How important is pre production to a successful recording? What a funny question. I had someone ask me that at a client meeting the other day. It made me laugh out loud.
Pre production will save you tons of time and money is the short answer.
Rather than sit in the studio and experiment you do it you before you get there. This is not to say that you don’t experiment in the studio, just that you have some real ideas as to what you want and where you want to go with the tune, the arrangement and the project as a whole.
On your own ,with no hourly rate, try the song in different keys and different tempos. Find the place that serves the song and your particular gifts as a vocalist and/or musician.
Many people fall in love with a guitar part, say, and though the key doesn’t serve the song, they keep it there because they can’t play that guitar thing in any other key. Silly.
If you can’t play some favorite thing in another key, then hire someone to do it and watch how they do it. Then you practice it so that when you play live, you CAN do it.
Believe me, making up great stufff is a gift, it’s true, but once it is made up, anyone can play it. It may take you longer than it takes me, but you’ll get it. It’s only practice.
And another part of pre production is playing the songs live before you record them.
It’s amazing, but they take on a life of their own when played live. You can tell right away which part doesn’t work and which part should be repeated, or not repeated.
Sometimes some line becomes the line that really defines the song and should be repeated. You feel like saying it again when you get to it. So try live and see if it works.
The audience is only too happy to communicate to you which part of your arrangement is or is not working.
And don’t worry about sequencing, as once the songs are recorded it will be intuitively obvious which songs pop right out of the speakers and which ones are more subtle.