In the broadcast world, time is always of the essence. With today’s recording technology forever becoming less expensive, a musician could work at home for days on a guitar solo or vocal overdub. In the case of a broadcast recording, this situation is much different. A typical studio session for radio could be anywhere from a few hours to a week, depending on the complexity of the session, the importance the music will play in the program and, most importantly, the budget.
These time restraints can put a great deal of pressure on the musician being recorded. In this type of session it is generally one take. Not time for a quick fix-up or punch-in let alone hours of labour to get that all important “Doo Wa” in the third chorus.
The total production time for a fairly high-budget popular music session for radio might be three eight-hour days. In these three days the artist might be hired to record as many as five songs. Seems simple enough, three days and only five songs. The problem is that these three days will consist of everything, including set-up of the studio, recording the bed tracks, overdubs, tear down, the final mix and, of course, you also have to take some time to eat.
The key to a great recording for broadcast is to have your material well rehearsed and to manage your time as efficiently as possible. With a limited amount of time to record and mix, an emphasis should always be put on pre-production. The object should be rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and when you think you have the material all worked out that is the best time to set up another rehearsal, just to make sure.
Ron Skinner is the House Engineer for CBC Radio’s Music Recording Studios in Toronto. He also works as a freelance recording engineer/producer. Ron can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org