creative vision come to life… so enjoy the ride! I hope these tips help you maintain a great atmosphere in the studio, so you can get the most out of your session and go home happy. Remember, a little bit of studio etiquette goes a long way.