Choosing An Engineer/Studio

Determining what you shooting for and explaining it to the potential engineer in advance is an important part of the production process. Many times especially with novice or intermediate artist/producers there are things you might be unsure of. Don’t be afraid to question the engineer about any uncertainties you may have. With any level of experience there are definitely things that need to be explained and/or asked up front to avoid misunderstandings, thereby making your recording endeavor the best it can be.
    • How do you charge and what are your rates?
      • Some people charge by the hour, some by the day, others charge per tune or per project. Many times an engineer or studio will customize a deal for you depending on the amount of work you will be doing. Find out exactly what is included in the rate and what are considered “extra” charges. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Make sure, if they are charging per tune or project, what they believe the time limits are. What might seem like a great deal could turn into a big headache if their idea of how long a song or album takes to record and your ideas are different. People can cut an album in a day or it may take months. Neither approach is right or wrong. It is all dependent on your budget and expectations. Let these be know right off the bat and your project will have the best chance of turning out the way you want it.
    • Who have you worked for and what did you do?
      • Ask specifically what the engineer has done with their particular clients. Some people may have engineered a tambourine or a guitar overdub on a platinum album and have a RIAA award on their wall for it. Or they played an instrument on it [many musicians today moonlight as “engineers”]. Although they get an award for working on the project it doesn’t mean they are a good engineer. Generally, if they cut the rhythm track, recorded the main vocals or mixed the project and the sound is good you can assume they have the chops needed to do quality work. Ask for referrals and call their clients to find out how happy they were with the engineers work and what duties the engineer performed. Listen to copies of work the engineer has done in the genre of music you will be performing.
  • What is your approach to recording projects?
    • There are many different approaches to engineering today. Traditional boundaries between engineers and producers have blurred. Ask your potential engineer what his recording philosophy is. How does he get his sound and what sounds does he personally like? What medium does he record to? [this could become and issue if you plan on working with different people in different studios] How does he like to track? Everyone at once, or drums and scratch instruments recorded direct with those being replaced later? Is he willing to listen to your input? [you are paying for his services after all] If need be, can he help direct your project in a production sense?

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