Pre-Production: Noun. The most important step of the recording process which takes the most time but reaps the most savings in time, cost and liver damage.
Here is my pre-production process.
1) Meet with the band
My initial meeting with the band usually involves instruments but very little playing. The number 1 goal of any meeting is to make everybody feel comfortable and heard. If they bring instruments, there's an expectation that we will listen to the songs in their live form and really capture how the music is suppose to convey their message.
- Prep for meeting:
- Ask band for all lyrics, charts, paper napkins with structure that they can find. If they don't have it, they have to come up with some sort of road map to their music for you. This way we have a common GPS to navigate their music
- Bring any demos they might have recorded (just to hear what they might be thinking in terms of recording) but tell them that their live performance is much more important.
- Start an spread sheet to map out possible input sheets per song
- At the meeting
- Always start it exactly on time. This establishes the tone for the entire project. This lets the band know you mean business and that their and your time is valuable and is not to be wasted.
- True story. In my corporate life, there was a culture of showing up 5 minutes late to meetings. I started my meetings exactly on time, and sometimes started speaking to nobody in the room.When people finally walked in (after some odd looks) nobody was ever late to one of my meetings again, and they appreciated the fact that I wasn't there to waste anybody's time.
- Take copious notes!
- What is the style (fashion) of the band?
- Sometimes this can say a lot about the attitude of their music
- What their coffee order was
- What their ideas of their music is about
- What are their influences
- What do they want to get out of this process
- Listen to them play live
- What is the song structure?
- What is the tone of the music?
- Love song
- Do you want to reproduce their live sound or go with a more produced sound?
These are just a few things in the pre-production meeting that we look at. This is your opportunity to get to know the band and establish a working relationship with them and deliver your expectations. Remember, you need to be extremely organized in order to give direction and allow the band to just worry about the creativity, not the nuts and bolts of the recording process.
Next up... scheduling