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Recording 101
Will Griffin

    Although every recording session naturally has its variations, there are some things that remain the same about them and it doesn't matter the song, the music genre, the musicians, or the artist.

    FIRST:  In order to have any chance of getting radio airplay, a meaningful listing on the web, serious considerations by record labels, serious consideration from major artists to record, and to have the quality necessary to successfully create interests to sell CDs; you need to hire and have American Federation of Musicians (AFM) experienced studio musicians involved in the creation of your project.  As with hiring anybody for any kind of job, check their education, experiences, affiliations, work samples, and references.

    SECOND:  If you are not the songwriter of the composition, you owe a copyright royalty to the person(s) who did write it and to the company that holds the publishing on the song or works.

    THIRD:  In the "Music Business", it is a BUSINESS.  Music is only a modify adjective to the subject noun. 

    FOURTH:  After meeting all of the business requirements, only then it is time and can you focus on the music and/or creative part of your project, and then you can concentrate on the fun part of this, where it is unquestionably true that you cannot entertain anybody else, until you entertain yourself first.

    FIFTH:  You have to do all of the pre-production, beyond preparing for your own parts.  You will probably over-rehearse yourself to the point of being mechanical, stale and boring by doing this, which is really only focusing on your own ego.  The more comprehensive attention paid to pre-production, the more confident and expressive you will feel in making your recording.

    SIXTH:  In pre-production, it is the responsibility of all parties to openly communicate.  Let the producer and the session leader do their job in directing you and the project, but you have final say, certainly if it is your money being spent.  Let the session leader help you choose the musicians who have the "sound" your project requires.

    SEVENTH:  To play in "harmony", the golden rule applies here as much as anywhere, however, he who pays the gold makes the rules also applies.  This is especially true in the selection of material, arrangements, musicians, background singers, and studio.

    EIGHTH:  Let the AFM studio musicians explore ideas and do what they know how to do best.  It is fine to say something like: "I heard a 'Jimmy Hendrix' guitar part playing fills here or taking the lead there", in fact, this can be helpful and the guitar player may already have something like this in mind.  But with this bit of direction, let the players "play".  This is what you've hired them to do.

    NINTH:  Realize that once the groove is established by the rhythm tracks, thanks to overdubs, other instruments and more polished vocals can be added later.

    TENTH:  Always plan for it to take longer than planned.  This not only includes laying down the basic tracks, but overdubs, polishing vocals, mixing and mastering.  Nothing worse than having a solid foundation on a project, then to lose it in dubs, vocals, or mix, because you rushed musicians, engineers, rushed yourself, and didn't allow for enough studio time.  By the same token, always have a song back that you can put some time to it, if things really go well and the priority tracks lay quickly.

    ELEVENTH:  Promptly pay the musicians, the studio, royalties, and all other expenses you owe for your project.  If you think your talent is worth professional results, you have to be a professional and that includes hiring professionals and paying them their professional pay scale.

    TWELFTH:  Realize that your completed product has value for several reasons including: as a songwriter's demo, as a vocalist's demo, CD sales, royalties, and that this is yet another step in the process of you producing and promoting your talents and projects.  If you make it fun and fair for all, guess who you can call to do it again and even more successfully?


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