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Profile picture for user Thomas W. Bethel

I have some mastering clients that want to prolong the mastering at my expense long after the sessions are done and paid for. They leave here happy and satisfied and then three weeks later call me up and say that the bass player, who could not attend the mastering sessions, was unhappy with the bass in all of the songs we did and could we "revisit them" since he is not happy with the mastering. I told them yes but at their expense.

Or the young person, who after waiting until his CD was at the replicators told me that his 90 year old grandmother, who paid for the mastering, the recording and the duplication, did not like the mastering and could he get his money back. I told him that if his grandmother would come to the mastering studio and show me what she did not like I would be happy to fix it.

Or the client who called me on a daily basis to have problems fixed and after fixing all the current problems were fixed would find something else he did not like. It was not the fault of the mastering and was that his personal preferences had changed and he was trying to make up for a poorly done project by trying the get the mastering to fix all the problems he had created and the more I tried to help the more he wanted. I finally told him that he needed to get EVERYTHING completed because this was the final time I was going to fix the problems and from now on it would cost him. He called the week after and said he was upset because he found some additional "problems" and wanted them fixed but he did not want to pay for the additional time. I repeated to him what I had told him before that any additional "fixing" would be at his expense.

I also get clients who want me to FEDEX next day air any changes they request and when I tell them it will be at their expense get somewhat huffy. I will be happy to send it prioity mail or Fedex 2nd day air but for me to absorb a $20.00 cost or more on a project that was previously approved makes no sense to me.

These are the clients who sit here and tell me all the great things I have done for them and their project and then after a long period of time try and come back and have it all redone at my expense.

I have recently adopted a mastering contract to circumvent these types of problems but I am not sure if they understand the legality of the document they are signing.

These types of problems are happening more and more especially with projects that are self produced and self recorded and the person cannot make up their mind what they want it to sound like so they wait until the mastering session to finalize
their thoughts and then decide they want major changes done after they leave here. Glenn Meadows came up with a good one recently on the Mastering Web site. He said you should tell clients that they can fix it in the heat shrink.... since everyone now tells their clients they can fix it in the mastering.

Any one else care to comment on this somewhat disturbing"trend"?




Profile picture for user JoeH

JoeH Mon, 03/07/2005 - 21:34

With or without a production agreement, there comes a time when something is "complete", and how that is handled depends on a lot of things.

I make it very clear with each subsequent "Version" of a "Final" CD that we're approaching the end, or at least who's paying for it at what point. (I label each revision with the date, and "V" number.... V3, February 28, 2005, for example. In RED, at the bottom of the disc, just so there's no confusion over which disc was made when.)

I also make it abundantly clear that any "Final" changes are incumbent on THEM to hear, locate (timecode/track info) and list for me, if we've missed anything. (Typos in the booklet/tray card apply here, too). Go past a certain point, and it's THEIR problem.

I give them the "Master" (pre-master) that we finished TOGETHER in the studio, either via US mail or have hand-delivered to them. By then, we've usually got a target date, or "Drop-dead" date for the replicator (if it's going out of here for mass copying.)

There are indeed many types out there that are never satisfied, never able to live with their own decisions, and constantly have to re-visit the work, agonizing over their choices. This is a bad thing when there's confusion about who's paying for their neurosis. If you can make that clear at the start of the project, you MAY be ok when you reach the finish line.

Sometimes the hardest part is knowing when it's DONE. In many cases, the cost of going too far will rein in the wackos - if they're the ones paying for it. Otherwise, you have to be VERY VERY careful they don't turn this around on you and make YOU suffer.

Sooner or later, you'll run out of runway, and then it's time to go back to the hanger or fly the darn plane.

Profile picture for user Michael Fossenkemper

Michael Fossenkemper Tue, 03/08/2005 - 19:41

If the client attends, It's extra for changes. If they want it loud, I print parallel stems, 1 smashed, 1 pre-smashed, just to cover my buttocks. There are times I will do changes for free if I think the client is right. After all, word of mouth is the best advertising, and i want every single one to leave happy. Even if that takes me more time than I charge. I usually find that it's the newer peps in the recording game that don't quite know what to expect and think that a $100 recording is going to sound like it costs a million. But for the most part, clients are stunned at the way it turns out. If I get the sense that it's an impossible case, I refund their money and send them to someone else.

Profile picture for user JoeH

JoeH Tue, 03/08/2005 - 20:58

Good points, Mike! I have occasionally reached the point where I've said to the client: "I don't think I can help you anymore. I think you need to go somewhere else." They are stunned that i'm willing to walk away from it, and stop taking any more $$$ (or their BS, if thats' the case.)

It usually sobers them up right quick. Having the guts to say "I can't (or won't) do anymore with this" is a rare thing. It's very rare when it happens, but liberating, and sometimes necessary if you've been pushed too far.