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Keeping organized in the studio is hugely important. If you’re recording a client, time spent fumbling around will reduce their satisfaction and if you’re recording yourself you don’t want to waste time sorting through cables or figuring out what track is what. Here are a few tips on how to keep your sessions in the studio organized.
1. Keep Notes Of Your Setup
Keeping notes in the studio may seem a little tedious and uptight, but it’s fantastic when you want to reproduce the tone you got on a particular track or just for comparing the results you get with different microphones and placements. I always make a note of the microphone I used, where it was placed, and any outboard equipment (preamps, compressors, EQs) and their settings. Many recording programs allow you to take notes within the session itself, but using a paper “track sheet” such as this one works just as well and even allows you to make a quick sketch of the mic placement.
2. Color Code Your Cables
A quick and easy way to stay organized in the studio is to color code your cables at both ends using colored zip-ties or electrician’s tape. Then, when swapping cables in the studio you can see at a glance what cable goes where rather than needing to follow each cable to its end.
3. Keep Your Tracks In The Same Order
When you’re working on a project with a lot of tracks, finding the track you want to adjust can take a moment. It may seem like a small thing, but over the course of the whole session it can really suck up a lot of time. Keeping your tracks in the same order every time can save you time and frustration. Personally, my tracks always go in this order from left to right: kick drum, snare drum, toms, cymbals, overheads, other percussion, bass, rhythm instruments, lead instruments, lead vocals, backing vocals.
4. Use Logical Track Names
When labeling your tracks in recording software or on your track sheet, choose names that will be easy for you to identify if you go back to the session months or years later. By this I mean rather than labeling the tracks “guitar 1”, “guitar 2”, choose a more descriptive names like “rhythm guitar” and “lead guitar”.
5. Carefully File Your Sessions
If you do a lot of recording, particularly for clients, you can end up with hundreds of session files in no time. An easy way to keep your session files organized from the start is to use a clean hierarchy of folders. I keep folders for each client, with a files inside for each project (e.g. “demo” or the album title), then I have the session folders for each individual song inside those. If you’re recording for yourself or you have clients that do a lot of work with you, you may want to also file them by year or month, in which case your file path would look something like this: recording sessions>client name>dated folder>project>individual song.