At the session
Part 2 – to read part 1 go here
Be friendly and communicative with your engineer, you want them on your side.
Don’t presume they know what you are talking about. It would be great if they were psychic but they probably aren’t.
Getting a good headphone mix
Although this is only what you are hearing when you record, and not what goes to tape, (computer)
Getting a comfortable balance in your headphones is crucial for you to perform well.
Keep calm ! get what you want and need in your mix.
Think – what do you need to hear?, if you are the bass player you may need to hear more of the drummer and not so much of the singer.
If you are the singer you might need to hear more of the instruments that are carrying the main tuning clues.
The drummer probably will not want any drums at all in their mix.
Develop the communication skills and language to work in harmony with your engineer, getting what you need to deliver a good performance makes you ahead of the game. (this goes for the sound person when you play live too!)
Get some things turned down, leaving you with the elements you need most, you can then ask for the overall volume of your headphone mix to go up.
If you are singing, keep one side of your headphones off your ear. This will help with your tuning. Make sure the side you have taken off is pressed against your head so the track is not leaking into your microphone.
It maybe that the engineer can only supply you with two versions of the headphone mix, in which case you have compromise with your band mates.
At the session Part 2
Know your lyrics this helps you emote better. It also means you are not distracted, and stepping away from your mic to look at your words. Take a typed out copy of your lyrics and arrangement for the engineer. It makes it easy for them to mark the different parts of your song and makes dropping in a breeze.
Back off for really loud notes, let the engineer know in advance if there are any “screaming bits”
Remember where you are standing in relation to the mic, if you do have to replace a couple of lines it makes it easier to match your sound and shows your professionalism.
No Backing Singers or visitors in general
you are at the studio to work (except you are paying for it) So don’t bring guests!
Avoid inviting your boyfriend/girlfriend to sing backing vocals unless that is what they do for a living.
If harmonies are your thing, sort out all the parts and make sure they work, before you get to the studio.
Record the separate parts to your laptop or phone so you have a reference.
If you read notation, write them out. And if in doubt, leave them out!
Prioritise your songs, finish the strongest one first before starting “that great new one”
You’re much better off coming out of the studio with 2 well recorded songs than 5 demos
Take a tuner and check everyones tuning before each song.
if you are using a capo on your guitar make sure you tune again after putting on the capo