May 20, 2024

7 Tips for Improving Your Productivity in the Recording Studio

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7 Tips for Improving Your Productivity in the Recording Studio

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Some sessions in the recording studio are definitely better than others. Some days, everything that comes out of your hands and mouth almost feels like magic. Other days, though, nothing seems to come together – and the entire creative process begins to feel like a lot of hard work. Music is definitely the best kind of work that exists, but it may not feel that way when things aren’t going so well.

Unless you’re using your own home studio, the clock is ticking when you’re recording – and studio time isn’t cheap. You want to get things on track and avoid excessively draining your budget. If you’re having trouble getting your creative juices flowing, these tips can help.

Play Some Cover Tunes to Warm Up

One of the best ways to break yourself out of a musical rut is by playing and enjoying some of the songs that inspired you to become a musician in the first place. Most of the great artists have done this at one time or another, and it’s even resulted in some classic albums. Playing some of the songs that you love can encourage you and your band to loosen up, and great things often result when you don’t feel pressured to deliver. Don’t forget to record the sessions, because you never know – they could make perfect outtakes for a future collector’s edition of your album.

Enjoy a Little Herbal Refreshment

Probably as long as music has existed as a profession, musicians have relied on the old standby of “stepping out for a smoke” when ideas just don’t seem to be coming together. Sometimes, a quick mind-opening experience is all it takes to get the band to gel and start coming up with a great track. Of course, nobody smokes these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good time. Grab a 510-thread battery and some vape carts and pass them around. In a few minutes, you’ll be ready to approach the session with a whole new mindset.

Record Everything and Find the Best Bits Later

One of the biggest benefits of modern digital recording is that it’s no longer necessary to pay for tape. If you’re recording at home, it means that your sessions are almost free – and even if you’re paying for studio time, the absence of tape still removes one of the biggest expenses. Since hard drive space is almost unlimited, there’s no reason not to record absolutely everything that happens when you’re in the studio. Start noodling around aimlessly and just see what happens. Someone is bound to come up with a riff, chord progression or melodic line that’s worth working into a full song – but you might not always recognize the best ideas as they happen. Some really great songs like “American Woman” and “Rock and Roll” came out of aimless jamming. You never know when you might stumble on a great idea just by playing whatever happens to come to mind.

Spruce Up Your Studio

Recording music in a home studio has plenty of benefits, but it also has a few downsides. One of those is the fact that you’re responsible for keeping the environment in good shape – something that’s not always easy to do when you’re busy trying to lay down some good tracks. The problem with working in an environment that’s dirty and cluttered, though, is that clutter causes stress – and stress definitely isn’t conducive to creativity. Take the time to dust and organize your equipment. Open your computer and clean the fans. Swap out your old guitar strings. Who knows – while you’re doing this, you may come across an old piece of equipment that you haven’t used in a while, and that could spur some interesting ideas. Even if that doesn’t happen, though, you’ll definitely be more productive in the studio if you can approach your session with a clear and de-stressed mind.

Make Your Studio a Phone-Free Zone

We’re not sure how much productivity is lost each year to smartphone usage, but we’re guessing that the number is very high. When you’re not feeling particularly creative, the temptation to check your messages or catch up on your social media feeds will be very high. Once you go down that path, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re not going to get anything done. To ensure that you and the other band members stay on task during a recording session, make your studio a phone-free zone. Instead of allowing people to play with their phones between takes, set designated break times. When you’re trying to get some creative work done, you need to do everything you possibly can to avoid distractions.

Try Something Counterintuitive

When all else fails in the studio and you’re finding it impossible to get anything worthwhile done, it’s time to try something completely counterintuitive. Try an unusual microphone placement. Bring in an instrument that you’ve never played before or that would be unusual for your musical genre. Experiment with alternate guitar tunings. Find an unusual music application for your computer and play with it. When your normal creative flow isn’t working, that’s when you need to try something entirely different. The entire sound of Metallica’s album St. Anger supposedly came about because Lars Ulrich forgot to raise the snares on his snare drum. It might not be anyone’s favorite Metallica album, but it went double platinum. We should all be lucky enough to experience that kind of “failure.”

Hire a Producer

Some bands try self-producing their albums, and the process ends up working very well. They know what type of sound they want to create, and they know exactly how to do it. For other bands, though, a little guidance is necessary. Sometimes, it can be really useful to have an extra set of ears. A producer will know how to achieve certain types of sounds and can also hone your songs by identifying the best ideas and eliminating the things that don’t work as well. If your budget is low, it might not make sense to bring a producer in when you’re in the initial songwriting phase. When it’s time to put your album together in earnest, though, bringing someone on board to produce the project is a great way to keep you on track and productive while also ensuring that the recording will be as good as it can be.

author avatar
Bernard - Side-Line Staff Chief editor
Bernard Van Isacker is the Chief Editor of Side-Line Magazine. With a career spanning more than two decades, Van Isacker has established himself as a respected figure in the darkwave scene.

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