Something must be said for how confident we musicians need to be in laying down the law in our studio sessions. I’ve had terrible sessions where my politeness and lack of confidence in my thoughts have driven me to a strong case of PTSD! Seriously.
A few years ago after 8 hours of studio, I woke up the next morning, had a listen to what I’d recorded with my producer and literally had an anxiety attack. Over the years I have realized how mentally and emotionally prepared you need to be before starting a project/session with a producer.
I have a few tips on how to stand firm in your ideas for your music and also to keep you on track mentally. Hopefully these will help you not to get too excited about those nice sounding guitar riffs that really have nothing to do with what you’re trying to achieve with your music.

1). Timing

The minute you sense that something is a little off with the production.. Say Something. This can be hard sometimes when it’s difficult to determine what the end result could be. You do need to exercise patience with your producer but just because you like bananas, strawberries, mangoes and rice crispies doesn’t mean that they would all work perfectly in a bowl of milk. Weird analogy but you get the picture. State your case early – leaving it too late will get you both frustrated and feel like you wasted valuable, expensive studio time.

2). Demo

Come to the studio with a demo. A demo could be in form of a rough draft you’ve produced on a DAW like Garageband or Logic Pro, Ableton etc (if you’re proficient) OR it could be a rehearsal of the song with you band. Coming prepared with a sound-alike is a great way for you and your producer to stay on the right track.

3). References

A lot of us are influenced by all sorts of musicians from various genres. It doesn’t hurt to provide your producer with songs and productions you like so he can get a sense of what is going on in that crazy head of yours (by ‘yours’ I mean ‘ours lol)

4). Overall Sound Vision

If you are making an EP or Album, most producers always talk about the importance of having a common thread between all the songs. A common thread could mean using a live band for all the songs, using similar instrumentation, a theme, a clear subject matter (all love songs or an album about a breakup i.e. Adele)… the list is endless. It is always a good idea to go into a session knowing what you want your music to say about you and where you want to be placed as an artist (sad to say but the truth is your listeners will almost always place you in a genre box – it’ll be good if your music is as clear as possible about which box that should be).

5). Overall Goal 

I’ve made the mistake of just wanting to have a product without really thinking about why I needed one. Be clear about your overall goal, have a plan for the marketing and promotional process so that you are not just spending money on sessions that won’t help your brand in any way. Having a goal makes the recording process much more serious and focused.