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5 Recording Mistakes All New Bands Make — And How To Avoid Them

by Shane Mehling
music & audio

recording mistakes musicians make

You finally have the songs, the time and the money. You’ve picked the studio and the person that will record it. So what can go wrong? A whole lot. But so you only have to deal with the small fires that flare up during every studio session, try to avoid these following recording mistakes at all costs:

1. Not Playing the Material Live First
It is not a great idea to wander into the studio without having played your songs in front of other people. It’s not like after your set is done you’ll poll the audience, but if you’re perceptive at all, you’ll know when something is effective and when it’s a lead balloon. Going from your practice space to the studio is just going from one bubble to another, and you need to give them space.

2. Not Letting the Material Cool
You also need to let them breathe. You don’t eat a cookie right off the baking sheet and you also shouldn’t record a song that you wrote the day before, or even a couple weeks before. Songs that seem amazing right after creation can wind up pretty irritating given enough time. Demoing songs and listening to them over and over will allow you to figure out if what you have is ready or needs to bake a little longer.

3. Not Practicing Enough
It is hard to top the awkwardness, frustration and dreariness of being in a studio when one member of the band just can’t get something right. It can happen even to the most seasoned musicians, but it definitely happens to those who don’t spend their free time beforehand working on their parts and wind up flubbing them for way too long while the rest of their bandmates cringe behind the engineer.

4. Each Member for Themselves
If your guitar solo was perfect on the take where the drummer dropped a stick then you need to figure out, as a band, which is more important. You write music together, you play shows together, you should be able to decide what is better for the record. But so often it turns into crab mentality, where each member cares only about how good they sound. And that not only makes the process take longer and increase the chances for a blowup, but focusing on one instrument is rarely what makes a song actually good.

5. Making it the Most Important Thing in the World
Recording is exciting, stressful and you want the very best music to come out of it. But even if you do everything right, when it’s done you may think to yourself, “This is it?” Post-recording doldrums are very common because the record has sounded like this in your head for so long that you can feel you wasted so much time and energy just to hear it sound like that. That’s why the first day you get back to the practice space, you put those songs and the studio and the whole process out of your head and start writing something new.

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Shane Mehling

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.