5 Steps for Planning a Song Recording Project

Deciding to go into a recording studio to record your project opens up a ton of options. Once you’ve committed to the idea, the best way to move forward is to put together a plan. This is the initial step in the process known as pre-production. In planning, you want to factor all aspects of the project into the equation – from the scope of the project and your budget for its completion, to where it will be done and what instruments will be used.

Let’s take a closer look at planning your next project.

  • Step One: Setting Goals

The best place to start is by assessing what you’d like the recording to be. Is it just one song? A three song demo? A full album? What do you want to gain from the process? A record deal? A song writing contract? Some gigs with your band? The answers to questions like these should form the basis of your plan, which will govern your project going forward. One more key question with regard to this stage of planning: what’s your budget?

  • Step Two: Choosing a Studio

Next, you’ll want to pick a studio to record in. This may mean using a studio you know, or using the web to help you search for and find another studio. Having a good idea of the size and scope of the project will help you in deciding on a studio. If you need to track four or five different musicians, simultaneously or at once, you’ll have certain physical requirements that the studio must meet. A little research will go a long way when it comes to picking a recording studio, so do your homework.

  • Step Three: Contact the Studio

The next logical step in planning a recording session is to contact the studio you’re interested in recording at. This initial call may be to the studio manager or the engineer, but in either case you should outline your project’s goals to them. Based on their responses and feedback, you can decide whether or not to move forward with the studio. You want to cover technical concerns, certainly, but you also need to discuss the budget. Before you sign any agreement with a studio, be certain that they have the technology and know-how to get the project done, and that you have the money to afford their services.

  • Step Four: Prepare for Recording

Once you’ve scheduled the recording sessions, the next step is to prepare. This means making sure you’ve got all the resources you need for recording. This is where the real pre-production intensifies. If you have a song that needs pedal steel guitar, for example, you need to make sure that you have the instrument on-hand and someone to play it, if you don’t play it yourself. This may mean you have to discuss adding session musicians with the engineer. Session musicians will need to be scheduled ahead of the day of recording, so this should be addressed as early as possible. Likewise, if there’s any gear or tools you need, you should work on sourcing it well before the sessions start.

  • Step Five: Packing for the Studio

It may seem obvious, but packing for the studio is a lot like packing for a gig. You’ll want to make sure you have all of your instruments, strings, picks, drumsticks, and/or any other accessories needed to make your session run smoothly. The best advice is to pack extras of everything. Leave nothing to chance when heading to the studio. It’s also appropriate to check with the studio to see what their policies on food and drink are. You may want to bring a snack or some bottled water to the sessions. Basically, the idea is to arrive at the studio needing nothing, so that you can focus on capturing great performances while recording.