Hate your singer and want to ensure he/she always does a bad job? Well then here are some tips on what not to do when recording vocals…
Smoke in the same room as he/she’s singing. Even if the singer is a smoker too, you should make a habit of not smoking in your working environment, largely because it’s horrible. Secondly, a vocalist can damage their throat by singing in a smokey room.
Interrupt in the middle of a take. Unless something terrible has happened (such as the studio catching fire), vocalists shouldn’t be interrupted. You never know when they are about to turn out the definitive take of the song, so keep your DAW in record until it’s clear she/he wants to stop.
Make telephone calls when they’re singing. It’s plain rude. I’m sure you’d be furious if someone took a call whilst you were in the middle of something intimate and demanding. Concentrate on the work in hand; no telephone call is that urgent. Make it clear to your singer that you are paying attention by responding to their requests and by commenting on their performance. There’s nothing worse for a singer than a producer who isn’t listening, so please don’t leave the room or take any phone calls.
Make her/him uncomfortable. Singers need to be comfortable in their working environment to give a great performance. Consequently, make sure that the temperature in the vocal booth is how the vocalist wants it. Bear in mind that many studios have air conditioning running all the time, which can make a vocal booth quite cold. Obviously you’ll turn the AC off when recording vocals (as you’ll be able to hear the fans if it’s on) but make sure that your singer is warm enough or cool enough as you go along.
Bully your vocalist. It’s simple psychology, no one responds well to rudeness so be polite.
Talk about how you’ll fix the vocal in the computer. Ban the word ‘Autotune’ from your session. Many singers can be offended by the idea that you think you need to use pitch correction software on their performances. Effectively you are saying that their singing isn’t good enough without a computer to tidy it up…. so don’t mention it. The fact that almost every record made in the last 10 years has some form of pitch correction on it is irrelevant; singers still find it troublesome. So do most audiences. The same applies to vocalist who ask you to tune a word, it is a complete NO, try to get the best possible take, even if you end up using this technique once the recording session has finished.
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Editor’s Note: This is an old article and things have moved on considerably since the original publication date 🙂
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