What Makes a Good Producer or Audio Recording Engineer? - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 2 Old 04-18-10, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 291
What Makes a Good Producer or Audio Recording Engineer?

This is a question I see and hear frequently, my answer to this question is a very simple one: Put your client first! Whether you
are the producer, recording engineer, mixing or mastering engineer or all the above, always remember that the client is your lifeline in this industry. (along with your ears)

Collaboration between you and the client should be a producer/engineer's main focus, because an audio production is a
team effort between all people involved, not just what YOU want. If you are just starting to work with a new artist, one of the best
ways to get on the same page and understand each other's point of views is to have a pre-production meeting. This is one of the
most vital aspects of a recording; be it a single track or an entire album.

What is a pre-production meeting? This is the earliest stage in the recording process, generally you'll want to sit down with
the artist (and their manager if available) and listen to some demos with them (especially if you are acting as producer) and
help with any arrangement/composition issues you may hear, this is basically a brainstorming session that will really bring you
and the artist closer as a unit, you will bring your ideas and wants up while listening and hopefully reach a median between
what you would both like to hear in regards to their musical direction.

A pre-production meeting can last one day or a few days, however long it takes to establish that common ground which I like
to call harmony. However that is not all that is involved in the pre-production stage. You will also decide upon which studio you
wish to record at (unless a label or manager has the most say), who it will be mixed by and where it will be mastered at.

Other things such as which microphones will be used on what instruments is another thing to be discussed, create a list
before you go into the studio and show it to the recording engineer and be open to any suggestions they may have to replace
a particular microphone or three on your list, generally you'll want to think about leaving vocal microphones out of this list as every
vocalist has a different voice and you will want to try out 3-4 different microphones to find that perfect match for your artist.

I view a pre-production meeting as a communication session. Get to know your client as a person, not as a dollar sign, find out what
they are about and what their goals, standards and interests are. Even a simple interest phone call can work wonders if you have spoken
to a client but had not heard back from them, ask them how they're doing and see if there is anything you can help them with. Establishing
friendships and showing interest in your fellow human beings can take you very far!

After all is said and done, you may just have a new friend and client for life if you follow these small but simple rules. I cannot give
answers to specific scenarios here because every scenario is different and requires a different answer for people involved. Knowing
when to say things and how to say them is a vital part of the communication process as well. If something is bad, never flat out say
"That was absolutely terrible!" You could really hurt someone's feelings (especially a passionate vocalist).

If you are in a session and a musician keeps making mistakes, offer a suggestion that will help them out, take a break, do
whatever is needed to get them back into shape. Every individual has a certain personality and not every producer/artist relationship
is a positive one, sometimes some screaming and hollering will happen, remember to keep your cool though and try to get everything
back on a positive playing field for everyone as negativity makes any session turn sour real fast.

Empower your artist with positive comments: "That's great!" "Perfect!" and "keep going!" are some empowering comments but you
must truly mean them and be enthusiastic about what you say, false flattery will get you nowhere!

If something needs to be re-recorded, tell them that what they played was fine but you want to get some more takes to be on the safe side.
In closing, I cannot emphasize enough how detrimental poor communication skills are in the music industry and life in general, show interest
in the people you are working with and carry a positive attitude as much as you can, wear a smile and walk tall!
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post #2 of 2 Old 04-19-10, 07:49 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Dora, Ok
Posts: 193
Re: What Makes a Good Producer or Audio Recording Engineer?

Josh, you made some quite excellent points in here. I have discovered a lot of people breaking into the business who think that they simply know best. Sure, we might have more knowledge about what we're doing, but that should be separate from what's going on in the client's head, which is impossible to completely understand without the gift of mind-reading.... and I don't PERSONALLY know any such person! The best we can do to understand their world is to have those in-depth conversations and planning.

Whether it's part of the "on-the-clock" time charging or a freebie you offer, it is quite detrimental. To ignore this first, essential step is a sure way to lose a client and possibly many more that they would otherwise have brought you. After all, once you start moving, most new clients in this business is word-of-mouth. (Or at least it was for us, despite all the advertising we put in).
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