Today is officially Columbus Day (the day ol’ Chris stumbled upon the New World).

It’s also my mom’s birthday.

[FUN FACT: Columbus left Europe on August 3rd (my birthday) and arrived at the Americas on October 12 (my mom’s birthday). Isn’t that special? 🙂 Hi mom!]

Anyhoo, did you know that Christopher Columbus’s voyage was much like a recording project? Yup. It sure was.

He spent a LOT of time planning the trip. In the recording world, we call that pre-production. Before we record a single note, we plan out the song or the album (song choice, arrangement, tempo, instrumentation, choosing musicians, deciding the overall feel of the project, etc.). Before Columbus hit the open seas, he had to find funding, a crew, supplies, etc.

You’ve heard me sing the praises of pre-production before. Almost every project I work on goes through some sort of pre-production phase. It doesn’t have to take hours and days. It can be as simple as a few minutes of intentional planning. But I believe it’s really important (and can save you hours of time later on in your “production journey”).

But there’s a flip-side to pre-production. Sometimes things don’t go exactly like you plan. Take our good buddy C-Dawg Columbus. He planned to sail to Asia. He had every intention of sailing to Asia. But a big ol’ continent got in the way.

What did he do? Give up and go home?

Of course not.

He quickly realized that his journey had gone in a dramatically different (and better) direction. Instead of discovering a shortcut, he discovered a new world.

And? He changed his plans.

In the studio, we can have the best, awesomest plan ever conceived for a particular project or album. But you MUST be willing to deviate from the plan as you get into the project. Once you record the drums, you may find that the drummer created this amazing groove that takes the song in a completely different direction.

That new direction is probably better than whatever you had planned. Run with it.

You may have originally expected a simple arrangement of a song, but after your guitarist played a few awesome riffs, you realized the song needs to be huge instead of small. Go for it.

So, here are 3 ways to record like Christopher Columbus:

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Plan to be flexible.  (That flexibility is also known as creativity.)
  3. Embrace mistakes. (These “happy accidents” might lead you to something much, much better.)

To learn how to guide a song from pre-production, through the raging seas of recording, editing, and mixing, and land safely on the shores of a finished master, become a Production Club member.

I’ll show you the ropes.

Just row, row, row your boat over to: