I put this page up to give my clients (especially those without a lot of recording studio experience) some general tips, ideas, and horse sense - gleaned from a lifetime of helping musicians and singers sound their best - in order to help them get the most out of their sessions.
• Relax! I am here to help make you sound your best... and have fun while doing so. Showing up relaxed and well-rested will help make for the most productive and enjoyable session possible, perhaps far more than you can imagine. When clients show up tired or stressed (so easy to do in NYC!) the sessions often suffer.
• Be prepared. You'll get the most of your session if you don't have to spend a lot of time punching-in and redoing mistakes that could've been avoided by a little more time spent rehearsing. The microphone is like a microscope! You'll be surprised by how many tiny errors you'll hear in the playback that you didn't know existed before - especially in timing for you instrumentalists and pitch for you vocalists.
• Memorize your lyrics. I can always hear when a vocalist is reading off of a paper. It sucks the life out of the emotion. Even if you know the lyrics and just want to have them in front of you for reference or safety - it doesn't work! Like a TV at a bar with the sound off - you start looking at the paper because it's in front of you and the performance suffers. TRUST ME on this one - memorize your lyrics!
• Warm up. If you're a vocalist, save yourself easily a half hour or more of recording time in the studio and warm your voice up before you get here. Vocals are my specialty. I can always hear if you someone is warmed up or not. And after I point it out and play it back for you, you will hear it too. If you don't have a killer vocal track, you don't have a song. Period. Mariah Carey warms up before she sings and so should you. Otherwise you'll just spend 30 minutes or sometimes even an hour, singing and re-singing your song until your voice opens up. So start singing in the morning in the shower, or in the car ride on the way to the session. I can't stress this enough.
The same goes for instrumentalists - if you can't play and warm up immediately before a session, try to make sure that you've at least spent some time playing the day before.
• For acoustic guitar new strings are a MUST. If your strings are over 2 weeks old, do yourself a favor and change them. The difference in tone will be huge, and is not something that can be made-up for with effects or studio tricks.
• For all other instruments make sure that it has whatever it needs to sound its best - good drumheads for drums, a new reed for a sax, etc..
• The vison thing. Know what you're aiming for with your song. Genre-wise, tempo-wise, and emotion-wise. Many people show up without a clear vision of what it is that they want to put across with their music. If you can't tell me what we're aiming for, I won't be able to help you get there.
• Bring references. And lastly, if possible bring some examples of tracks that you think you would like your produced music to sound like. This can often be the fastest way of helping me understand your vision for your music.
And there you have it! Everything I know from 25 years of experience all on one page ... (okay, I do know more than that ... but you'll have to book time to find out the rest.)