Making a Record
So, you want to make a record. Maybe this is your first or your tenth—whichever, every recording facility and crew has their own way of going about things. This is a short synopsis of our mode of operation here at JRC. These are in no way hard and fast rules (well, some of them are). Try to think of them as suggestions based on our experiences and observations over the years.
- Come take a look! We feel it's important to meet the people you're going to be working with for the next few weeks (or months). The relationship between a producer/engineer and the artist grows pretty quickly in the studio environment. After all, we are working closely with one another to fully realize the recordings you have already put so much time and effort into. Heavy, right? Yeah. Let's meet first. It's also very important that you have an understanding of the space you'll be working in. Take note of the advantages and challenges presented by the space. This will be heavily dependent on how you want to work and these are all things that will be covered during our introduction. We are confident that whatever the situation, we can make it work well. It is important to us that you are able to share that confidence.
- Let's hear it! During our introductions we are going to want to get an idea of your vision for your record. We will spend a small amount of time talking about this but more importantly, we want to hear it. Be prepared to play some of the material live or bring along demos. A word on demos: "demo" means any recording of you playing your songs. It could be recorded on anything from an iPhone to multitrack recording software on your home computer. It can be just the vocalist and an acoustic instrument or a full band. We'll listen to whatever you have. A description of one's music (can sometimes be but) is rarely accurate enough, so let's not leave it up to interpretation.
- Let's set a timetable. We'll need an idea of when you will want to start and finish your project. Some projects are on a very tight timeline and some are more open-ended. We've worked both ways and pretty much every variation of the two. We're confident we can work out a schedule that will suit your needs.
- So let's make a record! Assuming you were happy with the facility and the folks here at JRC it's now time to move into the production process. What does that mean and entail? It's actually pretty simple on the surface. You (or you and your band) show up with your material ready and we guide you through the process of getting it recorded. So if it's that easy, what is there to discuss? Good question. Here's what:
- Be on time. JRC charges an hourly rate for everything we do. Recording, arranging, editing, mixing, etc. We begin charging at the scheduled time of the session. This is something to be aware of.
- Have a plan for the day. JRC is a very effective, but small facility. Please work with us to make the best itinerary for recording on any given day. For instance, what instruments are going to be recorded? Which players are needed? What order will instruments be tracked? What guests will be in studio? This ensures that we accomplish our goals with little to no hang-ups.
- Be ready to perform. Whether it's vocals, guitar, or triangle, it's very important that the musician recording on a particular day is rehearsed and ready to perform their parts. It saves time (i.e. money), reduces possible frustration, and leaves more time to try new things.
- Ask questions! Be involved in the process. Better understanding leads to a greater feeling of security. We love talkin' shop. The more informed you are, the more ideas you'll have.
- Focus. This is as important to us as it is to you. We pride ourself on communication with our clients. At any given moment your engineer will be listening to numerous things in the mix, in the room, and in the performances. The best advice we can offer is to take notes (mentally or on paper) and when your engineer has finished with a particular focused task you will be asked if you have any concerns or anything to add. At this point we can address what's on your mind effectively while maintaining a necessary workflow.
- Last but certainly not least, be open to new ideas. We are essentially your test listeners. However, there is a difference between us and the general public. We have the ability to directly effect what we are hearing from a position of objectivity. This is valuable and should be utilized to it's full potential. We are working to produce the best product we can in cooperation with you the artist.
So there you have it. A few things to help you prepare. There is simply no way to cover it all without writing a book. However, these guidlines and suggestions spawn from issues that tend to "float to the top" during recording projects. We look forward to working with you.
We believe (as do many others) that Junius Recording Co. is an excellent recording facility. The benefits of having professional engineers, producers, professional gear, and a well thought-out and acoustically treated space are the clear advantages of recording in a studio. But there are challenges, too. At the top of the list is budget. It's no secret that things can get tight from time to time. Even though we believe that JRC offers an excellent environment and valuable expertise at an extremely competitive rate, we understand the need or desire to take care of some of those little things in your own home studio. Other popular reasons to record on your own include time to "mess around," get inspired, or just try out multiple options on your own time. Maybe your guitar player lives in another city, or nobody has a vehicle big enough for those timpanis, or your voice really does sound amazing in your bathroom. Whatever your reason—we get it.
Before sending us tracks, a few details should be ironed out. Below are some bullet points for successfully bringing your recorded material for integration with the work done here at JRC. The list is not long, but these tips could save some time and frustration.
- Let's get on the same page. JRC and you at home need to be working at the same sample rate from the beginning. This will be listed in the project settings of whatever DAW ( digital audio workstation ) you happen to be using. If we begin with tracking at our facility, we will make sure you know what sample rate and bit depth at which to set your project. Now, this is the magical age of computers! If there is a mismatch along the way, don't sweat it! We can figure it out. Let's just start off on the right foot.
- We will provide links to various tutorial videos that we find useful to help you with the exporting of your individual tracks. This will be a little different in every DAW. It is very important that we receive contiguous .WAV or .AIFF audio files. All must start from the same origin in your project before exporting. This ensures that when we import them that all tracks line up nice and neat with all parts in place. THANK YOU in advance.
- It is best to record to an internal metronome ("click track") when working in this fashion. This ensures that your guide tracks are easy to follow and that there will be a general synchronicity as overdubs are recorded. It also ensures the ability to edit easily. Please notate your beats per minute ( BPM ) and provide us with this information for each project (song).
- Tell us what we're lookin' at. That's all. Just name your tracks with a clear (but not long) description of the instrument found on the track. Again, THANKS in advance.
- If you are going to be using an external storage device to transport your audio data to and from our facility, please make sure that your device is formatted FAT32. This is the first step to insure that Mac and Windows systems can share info.
- Last tip: What are your tracks from home going to be used for? If your tracks are going to be used simply as guide tracks (e.g., a guide track for the drummer to play to) then don't worry so much about that mini fridge humming in the background. However, if you want these tracks to be "keepers" please do your best to minimize background noise, line noise and the like. We can give you tips on how this can be done with a little better understanding of the space you will be working in.
That's it! Pretty simple, really. Thank you for your interest in working with us here at Junius Recording Co. We look forward to hearing what you come up with and are always willing to answer any questions.