We typically limit our thoughts about recording to someone in front of a microphone and someone else at the controls, but I’d like to offer that it’s equally important to spend some time and effort before that day to give that moment a better chance at resulting in a successful recording.
I like to start at the end and work back from there so I ask, “What is the purpose of this recording?”. A successful recording means that it is meets the needs of the artist and falls within their budget. If it’s just for a quick and affordable demo, you’ll want to keep things simple while tracking (less microphones/tracks) or you’ll eat up valuable time during setup and mixing. On the other hand, if these are the main tracks for a commercial album you’ll be taking extra care during setup and tracking to ensure everything is right.
It’s also a good idea to plan the session for a day and time that is appropriate for what they’ll be doing. Vocalists typically know when their voice is at it’s best. It’s also helpful to find a time that fits well with the material. Mellow and articulate material may be best played earlier in the day whereas aggressive material may come across with the necessary angst if played after a hard day.
Find out what they like to eat and drink so it’s readily available during breaks.
Ask for them to send you pre-production recordings so you will be familiar with the material as they start tracking.
Make sure their recording space is clean, comfortable and uncluttered.