Alta Vista Recording
Igniting Excellence Since 1995

Tips for Making the Most of Your Studio Time

You want the most bang for your buck when you book studio time. Let’s take a look at some of the things that can impact workflow and maybe we can provide some insight into how much to budget and how to keep costs down.

Who’s the producer?

Most people self-produce these days, but that can get expensive if you are unorganized or put time and energy in the wrong takes because you are too close to the song to realize that there are performance, pitch or tempo issues. At Alta Vista Recording, we will help with the production chores when asked, but we never start offering production advice without a clear invitation to help. Some studios use the guise of production to run the studio time up with unnecessary or redundant parts, takes etc., and we bend over backwards to distinguish ourselves from that scenario. The best thing to do is draw up a budget and then ask us to help you decide what is realistically affordable and what is not.

 What is a producer?

Any person who participates in one or more of the following is acting as a producer, even if they aren’t officially called that:

Deciding the type and purpose of the recording.

  1. Arranging, financing, preparing and monitoring the budget.
  2. Choosing what songs will be on it.
  3. Arranging – deciding what instruments will be used and what they will play.
  4. Deciding what musicians will be used and rehearsing them.
  5. Selecting a recording studio and/or engineer.
  6. Critiquing the performances.
  7. Providing direction for the artist, musicians, and engineer..
  8. Generally overseeing all phases of the project, including mixing and mastering.

Common Mistakes . . .

Very often clients will say something like “I can get everything in one take, so it will only take an hour or two to do all the recording.” We’ve heard that hundreds of times and, in truth, it hardly ever happens. A famous producer once remarked that when you walk into a studio, you automatically become 20% dumber and 20% clumsier. Those of you who have recorded at Alta Vista Recording know that the engineers do their best to make the sessions comfortable and fun, but when a client expects to play everything perfectly, frustration is almost always the end result, and frustration is the enemy. The best approach is to come into the session with realistic expectations that mistakes can and will occur and just laugh them off and try it again. That attitude will not only make things a lot more fun, but it will also save you money.

Arrangements . . .

Get your arrangements down before you get to the studio because the studio is not the most cost-efficient place to do this. That’s not to say that you can’t make changes once you are in the session, but do as much as you can before you get there to get the most for your money.

Players . . .

Is it going to be a solo record or will there be other players, and if there are, will they be friends, band mates, etc., or will you use session players? The former usually saves you money on labor costs but the latter usually saves you money in studio time.

If you haven’t released anything in a while or this is your first time, call us at (512)326-5490 or email tom@altavistarecording.com and we can discuss what it might cost to get those great new songs out of your head and on the shelves of your favorite record store. It might be a lot more doable than you think.