In the Studio - Winning as a Control Freak - The Engineering Side

Well here we go again, this is going to be an interesting topic for sure, one that I don’t know how many of you guys and or gals think about as an engineer or a producer. Being a Control Freak, generally speaking a bad thing and in some cases can actually be a very good thing, believe it or not.

Let’s start off like this, if you’re an engineer or a producer and you’re a control freak about every aspect of the process, that can in some instances be a big turn off for the client. This is their project after all and you’re just there to facilitate their vision. Now that’s not to say you can’t finagle your way to power to get what you really want out of the artist, that’s doable, but there’s sort of secret techniques to doing this. Let’s start off with the most obvious method

FEED THEIR EGO

Music is something that is unique to everyone. Now with artists that concept can be different because it’s their heart and soul going into their music. One of the keys to gaining control of a project is simply feeding the ego of the artist. That does sound counterproductive I’m sure, but think about it for a minute, flattery can get you almost anywhere, it’s a form of flirting. But feeding the artist’s ego is something that can be used to convince them what they’re doing is awesome with the key word “BUT”. Now when using the word “But” you have to phrase the entirety of the statement in their favor because usually everything before the word “but” no longer matters when that word hits the conversation. When you phrase what you’re thinking to feed their ego sometimes you can avoid using the word “but”, You can say something like “Dude, I really love what you’re doing, you’ve got a good vibe/energy going with it, now let’s get that fire and make it epic!” See, the word “but” was never used in that sentence, however I did low-key state that yes the take was good, but you can do it better.

Another method to controlling the project is

EXPLAINING THE TECHNICAL ASPECT IN PLAIN ENGLISH

Sometimes this absolutely works, if you can help point out something going on in the audio itself that you’re recording and that you notice that the artist is doing, you can bring this to their attention and GIVE THEM OPTIONS on how to remedy the problem at hand. Now we are going to go back to this is the artist’s project so they’re the final word in all of it. But explaining and pointing out specific issues and describe as close to plain english as you can and avoid the gregariously vague jargon like, warm, airy, muddy, stuff like that and instead use demonstration if they’re in the studio with you why something is the way it is, you’re not only showing off your knowledge and being the studio guru wizard badass, but you’re also educating the artist in what’s going on their project and some things to look out for when recording in general. So you’re not only making yourself look good, you’re helping the artist learn to be better as well. Sometimes this isn’t easy to do, and sometimes the artist just won’t get it and that’s okay.

One last thing I’ll talk about here is this

BE FORWARD AND UP FRONT, NOT A DICK

This should be one of the most obvious things in life in general, but you’d be surprised how much this gets fucked up all the time! You can be forward and up-front with someone without being a dick about it, sometimes you have to say “To make X work it HAS to be done this way” This kind of thing is important if you’re working with limited tools or someone who is new to recording in general. If they’re experienced in the game of recording and know what they want go back to the first part “FEED THEIR EGO” You’d be surprised how much that works. However there are just those times where you have to be blunt and straight forward to et your point across, sometimes you can’t just dance around the issue otherwise that slows things down and nothing gets done. That’s no fun for you as the engineer and it’s not helping you grow and not helping the artist learn or grow either. If you have to dance around the issue too much that’s when you have to be straight forward and blunt because sometimes being too tactful just doesn’t get anything accomplished. I’m sorry, that’s just the long and the short of it.

That’s been this week’s post, Next week’s post is going to look at the artist’s side.

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