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My Mother's Doctor plays guitar and found out I play too. We got to talking and I mentioned I have some recording gear.
So...he says one of his patients has a niece that sings, and asked if they could come over and record. They come over, and, well, ummm.
They recorded 4 songs that night, and asked me to make a CD of it.
I've been dragging my feet because they weren't very good at all, and I couldn't find the motivation to finish it. I finally did finish it, and they like the results. I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't wrap it up right away, but like I said, it really wasn't very good and i couldn't find the motivation to finish it.

I don't know how some of you guys that record for money keep an upbeat attitude when the client isn't very good. Yes, they're paying, but still, it seems like it would be so hard to do.

I hope I'm not being too snooty...but they weren't good at all.


JoeH Tue, 02/20/2007 - 22:27

well, arnie, perhaps it's time to ask yourself a few tough questions....

Do you want to do this for a living?
Do you really like what you do?
Can you find the humor in bad situations, knowing they're not going to last forever and (best of all) at least you're being paid?
Would you rather do this as a hobby, just for fun, just for your own stuff?

I don't know how quickly you work, but four songs doesn't seem all that horrible, time-wise, unless there were dozens of takes and edits. I would think you'd be motivated to FINISH the sucker, rather than let it sit around getting furry on you. (But of course, I've been in the same spot, I do understand how that can happen sometimes...)

I am slowly getting to the point where I can pick and choose what I do, but not entirely. (i'm not open to the public, per se, so I don't have to answer the door/phone to everyone who just wants to kick the tires, so to speak...) I can screen my clients to a point, and when I DO get burned, I have the option to be "too busy" next time, or sit them down and make a point to fix whatever can be fixed, should I choose to work with them again.

Case in point: Tonight I just finished a drawn-out, horror of a video/music edit. The client(s) were smart people, but clueless as to how to write/create a 10 minute corporate "Funny" video. They could not pre-plan anything, and our workflow was a mess; working on things in the middle, at the end, all over the place, etc. To make it worse, we'd agreedon a fixed price (I don't recommend this to ANYONE doing video editing work - way too easy to get burned.) As we got closer and closer to the finish line, I got happier and happier - because I knew it was almost over!!!!!!!! I have vowed to NEVER work with these guys again, but honestly, should they show up again someday with a truckload of cash to dump in my driveway, I might have to give in. (Hey, it pays the bills and buys the toys...)

Sometimes, no matter how hard you "pre-qualify" your projects with your clients, there's always the chance it will blow up in your face, making you hating life while it's going on. You can never get rid of these sh*tty clients entirely, but you can learn each time its' over as to what NOT to do next time.

Or you can just find another line of work.........

RemyRAD Tue, 02/20/2007 - 22:54

Joe and I are old timers and we have had similar experiences. For instance, soon after we (not Joe and me but me and Philip) first built our real studio, with a brand-new 16 track Ampex and custom-built console with 1176's and U87's. We were number three of the three big studios in Baltimore. One day I get some heavy metal guys. Now this is for my boss you understand, I don't own this place. But I will always interview clients before we begin. I will generally ask them of their experience in the music business and/or recordings? These did not seem like the brightest headbangers I had worked with??? But who can question artists and their kooky ways??

Yes, these guys felt that they were musical geniuses, considering that they had no more than 3 months experience playing any of their instruments. They were ready to bring the world their music. So after this 7 minutes long of grinding up chainsaws, the guitarist indicated he needed to redo his solo, which was approximately 45 seconds long, five minutes into this seven minutes of bad noise. I told him we would punch it in. To which he responded" what?" I said we would drop it in. "....huh?" I told him we would roll tape just before the solo and I would press the record button just before the solo. He said he couldn't do that. He needed to hear the song from "the beginning" since he had no concept of "punching in", even though he had told me he was thoroughly acquainted with studio production techniques and had been in other studios before. After 31 takes of this horrendous event, I indicated he was done. The band was extremely offended and walked out on this over 10 hour long session! My boss got really upset because they didn't want to pay for the session but he managed to settle them down and put the other engineer on it to finish it.

From that point on, I promised myself, I would never put myself through anything like that again. That was 1978! So far so good, to a point. Especially when you have to record friends. Even if the music is pleasant the process couldn't be more painful frequently! You have to bite your tongue unless you are requested to help "produce them". I mean, what do suppose they thought when Bob Dylan first walked into the studio???

And because I cannot make a full-time living of recording music, I will prostitute myself as a Network Television Broadcaster, corporate video producer, cameraperson, crane operator/owner, video producer/editor, technical director, Engineer In Charge, Broadcast Television audio/camera/technical director, maintenance technician and on Wednesday nights, I take out the garbage. And once in awhile, a really superb audio job comes through, that makes doing all this bad video seem so worthwhile.

Considering making some real money producing porno
Ms. Remy Ann David

BobRogers Wed, 02/21/2007 - 15:29

I'm a math professor in my day job. A lot of my time teaching is spent working with people who "aren't very good at all." It's not the most exciting part of the job, but it is important, and in the long run I think it is worth it to me and at least some of them. You worked with these people and produced something that pleased them. Maybe you learned something about working with flawed material. Maybe you learned about coaxing the best performance possible out of someone.

In the end it's best to just get unpleasant tasks done. And with that I'm going to close the laptop and go grade those tests I've been avoiding all afternoon.

kooz Thu, 02/22/2007 - 01:40

Right, the days you get paid doing what you love to do -or enjoy doing- can initially be few and far between in this business, but when you can string them together consistantly, your outlook to your client should really be no different: always positive/enthusiastic. If you can pull a genuine version of that off when dealing with something rather unpleasant, your time on the icky gigs will be short.

However: if you know you don't share or like the client's vision, don't take the gig. There are plenty of more palatable ways to put a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food in your belly...and in your case, you need to find a way to say "no thanks" in a way that doesn't impact on you or your mom/doctor/niece, depending on who "the client" is for the next time they call upon you for your recording services.
Like being too busy on your own stuff to take the time to do theirs, or your day gig's pressures are too much for you to devote any energy to their project or whatever. Then make a recommendation to a known studio in your area that you have contacts at.

And as an aside to RAD, can I be the location audio mixer/recordist who gets to hide the mics on your first porn shoot?

AltheGatman Thu, 02/22/2007 - 04:15

I've been fortunate enough to be doing this fulltime now (albeit only for a couple of months), and a fair chunk of my clients are lets say "less than average" - but I always make myself remember a few things:

1. I still am earning my living doing what I love, in an industry I love. (my last job, I spent a lot of time pulling wires underneath houses - never gonna be as bad as that.)

2. They are doing what they love.

3. and most importantly, They improve me. I have to work harder, listening through all the "averageness" to try and grab a spark of something - and pulling a reasonable tone out of not necessarily as good instruments. As I go along, I learn more tricks and ways to listen/mic/mix/tune/subliminally suggest to get better results. It may not be the best project I've ever done, but I still feel like I achieved something good (bit like a toyota corolla coming 4th in a race has achieved more than the ferrari that won.) and I can use all that new skill on the good artists that come in to make them great (that's the hope anyway).

And anyway, I was, and in some ways probably still am "less than average" - so who am I to judge!

BobRogers Thu, 02/22/2007 - 06:25

Another important point - this gets a lot better with experience. With this project you probably wasted time trying a lot of things that didn't work to make the sound better. Eventually, you get to the point where you have a few tricks that will make the most of the material with a reasonable amount of effort and you'll stop looking for secret ways to make magic happen (as I get the impression you did on this project). I'm not saying you stop caring, you just learn what methods are effective for you and stop after that.

Music_Junky Thu, 02/22/2007 - 09:50

RemyRAD wrote: So after this 7 minutes long of grinding up chainsaws, the guitarist indicated he needed to redo his solo, which was approximately 45 seconds long, five minutes into this seven minutes of bad noise. I told him we would punch it in. To which he responded" what?" I said we would drop it in. "....huh?" I told him we would roll tape just before the solo and I would press the record button just before the solo. He said he couldn't do that. He needed to hear the song from "the beginning" since he had no concept of "punching in", even though he had told me he was thoroughly acquainted with studio production techniques and had been in other studios before.
Ms. Remy Ann David

hhahaha I'd like to hear this song!

RemyRAD Thu, 02/22/2007 - 20:31

God knows I don't have a copy of that abortion anymore. It really wasn't worth listening to to begin with.

The band's name was Polestar but I referred to them as Polecat because that's what their music was like, it really stank.

I'll look in my garbage disposer and see if I can still find a copy of it?
Ms. Remy Ann David

therecordingart Fri, 02/23/2007 - 10:16

There are only a few bands out of my client list that don't suck. The rest range from sucky to hilarious.

I still take every session seriously, though, because if they are passionate about what they do then who am I to judge? I offer as much constructive criticism as I can, do the best I can, and they always leave happy. Not one complaint yet.

At the end of the day if feels good to get paid to do what you love. 99% of my sessions are painful, but that 1% is seriously the best feeling you could to sex of course.

anonymous Mon, 02/26/2007 - 17:47

Horror of horrors... :(

The good Dr. called me today and wants to come over and record again...

Just to clear things up, there is no money involved, I have a very simple recording area in the basement of my home, and simple gear. I record for fun and to try and stay sharp on guitar, making my own backing tracks and such. I'm not a great guitarist, I only reached local weekend band status. I'm a retired machinist, so it's not a big deal, my time is my own. In a way, I don't really mind, it's a way for me to concentrate on other aspects of recording. I think I'm going to try and be more positive this time. You know, I was actually quite nervous when I recorded them, I had a few problems and couldn't think straight, but finally figured them out. Looking back, I would have done a few things different, and now I'll have the opportunity to do them.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Davedog Tue, 02/27/2007 - 17:05

Once you've done this a billion times or so, the pre-session interview can and usually does show the level of bozoidness you're gonna have to deal with.

Theres several ways of dealing with this should you take the job.

1. You can smile and take whatever abuse of stupidity they might direct your way and cash the check first thing in the morning.

2.If they are full of themselves and dont have a clue, you can sit them down and in serious voice, tell them what they need to do to bring their standards up to their egos' level, and if that doesnt work, you can tell em about the sliding rate scale you have just put into place. Make sure they understand that since they're so damn good they should be treated as well as charged like Kings.

3. You can sit with a disaffected and bored look throughout the session with an occasional gesture of futility like throwing up in a basket next to the console, or continually interrupting the proceedings with.."Hang on, I gotta go doo-dy."

4. Its Friday night. You got nothing better to do except the session with the YayHoos. Do it and make fun of em all night long. Intersperse your conversations with phrases like, "I didnt know that guitars could sound like that!" or perhaps, "Is that song sung in one of those diminished keys?" Wait until a heated discussion is going on amoungst the 'musicians' and let you big wet dogg into the studio for a romp around the room. "Sorry guys, hes just happy to hear ya!"

5. Dont ever take any sessions from a band that has at least two brothers in it.

5a. NEVER work with cousins, nephews, uncles and especially nieces.

6. If you get a sense of doom at the interview, charge 10 times your regular rate and tell em that you only have an hour on Wednesday evening, could they get all twelve songs done in an hour?