Recently, my band was in the studio recording a new single. This particular session was one of the more challenging sessions I’ve experienced in a while for a number of reasons that I’ll go into shortly.
But nonetheless, confronting and pushing through these challenges definitely made for a better end result! Each time I go into the studio I learn new things about recording, the industry and myself. Here are my reflections and learnings from this experience.
Focus on Singles:
The first major shift after releasing our debut EP in April has been that we are now focusing on singles. My band has always focused on singles to be honest (releasing 4 of them before the EP drop).
However, this time, we have no idea whether the singles we are putting out will end up on a bigger body of work.
In the time of streaming where songs are listened to on playlists, at random as suggested by platforms like Spotify, or simply one-by-one as selected by the user, singles really are the way forward for new bands.
The EP/LP model still has it’s place (for now) in my opinion, but only when your audience is at the level that it demands that much content. It’s just a supply/demand principle.
In the meantime, it’s a good rule of thumb with most things to keep people wanting more. Check out my recent chat with Melbourne’s Marshall Street Studios where we talk about how the EP and LP model came about and why it’s potentially no longer relevant in today’s modern music industry.
The second major change is how we approach writing. We are now going into the studio with several demoed options for the next single, rather than having a track pre-determined to work on.
Our producer gets out his ‘burn book’ and gives feedback on each and what he thinks will work well going forward and we all decide as a group.
We also talk about the song’s outcomes, what we want it to sound like and more. This gives us a clear direction so for example if we know that we want the song to be radio friendly (based on our band’s goals), we’re not exactly going to throw in a 2 minute guitar solo.
This isn’t about not being true to our art or anything like that or doing something only because it’s ‘cool,’ it’s more about ensuring you actually sound how you want to sound and are keeping the listener in mind.
I feel that often bands don’t actually know how to get the particular sound they desire, which then plays into the type of audience they attract.
The overall goal should be to develop your truest, most unique sound and a song people will love. Because if no one else likes it, you may as well stay in your bedroom, amiright?
The chosen song is then workshopped in the studio to ensure that each individual part of the track brings something to the overall piece of work.
Vocals are definitely not exempt from this process and as the song is worked on often I’m needing to write or re-write parts in the studio. As someone who really cares about the lyrics in their songs, the pressure of getting this done in a short amount of time can be a lot.
In fact, many times over the course of 3 days I struggled with being pushed so far outside my comfort zone and write at the same time, I didn’t know if I’d be able to get my parts done in time.
But I did – we all did. This was hugely gratifying that after so many years as a musician we were able to achieve this.
Emphasis on the Producer
By the time most bands come to me, they have already recorded their single/EP/album and just need help with the release strategy and marketing plans. They already have worked with a producer and already know what their singles are going to be.
But if they haven’t worked with the right producer for them, this obviously plays into the end results (hello, rock single that is 6 minutes in length).
Working with a producer who pushes you, ensures you aren’t writing the same thing over and over and isn’t afraid to get a little weird (both with music and banter) is essential.
This is why I never recommend bands record music themselves. The results are frankly never as good as working with someone who has vision, experience and a bigger perspective on things.
A producer’s job is not to record your pre-pro demos with better gear. Their job is to work with you to help mold your sound, whilst also pushing you and your songs to be the best you/they can be.
If you’re not already working with someone who is working with you on this deeper level, I urge you to do so for your next release.
Leave your ego at the door
Another thing to remember is to leave your ego at the door. As I’ve already mentioned, I found this past weekend super challenging as I was trying things I’ve never done before and had to confront a fear that I’ve realised many musicians have, that the next song may not be as good as the last.
It’s a leap of faith that we all must take if we want to keep striving for bigger and better things. We must learn to trust others that know more than us whilst also letting go of the fact that we aren’t perfect.
There’s always room to improve and if you don’t think so, well you are definitely wrong – I mean have more faith in yourself, homie!
On Finding a Producer:
Look for someone who has worked with local bands who are breaking through right now. Bands that are starting to get on bigger tours, play the small stages of festivals, have gotten management and booking agents in the past year or so and most importantly, who sound different to the sea of other bands out there!
That being said, I have now opened up a new 6-month package for bands that know they’re in this for the long-haul.
This is a consulting package that goes far beyond promoting your band. Working with me for 6 months allows us to work aspects of your band such as your short and long-term goals, music, image direction and more that will truly shift you to the next level in your career.
And yes, part of this will be finding the right producer for you in accordance with your goals.
During our time you will have unlimited support from me through messenger and email and scheduled video calls were we create your epic strategy and I hold you accountable.
Think of me like a manager on call except you’re actually learning the skills to be self-sufficient until you find the right person for you.