Every team has a coach that lays out a game plan and dictates the plays that are made during the game. They can’t win the game on their own, but teams with poor leadership can rarely win. The coach is just as important as the plan they put forward. Great players, coaches, and plans are all required to win the game.
The same idea applies to your productions. You need a plan before you get in the game.
The word for plan in the audio world is pre-production. Pre-production means a lot of things to different people and it includes:
- Songwriting – Just like a mix, no song is ever really finished. You just call it a day. With that in mind, there may be some work that can be done to the song before you think about recording. The strength of the entire production rests on the song itself, so give it the attention it deserves.
- Musicianship – Great performances really make the song sing. A musician that knows a song inside and out will do more for the song than the reverb you add in mixing. So make sure the musicianship is the best it can be, right now. A little practice never hurt.
- Studio Prep Time – Before you get the band or the players into a recording environment, check to see that all your gear is working. Set up the bands gear and make sure it sounds the best it can. Take a day before recording to really explore mic placement.
The biggest tool you have in your arsenal for pre-production? Paper and pencil. Or a white board and dry-erase markers. Make charts, drawings, or just write out the plan so you know what you have to do.
As they say, plan your work, work your plan.
Joe Gilder at Home Studio Corner published this great piece on the power and fun of pre-production. Here’s a snippet:
Are you familiar with pre-production? Do you do pre-production on your projects? Do you think it’s dorky? Let me tell you why I think pre-production is just as important — if not MORE important — than the recording, editing, and mixing stages of the pre-production process.
If you’ve been neglecting pre-production, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. It’s a great opportunity to make mistakes and really find the vision of the song you’ll pursue before you start putting things to tape.
The next time you plan a session, get a game plan. Pre-produce to make production a breeze.