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5 Tips For Making A Hit Record 30 Minutes At A Time

Apr 17, 2008
There are several challenges to recording music from a home studio, the greatest of which is probably time management. With work and family obligations ever present, it can be a daunting task to block off even 30 minutes of session time. Try these helpful tips to make the most of your most important resource: time.

1) Act Like You Paid for it: If you never priced studio time here's a heads up; it's expensive! Rates vary but $60 per hour is a realistic expectation. If you approach your home studio time like you would if you had paid for it, you will likely take it more seriously. Have a specific start time, don't be late and stop on or around the time you session should end. No one wants to stop once they get into the groove, but rushing because you're over your time can create an opportunity for mistakes to creep into your session; mistakes that during your next session will have to be corrected. Studios sell time, and they usually don't give overage away. So be assured, hit songs happen inside a predetermined time limit.

2) Inform Everyone of Your Studio Time: Whether it's a roommate, spouse or kids, everyone must know and agree to your studio time. This is important for many reasons but the most important one is quiet, or the lack of. Nothing will wreck a session like a killer take that has been polluted with incidental noise. Bouncing, banging, yelling, screaming, laughing, video gaming or TV sounds that bleed into your perfect take will make you insane. For your safety and the safety of those around you, you must have quiet for those precious minutes designated as your studio time. It will be helpful if you can schedule your session at a time that is easy for people to accommodate your need for peace, like when the kids are at school or the roommate is at work. If no one is there to make noise, then you're a step ahead of the game.

3) Have a Plan: Walking into a studio session without knowing what you have to work on is like walking into a super market without a grocery list. Instead of being productive with your time, you waste it wandering around looking for what you want and end up with things you didn't even need. You can make a mental list anytime, anywhere, but you only have some much time with your gear. Decide well in advance what you need to work on and stick to it. Mentally draw a picture of what you're going to accomplished; where the microphone is sitting, what drum sound you need to find or what solo needs to be punched in and where you need to punch it in. If you have a plan and you stick to it, you will be more efficient.

4) Develop Your Work Flow: This is the one tip that will make your session most efficient. Saving your presets, favorite sounds and the like will put what you need, from a software stand point, at your fingertips. Start by developing your "Template". If, for example, you use Pro Tools, save a session named "Template" to you desktop. Design your template in a manor that reflects what you generally like to work on. Opening a template with the amount of tracks, track types and even pre-loaded plug-ins, drums and synths can be the launching point for every time you start a new piece of work. Keep all your sounds, loops, plug-ins and other digital tools in a very organized state. I can't imagine many professional roofers who climb on top of a house ready to replace shingles and having to search for their hammer once they get up there. Know where your tools are to avoid wasting time.

5) Clean Your Room: It sounds simple and boring, and a bit like one's mother, but put your stuff away. Like your digital tools, you should always know where your patch cords, guitar picks, microphones or headphones are. The only way to make this happen is to start organized and always put your tools back where you got them. Looking for what you need is the single biggest waste of session time there is. Keeping things tidy and always leaving your studio in the same condition you want to find it will make the most of short sessions.

In the end, if you treat your home sessions the way you would if your were recording at a multi-million dollar facility, you will be more efficient, more productive and you may just get that hit song completed, 30 minutes at a time.
About the Author
Christopher French aka dj iMix is a dj, producer, and musician from metro Detroit. He was a guest lecturer at the 2008 Red Bull Music Academy information session at the Submerge building in Detroit. Since 1987 he's made and performed music at clubs and concert venues including The Palace of Auburn Hills (MI) Georgia Tech Univ. (GA) U of M and Interlochen (MI). Find Chris at: www.myspace.com/djimix
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