"The easiest way to get a the best performance out of a singer is to make the environment comfortable. Sometimes even a seasoned pro sometimes can’t do her best unless the conditions are just right, so consider some of the following suggestions before and during a vocal session.
1. Ask the vocalist what kind of lighting they prefer. Most singers prefer the lights lower in the studio and control room when performing, but ask them first.
2. Adding a touch of reverb or delay can help the singer feel more comfortable with the headphones mix.
3. If you need to have the singer sing harder, louder or more aggressively, turn down the vocal track in the phones or turn the backing tracks up.
4. If you need to have the singer sing softer or more intimately, turn the singer's track up in the phones or turn down the backing tracks.
5. Keep talking with the artist between takes. Leave the talkback on if possible. Long periods of silence from the control room are a mood killer.
6. Try lowering the lights in the control room so they can't see you. Some people think that you're in there judging them when you might be talking about something completely different.
7. If the take wasn’t good for whatever reason, explain what was wrong in a kind and gentle way. Something like "That was really good, but I think you can do it even better. The pitch was a little sharp." This goes for just about any overdub since players generally like to know what was wrong with the take rather than be given a “Do it again” blanket statement.
8. Keep smiling. Want to put your vocalist at ease? Keep your attitude helpful and positive no matter how badly things might be going."
To read more excerpts from The Music Producer's Handbook and other books, go to bobbyowsinski.com
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