In my last article, about GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and the curse of thinking that gear will solve a studio recording or sound problem, I mentioned that it’s much more important to have a good song than to have the latest recording equipment. I want to expand on that just a bit before moving on to more mundane things like mic placement, EQ or room treatment.
It’s all about making a great recording at home, in your spare bedroom, garage or study, but it’s also about the bigger picture of what things are really important during the process.
Dude, It’s the SONG!
You may know it as the 80-20 rule. Ever hear of that one? Basically, the idea is that 80% or your best results will come from just 20% of your efforts.
Think about that for a sec!
80% or your best results will come from just 20% of your efforts. When I heard that and really understood it, i was totally blown away! That means I can forget some of the less productive stuff I’ve been doing and have more time to spend on things that really matter! Yeah, baby!! But, what is that 20%, how do I find it, and how do I weed out the other stuff that doesn’t bring home the big gains?
How do you know what that most important 20% is?
Well, it’s not as hard as you might think, but it’s not obvious or easy either. Some folks would say that your home studio recording time is best spent working on the mix, or the drum EQ, getting the kick and snare to sit just right, or to make the keys and guitar work together without getting in each other’s way.
There’s also the gear heads who think that all manner of ills can be cured by just having the right processing, outboard gear and/or plugins to make the music sparkle. My own take is more like this:
GET IT RIGHT FROM THE START.
By that I mean two things: First: The old “get it right at the source” idea, which i’ll cover in more detail later. Basically, that has to do with getting a good clean recording of whatever you’re doing. A really good CLEAN and excellent recording of the sounds you or the other musicians are creating, and not thinking that you can “fix it in the mix.” Most times you can’t. I mean, not really. At best, “fixing it in the mix” is working with band-aides and duct tape doing stuff that you wouldn’t ever have to do if you’d just gotten a good clean recording, and a good take to begin with.
But the other thing I’m talking about when I say “Get It Right From The Start” is even more basic. Before you ever step into the studio.
Do your absolute best to write, rewrite and tweak your song to make it awesome. Whether you’re doing a cover tune or an original, make sure you’ve got something really solid before going ahead with it. Make sure you have a good arrangement and good lyrics (if the song has words) long before you even THINK about recording it. If you start with a great piece of material, everything else just flows easier and you won’t be stting in your recording space after spending something like a gazillion hours working on a tune and then wonder why it doesn’t sound like those killer tunes from bands you love.
Yes, there’s more to it than having a good song. A lot more! But having a great song and arrangement is in the top 20%. More like the top 2% (Don’t even get me started on the evil bastards in the top 1%…)
The point is that the SONG is one thing you can control that will have HUGE returns on your time (and money) investment. All the equipment in the world won’t help a crappy tune.
I’ll be talking more about this in my Premium Training but please remember the 80-20 rule: 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of your results. So concentrate on the 20% and remember that the most important, crucial, deal-breaker of that 20%, the get-it-right-or-don’t-even-bother thing, is, THE SONG.