J.P. Kallio’s Musician Quick Tips Pt. 18
by J.P. Kallio
Here are this week’s musician quick tips, part 18.. In my nearly two decades as a full time musician I have learned a thing or two about this business. I also have become very fast at assessing what works and what does not when it comes to promoting, recording and performing your music.
These quick tips are simple actions that you can put to use straight away
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This Quick tip is about the recording process. Way too often I see bands going in to the studio not knowing what the process is going to look like at all. So here is one part of the process that you need to be clear about beforehand, and understand that this might affect you studio choice as well.
Do you want to record the whole band live? It’s a nobel idea, but here is few things to keep in mind. First of all, how many takes will it take for all of you to nail the song? This might be much more than you think once the pressure of actually recording kicks in. The next thing is separation, does the studio have enough rooms to separate all of the amps, drums, acoustic instruments, vocals? And last, does the studio have enough inputs? You see, lets say you would like to mic up the drum kit with ten microphones, then you have electric guitar and you use one mic for that, two for the acoustic, a D.I. and a mic for the bass, and vocals. That require 16 inputs and 16 preamps. For any professional studio I would expect the 16 inputs to be the minimum, but many project studios do operate on eight. Often preamps are a big reason why you go to professional studio. They might have several, if the studio is well equipped one. Or they might have a great desk that has great preamps. But desks like these are expensive and many studios are known for their vintage desks and can charge a lot of money for having one. Now if they have only hand full of rack mic preamps, you need to make some choices during the recording of a whole band.
But if you record all of the instruments individually, you can concentrate much more on the individual take, the spill from other instruments will not be a problem, and you can use the best preamp in the house for most things.
If you have a clear idea which way you are going to record before going in to the studio, make sure the engineer knows this in advance. This will save time on the day, prevent confusion and save you money on the long run.
Here’s another important recording related quick tip. Unless you are attempting to record live, it is vital that you record a song to a click track. This is a metronome that will keep you in time. I’d hazard a guess that 99% of the commercial music these days is recorded to a click track. Out of tune and out of time are two most obvious tell-tale signs of an amateur.
It is surprising how many new bands arrive in to the studio and never have played to a click track. This something you should practice before entering the studio. It’s a skill that every musician should be very comfortable with.
So if you don’t have experience of playing with a click track, get yourself a metronome, or if you have a recording software (for example garage band), they are equipped with this. Practice playing to it until it feels natural. This will save you a lot of time and heartache in the studio for you and for the engineer.
So you have saved your hard-earned money to go in to the studio to record your greatest (first) album. This is something that once it is released, will represent you for years to come. You sat down with the band, decided on the material, worked out all the arrangements. You agreed to track everything individually and even the guitar player has learned to play his solos with the click track. You have agreed with the studio to start at 10am, but when the day finally arrives, your bass player is running late…
As we discussed before, studio time can be costly, and if you agreed with the studio to start at certain time, that is when the clock starts clicking and the bill starts running if you’re there or not. This does not only relate to studio work, but goes with anything to do with working as a musician, be punctual. Be in time. In fact, be early! Find a cafe near by the studio and get there an hour early to have your breakfast. This way even if you are stuck in the traffic, you still should be in time.
There is nothing that the professionals in the music business hate more that their time being wasted. If you want to be respected, be professional, be respectful and be always in time.
Work with people
When you try to make a career in music business, you are taking on one of the toughest industries in the world. The odds of you “making it” are actually very slim. So anything you can do to turn the odds in your favor is worth giving a shot.
Work with people. Collaborate with people. Ask people to help you, and if they offer to do so, accept it gracefully. Also you never know who can help you, so help others as much as you can, as often as you can and as selflessly as you can. What comes around, goes around, I have no doubts about that.
It can be a lonely battle at the best of the times, so get out in the world and work with people.
Don’t resort to excuses
All the advice in the world is no good to you, unless you are willing to act on it. I can tell you time and time again that you need your own website, get on twitter and start interacting, start building a mailing list, get into routine of writing songs… All of this means nothing unless you are willing to follow the advice.
Don’t resort to excuses. Time is never going to be right, there will always be more urgent stuff to do. When you finally get to it, you will do the best job at it, what ever it is you do, or that’s at least that’s what you tell me. So how about not coming up with those excuses, but instead not wasting time talking about it and actually getting off your backside and getting it done. It’s the quiet ones you got to watch out for, not the loud mouths who exclaim to do this that and another, but never gets anything done.
So I think its time to drop those excuses. Instead ask your self what’s really holding you back? Why can you not get those things done today?