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Dug Wolfsohn
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#1
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Client wants my plugin settings

I have a client who has asked me for a screen shot of all the plugin settings i used on a track i mixed for him, i wont be able to mix his next project due to other commitments so he wants to get the next engineer to use my settings for his sax sound.

I'm not sure if that's a reasonable request or not?

On the one hand, he paid for that mix so it could be said he owns all the settings in it. On the other hand, that's my work and knowledge and i shouldn't just hand it over to be used for free by another engineer.

To be honest i doubt that the next engineer will be interested in my settings as I'm sure he/she will have their own way of doing things but it seems like a weird request anyway.

So should i just be nice and hand over the data? or refuse? Or set a price for the info?

Anyone had a similar experience?
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#2
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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I'd say this one's completely up to you. You're not bound to do as he asks by any kind of copyright law so it really depends on how nice you want to be.

The client has paid for the mix, but the only thing that he really owns is the raw audio files of his performance. All of the mix decisions, EQ settings etc. are the creative property of YOU in the same way that the performance is the creative property of him.

If he's just after a specific sax sound then it would probably be more beneficial to give some general tips on how you got it, instead of sending a whole screenshot of your mix.

If you tell the engineer what kind of effects and processing you used, then he should be able to figure it out by himself.
#3
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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I wouldn't sweat it. Give him the settings. Like you said, he will probably mix it on his own if he is a good engineer. Besides, plugin settings don't make a mix. Mixing skills make the mix.
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#4
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Normally, I wouldn't do something like this.

In this particular case however, I would. From your explanation, your client would have YOU mix the next project... if it weren't for your other commitments. So it's not as though he's choosing to take his business elsewhere... and then asking you for your settings at the same time. Now THAT, I wouldn't do obviously.

But he clearly likes the sax sound you get and simply wants the other engineer to get the same/similar sound.

Personally, I don't see a problem with this. Keep the client happy I say... especially if he's a regular. Besides, it's not as though you're handing over your entire mix settings/tricks/knowledge/ideas. Again, THAT, I wouldn't do... under any circumstances.

But a single sax chain for a regular client who you've turned down due to other commitments and who obviously likes what you do? I personally wouldn't have a problem with that.

EDIT: I agree with the points the two posters above made as well.
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#5
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Plugin settings?
yeah sure why not!!!...very kind of you to put him out of his misery on his own tunes you worked on...then he can go right on and screw around only to come back to you and your settings!!!
Dug Wolfsohn
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#6
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
  #6
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Thanks Zombiemorg.
I was going to just do it but my wife said "no way" I shouldn't just give that kind of knowledge away for free. The sound is nothing fancy, just eq, compression, delay and reverb.
I usually say that i don't have any engineering secrets, I'll tell anyone anything and if they can understand it then they probably could have worked it out for themselves anyway. If they can't understand it then tough!

With this one he always uses the same clip on mic and records without any processing so the only variable would be the input gain which could be tweaked to match and then my sax sound would be in someone else's mix.

Another issue is that he wouldn't need this if i hadn't said no to his next project, he'd prefer that i do all his mixes.

I think I'll just send him the screenshots and just forget about it.
Dug Wolfsohn
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21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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I think that settles it for me then, I'll send him the settings for the sake of good will and not being a tw*t about it.

Thanks for your replies everyone.

#8
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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I'd do it, but be vague-ish about it - describe the EQ settings, same thing with any compression or EQ, but no screen grabs or whatever - it really shouldn't matter with that!
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#9
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by countrymetalguy View Post
I wouldn't sweat it. Give him the settings. Like you said, he will probably mix it on his own if he is a good engineer. Besides, plugin settings don't make a mix. Mixing skills make the mix.
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21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by countrymetalguy View Post
I wouldn't sweat it. Give him the settings. Like you said, he will probably mix it on his own if he is a good engineer. Besides, plugin settings don't make a mix. Mixing skills make the mix.

#11
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Give it. Maybe with an explanation that a+b only equals c when a is the same. He doesn't "own" the settings...but, you and I know it won't make any difference if he has them. Maybe let him know that the new guy can call you if he has any questions.

At the end of the day, you want the artist to know you want their new thing to sound good, even if you can't do it yourself.
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#12
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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finesse it

intellectual property vs the recording

i think that is the dilemma you own your intellectual property: the settings/mix, client owns their original music/ lyrics etc..

I would do , cus they are a regular , but I would explain, that is why to be helpful, but that won't typically.

You don't want to set that expectation in your hood !
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#13
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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I'm not a professional engineer, but I am a professional musician and guitar tech who has worked in several studios, so take my opinion with a grain of salt - and my opinion is this:

I think it would be extremely petty to guard your plugin settings (or virtually any other information that a client, colleague, or friend would ask for)... I mean what are you trying to protect? It's not like it's The Colonel's secret recipe - it's EQ and compression settings for God's sake. If you feel relatively secure about the fact that you're good at what you do, there's no good reason to guard information.

I make my living as a guitar tech. When a client asks a question, I never think twice about giving an honest, detailed, thorough answer. It doesn't occur to me that he's going to open up a guitar repair shop down the road or give the information away to some other luthier - and if he does, I don't care. If someone takes the information I give them and puts it to good use, then the world is a better place for it. And I'll still have plenty of work, because I'm good at what I do.

I think this guy says it best:
Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
At the end of the day, you want the artist to know you want their new thing to sound good, even if you can't do it yourself.
The way I see it is that I have learned a lot about audio engineering because of the kindness of others (here on GS and elsewhere). I'm glad that the folks that have helped me out didn't view the information they were giving me as a proprietary trade secret. If you can save someone some time or make their recordings better by sharing your settings, then where's the harm?
#14
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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You had a short window to nip it in the bud and explain how being in a different room with slightly different mic placement and different gain staging may make those settings worthless. Deciding against it days later will just make you sound like you don't want to help him.

Give him the settings and don't sweat it. If giving away one chain is a huge blow to your "intellectual property" then you've got bigger problems.
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Dug Wolfsohn
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#15
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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I sent him all the info an hour ago
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21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I'd do it, but be vague-ish about it - describe the EQ settings, same thing with any compression or EQ, but no screen grabs or whatever - it really shouldn't matter with that!
This right here.

I never give out my settings or session files for mix projects. If someone has a question, I'm more than happy to explain what I did. If they want to know how I notched out some funky tone, I'll tell them. If they want to know how I compressed something, I'll tell them how I did it. But I won't give them the session or screen shots of the settings. Most other pro mix engineers I know won't do this either. There are no secrets as to my methodology and I freely share it. But there's a difference between that and simply copying my settings. To provide an analogy, let's say I catch and sell fish. If someone wants their own fish, I will gladly teach them how to catch their own fish. What I won't do is give them the fish I caught for free.
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#17
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Don't do it.
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21st July 2013
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Do it.
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21st July 2013
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...unless your really insecure.
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21st July 2013
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...in which case,.. do it anyway
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21st July 2013
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Different mix means (or at least, should mean) different eq settings for his sax, so I doubt your settings will be of any use. Not to mention, the sax sound is the sum of all parts, meaning, the backing track has as much influence on how you perceive the sax sound as the sax sound itself.

Plus, any halfway decent mixer should be able to listen to your sax sound and work out a pretty close approximation of how you got there (assuming the raw tracks have the same tones).

I wouldn't worry about giving the settings up, myself, but on the other hand, I think your client is being a bit daft.
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#22
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dug Wolfsohn View Post
I sent him all the info an hour ago
DW-
You did the right thing, rest easy. As others explained the settings may or may not apply, and he/she really wants you to do the work anyway [next time].

I've almost never had an exact setting from one mix or room translate as perfect to another, and more importantly I have found that the benefits of helping other musicians, engineers, and producers without reservations pay a truly dividend at an undefined future point in time. The unintended consequences of being a good person [even when I don't want to be] have come back around to helping me enormously often months, years, decades later.

When I give lectures/demo's or talk to students I stress this point heavily as they don't know who among them will be the next decades giant in what's left of this industry. Be nice to all and play well with others and this will help you so much more than several plug in 'secrets' ever will. I will tell anyone how I did something, as it's great to share, and every situation and session is different anyway.

[For me] I have worked with several top ten artists simply because I had helped out another studio owner or producer, and when they were busy, or unable to do a session, they handed it to me. Never would have happened if I hadn't [tried] to help them some time. Mind you this wasn't a lesson I learned early on, but a point of view I came to over time [and by studying the habits of some people I admired -Mark Rubel and Tim Vear you are chief among them-thanks as always].

I came up in the industry in the dark time before the interwebs or quality schooling options and learned whatever I know from the kind mentoring of my peers, apprenticeship, and others willing to share their secrets and tips. I think it is still very important to do today.

Best-
Jonathan
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#23
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Did he pay you for the work?
Id go as far as export the presets and let him load them up.

He just wants a good starting point.

I always back up clients projects to a USB HDD in the AVID format so later on they can take to what ever editor down the road.
#24
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Charge him for an extra hour of time (you have to go to all the trouble of making the screen shots, cataloging the pics, fixing up the files and sending it.)

You're doing extra work, so you should be paid for it.
#25
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by countrymetalguy View Post
I wouldn't sweat it. Give him the settings. Like you said, he will probably mix it on his own if he is a good engineer. Besides, plugin settings don't make a mix. Mixing skills make the mix.
+1
#26
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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A chef can tell clients what general ingredients are in a dish but if that chef disclosed the exact specific recipe he would obviously be fired immediately. Honestly it's no big deal for people to know your gear settings, but at the same time I'm of the opinion that it is not professional to disclose them.
#27
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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the settings don't tell anyone WHY you chose them...thats the secret sauce.. not other tracks will have the same needs
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#28
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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It's too late. You have to give them to the client or they will not be 'ok with it'. These kind of things have to be dealt with on the spot. A stern no, or I don't do that, done. Set the expectation immediately or client feels owed.
#29
21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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every song is going to very different no way it's the exact same.
OTH I have a had one engineer do a mix then a second one comes it tweaks a couple of things then takes ALL the credit - I hate that part.
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21st July 2013
Old 21st July 2013
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Man, you guys never understand how to do things the right way. Obviously he should just send the guy the wrong settings. Everyone's happy. He gets to protect his work, and the customer gets the settings he wants.

Sheesh, don't they teach business ethics anymore?
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