EP Planning I: Before

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There’s a lot more to planning an EP than I imagined. Since I love organizing things – at some point I even organized my clothes by color – I decided to make a little list. So for those who, like me, don’t know where to start with recording an EP: here’s a list I made on what to keep in mind while planning/recording an EP. Hope it’s useful, it was for me. If you have more pointers, do tell – I am a rookie after all!


Some things to think about while planning/recording an EP

1) The hardest one: select the songs you’re gonna record. I think there are several ways to go about this, for example:
– Have friends & family pick their favorites
– See which ones are most popular on your SoundCloud, Facebook, YouTube or whatever page you manage
– What I did: go with your gut feeling. Pick the songs that feel ‘finished’ to you, pick songs that are closest to your heart at the moment.
Side note: if your objective is to get some kind of record deal and send your EP to labels, keep in mind that IF they’re gonna listen to your recordings it’ll be like the first 30 seconds of each song (with a maximum of 3 songs) that they’ll listen to. So in that case: pick the ones with the most catchy intro’s over your favorites ;-)

2) Write the songs down completely – lyrics & chords. It comes in handy when you start rehearsing with the other musicians. I was lucky to have someone write professional sheet music for my songs. Write down the instruments you think each song will need and which part each instrument will play.

4) Contact studios. Listen to their work, contact them about the way they work, costs, estimated time needed etc., then  make a budgetary for yourself. Optional: make a folder in your e-mail account called ‘EP’.

5) Select studios/producers that you think you’ll be comfortable with and set up a meeting. It’s good to have in mind what you are looking for in a producer/studio before you go into a meeting. Optional: make a moodboard before those meetings, I used realtimeboard.com. It’s a really fun & useful way to show your vision/style.

6) Pick a studio & producer and start making plans with them. Send the producer demo’s of the songs if you haven’t already. I personally like to hear feedback from the producer and have him/her help with the musical arrangements. This way you can start rehearsing the songs the way they should be when you start the actual recording.

7) In the meantime (i.e.: at work/in college): think about the title of your EP, the artwork, how you want it to represent you – here’s where that moodboard comes in handy.

8) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse with the musicians. Oh and also: rehearse. It will save so much time (=money) and frustration in the studio if you and your band know the songs by heart.

9) For the days of recording think about: transportation to the studio, equipment you have to bring, food&drinks, a recording schedule (probably most important) and the device thats gonna document the whole exciting-super-awesome-scary process of recording your songs.

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4 Replies to “EP Planning I: Before”

  1. Here’s a couple extra things I usually do to prepare for recording/rehearsal;
    After creating/finishing my song, I indicate where the key phrases (both lyrical and musical) are.
    I score chords, notes and lyrics as well as draw a pictogram for dynamics (kind of a skyline picture where highrise buildings represent the big parts and the ‘suburbs’ represent the modest parts) for the whole song. I find those easier/quicker to read than classical notation i.e. ff, f, mf, p, mp. If necessary I draw a skyline representation for each individual part.
    I cut up the song into sections, marking each section with a letter or a number. Then appoint the number of bars in each section. Musicians I work with seem to really like this. To me, the song is a whole, to them, it’s a sequence of parts.
    On recording day I make sure I have ALL notes for EACH individual musician with me.
    Don’t leave well enough alone, especially on the first takes.
    Own your song! But most importantly; have a ton of fun!

    1. Hi Olav!

      Thanks a lot, your tips are very useful – especially the key phrases and skyline idea, gonna do that! After all (I think) it’s the changing dynamic in a song that keeps it interesting to listen to.

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