At some indefinable point in the past, I completed my transition from drummer to engineer, and while I still lay down parts when clients need them, I stopped thinking of myself as 'a musician' long ago. But last year I was invited by a client (who I'd played drums for on one track) to drum on their latest album. It was a useful experience: being in a different studio (StudiOwz in Pembrokeshire), with someone else engineering, reminded me what it is about recording sessions that helps or hinders performers. With that experience in mind, here are 10 ways I think engineers and studio owners can ensure the studio works as well for the musicians as it does for themselves.
Recording sessions can be long. If working with a band you might not need all the artists there simultaneously, and they might or might not want to hang around while you're recording their bandmates. You can't plan a session down to the last minute — recording doesn't work that way — but if you know you'll be setting up the drum sound all morning and the guitarist and vocalist are free to do what they want until early afternoon, let them know that, and tell them when they need to be back.
Just because you can do things fast doesn't mean you should. You certainly don't want to move so fast all the time that the session feels hurried. A good engineer should know when to suggest a little break, how much time to spend indulging an artist's new idea, and when to slow or quicken the pace more generally. It's about finding the rhythm for a particular artist or session that helps get the performance in the bag. So learn your tools and prepare in advance: that way, you can choose when to work quickly and when to back off the pace. You'll be in control, and you'll also be seen to be in control, which will boost everyone's confidence.