Six Things to do Before Your Recording Session

Updated: Feb 9

Here's a true story about recording a song for the first time.

Isabella loved her song and always sang it well. She’d performed it live many times, but when she got into the studio, the producer asked questions she didn't know how to answer.

Right off the bat, she felt like an idiot -- it knocked her off her game.

Anyone new to song recording runs into questions and situations that they haven’t experienced before.

Read on to learn Six Things to do Before Your Recording Session.

1. Make sure you’re in the right key.

Experiment with your song to make sure the key is best for your voice. No matter your range, there’s a “sweet” spot for your voice. Try out your song in several different keys and see which one works best for your voice. This doesn’t have to be over-technical. If you write with your guitar, switch keys with a capo. If you write with a keyboard, just hit the “transpose” button. Or just sing a cappella and find the key on any instrument. Once you’ve found that key, write it down. This will enable everyone working on the song (from the engineer to musicians) to quickly adapt.

2. Make sure you have the right tempo

Just like the key, there’s a sweet spot with the tempo. If you have a metronome, use it. I HIGHLY recommend practicing your song with a metronome. It will make things so much easier on the engineer if you’re confident playing with a click track. Find the best bpm for your song and write that down too. The engineer will appreciate it as at least a starting point for recording.

3. Make sure your instrument is ready

Put new strings on your guitar. Fix any buzzes. Put new heads on drums. Make sure everything you plan to use in the studio is working well. Nothing eats up valuable studio time like a poorly prepared instrument.

4. Know your song!

This sounds like common sense but you’d be amazed at how many sessions I’ve been in where the musicians are still figuring out their parts in the studio. Some artists use the studio as a place to write – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you don’t want to pay for things you could do at home, make sure you know your parts. Try to memorize your lyrics. It’s completely acceptable to have a “cheat sheet” in the studio – in fact, I recommend it. But the less you have to rely on your notes, the more you’ll be able to concentrate on a great performance.

5. Record Your Song At Home

Nothing fancy – you can use your phone. The point is to listen to your song before you record it. This helps find the best (and worst) parts of your song BEFORE you go to the studio.

Home Recording a Song

6. Think About Instrumentation.

How do you want your song to sound? What are your influences? What instruments do you hear? If this sounds like a lot to think about, consider getting Music and Me, a musical DNA report that tells you all of this and more.

More Artist Development Tools:

Listen: to the instrumentation in the “before” and “after” recordings in Bella’s song

Order: A free Music and Me™ sample report