Studios are small spaces and often have a lot of people crammed into them. I’ve put together a list here of things that I consider to be important in maintaining an air of professionalism when in the studio. These things may seem to be simple and self explanatory but they go along way.
- Be clean- This should be fairly obvious but for some reason musicians have a hard time with this one. Make sure that you not only bathe on a daily basis but wear clothes that are clean and freshly laundered. Cleanliness goes a long way in the professional world. And if your goal is to someday make music your business this is probably the single most important thing that you can do to elevate your status as a professional. To put it simply, no one is going to want to work with you if they can’t stand to sit next to you.
- Go easy on the cologne/perfume- This isn’t quite as obvious as being clean but most people don’t realize that a small amount of cologne or perfume goes a long way. This is especially true in small spaces like the studio. It gets even worse when everyone in a studio is wearing a different brand.
- Be Professional- I’ve met a lot of different people in the studio from all walks of life but the single greatest compliment I can give an artist/band is that they handled themselves as professionals while in my studio. This seems like it should go without saying but as an artist/band you never know who is watching. The music industry is exceptionally small and the professionals that work in it on a regular basis talk to each other. ESPECIALLY ENGINEERS. To put it simply, be on your best behavior and show up ready to dig in and get things done because you never know who might recommend you for something down the road.
- Be punctual- Being on time is an important thing that musicians often overlook. Quite simply put, not being able to show up on time is just throwing money out the window. If a band/artist has scheduled five days of studio time and shows up an hour late each day, you’re going to go over budget in a hurry. And as cost seems to be the biggest concern for most bands/artists I’ve worked with it gets really irritating when a band/artist doesn’t show up on time and then complains about how much making a record is costing them. Its extremely unprofessional.
- Be direct/decisive/communicate effectively- Being direct and giving yes or no answers to questions doesn’t seem like it should be a huge issue in the studio but I’ve seen bands waste hours on decisions that should realistically only take a few minutes. To put it simply, if a problem arises please tell us about it directly. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen sessions go sour because someone decides to take a passive aggressive approach to a problem and ends up sulking in the corner for the remainder of the night. It’s entirely unprofessional and needs to be left at home.
- Leave your significant other/children at home- To put it simply, there often isn’t room in a studio for everyone to bring their significant other. The other reason I ask that people leave their S. O. home is that they are enerally not objective and are often counterproductive to the recording process. Bands/artists also have their own internal relationships and in the studio the priority is the band/artist. This relationship can be unnerving for a S. O. and I’ve seen more than one session get canceled because a band member was given an ultimatum by their S. O. to choose between them and the band. Children should also be left at home. My studio is filled with expensive gear and the last thing I want to do is bill you for a $5,000 preamp that your child just spilled his drink on.
- Try it- Don’t be afraid to try something new in the studio. Some of the greatest moments on a record are simply the product of having the attitude to be open to trying something new.
- Drugs- Illegal drugs and narcotics are never allowed. As a law abiding citizen I will call the cops if I suspect that you are bringing anything illegal into my studio.
- Alcohol/Smoking/Vaping- Each studio I’ve been to has a different policy on alcohol and smoking. In my studio I only allow bottled water in the booths and the control room. I do permit beer or wine during meals though. I’ve though long and hard about what to write about smoking and vaping. The simple truth is if you smoke, you stink. On top of that cigarette smoke destroys electronics. From my point of view sitting next to someone who has just smoked isn’t only bad for my health, but bad for my microphones and all of my studio gear which has the potential to cost me tons of money in repairs. If at all possible I urge you to leave smoking and vaping at home. If you can’t do that, be respectful of those of us who don’t smoke and have no desire to and smoke in designated smoking areas (25 feet away from any doors). I’d like to also note that if you are a heavy smoker and need a smoke break every hour you should take what ever your budget is and double it.
- Food/drinks- Studios are expensive and as such the only thing I allow in my booths or the control room are drinks that have a screw on cap. I don’t allow food at all unless it is in a designated eating area. And please at the end of the night throw your trash in the trash cans. This may seem really simple but will go a long way with whatever studio you decide to record at.
-S. F. Shields
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