When you have a song in your head and you are looking for a perfect studio. Many things can be overwelming. In this blog I will discuss how to choose the right studio for your session. This guide is applicable for singers, rappers, voice actors and many more who are looking to find the right studio.
Who am I?
Maybe it’s your first time on my website and maybe you already know me. My name is Ljamis Khalaf and I am a music producer from the Netherlands and the owner of Daddynervs Music. In my studio I’m writing emotional piano ballads for singers. With my articles, such as this one, I am helping by sharing my mistakes, my vision and my opinion.
For over 25 years I have played the piano and this is why I am making piano ballad instrumentals. I have written music for artists in the USA, Europe and Asia. I have also written for movies and shortfilms. One even got nominated for best musical composition!
In this blogpost I am going to talk about how you can find your perfect studio for recording, because many of my clients have struggled with this. Sometimes feeling down because they cannot afford the expensive studio’s where all the major artists are. In this blogpost you will learn that this does not matter at all. Curious..?
Why go to a Studio?
Recording your voice is a specialized process that needs to be done by a professional. You can read tons of blogs on how to do it yourself and gear is not that expensive anymore. But be real with me. Would you have a professional recording? There is a reason studio’s excist and producers and engineers have been working for years to master their skills. Some of them are allround and some specialize in more detail. most important is they have the knowledge that you don’t have at the moment.
It’s also important that you understand that you need engineers and producers. Ofcourse, you are customer, but it’s not your local grocery store that you are walking in too. You have to work together to make the best song possible. If you want to be treated as a king, go fiverr and stop reading this blog.
Another important aspect of a perfect studio is that a studio engineer will guide you through the process. They have worked with so many artists, they already know how to make you relax. You will receive advice on everything and this is priceless.
Where do you start?
Deciding to go to a perfect studio can be a major desicion for your career as an artist (or voice actor, or maybe something else). You want to find the best studio possible for your budget, Spoiler alert… You have to pay them! No seriously. You have to pay the owner, and There is a saying that when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. I truly believe this. But this doesn’t mean that it has to be expensive.
Before you start searching for studio’s you have to decide what kind of studio you would like and decide if this fits your budget. In the following paragraphs I will help you decide.
Company Studio or Home Studio?
There’s more on this subject later on in this blog. A company studio (it’s just what I call it) is a studio that the owner is renting (or has bought). These studio’s are typically larger and cost more, because the rent of the studio is calculated in the price. It does not matter if you choose a company or home studio for the quality of your song. I’m going to repeat this again.
It does NOT matter which studio you pick for the quality of your song!
Can’t say that enough. The bigger company studio’s have a lot of vintage gear that you won’t use for your voice, they have a lot of space that can fit choirs, that you won’t use. Well, you may use it at a certain point, but I guess when you are reading this blog you are starting out right?
Analog gear or digital?
You have probably heared of the term ‘plugins’ A piece of software that can manipulate sound, add an effect, remove frequencies, add distortion and so on… Well.. Analog gear are physical plugins. I believe that plugins can emulate the best sounds. But some prefer the old ways with analog gear (also known as vintage gear sometimes). When you want your song to be processed by analog gear, you will pay more.
Producer vs enigneer?
A producer is someone who writes the song with you, and therefore get’s royalties. An engineer is someone who works on your song, who gets paid, but does not get’s royalties. If you have the idea to make a new song, you can go to a producer and ask for a new production. You will pay hundreds of dollars of not thousands, as an advance against royalyies. So once you generate income with royalties, you get to keep the producers part, because you already paid him (or her).
If you have a instrumental, or a beat, or you have an arrangment in guitar or piano. A studio engineer is the best option for you. They are cheaper and can make the worst music come to life. Typically you will pay them by the hour or per project
Different kind of studio’s
Music studio’s can vary a lot and this is noticable in price. As described above we actually have 2 types of studio’s: A company studio that is renting a place somewhere and a home studio. I talked about the company studio a bit before, so now let’s take the route down to home studio’s.
A home studio doesn’t have to be cheap. It’s depending on the size and gear that they use. But also their popularity. Some home studio’s invested in a lot of vintage gear and this money has to come back at some point. Others have a minimal set up and invested in software, which is just as good as analog/vintage gear.
Big, small, luxurious, basic, it does not matter at all! What matters is the guy who is working the knobs. The quality of your song is depending on a studio engineer or producer. For example: I have a small minimalistic studio at home. Professional and luxurious. I am writing the most beautiful songs here and when working with artists, the vibe is on point. Why? Because I don’t have to yell to communicate cause someone is practicing guitar. Because I don’t have to talk through a mic to a headphone, that the singer has only over 1 ear. And I can go on like this for days.
What to focus on?
If you are ready to choose a perfect studio, focus on 3 important things.
The studio owner
The studio owner, producer, engineer, however you want to call it. He or she has to be professional. You need to have the feeling that you are in the right hands. And also very important. Professionals work during office hours. They really do. You can ask for a night session if you like, but I guarantee that they will say no.
And for the ladies.. If a studio owner invites you only in the evening, or at night.. Don’t go. Please don’t go. There are a lot of shady persons out there who just don’t understand sh*t. Just.. don’t go. Okay? Good.
The space where you will be recording.
The space where you are recording must be treated. There should be acoustic panels on the walls and/or ceiling. If you are not certain just yell several times, or clap your hands. If there is too much echo, you will notice. It will sound like a big empty room. That’s not good. It should sound pleasant.
If for whatever reason the room sounds terrible and the studio owner will offer to record with a mic shield (see photo). Don’t fall for it. A mic shield is meant for helping and not fixing
Which microphone will you be using?
There are a lot of microphones out there. In my own studio I am using different microphones for different applications. I really like to use the Rode NT1A for rap vocals, and I love to use my Aston origin for recording a guitar. It all depeneds on taste of the studio owner or engineer. I use my mics because I know them by now and I have worked with them for a long period. but in general a good rule is that you should ask the producer/engineer about the microphone that you will be recording in.
A studio owner will tell you everything you need to know about the microphone. The price, the features, how it sounds, why it sound good for you. If you feel that the studio owner knows what he is talking about go for it. If not. just walk away..
No really.. A good quality depends only on the studio owner, the room and the microphone. Those are the three basic things that need to be perfect. If one of them is not perfect, just walk away.
By now you have learned the basic things to search for when looking for a music studio to record your song. The most important thing that I forgot to mention above is that you communicate with each other. Good communication will make your song come to life. So if you want to ask something, ask! If you want to change someting, ask!
I’m excited to know about your experience in searching for the perfect studio. You can leave a comment below.