Three Recording Studio Etiquette Tips You Must Know

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If you're heading into a professional recording studio for the first time, it's going to be a lot different than when you were recording in your home with your computer and a cheap microphone. These studios are set up so that you sound as good as possible, and that also means they've got expensive equipment and are probably very busy. Knowing a few etiquette rules, such as these three, will help you stay on the studio owner's good side. And that can make it easier for you to reserve the studio in the future.

Don't Touch the Mic

Probably the most sensitive piece of equipment you'll deal with as a musician is the microphone. The engineer or the studio's assistants will place the mic where you and the engineer want it -- and then you need to leave it alone. If you prefer a slightly different placement, or you think the mic is too high or too low, ask the engineer to adjust the mic. Do not touch the mic yourself because you could end up breaking something in the mic. Plus, it's just considered meddling if you mess with the mic.

Good mics aren't necessarily very expensive -- technology has improved substantially over the years -- but the cost of replacing a mic can take a chunk out of a studio's tight budget, so the studio isn't going to brush off what you did. You'll have to pay for a replacement, and you'll likely not be welcome back in the studio.

If you've worked with the same studio for a while, the engineer and other staff all know you, and you have a good working relationship, you might be able to ask if you can adjust the mic yourself. But don't grab the mic without asking, and if you ask and they say no, don't touch the mic.

Respect the Engineer's Time

You're likely not the only appointment on the schedule. When you get to the studio, get to work. Don't hang out, don't joke around -- it sounds really strict, but when you're the new kid in a studio, you want to show that you're taking the session seriously and that you're not going to delay anyone else from using the studio. And when your session is done, pack up, thank the engineer, ensure you've paid for the session, and go. Don't hang out and try to talk to other musicians in the studio about non-work-related things. It sounds obvious, but the high you get from recording and playing can make it harder to control your enthusiasm after the session.

Avoid the Unexpected

A planned session may still have some unpredictable elements, such as chords that don't work or equipment that starts to misbehave, so you want to limit the number of unexpected things you bring in yourself. Don't bring food or drinks into the recording area -- it could spill and create a mess. (Bottled water may be OK, but check first.) Don't bring friends with you to watch the recording session unless you've cleared each friend with the engineer -- the recording studio could be small, or the engineer could have had bad experiences with people messing about in the recording area. When you're new, you don't want to give the impression that you're going to be a wild card.

Some of these examples might seem outlandish if they're not things you would do yourself. But the rules are there for a reason -- people have done all these things before, and the rules prevent problems from happening again. If you're not sure if you can bring something or if there are any other questions about your session, contact the studio like Sonic Farm Studio and ask.