Look, we’re all very busy so I’ll just cut to the chase: you’re not ready to record. Not even close. There’s ready, and then there’s ready, and you, my friend, are neither. Nope. Sorry. I heart you, but no.
Don’t get me wrong… you’re a good singer! But you haven’t taken enough time to prepare for the recording process. Looks like the world is going to be robbed (yet again) of your best. Isn’t it time to make a change?
Singing live and singing in the recording studio are two related but separate things. Live singing is about passion, enthusiasm, spell-casting, and connecting with the crowd. Studio singing is about your legacy, the precise way in which you want to be remembered and enjoyed as a singer. Both are equally important, but should never be confused.
I’ve been coaching vocalists for over 15 years and have had the opportunity to observe singers in a wide variety of genres. I’ve been a live performer and studio singer since I was a child, and I’ve seen every kind of performance venue and recording studio. I’ve sung on over 50 commercial recordings, including gigs in advertising, internet media, industry demos, as a session singer on other peoples’ records, and on a bunch of my own (I’m about to release my 7th record, this time with my band Diamondwolf). Along the way I occasionally made the grave mistake of being unprepared. I want to spare you this egregious error!
Here are 3 steps you can take to prepare for recording your vocals:
1) Take some voice lessons. Weekly, hour-long lessons, for a minimum of 6 weeks. That’s if you have plenty of time to work on your tracks (the vocal part you’ll be recording) in between lessons. NOTE: the optimal amount of preparation time is 3 months of lessons. Whatever you record echoes through eternity. This. Is. Your. Legacy! Get yourself to the highest level of your singing, and refuse to give any less than that. Take it seriously and you’ll be amazed how well your songs and records will stand the test of time.
2) Listen and learn songs that you love. Who are your very favorite singers, and which are your favorite songs? Listen carefully to the vocal performance, how the singer breathes…. Is it shallow or deep? Does the singer employ vibrato? How much and when? Does the performance sound alive, like the singer is right beside you, trusting you with their innermost self? Or does it sound stifled, two-dimensional, overly sculpted into something not human anymore? Put yourself inside the singer’s voice… Does it feel small and confined, or free and open? You need to seek out the latter and avoid the former. In your voice lessons, try learning a few cover songs that challenge you, songs that you think are out of your reach. Listening to the vocal phrasing, and singing the songs of other artists will lead you back to your own voice, as long as you refrain from imitation and concentrate on the physicality of your voice (see step #3). Feel how much bigger and clearer it is? Great! Now stop listening to others’ voices and concentrate on your own. Purge all other songs except the ones you’re going to record.
3) Run through a complete performance of your vocal part a minimum of 50 times (do this with your voice teacher, and also on your own). Sing it through until you hear it in your sleep and start to hate it, then keep going until you love it again. You need to be intimately familiar with the physical feeling of singing the song. It does not feel the same to sing up in your high range as it does down below, and it does not feel the same to sing loud as it does to sing soft. Put your mind inside your body and get physical! The emotional part of your performance will emerge from this process. Think of it like this: your emotions are a powerful current of energy that needs to be grounded by a strong body. Connect the two and you’re golden.
I hope you find this helpful! Please feel free to contact me with comments and questions.