Here's 5 tips to really keep in mind as you get ready to enter the studio, especially if you're a first-timer. Keep in mind, these all come from experience -- I've been there as a musician, and as an engineer, and everything I'm telling you comes from seeing it happen!
1. Have Your Songs Prepared.This one goes without saying, but you'd be surprised. You and your band should be able to play through every song you plan on recording, and play through it well. Time spent working out arrangements in the studio is valuable time you can be using to add overdubs and other little things to make your songs shine!
Also, keep in mind this: if you're using any sequenced parts or electronic instruments, make sure you've got those parts arranged and pre-recorded before you enter the studio. The last thing the engineer has time to do is wait for you to remember how your electronic arrangement goes.
2. Hangovers Are Bad.
Sure, getting into the studio is a great time, and it's definitely cause for celebration, especially if it's your first album. But trust me on this one: lay off the alcohol, drugs, and late-night partying before getting into the studio. A lot of younger bands are more into the "scene" than they are making the actual record, and that's unfortunate. And remember, always respect studio house rules on booze; drugs, whatever your preference, should always stay at home -- remember, most studios are places of business.
Come to the studio well-rested and ready to work. If you're a singer, rest your voice, drink plenty of water (including room-temperature water when you're in the studio -- ice is bad for vocal cords!).
3. Always Use New Strings & Heads.Guitarists & bassists, listen up. Bring new strings to the session, and don't cheap out, either -- go with good quality strings. Your recording quality will suffer with old strings, and no, I don't care if that's the sound you're going for. You'll thank me later.
Drummers, bring new heads -- and make sure they're tuned right on your kit -- and new sticks. And for everybody? BRING SPARES! You don't want to be holding up the session because you needed to send your girlfriend out to Guitar Center for you.
4. Know Your Sound, But Be Realistic.
Make sure your producer and engineer understands what sound you want, but keep in mind, they can't exactly reproduce another album's recording conditions for you. Just because your favorite band's drum tracks sound a certain way doesn't mean yours can -- that is, unless you use the same drummer, same kit, same room, same mics, same everything.
Bring some examples of styles you'd like to see reflected in your work to your producer/engineer ahead of time, and let them explain to you how they can split the difference to help your project come out as close to what you want, and remember: individuality IS a good thing!
5. Know When To Quit.Adrenaline runs high in a situation like a recording studio, especially when you're racing to beat the clock to save money. But knowing when to quit can be really helpful, too.
The longer you push your ears, and longer you physically continue to perform, you'll get tired and thus your performance will suffer. It's better to know when to walk away for the day, and come back the next day refreshed and ready to go. It's not failure, it's making the best of your time. Your producer and engineer are susceptible to fatigue, too; keep them in mind when trying to fit in a marathon recording session with your band.