8 - Finding A Recording Studio
Updated: Jul 15, 2019
As a studio/mix engineer, I’ve worked in a lot of different studios and I get asked for recommendations for recording studios all the time. I want to walk you through the things you should look out for when deciding which studio to use for recording.
Avoid Looking At Prices (Initially)
It’s the gut reaction to look purely based on price, but here is why I want you to avoid thinking about it at first. If you base your decision on price, it’s a race to the bottom. You’ll always choose the cheapest.
Choosing the cheapest option will 99% of the time, achieve a cheap outcome. Cheap in, cheap out.
Why ruin your hard work and potentially years of creative endeavour by getting an extremely cheap recording that you’ll cringe when listening back to in the future. You want it to be heard and appreciated by both current and future fans. The last thing you want is to hate the sound of your own songs for the next decade.
The production and recording process of your music can either make it or break it, so make the most of it.
The unfortunate fact (that some studio owners will hate me for saying) is that with the right guidance, you could make a better recording than a cheap studio by doing it yourself in a DIY studio.
How Do You Want To Record?
How you plan to record should have a huge influence on what studio you pick.
Find the songs/albums that influence the sound you’re aiming to create with your music and research how they went about recording? Maybe you’re influenced by early Arctic Monkeys where the whole band played live together in the room? Or you might be influenced by recent Bring Me The Horizon who recorded everything overdubbed.*
If your chosen method requires a large space, whether to record live or for huge drum sounds, then you’ll need a studio that can provide that for you. There’s no point in wanting and preparing to track live and then find out on the day that the live room in the studio you’ve picked isn’t big enough to swing a cat.
* I’m not getting into the argument of which way is better as every case is different. If you would like my opinion on your specific case though, drop me a message here.
What Is Included In The Price?
Now you’ve taken the other things into consideration, got a shortlist of potential studios, it’s time to get quotes. There are a few things to take into consideration before making a booking, as some prices are not all they seem.
How long is the studio day?
It’s all good one studio being cheaper but if it’s only a few hours a day, compared to a lock-in situation in a more expensive studio, the more expensive studio might work out cheaper by the hour.
Engineer or dry hire?
Make sure ask if the studio rate includes an engineer or if it's a dry hire. There’s no point in turning up to the studio, only to find you have to operate all of it yourself. Of course that’s fine if you’re expecting this (I get brought in by bands who dry hire studios all the time) but it can be a nasty and costly surprise if you weren’t.
Does it include mixing?
I have my own strong opinions on this. I don’t believe that mixing should be charged by the hour. Here’s why…
Personally, I would always recommend taking a whole day per song to mix. To mix in at the studio you’re tracking in would be a waste of time that you could be spending recording. That's why I mix remotely and send them to the artist for their approval.
Beyond saving you money in overheads, it also prevents most musician's nightmare scenario. You've got a great sounding track, you pack up and head home. 2 days later, you realise the vocals are too loud. It's now like nails down a chalkboard. Mixing at the same studio you tracked at might require you to rehire the studio for the day to fix a minor issue...
With remote mixing, you can send me an email any time in the future and I can sort it for you at no extra cost.
I do this process because, at the end of the day, I want the artists I work with to come away from the experience with songs they have zero regrets about.
If you’re curious or have any questions about this, just send me a message here.
Your friendly neighbourhood mix engineer,
What are your experiences with finding studios?
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