3 Ways to Be Sure of Failure in the Recording Studio

All the secrets to turning your recording session into an unmitigated disaster.

Ultimate Guitar

A lot of bands who want to self-destruct, hate each other and waste loads of money decide that the best way to do that is to go into the studio and try to record. This can be a really effective way for a band to destroy itself, as a properly disastrous session will not only result in a terrible recording (or, even better, no recording at all), it will also set the members of the band against each other, causing resentments and broken friendships that can last a lifetime.

However, some bands don't come out of the studio with quite the catastrophe they're looking for. So here I'm going to share the hidden secrets of disaster that hundreds of bands have employed over the years. Many of these bands have gone on to failure, obscurity and in some cases physical violence against each other, so when these guys give advice, you need to listen and learn from the experts. By employing these three, simple strategies, you can be on the road to spectacular and humiliating failure in no time. So let's get started:

1. Waste Money on as Much Stupid Stuff as You Possibly Can

For the truly failure-focused, losing money is great, because it will not only make everybody miserable, but also prevent the band being able to afford anything else that might advance their careers or be enjoyable. So you should make sure that you spend as much as possible and get as little as you can from it.

A great way to do this is to hire a big-name producer who doesn't care about your band. Your band will not be on his CV, nor will you be able to pay him as much as his bigger acts, so he will have no incentive to work hard, promote you, or create anything that sounds good. Instead he'll overcharge you, treat you with contempt and rush the mixing to get you off his books as quickly as possible.

Also, make sure that you call up loads of expensive studios and ask them what it would cost to record the album there. That way, they will quote you the price for their luxury package, which will involve loads of things that you could easily do yourself or aren't necessary at all. Don't work out what you could do yourself or you might accidentally save thousands of dollars.

Whatever you do, don't take any kind of control over your spending. Make sure that you allow professionals with vested interests to take all the decisions relating to the way you record. Cave in at every opportunity and be spineless. You'll empty your bank account in no time!

2. Write the Songs in the Studio

Many bands make the mistake of writing the parts in the rehearsal room and rehearsing them at home. However, if you do this, you'll miss out on the opportunity to not bother and write your parts in the studio, while everyone is waiting and at the cost of a couple of hundred dollars an hour. That way, your band will hate you, the studio will hate you and you'll waste loads of money, making failure almost assured! In particular, make sure you wait until you get to the studio to write guitar solos and vocal harmonies. Those things will just write themselves, right? Well, maybe not, but what's a few hundred takes to get it right when you haven't rehearsed it at all? It's not like the studio guys and the rest of the band have anything better to do than watch you record the same three notes over and over again for hours.

Also, don't bother repairing your instruments if they don't work, that way they'll fail in the studio and ruin your takes. Also, don't bother changing your strings until you get to the studio. Not only will you waste time, there's also the chance that a new string will break, and if you've taken the precaution of not bringing any spares you won't be able to record anything at all result!

3. Make Sure Everyone Hates You

The true masters of failure don't just ruin their first recording they ruin subsequent ones as well by making sure that everybody in the industry who could help them hates them and refuses to work with them again.

A really simple, but really effective way to create antagonism is to turn up late. That not only shows disrespect to the people who could be bothered to get there on time, it also wastes money and reduces the chances of you getting everything done in the time available. Three big doses of failure in one! Also, a really good tip is to turn up late, then demand that the engineer, studio and producer carry on after the agreed finishing time. That way they suffer for your laziness and bad planning. Also, refuse to pay them any extra or act whiny and entitled if they ask to be paid.

In fact, whining and pouting about having to pay professionals is a really great way to get you and your band loathed, or even blacklisted. Don't negotiate on price before you start, because they won't be offended by that and you might end up getting a good deal. Instead, negotiate on price as late as possible. In the studio, in the middle of recording, is a good time, but even better is once their invoice turns up - or why not try both? It's especially effective if you go back on a price you already agreed to pay. Follow up by moaning on your band's Facebook and Twitter feeds about how the industry tried to screw your band. Name names, swear and use capital letters for everything. That way, news of what jerks you are will spread the fastest. Congratulations - you'll avoid all the stress and hard work of a professional music career! Whew!


Whilst I can't cover every single tip and trick bands use to fail in the studio, I hope I've covered the essential points that will get you on your way to disaster.

Oh, wait? You actually want to succeed? Really? Then why do so many bands follow the advice in this article? Beats me. So anyway, if you want to succeed in the studio you'll need this free video series, where I tell you both what to do and what not to do to get a great result in recording.

About The Author: James Scott is a writer and music producer in London, UK. He works with unsigned and independent acts to get them a pro result on a part-time budget.

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    You forgot one important point : take a lot of drugs and booze before and during the recording session.
    Turned out very well for many and many a band that have gotten a lot farther than you have with your music.
    Turned out well for John Frusciante's heroin albums
    *heroin album (singular) As far as I can remember the only one he wrote while on drugs was Smile from the Streets You Hold. Niandra Lades was released while he was addicted to heroin, but he wrote it before that. His next album was in 2001 when he was clean
    like he didn't do weed or heroin during the process of recording of his debut, and on usually just a t-shirt part of that album you can hear his condition getting worse as he says that songs were placed on the album as he recorded them #1,#2,#3,#4,#5... can't wait to see what he has for us in the future
    Leather Sleeves
    But Metallica writes in the studio!!! So why can't my unheard of penny-less band?! Ah, it's endless.
    LOL! Awesome excellent article. Was this inspired by Asshole, I mean, Axl Rose by any chance? Sounds like part of his biography.
    Don't show for the first three days of recording, then when you do show up late on the fourth day bring no equipment demand 59 les pauls and boutique amps be found imediately, eat a sandwich on the mixing desk, light a cigarette and leave for another 2 days, then show up drunk with the drummers ex girlfriend insist on recording the sh***y ballad you have just written for her. Finally puke in the vocal booth and punch out or be punched out by a band member...
    Make sure you don't ask for the requirements of the studio. Not sure this is relevant now, but I showed up to a studio that expected the artists to supply the ADAT tapes for recording. Since we scheduled a night session, almost didn't make it to radiostack to pick up a few tapes. Barely missed getting nothing from a 6 hour block of studio time. Like I said, not sure if there is an equivalent situation in modern digital studios, but I assume this falls under heading to the studio completely unprepared to ensure success.
    Yeah, the author may now how to fail in the studio, but he sure sucks at failing at an article! This article was fantastic.
    Don't write songs in the studio.. unless you know what you're doing* DT writes in the studio. Lot's of bands do. If you have money? It's great. If not? Write at home..
    Yeah, but they're Dark Tranquillity; they can get away with it because they're world-class songwriters who can pull grade-A tunes out of their asses on a whim. Not like, let's say, those Dream Theater guys...
    I love every part of this article except one thing - The part about vocal melodies. I write most of my vocal melodies in-studio. I come in with a rough idea, record it, and then the producer and I mess with the pitch for an hour or so until we have something that fits well in my range and works well with harmonies. That being said, you should have some idea what you're doing before you get there.