How to Choose a Recording Studio

choosing

by Jon Goad

Choosing a studio for your recording project is not a decision to be taken lightly. Choosing the right studio can mean the difference between a shining success and a miserable failure of a project. Following the guidelines below can help you along in this all-too-important process.

Availability
First, consider the availability of the studio. What kind of hours do they operate? If the studio only keeps “banking hours”, and you have to work a day job so you’re only available during evenings and weekends (like most independent recording artists), that studio is obviously not going to be a good fit for your project. Even if the studio facility is available, also consider the availability of an engineer who will be able to operate the equipment. Finally, find out about the availability of equipment in the studio. Do they provide all of the necessary recording equipment, outboard gear, mics, etc., or do they expect you to bring your own?

Location
The next step in choosing a studio is to consider the location. How far is the studio from your home? How long will it take you to make the drive? This may not seem like a major issue, but what happens if you forget a critical piece of equipment, lyric sheets, capo, etc., and need to make a quick trip home to retrieve it? A final consideration here will be if you will need overnight accomodations at a hotel if recording over the course of several days or weeks. Don’t forget to include that in your estimated cost if choosing a studio that is not within a reasonable driving distance of your home.

Working Environment
Next, consider the working environment. Based upon your knowledge of the studio (either from a personal visit or from viewing photos on the studio’s website), does it seem like it will be a positive environment to work in? Do you think you’ll feel comfortable and at-ease during the recording process? Are the facilities clean and smoke-free (or dirty and smokey, depending on your preference)? Are there other adequate facilities (kitchen, restroom, etc.) in or nearby the studio? Is there a place nearby to grab a bite to eat and drink between sessions, or is the studio way out “in the sticks”?

Reputation
How did you hear about the studio? Have you heard any samples of the studio’s work? Was it recommended by a trusted friend, or did you simply stumble across their website? Remember that these days, anyone with a computer can set up an impressive page on a social-networking website, but do they really have the goods to back it up? Or is it all just virtual “smoke and mirrors”? For that matter, does the studio have a professional-looking website with their own domain name, or do they only have a page on MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter? Most reputable businesses are more than willing to go to the added trouble and expense to register their own domain and create a website to professionally represent their business.

Personalities
The next item to consider is personalities. Have you met (in person) the engineer who will be working on your project? Did you feel at ease with him or her? Did they seem like someone who will be easy to work with, or did they come across like an arrogant jerk? From speaking with them, were you impressed with their knowledge and understanding of the recording process? Did they seem enthusiastic about working with you, or as if they couldn’t care less? First impressions are important, after all.

Rates
The next item to consider are the rates that the studio charges. Every project has a budget, and it’s important that you stay within that budget so as not to “break the bank”. Does the studio charge by the hour, by the song, by the album, etc.? Do the quoted charges include the time that will be required properly mix and master your recording, or will there be extra charges for that time? Many studios offer “package prices” that appear to include all of the necessary services, but it’s important that you understand exactly what is included in the package. Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to get an estimate in writing, with all of the products and services being offered clearly spelled out on paper.

Conclusion
In conclusion, choosing a recording studio for your project is a vitally important decision, that is not to be taken lightly. Your answers to the questions above should play an important role in choosing your studio.

If you’re in the market for a studio, and you’re located near Jonesboro, Arkansas, Southeast Missouri, or West Tennessee, I hope that you’ll consider Silent Sky Studios when making this decision, and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss your project. Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions by visiting the Contact page.

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