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client hates everything...

Member for

20 years 7 months
so i'm tracking this project for a singer/songwriter.

she's not into any of my "cool stuff" ideas to try. ok, no biggie.

she's doing the "i want it to sound human" thing, which is a pisser, because human isn't =ing good in this case [pitch, and mostly time, because she has good pitch]. this is mostly annoying when she does some stuff that CLEARLY dosen't work [a horrible whistling track, way way way out of tune.]

the vibe is NOT bob dylan, so that sh*t won't really fly, and i'm not looking forward to editing all the days away fixing it later so i can have my name on it.

and, biggest fear: mix wise, she has 1. not a real vision of what will go on, so she scouls during the tracking process when i ask her, or another musician she is working with to "try this." i track it loud, so i will have a lower noise floor [duh] but she kinda dosen't get that it will be mixed low, if used at all.

2. she says she basically hates everything. reverb--hates it. delay, not thrilled by. etc.

what do i do to make this a record? to compound the problen i probably can't mix it here, and will have to mix it with her not around. this will probably lead to a lot of demo-type mixes back and forth, which will kinda suck.

i was thinking, for mixing, i could do 2 versions of each song [i'm doing this digital, so it won't kill me going back and forth]. 1 would be the "this is frigging bare bones, eq and automated levels." the other could be the "i think this is a good mix, and take sthe song to the next level" and let her pick.


as an aside...i have to find/make a mix space in my new home, cause i'm moving, and my old house had 2[!] great mix spaces.

f**kin' a.



Member for

20 years 9 months

atlasproaudio Mon, 01/21/2002 - 22:58
If it were me, I would politely cut my losses. Unless you are starving and need the money just let it go and tell her that you think you don't creatively click with her, and that you think she would be served better by someone else. Maybe find someone in your price range to send her to as a courtesy. No amount of money would be worth ruining my reputation (present or in effect, future) as an engineer.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Tue, 01/22/2002 - 00:27
I'm probably a lot like you, Owen. Too stubborn sometimes to just cut my losses, although when the client gets me pissed enough, I've certainly been known to do it.

But as a last ditch attempt to salvage the project, I would ask the artist to bring me some examples of commercial CDs that capture the vibe and sound that she is aiming for. Then you can sit down with her and A-B your mixes with the CD. You can also do some objective analysis of how that particular sound is being achieved (see here, Susie, how they add an autopanned reverb to a delay coming from the ocarina, rather than to the ocarina itself, etc.) and demonstrate how you would do the same thing on her material.

It is a fact of life that many artists don't have technical recording chops, and many have no interest in learning. Rather than try to explain about recording hot, just do it, but keep it low in their cue mix. The cue mix is there to make the artist happy by definition, so give her one not just when she's actually tracking, but even when she's listening to you do your flexitone overdubs.

Finally, when it comes down to vocal intonation, you may have to be very diplomatic. Identify the worst problem areas, and give her a mix on a CD to play for her musician colleagues and friends. Chances are, if it's bad, others whose opinions she values will make your point for you. If her peers reject her work, she will be most likely amenable to re-singing, auto-tuning, or whatever. And rather than declaring this or that is out of tune, guide her to certain phrases and say: "what do you think of how this is sung right here?" Show examples, if there are any, of the same phrase sung in tune elsewhere in the song compared to the out of tune one, thereby leading her into "discovering" her own intonation problems. If necessary, solo a line or a note and play along in unison on a keyboard so it becomes obvious where the intonation gets funky.

Yeah, it's a pain in the ass. Still beats working for a living, though.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Tue, 01/22/2002 - 01:50
In Chris Stones book "the sound of money" (all about running recording studios) there is a part where he says, of course the customer is always right but if things are going very badly, and they are WRONG all the time, it's TIME TO GET THEM OUT and quick! Because if they bitch about you in the studio, you KNOW they will out of it as well.

Sound like a real PITA.

Can you immagine refusing to continue with them? How would that go...?

What a drag..


Member for

20 years

Mike Simmons Tue, 01/22/2002 - 03:49
Cut and run. Be very open and honest about it but don't back down. Offer to finish some of what you have. Offer a refund if appropriate. Don't cast blame or let emotions come into play, simply state the obvious incompatibility. I've never had a project that started bad and got better. Life is just waayyy too short. I'll bet this artist is getting a special rate too!

This is tough stuff Owen, good luck.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 01/22/2002 - 06:40
This is the same person you had posted about on the other "keeping time " thread, right? Is she really THAT dense?

Sounds like most posters are in agreement for getting out and cutting losses. It seems that she really isn't interested in being "good" in terms of most musician's definitions of "good." Therefore, there is a certain unreasonable aspect that can't be dealt with. "Human" is a noble effort, but there are a lot of humans who can keep great time.

I would much rather deal with someone who's always retaking tracks for a better performance than one who doesn't get how awful he/she is. At least with the former there is a self-critical part of him/her that can be honorable.

I dunno....just rambling, I guess.....But it's frustrating!

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 01/22/2002 - 07:52
It's so unlike me to be Mr. Smiley Face, but I have a semi-contrary opinion in the positive sense.

Before I get sunny I should confess to telling a client to never come back again, but I did finish his project first.

I did a CD recently with a band of cluless newbies. Neither singer was exactly gifted, and one was positively psychotic about his voice (he hated it).

I know that the most expensive mike isn't always the best, but I thought I had a hell of a nice sounding vocal chain, and the flipping singer comes into the control room making faces and swearing about how bad his voice sounds and can I do anything about it....

That was a few months ago, now he loves how everything is coming out in the mixes, and I'm kinda glad that I didn't tell the young lad off.

That weasel at least let me have a free hand to apply mix magic. I know what it's like to be crippled by limitations imposed by the artist (beyond their own lack of talent or ability).

Sometimes they come around, and sometimes they don't.

If there's no chance of any mix satisfaction, and high odds of damaging your reputation, maybe you should politely excuse yourself. But like I've said, that's a last ditch manuver that I've only done once in over 30 years.

JR, back in MN from NAMM

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 01/22/2002 - 08:31
I won't take a project untill they have a producer or they are so new that they don't know what one is, than I'm the producer. I take the time before newbies come in and explane how it should work from top to bottom so 1) they know what they are paying for 2) no suprises for them. I customize my break-in speach to the different type of people their are. Some want to know and are generaly interested and others could care less. If a producer can not be determined a talk to the "head band member" (not always the singer) and establish a repore with him or her and make sure we are on the same page.

Now the situation that you have is you need to explain to this lady, with all the other members right there, that all you are doing is recording what she and others are doing and if it sounds like SH!T it is because she is putting SH!T in the mic. Of coase you'll have to sugar coat it a little or you're new nick name around town will be BAD MIX BOB!! As long as you are doing the right thing you should be fine.

before you toss her out on her merry rump, try littledogs suggestion first.

Member for

20 years 7 months

osmuir Tue, 01/22/2002 - 09:39
grrr. it is problematic.

luckly, the vocals are pretty friggin' in tune. it's that whistle part...

i think she got the point because she was "thinking" about doing it on violin [which she has played since age i said, not a terrible musician, just really inexperienced at this thang].

things that are good:
1. i told her already that i charge my regular recording rate [$35/hr...i know, i'm cheap in this case] for editing, which i could use to fix it. i also have been enough of a pain getting her to click track it that i have it pretty good, and i can edit anything that irks me alot [i've gotten to be a friggin jedi after my last project...[terrible drummer from max creek, for those in the jam band know...THOUSANDS of drum edits, all by ear because no click...kinda a hired gun on the project. run from that band. hard.].

i'm also competent at fixing pitch by ear [i have a pitch shift, but no autotuner].

i have about a day left of tracking. this is good.

i kinda need the money.

she wants to be around for this mixing. thankfuly this may not be possible.

i have already recomended another engineer who could probably handle the situation, as long as i handed him the edited tapes. i have already suggested this as a possibility.

what do you think of my 2 mix idea?

thanks all yall.

RO rules.

i hate being able to edit...

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 01/22/2002 - 09:39
First off the idea to have the client bring in a Cd for referencing is a must!!Second even though life is short enough, you are in a service buisness. Your reputation as a studio/engineer will have though out your currier some bumps along with some jewels. Working together with people is one of the hardest yet most important qualities. If you survive this sessin you will be a better person for it. You can always decline to work for her again, but first you must please you client!!!
My favorate quote is this>"The Money all spends the same way." You do seem to have a way out, your moving and can't finish, right! though I'm sure the extra money will help the move!!! Good Luck! :w: