Preproduction and Preplanning Before Recording

Blackwater Recording in Wirtz, VA, Offers Industry Insight

This month, we will focus on preproduction and preplanning before recording. Welcome back to Blackwater Recording, where we will be reviewing ways to use our recording time wisely. By the time we are through, you may see that preplanning can reduce stress and may save you some money.

As any artist knows, time spent in the recording studio can be a very exciting and creative time. At market rates, this time can also create a lot of expense if you are not careful. Bringing together professional talent in a studio setting also has its challenges. Before you set your session, here are a few important pointers.


Make Sure You Have Everything Prepared Before Recording

Last time, we mentioned some recording session management techniques. Much like planning the tracks of your digital files, consider all the “pieces and parts” that you intend for the studio. Make a list, and check it at least twice. Know before you go that you have everything prepared as best you can for the recording session ahead.

If you have any participants coming to the studio from outside the area, they may need extra time for travel. Due to the current “virtual reality” many of us work in today, this can be a challenge. Factor in what it will take to gather everyone together, in person.


Bring All Gear for the Studio, and Plan Extras

Consider all the gear you intend to use, and make a list of those items. Plan on bringing some “extras” along — drumsticks, guitar strings, straps, and more. Write these extra items into your planning list. If you “intend to purchase any extras” before your studio session, accomplish this before calling your list complete.

You know what it is like during rehearsal and performance. It’s always the little things that can make a big problem. Strings and straps can break; a pedal or mic may go on the fritz. Have a backup, and maybe an alternate for the backup, if necessary. Bringing extra gear along may require a slightly longer load-in time. But it may save you from having to re-book your session entirely due to equipment failure.


Next, Have Everything Well-Rehearsed

Most every musician or performer has heard the question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, of course, is “Practice, practice, practice.” The same holds true for this tip from Blackwater Recording: Know it before you come in the door.

Have all of your material well-rehearsed so you know how you intend to perform it. Be sure every artist knows their parts and is comfortable with the arrangement. Rehearsing your material does not take away from the spontaneity or creativity of the studio experience. You may do yourself a disservice by leaving things to chance.

Consider the added time and expense of “trying” things at the studio. It is one thing to perform multiple takes in order to record the best ones. It can be a big waste of time if someone in the group does not know their part well. The best performers recognize the value of rehearsing.


Time for a Dress Rehearsal, Breaks, and More

You may want to plan for a “dress rehearsal” the day before your recording session. This will give everyone time to check over gear or work out any performance issues beforehand. It may also give you an opportunity to smooth your performance timing, or even plan when to take breaks.

Speaking of breaks, pack “creature comforts,” like extra bottled water or snacks to keep up your energy. This kind of preplanning can make or break a session if you have a large group or lengthy project. Think ahead about the size of the group and allow time for rest breaks so everyone performs at their best.


The Takeaway: Save Time and Money, and Have a Better Finished Product

Naturally, there will always be the unexpected hiccups that may occur. Taking time for preproduction and preplanning can help you weather the unexpected both inside and outside the recording studio. Let’s take another quick look:

  • Gathering all your “pieces and parts” ahead of time, and making a comprehensive list, will help keep your project organized from start to finish.
  • Knowing all of the players are present, available, and well-rehearsed will save you a lot of time waiting and wondering.
  • Preproduction in the form of rehearsal and practice will smooth over possible performance issues.


The ultimate takeaway will be a smoother recording session resulting in saving time and money, and a better finished product. And isn’t this the goal of why you book a studio session in the first place?


To consult or schedule with the professionals at Blackwater Recording, Inc., call us at  (540) 721-1413. All hours are by appointment only. Check back to read our blog regularly, where we feature tips like preproduction and preplanning before recording.