1) Rehearse , rehearse, rehearse! This applies to all artists, bands and rappers alike. The tighter you have your grooves down, the less time we have to take doing overdubs. For rappers, unless part of your aesthetic is freestyling all your verses (Lil Wayne, Common), then I highly suggest writing your lyrics down, and practicing them so you don’t have to do too many do overs. Sometimes artists will just write their verses down in their iphone, then not practice reading them. You must actually practice them! Otherwise (and I’ve seen it) when you get in the booth, you have to do a lot of back writing because you didn’t read it out loud to count the syllable’s correctly,
2) Come early if you can. This way you have time to feel the vibe of the studio, and do any vocal exercises you may want to do before getting in the booth. This way the engineer can start up the session, which takes a few minutes anyway. And if you can’t make the session, always give the engineer a warning a head of time. It reflects poorly on you if you don’t show up without telling anyone, and aggravates the engineer for wasting his time coming down to the studio.
3) Get to know the studio lingo. Knowing terms like “overdub, from the top, fly, in/out/ ad lib, punch, stack” can all make communication with your engineer much easier. It also helps to know a little about music theory. Just basic terms like bars, phrases, measures can go along way. So instead of saying “ can you uh do that thing with that part”, you can say “can you punch me towards the end of the measure”. Any time spent trying to communicate with your engineer is potential time you can be recording!
4) Put your phone on silent. If you do this you wont have to waste time by redoing a take that your phone went off during, and you can wont be tempted to waste studio time by talking to whoever calls you.
5) Bring your own beat on a flash drive or cd. Finding a song on Youtube, then putting it in the Youtube to mp3 converter doesn’t take long for the engineer, but there have been times where the beat wasn’t on youtube. Or it took a lot longer to find the exact version you were thinking of. Sometimes the internet may be down (some studios don’t have internet on their studio computer). It’s best to come prepared so you don’t have to rely on these factors.
6) Get high before . If you are going to get high before your session, do it in the car! Seriously, it takes 10 minutes to roll the blunt, and another 10 minutes to smoke it. If you have 2 hours booked, that’s already 16% of your time wasted.
7) Don’t come with your whole posy, unless they are all in the group. If you are coming to the studio, come with 1-2 people. Chances are they will distract you, and waste your time. I’ve seen it happen too many times to count.
Follow these steps and you will surely get the most out of your studio time!
Dan Zorn, EngineerStudio 11 Chiacgo, IL 209 West Lake Streeet Studio11Chicago@gmail.com