Friday, April 30, 2010

Recording Engineers: Is The Client Always Right?

If the band or an artist has hired you, it is your job to make them happy. Unhappy customers do not come back. Sure as a producer you are going to come across things that the client will want that you may think is not a good thought. But what do you do?

The best thing for a producer to do is not to tell the client it is wrong but yet not just shut your mouth and turn a blind eye. A producer needs to learn how to steer the clients musical insight in a direction that can benefit both ideals. Having the lines of communication open between artist and producer not only will help steer songs in the right direction but when there is a comfortable feel and the least amount of tension as possible the music can flow freely. And trust me an artist and a producer with two different ideals and both men are stubborn, this will cause tension.

The only way the producer is right is if you are hired by someone else in the chain of command and they give you the right to make the proper changes that you know need to be done. But again, this can still cause tension and a bad studio vibe. In this case if you are given the authority to make these changes you still need to use the same idealism of what I discussed above. A good producer just wants to take the ideals of the artist and try to help them fine tune them.

When the client is taking advice and getting some help, he will still be a lot more of a happier client if he feels like he is still creating the music that he wants. This in turn will make them perform a lot better. When an artist is forced to make music and they do not feel it is part of their creation, then it is like being demoted from a supervisor position back to just being another regular employee, this would not make anyone happy.

As a producer you must remember one very important thing. Your name goes on the back of the CD case in small print. The artist or band's name goes on the front in big letters.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mix Your Music With No Set of Rules.

When I was attending school at the Recording Institute of Detroit, I was taught when mixing that you should start with the kick drum first then move to the bass and so on. After working on mixes and conversing with other veteran recording engineers I found out that although it might be the easiest way it is not the best way.

TIP: Never assume the way you were taught or the way you taught yourself to mix is always the best way. Each project should be mixed according to it's individual needs. 

What a recording engineer should do is think about what the vocal point of the song is and start with that. If the vocal point of the song is the vocals then you should start with that. If the song is more geared around the lead guitar then you should start with that.

Now a lot of people may say that if that is the case then you would probably start with the vocals all the time, but this is not necessarily always the truth. A perfect example of this would be rap or hip hop music in the last five or ten years. The cleverness of the lyrics from song to song have really diminished. In fact, in some cases fresh new lyrics have almost disappeared all together. If the lyrics in a song are just not that explosive, there not going to be the main thing that is going to make the song sell. There could be cases where the courses or the hook of the song along with the baseline is what sells, and the verses, well, just aren't that much to talk about. Mix the explosive hook and baseline line out front, it's what you want the people to hear, then when the verses come along focus on maybe making the groove something that is more of the focus point. It's can be difficult but it's possible.

If you know the artist well enough, you might be able to make some suggestion like shortening up the verses or changing them. But, in any event the ideal hear is to make it sound good all the way through the song, especially if your name will go on it as the engineer. 

Other cases like mixing progressive rock/metal or techno, you might find yourself in the same situation. You might have to listen to the whole song and throughout the song you may need to mix differently depending on what you want the audience to be focused on the most.