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recording with a producer

Discussion in 'Recording' started by steppingonmars, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Had a new customer come in today. They have a producer, this is my first time with a producer and I'm not sure where my boundaries are. I've asked them to ask the producer what exactly he will be doing with them and what I'm to expect to proceed. I own a home studio and do this in my spare time so I'm not sure if this is going to be a great idea.

    They were mentioning that they are not sure if he will be mixing the project, but I told them I'd rather he didn't. First of all, I work with cubase so if he uses pro tools it means sending each individual track as wav. This would probably take more time to mix it. Also he has a solid pedigree, but I'll I've heard is jazz music he's done and this is a ska/punk type band. Not sure how that is going to fit. They also like my previous work recording/mixing so I'm not sure what the point is here.

    They want to do a full album, but I'm a little concerned this is going to turn into a big cluster $#$%. I've arranged a meeting with him and the band to make sure everything is clear before we proceeds, any advice or experience on this?
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Been there and it works out everytime if you do the following.

    Make sure you are talking to the producer all the time and say right from the start.. "Lets make sure we put all this down on paper so there are no miss understandings" Everyone will respect you and feel so much more comfortable knowing it is all up front. Its all the questionables that create problems, and there are always things in question until its on paper. Make sure you're expectation are very clear and in writing. Just worry about you and these expectation. Make sure you are always updating everything in question as the project evolves too! You can do this in a fun and professional manner and they will all respect you.

    That's step number one:
     
  3. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Great advice!

    I'm going to have a meeting with the producer and the band and one rehearsal at the studio before we start as well.
     
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that this 'producer' has the decision making vote on any issue with the band and the music. You cannot serve more than one master in this situation. As the recordist it is up to you to make the tracks sound as they wish. Its not up to them how you go about your business, but there has to be an interplay between your techniques for capture and their ear for the outcome of each mic move, fader move, EQ setting.....etc.

    Without this understanding from the git-go, you are in an untennable position.
     
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I love working with real producers. I certainly don't like working with imitation producers. Now, this can be a problem between survival of the nicest & survival of the fittest. It's great if they are really experienced in the field of producing. ProTools? He asked for ProTools? If you don't have ProTools, why is he using your studio? To me, this already raises red flags. If on the other hand, you're just tracking, you'll be giving your producer a hard drive or a bunch of DVDs at the end of the tracking session and you're done. If this is an ego issue for you, then you might not want to have outside producers coming in. I've been hired by other studios & engineers, producers who have had the track their clients live. I had nothing to do with the postproduction or mixing. That certainly doesn't bother me. I've had other producers/engineers who have recorded in their own studios come to me in my studio for mixing. I really can't say anything about what I don't like about the recording if I didn't record it. If a producer wants to work with you is generally because they think you're good. If they don't know you? Why do they want to work with you? Maybe your studio is better than his? Anybody with an M-Box does ProTools and that's not a studio. In fact a lot of folks, myself included, feel that most things that have the word Pro in them, generally aren't. My father would never go to any restaurant that had the word " gourmet" in its title. Pretty much for the same reason because it wasn't. He would also never do a salad bar. Me on the other hand like rock 'n roll so salad bars are cool. Does this make any sense?

    Producing nonsense for 40 years
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    words of advise Remy! and I would love to add...

    We have a pro audio forum/ pro audio gear " " which is supposed to differentiate between the newbies and project studio products, questions, outcomes etc is the question. Understanding who has Dilutions Of Grandeur in every walk of life and learning not to fall into this trap is what pros try and recognize but don't often accomplish without some form of humbling sooner or later. Many people think that once they do something a few times they have it mastered enough to charge money. We're seeing this kill the mastering sector as we speak.
    It is my opinion, you aren't a pro until you have invested 10,000 hours into anything. I like to ask people how many hours they have been doing "this". This way I have a better idea on what they consider the value of pro. Are they pro at making money, pro at doing things well, pro at wasting time, pro at staying busy.... pro BS... etc

    In my "proficiencies" , I stopped counting at 20,000 hours. I also have invested $20,000, well more but I won't think about the extra's... in a turn key Pro Tools rig (erk) and now know there are far better custom DAW system config. I thought I knew everything after 20,000 hours but, what I didn't have is knowledge in how Avid is marketing Pro Tools. It took another 10 years of running RO and struggling with a crappy sounding Pro Tools system to learn how Pro Tools isn't so pro after all, lol.

    There are so many levels to what people call "good better best" isn't there. Where the word pro begins, is where I start looking, but I don't believe everything I hear in the pro world. Not because I don't believe a person's sincerity, I just don't think they are as fussy as I am sometimes, where it counts. Its why I charge 3 time the amount to do something that the other guy, whom is also a "pro" does it for less. Am I worth it ? ... that's another topic but it comes down to client needs or overkill. A "Pro" knows what not to spend/ waste time on because it just doesn't make sense within a budget, venue or expectations. Pro's should be very proficient at saving people time and money where it counts and knowing how to execute it all in a timely manner.

    Pro gear can do this, Pro qualified people can do this. That is what pro means to me. Proficient, Professional Producer...

    Fun topic...


    Just curious, are all the levels of ProTools hardware using the same Avid "Pro Tools" software?
     
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    If that's a question, of course not. All of the lower-cost systems including "M-Powered" are based on ProTools LE and are limited in their track counts. But at least they are still upward compatible to the ProTools HD professional systems where track counts can go depending on how much money you got. And your RTAS capabilities are limited by your computer as opposed to their costly DSP cards. So, shall we also refrain from using the name Digidesign when talking about their consoles? I mean there are AVID reasons for that.

    So you weren't happy with your $20,000 ProTools system? Was it just because of the front end preamps? I mean if you're going to have a $20,000 ProTools system shouldn't you also have at least $10,000 of quality microphone preamps? I've noticed that some ICON consoles price out at $60,000 US and up. Do you suppose that's for onboard quality microphone preamps or just a bunch of pretty knobs, lights & dials? I don't get it? I purchased consoles for their sound and only purchased one once for its features where I wasn't really concerned about its non-superlative audio quality which was adequate. I love it ProTools is capable of if one needs that kind of capability. But a lot of this to me is more like playing video games than it is hardnose engineering. I like engineering audio and only rely upon the computer when I find it absolutely necessary. Of course it's also my mix down deck these days. Maybe I'm just going off here aimlessly??

    I'm not a boy so I am aimless
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  8. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Well I should state a few things

    - all the info so far was provided by the band, for I all know the producer may not even know he's producing it. They are assuming he might want to mix it, but I think the band might be totally clueless to what the producer wants to do in the project ( if he wants to do it at all)

    - the band wants to come here because they are friends with another band that recorded here, they like the sound they know and trust me. I'm a musician and part of the scene here but maybe it has more to deal with my price which brings me to the next point

    - the band has little money. Starved musicians for sure. I can do things inexpensively because I do it quick. Live with a few overdubs. I have a good backline so everyone just comes in and plays. It comes out pretty good for the price and everyone is happy. Now you start rewriting songs in the middle of the session and adjusting cowbell mics, the budget goes out the window

    - I'm not a pro. Yeah I've got 10,000 hours in as a musican and 20,000 hours in as a power engineer, but this is a side job for me. The band is great, but they aren't pro either. The producer is here because he's a music prof at the university which brings me to the question the producer might be asking "who do the hell do they think they are" and "who the hell does he think he is?" I'm not worried about doing a decent recording with them alone, but I'm hoping that the band isn't putting me on a pedestal and making me look like a jackass in the end. That being said everyone has to start somewhere right?


    Well either way I'll chalk it up to experience. I've been totally honest with the band what to expect so it'll partly be on their hands if it doesn't turn out right. I'm hoping he is a good producer and I learn lots of positive things

    Here's his bio
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Cain

    and no he's not the actor :)
     
  9. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    M2c..
    Listen to his productions and get an ear for what his general sound is... The band should know and like his work, so, it should be what they expect of him, too.
    Pro producer have, in the majority of cases, a quite agreeable character and appreciate an honest ( yet polite ) word of criticism and ideas to him directly, ...not always in presents of the band members, though.
    Michael should be well knowing what he is doing. His musical education and showreel leaves no doubt about it. Trust him and "connect to his music brain"...

    Producers who turn out as nasty and/or choleric personalities are often either under immens pressure or plain insecure... Not nice to work with and to compensate. There you find yourself easily in the role of a mediator between producer and band... One tip: get out of it, a.s.a.p.!! Make clear, the producer is the man at the rudder. They must talk to him... unless they all want a group hug and brainstorming of all people involved.
    The rest: stay relaxed and be prepared, get enough sleep and do the best job you can, as you alway would ...
    :)

    Big K ( who can work so quietly that producers usually fall asleep, quite soon .. lol )


    As to Alsihad: we had SoundTools in 1990...the 12-bit 2-track predecessor of Protools. It never worked right once, no matter how hard the digidesign people tried... What we saw and tested comming from Digidesign in the following years was expensive crap. Since 2000 the main Studio-DAW is Nuendo 5 and we have at least the same functionality and performance for a fraction of the costs.. The last major upgrade was: N5 for 399.- Euro....
     
  10. natural

    natural Active Member

    .... or....
    Think of the producer as a required plugin on each track. Everything you do must run through the Producerplugin. Everything the band does must also go through it.
    Bypass the producerplugin and everything goes Kablooey (always wanted to use that word in a sentence)
    Now, sometimes the producerplugin can be sidechained to the engineer plugin. It's very important for the parameters to be set ahead of time to prevent going over the Session Meltdown threshold.
     
  11. musicproducer

    musicproducer Active Member

    Read the beginning of this thread awhile back. Music producer being my default self-description, I'd like to read the next couple chapters...
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Steve,

    With a profile name like that, you must have some valuable things to add? I'd love to hear your views and experiences.
     
  13. musicproducer

    musicproducer Active Member

    A couple thoughts

    Sure. First of all, on working with a producer, the best advice for an engineer is to give the reins to the producer unless/until you see he/she doesn't want to drive. The theory is that the producer will be guiding the process, but there are a lot of ways that can happen, and some producers will back off at times for one reason or another and let it happen seemingly without them.

    I cut my teeth as a producer also wearing the arranger/keyboardist hats as well due to the nature of the music, budgets, and, for clients that weren't my own, relationship with studios that hired me to do the job.

    It took me awhile to figure out how to get the best out of hired players; honestly, it took me awhile to realize how much more they brought to the party than I did in many areas, and to understand and be at ease with my own strengths and weaknesses.

    That is to say, if you don't need your ego stroked, it's a good thing for everyone in the room to know that you know you don't have all the answers, and you're open to input...no, you're actually encouraging input, from every musician, and possibly the engineer. (Some engineers have more to offer than others in the production process). On some quickie projects, that has to be limited or brick walled.There is an art to making the music the best it can be, and humility is usually foundational in my opinion.

    That's a few random thoughts.
     
  14. nicko

    nicko Active Member

    In my experience working with a good producer can be a really wonderful experience all round. A good producer will have a clear vision for the project, which will in turn make your job of getting the right sounds a lot easier. We all know what it's like to work with a group or artist who are unsure of what the record should sound like... very hard to please! Also, the producer will work with all the egos, tempers and disagreements of the band, so you don't have to!!!

    On the flip side, a producer who is absent, cocky or overly confident in their technical abilities can be a real grind.

    to the OP: If I were you I'd be organizing a relaxed meeting at a pub or something with the band and the producer and discussing everyone's roles and the aims of the project. If the producer seems easy to work with and you get along, then jump on board... you'll love it!
     
  15. musicproducer

    musicproducer Active Member

    All great observations, nicko. The "pub meeting" can be huge. There's nothing like going into the studio with a good feeling about the process and the people you're going to hanging out with for possibly a lot of hours.

    Not only does the producer work with the band's egos, different visions and so forth - he also has to figure out the engineer and what makes him tick.
     
  16. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Well we had the meet and greet/jam at the studio. Basically set up a recorded practice and recorded it for free so the band would have a recording for the producer and I. Mike (the producer) brought a bottle for a couple of shots and we all had a night out. I think we got everything cleared up as far as who does what. The band leader will have the final say and Mike and I advise. Mike is a very laid back humble guy so I think this will be a great experience for everone involved. They banged through the whole CD effortlessly with few mistakes and there was lots of laughs and fun for everyone. The singer told my wife I was the easiest engineer that they have ever worked with, Hopefully that doesn't change :) The band is damn good which makes my job a lot easier too

    The recording wasn't great due to live vocal mics, but the vibe was there. They want to do it all live with a 2 piece horn section so I'm starting another thread about this :)
     
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You know you're working with a good producer over a period of time when, verbalization in the control room is almost nonexistent. When you are recording a take of something and you both suddenly look at each other simultaneously, nothing needs to be said. And when the producer says he wants to go down to the beach for a ride in his MG convertible and tells you to handle it, you know you're working with a good producer. When it comes time to mix and the producer says " let me know when you're done?", You're working with a good producer. When the producer puts you in charge, you know you're a good Producer/Engineer. But others are so insecure, they're difficult to work with. Those Producers that truly understand performance & performers usually make the best producers. Usually, frustrated guitarists don't make quality producers. They didn't have enough technique as guitarists and they don't have enough technique as producers.

    Producers should be like hydraulic lifters. (No need for adjustment)
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  18. planet10

    planet10 Active Member

    having an outside producer is both good and bad. depends on the person. i do it a lot here as guys want to track in our rooms and our gear and our Neve.
    maybe there is something that you could learn from him?? did you think of that?? so you may or may not mix it who cares! the only thing yo should be doing is your job ans an engineer making sure the tracks are recorded really really well. also be a gentleman and get your ego out of the equation. so you use cubase i use Nuendo5 and i have not problem dropping the files out to a drive for anyone to mix it and it doesnt take but 2 minutes to bounce tracks. hey man if someone else can make my recordings better by mixing it.. SO BE IT. good for you good for the band.

    recently i had a producer that i wanted to shoot, egomaniac, narcissistic, better than everyone in the room kinda guy, the type that had no EAR!!! he would ask me to correct the pitch on vocals that were 90% good and i wouldnt do it, make him think i did it and play it back and he would say WOW that sounds AMAZING!!! all i did was try to make these jazz recordings sound amazing for the singer.
     

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