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When entering the recording studio artists need to be prepared. This is not a revelatory statement, but this is the most common issue I have experienced on both small, independent and big-label sessions.

The typical explanation I hear is, “because the songs are written before the tracking dates, we will be able to just have fun in the studio”. However, making a record is more of a birthing process than a party. At every stage, you have to pay very close attention to every detail and be able to roll with the constant work involved. This means the artist must have a clear intent and vision for their project’s outcome while maintaining their passion and drive. It’s not an easy task. My wife elegantly summed this idea up: “As an artist, you’re in trouble if you’re not passionate about your passion.”

Preparation for the studio can be broken down into a few categories:

Writing/Arrangement – This is every aspect of your written or prepared material, not only the key, chord structure, melody, and lyrics. This also includes knowing the instrumentation you want and the roles they will play in the song. By having as much of the vision completed as possible, you will save time (and money) and prevent yourself from getting stressed in the studio.

Practice (with a metronome) – Absolutely a make or break for any band. If you perform a song the same way over time, don’t decide to make major changes IN THE STUDIO! Once you have your songs written, practice them and perform them as they are to be recorded. Yes, songs will change over time as new riffs are added or chords are altered. Songs are allowed to change, but don’t make any major changes in the studio!

Demo Recordings – Before you go into a studio, make a demo of every song you want to record. This can be done in any format you want. The highest quality you can manage is preferred, though, as these demos can serve multiple functions. Demos allow you to hear your music from the listener’s perspective, which might bring to light any arrangement adjustments before going into the studio. Demos also help you create a guide for the record’s tonal thumbprint. A perfect example is found by listening to any of the demos by Michael Jackson that are floating around out on the interwebs. Although the recording quality of his demos are lacking, the sounds, ideas, and his songs’ intent can be heard clearly.

The above categories are not a list to check off in order but are processes that should be repeated until the artist is satisfied with their music.

Only then should a studio be booked.

After attending Berklee College of Music on a performance scholarship and graduating from The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, Robb spent seven years in the competitive L.A. music scene as an engineer, technician, and musician before calling Colorado his home. He owns and operates Curio Recording, LLC, a full-service studio, in Loveland, CO and works with artists and other studios as an engineer and instrument and equipment technician. He specializes in Rhodes and Wurlitzer electronic pianos. Robb’s past clients include Nicky Davey, Jane’s Addiction, Ben Harper, Ryan Adams, Everclear, Sound City Studios, Emblem Music Studios, and many more.