Workflow is an important issue in the audio recording studio or any other business for that fact. Workflow, in this case, is basically how you plan to execute tasks for an audio recording session in the recording studio. There are a lot of unknown factors to consider such as what genre will the next band want to play or how many tracks will be needed. For that there isn’t much we can do to increase workflow because these are unknown facts but there are several things that all bands usually use during a session and you can set your templates up to compensate for those things and save time.
Microphones should be in place or at least accessible to the artist(s) when they arrive. I like to start with 16 tracks and add more as I need them or simply use what the performers might need and ignore blank tracks. I also put all of my specialty items in plain view just in case the opportunity presents itself for an up sale. You would be surprised how many times this has worked. As far as workflow goes when you up sale, it does take a little time but the reward is more profit for the studio. Season as needed with an EBow or shakers.
So how do we plan ahead and save time? In a recording studio the engineer will usually have a certain set of tools to use. Most commonly these tools will be application or hardware based and will include items such as a compressor, equalizer and special effects like chorus and reverberation. If you use these tools more-often-than-not then you can set up a template that contains 24 tracks, equalizer, two or three midi tracks and a compressor. If these tools are not needed then they can simply be turned off until they are needed or left off to conserve CPU power.
Templates are easy to make. I have four or five I use a lot. They start with eight track templates and range all the way up to 36 tracks. I make these templates between sessions so that when I start a session the performers aren’t waiting for me to get set up. I usually know ahead of time how many performers or instruments will be needed for the session so alternatively I can update an existing template to fit the bill. After all, the studio time is for them and I want to provide efficient and problem free service. This is why workflow is important and when you do everything you can before the session starts there are fewer reasons for your client to get upset, and worse, demand a refund because of poor service. The best studio in the world is practically useless if there are multiple problems and delays with the service.
Having each instrument or vocal booth prepared is a given. When a session starts you will want to proceed with confidence that the performer or artist is getting the best service that you can provide. This is where workflow can equate to return business. When someone buys blocks for sessions they expect things to go smoothly and having all of the mundane tasks finished beforehand provides more time for the artist to concentrate on their project. The more experience you gain by working with performers equates to more efficient templates. Unusual requests by the artist or performer can be fulfilled quickly because everything else is already in place.
Here is where you make your studio shine. If you need extra tracks you can add them on the fly and copy and paste the applications or VST needed for each extra track from the existing tracks. This is also why I include the basics like compressor and equalizer on each track. Experience tells me that even if I don’t need the extra components at first I will definitely need them later. Since they already exist in the track effects bin all I have to do is enable or disable them or adjust them as needed. This saves at least three minutes or so each time I start a session. Now multiply 3 minutes by sixteen tracks. You just saved yourself and the client 48 minutes over the course of the session. You might think that equates to less money but look at it from the perspective of return business. Artists usually put out more than one album so the chances of return business are quite high in the audio recording field. You can see the advantages of being prepared and increasing your workflow at each session. Clients feel confident that their time will not be wasted and usually prefer to work with people they know or have worked with before, especially if the session goes quickly and efficiently.
Take a look at the tools you use the most. Sure they might require a few adjustments once in session but having them there and ready in your DAW does save time and effort for current and/or future recording sessions. If you always start with the drums then set up your tracks with the needed components before hand. Same with guitar or vocal sessions. Digital recording applications come with a wide variety useful tools but they aren’t automatically added to track or master effects bins because each session might be different. Always start with what you know you will use for drum or guitar tracks. Equalizers are standard issue and are almost always used but time compression effects might not be. Selectively choose the basic components you need initially and if later you need more it is as simple as adding it to the track. The bottom line is this; The more efficient and professional you are the higher the possibilities are for return clients. Cream rises so differentiate your studio from the competition by being faster and more efficient. Workflow is very important to any business so make sure your workflow is the best it can be.