Recording studio time is not cheap. It shouldn't be, after all, there's a lot of money that goes into buying gear, learning it and gaining the skills to be a great recording engineer. Then there's the rent, lights, staff, taxes and other costs related to running a studio business.
So let's get it clear from the outset, complaining about the cost of studios is based on ignorance, be they A grade or the local studio that offers a great service. As I've already said, they cost a lot of money to build, equip, staff and run - so the next time you complain about a rate that's the same as what you spend drinking away on a Friday night then it's time to sort your priorities out.
Of course, you can always build your own recording studio at home, many of you reading this article have done that. Even if you did it on a budget I'm guessing you've spent a few thousand pounds.
Some of you need to save money, others time, many both!
You can save these things just by doing what many of your most treasured recording legends have done, it's three things and here they are.
Write The Song Before You Get Into The Studio
Of course, some people come up with songs in studios, some of the biggest hits were conceived in the studio, but they are the exception and not the rule. It's unlikely you are in a band that has money to burn, fewer record labels just throw tens of thousands of pounds at a band to go sit in a residential studio all summer to write songs - again it does happen, but the numbers of artists who get that gig can be counted on the fingers of one hand these days.
So make sure you have something to record before you arrive in the studio, writing in a studio where the clock is ticking is likely to lead to stress, some people thrive under such pressure, many don't. At the very least have the melody and lyrics figured out... but I'd like to suggest you go a step further.
Make sure the song is arranged and you know what each part is doing, a lot of bad mixes are born out of poor arrangements where the mixer is trying to take a dog's breakfast and make it sound like it has some semblance of order, it rarely gets fixed in the mix. Some of you may be thinking 'what's with all these rules, I like to just be inspired and go with the flow.' Well rather than treat them as rules, think of an arrangement like a map, you can still take a detour on the way but at least you have a sense of where you want to arrive. I've heard too many people claim they just want to be 'free to go with the flow' as an excuse for being disorganised and unprepared, which leads me to my final point...
If you are going into the studio then rehearse the song/tracks to within one inch of their life. Every album project I've worked on, using top musicians, has still had several days of pre-studio rehearsal where we go through each song, make sure we all know them well, figure out the arrangement and try other possible ideas. Rehearsal rooms cost far less than recording studios.
I'm not writing anything ground-breaking here but it seems that the modern home studio has encouraged many to be unprepared for the recording studio, even when people record at home. I know it's possible to write direct-to-DAW, but so many of us, myself included, get drawn down rabbit holes of messing with VIs and plugins, or dealing with technical issues and before we know it the song is taking a back seat.
Writing on your acoustic guitar or piano, on your own or in a group may yield better results faster. It's something that been done by top recording legends for years.
And finally, please spare a thought for the poor engineer who may have to sit for several hours as you write, learn, f*ck up, argue, split up the band, go solo and eventually finish the song in a half-assed manner.
There are no winners when we enter the studio unprepared... except perhaps the credit card company.