Vocals are one of the most important part of a song. From lyrics to melody, vocals are what a listener will best remember when they listen to a track.
While the correct equipment is critical to use when recording vocals and will add the proper touches, we aren’t talking about which mics, preamps, or compressors to use.
Today, we will discuss can do as Music Producers and Audio Engineers to make our vocalists be able to give the best performance possible in the studio.
Table Of Contents:
- Put Them At Ease
- Encourage a Thorough Warm-Up
- Provide Water or Tea
- Record In Different Sections
- Take Breaks If Necessary
- Maximize Your Music Talent Today
1. Put Them at Ease
Make sure you can be flexible with time in the session. You don’t want them to feel like they are being rushed in and pushed out. This will add a hefty dose of pressure and likely impact their performance.
They shouldn’t be worrying about time or anything else other than the task at hand,.
Many times not only will these vocalists be walking into a room full of strangers, but now they’re going to be asked to sing in front of them. That can be daunting for some vocalists.
It’s okay to just hang out for a few minutes with that person. There’s no need to rush into recording as soon as they walk in the studio.
2. Encourage a Thorough Warm-Up
Vocal warm-ups are essential for high-quality singing.
Some vocalists may have warmed up earlier in the day or on the way to the studio, but it's better to not take chances. Grab them some water and simply ask them if they have had a chance to go through their vocal warm-up routine.
If not, ask them to take care of it now so they can provide their best performance.
We have constructed an article detailing excellent vocal warm-up exercises. Click here if you'd like to view it for ideas and suggestions.
3. Provide Water or Tea
Chances are, your vocalist is hyper-focused on their singing part and the lyrics. If warming up has slipped their mind, it is likely that hydrating has been forgotten as well.
There is also a chance the vocalist you are working with leans toward the introvert/shy side of the spectrum. They may not feel comfortable asking for some water. On top of that, the worst thing that could happen is a vocalist drinking something that could harm their performance.
Make sure to stay away from:
Alcohol: Wine can dry your throat out and bubbly alcohol beverages like beer can cause burping and a bloating feeling.
Milk/chocolate milk: Dairy can cause excessive phlegm and make a vocalist feel like they are constantly clearing their throat.
Coffee: Caffeine in coffee may help your singer perk up, but coffee is a diuretic, which will significantly dehydrate your vocalist (and defeat the purpose of drinking anything at all).
To effectively alleviate this situation, have some room temperature (or slightly cool) water or tea prepared for the singer as soon as they arrive.
4. Record in Different Sections
It’s beneficial to run through the song together without any microphones or headphones, just to get the idea before you start recording.
Also, make sure to spice up the recording track a little bit so it doesn’t sound so raw. A bit of EQ, Compression, and reverb can give the vocalist a higher sense of confidence when they listen back to their last recording.
Remember when we were discussing warm-ups?
Going through the track as a warm-up, while recording, is also a great idea. Let the vocalist know that you will just be running through as a warm-up so there’s not so much pressure.
Keep these warm-up takes just in case you go back later and find a take or even a word that fits perfectly for what you need at that moment after the vocalist has already left.
After that, the vocalist should feel pretty comfortable and it will be time to record!
It is important to know what you are looking for when you are doing different takes, and make sure the vocalist knows what you need them to do as well.
Doing too many takes can make the vocalist tired and may strain their voice, so be intentional with each take.
5. Take Breaks if Necessary
There is no problem with taking a break here and there. This all goes back to not being rushed when you are working with a vocalist. If they seem to be getting tired, let them give their voice a rest.
Go outside, get a cup of tea, chat for a few minutes, or do whatever you need to do to make them feel at home. It’s good for you and for them to get the song out of their head for a little while.
It’s also nice to just get to know the person. At the end of the day, you are working together so the more comfortable you get with each other, the better the session will be.
Another key point would be not to get frustrated with the vocalist if they are not doing exactly what you ask of them. Screaming, showing frustration, or just being mean in general will not do any good.
Breaks are a great time to ask how the vocalist is feeling about the track so far. They may not have mentioned that they are feeling iffy about a certain section that they recorded, so it’s times like those where they may need your opinion!
Maximize Your Music Talent Today
Just like with anything, relationships go a long way and building that relationship with the vocalist brings out the best in them. Vocals are the center point of the song, so they might as well be amazing!
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