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-   -   What to do when the band that payed you to produce them won’t listen to your advice (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/career-work/1292744-what-do-when-band-payed-you-produce-them-won-t-listen-your-advice.html)

FranciscoFrugoni 29th December 2019 01:43 AM

What to do when the band that payed you to produce them won’t listen to your advice
 
Hi, I’m having a situation on my studio these days and i want to know what would others producers do in similar situations.

I run a project studio at home and I usually produce and record different artists, songwriters and bands.

This band payed me to produce (artistically and arrangements) their EP and to record it.

The problem is, there are a lot of artistic decisions that are plain wrong (at least in my humble opinion). For example, in their demos the main vocals where doubled (not well, singer is not a pro), and they insist to keep main vocals doubled in the real recording. Not duplicating the track, move one a few ms and pan it, just singing it again and keep both tracks as main vocals. The thing is, his technique won’t let him recreate the same take without obvious problems that will occur when this is not done by a highly trained vocalist (tuning and phaser-like issues, “S”s not in the same place, ect).

I have no problem to do what they ask for but, after the record is completed, my name will appear as the guy who made those kind of decisions, and in my opinion they don’t sound good and they are completely unprofessional.

FWIW, I don’t have millions of productions on my CV, so I really need professional finished products to show to potential new clients for them to listen my work.

What would you do?

Philbo King 29th December 2019 01:49 AM

Options:

0. Attempt to communicate your concerns in written form. Keep a copy for legal reasons.

1. Return their money, minus pay for time spent, and offer your condolences that it didn't work out.

2. Offer to do tracking and mixing for a per hour fee.

They obviously aren't ready for the studio.

junkshop 29th December 2019 01:56 AM

One of the biggest lessons you will learn as a producer is that at the end of the day it’s the artists record. You will (hopefully) make a bunch more records this year. They may not make another for several years or ever again. They’ll live with it for far longer than you and their name will be more directly connected to it then yours even if you are credited.
It’s their music to screw up. You can advise and give your opinion but if they don’t take it there’s not much you can do. If the differences are so great that you can’t live with it you should quit.

Scragend 29th December 2019 02:04 AM

There's so much stuff being released these days, as a up and coming producer no-one will notice this record and its deficiencies unless it becomes a hit - if it becomes a hit, you'll get work anyway - that's how the biz works! Don't worry about it. Make your point and at the end of the day it's up to them. You could ask not to be credited - 'sup to you, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

junkshop 29th December 2019 02:05 AM

On the vocal issue, once the band leaves pick one vocal to be the lead (even if they are mixed equally), tune the **** out of the other, align it to match the phrasing of the lead, cut all the S’es and any consonants that are distracting. The resulting track will sound like a horror show when solo’d but should fit in with the other in a much more seamless fashion. Great vocalists do 90% of this stuff while tracking everyone else gets mangled until it works.

JayTee4303 29th December 2019 02:11 AM

Find out why they want to double the vocal. (Generally for more weight and impact, but be sure.)

Many ways to add weight to a track besides doubling it. Try some of that, and offer them some audible options.

Drumsound 29th December 2019 05:32 AM

You could pick the better vocal, then use something like the Fix Doubler, or Eventide 3 of Me patch on an H3000 and tell them that its his double...

Or make sure you billing by the hour and go phrase by phrase until he gets things right and tight. The hourly billing here being the key.

pr0gr4m 29th December 2019 09:09 AM

Do it there way. Do it your way. Ask them to listen to both and decide. If they pick theirs, take your name off the project.

haysonics 29th December 2019 09:14 AM

Tell them you are happy to record it the way they want if you get paid on an hourly rate and your input is credited to Alan Smithee. They get what they want. You get paid. And you don’t get the blame if it’s not successful (which is worse than not being credited). Unless you think it will be a hit no matter how badly they mess it up.

thismercifulfate 29th December 2019 09:37 AM

Bill hourly for vocal re-tracking and editing (comping + time aligning + tuning). If you don’t have the skills to edit, then hire someone who does.

Samc 29th December 2019 10:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FranciscoFrugoni (Post 14411032)
What would you do?

Take a day off and have a serious sit-down with the band directly to iron out the details and come to an understanding about your specific role in the project...nobody here knows all the details of your deal or is privy to what may be behind the breakdown...if there is a breakdown. Always keep in mind that this is THEIR record, and they are not obliged to follow your artistic direction and advise to the letter, or at all.

DO NOT under any circumstance try to change the business aspects of the arrangement (as was suggested by some) if they decide not to follow your direction and advise. It makes you look vindictive and spiteful...not to mention dishonest because this could be construed as punishment for not listening to you. If after the meeting you're still not comfortable with the way things turned out, you can either decide to continue as is, or, you may decide to end the relationship....as amicably as possible.

Nobody is right for every job and we shouldn't take these things personally, many people also don't ask enough questions and iron out all the little details before accepting to take on projects. The little details can sometimes come back to haunt you, and there is nothing worse than you and the client having a different understanding of your role and responsibility in the project.

Brent Hahn 29th December 2019 06:47 PM

Really interesting thread.

Quote:

Originally Posted by FranciscoFrugoni
The problem is, there are a lot of artistic decisions that are plain wrong (at least in my humble opinion). For example, in their demos the main vocals where doubled (not well, singer is not a pro), and they insist to keep main vocals doubled in the real recording. Not duplicating the track, move one a few ms and pan it, just singing it again and keep both tracks as main vocals.

This, to me, is what most of the "Nevermind" album sounds like. That record did pretty okay.

And if my producer suggested that I fake a double by nudging a clone a few ms and panning it, I'd probably stop asking for suggestions.

Quote:

FWIW, I don’t have millions of productions on my CV, so I really need professional finished products to show to potential new clients for them to listen my work.
So what it comes down to is, you're putting your interests ahead of the band's. They want a record that pleases them and sounds like them and their music, while you want a record that sounds slick enough that other people will want to make slick records with you. If a record company hires you to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse that's one thing; if a band hires you to realize their own vision that's something else. Pros do the job they're hired to do, not the job they wish it was.

FranciscoFrugoni 29th December 2019 07:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brent Hahn (Post 14412031)
Really interesting thread.



This, to me, is what most of the "Nevermind" album sounds like. That record did pretty okay.

And if my producer suggested that I fake a double by nudging a clone a few ms and panning it, I'd probably stop asking for suggestions.



So what it comes down to is, you're putting your interests ahead of the band's. They want a record that pleases them and sounds like them and their music, while you want a record that sounds slick enough that other people will want to make slick records with you. If a record company hires you to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse that's one thing; if a band hires you to realize their own vision that's something else. Pros do the job they're hired to do, not the job they wish it was.

As for the first answer. I Completely agree with you that the ideal thing to do is singing the lead vocal two or even three times. I know that’s the most natural resulting way. In fact in my other productions is my first suggestion. The problem comes when you know the results (based on what you’ve heard till this moment) won’t end up sounding like a correct doubled vocals should. In that case maybe the “cheap” or “not pro” option of using a doubler effect or duplicating tracks might end up sounding better than the natural way. So why if the producers advice to do so, you say you would stop listening to his advice?

On the other hand, you are right, sometimes I forget I’m being hired to do what they ask for and not what I think is the best for the project. At the end of the day we all (me and the band) want the record to sound the best as possible, even though both parties may have different visions of how to get there.

FranciscoFrugoni 29th December 2019 07:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Samc (Post 14411407)
Take a day off and have a serious sit-down with the band directly to iron out the details and come to an understanding about your specific role in the project...nobody here knows all the details of your deal or is privy to what may be behind the breakdown...if there is a breakdown. Always keep in mind that this is THEIR record, and they are not obliged to follow your artistic direction and advise to the letter, or at all.

DO NOT under any circumstance try to change the business aspects of the arrangement (as was suggested by some) if they decide not to follow your direction and advise. It makes you look vindictive and spiteful...not to mention dishonest because this could be construed as punishment for not listening to you. If after the meeting you're still not comfortable with the way things turned out, you can either decide to continue as is, or, you may decide to end the relationship....as amicably as possible.

Nobody is right for every job and we shouldn't take these things personally, many people also don't ask enough questions and iron out all the little details before accepting to take on projects. The little details can sometimes come back to haunt you, and there is nothing worse than you and the client having a different understanding of your role and responsibility in the project.

I think the same way you do. Luckily I got to have a friendly chat with the band members and we ended up agreeing that those extra takes and time will be charged separately (as the hours we agreed at first have already been used).

FranciscoFrugoni 29th December 2019 07:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by junkshop (Post 14411053)
One of the biggest lessons you will learn as a producer is that at the end of the day it’s the artists record. You will (hopefully) make a bunch more records this year. They may not make another for several years or ever again. They’ll live with it for far longer than you and their name will be more directly connected to it then yours even if you are credited.
It’s their music to screw up. You can advise and give your opinion but if they don’t take it there’s not much you can do. If the differences are so great that you can’t live with it you should quit.

Thanks for the advice.
One of the things I should keep in mind all time is this.
I’m used to get so involved in every project as a producer that i end up feeling a member of the band (to make it worst, I almost always end up playing keyboards and synths as I’m a pianist, so I get even more envolved) My bad, I know.

chrischoir 29th December 2019 07:36 PM

Maybe they will teach you something?

FranciscoFrugoni 29th December 2019 07:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JayTee4303 (Post 14411066)
Find out why they want to double the vocal. (Generally for more weight and impact, but be sure.)

Many ways to add weight to a track besides doubling it. Try some of that, and offer them some audible options.

That’s just what l did. I offered them using delays, parallel compression, doublers, even choruses too.
I know the results are not even similar than real doubling vocals, but they all help thickening the sound with weight and impact.

dcwave 29th December 2019 08:07 PM

I get singers all the time that are not good enough to double track exactly the same performance. Track multiple takes, comp the closest to the original, then use Melodyne and Vocalign to tighten things up tuning-wise and alignment. Edit out the "S" in the doubled track. Seems pretty simple? What am I missing?

As a producer, aren't they paying you to determine the best takes, the best sounds, the right instruments, etc, and getting the best performance out of the group; and being paid to be the arranger aren't you being paid to then structure the composition of the music to present the best recording of the song?

FranciscoFrugoni 29th December 2019 08:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dcwave (Post 14412184)
I get singers all the time that are not good enough to double track exactly the same performance. Track multiple takes, comp the closest to the original, then use Melodyne and Vocalign to tighten things up tuning-wise and alignment. Edit out the "S" in the doubled track. Seems pretty simple? What am I missing?

As a producer, aren't they paying you to determine the best takes, the best sounds, the right instruments, etc, and getting the best performance out of the group; and being paid to be the arranger aren't you being paid to then structure the composition of the music to present the best recording of the song?

Yes it’s quite simple. I know how to do it, but it takes time, not only editing but getting the singer to record all the parts again.

What happened in this particular case is that we agreed 20 hours of vocal recording (that’s what they could afford), and we already spent all those 20 hours (in fact way more, but I’m not being that strict on turning on the chronometer at the beginning of every session), and now they want to double each vocal (which theoretically will take about the same time to record as the main vocals at first).

That’s where the problem is, even leaving aside the fact that I think the result won’t be what they expected. In any case, that’s another topic of discussion.

joeq 29th December 2019 09:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FranciscoFrugoni (Post 14411032)
I have no problem to do what they ask for but, after the record is completed, [B]my name will appear [/B ]as the guy who made those kind of decisions, ...

your name will appear on the back
their names will be on the front

You can ask for your name to be taken off. I have done that. You would think that might 'shock' them into a higher awareness, but it will not. They will just say "OK" - but at least then, your name will be off.

As said, it's their record to screw up. You might point out #1 that they are paying you (presumably) extra beyond the cost of studio and engineer to be their producer and that by ignoring you, they are throwing their money away. You could do a mix on your own time of a version with just a single lead vocal, the way you think it should go.

Don't hold your breath for them to suddenly 'see the light' with this, either.

Quote:

FWIW, I don’t have millions of productions on my CV, so I really need professional finished products to show to potential new clients for them to listen my work.
Well obviously, this product just won't be one of them. The other side of this equation, the idea that this will actually "hurt your reputation" is, IMO, not worth worrying about. If the record is truly bad, nobody but their girlfriends and parents will ever hear it. I seriously doubt anyone is going to listen to a bad record and turn it over to see who recorded it. People rarely do that even with good records that they like.

I don't know this band, and I haven't heard the recording, but I have been in your position many many times and if I am honest, I will admit that most of these types of groups, even if they listened to everything I said, their record will not end up on my Show Reel!

In fact, most of my Show Reel is stuff that I made myself.

Quote:

What would you do?
I learned a long time ago not to get my ego involved in someone else's project. "My reputation" is a cumulative effect, and the good will outweigh the bad. You may need to be patient.

Being accommodating (or not accommodating !) to your clients is also a reputational factor and word will get around if you start turning every client's record into " A Francisco Frugoni Production".

These self-funding people strike me as amateurs, perhaps they are making a record for the experience of making a record. For "fun". Realistically, even if they did everything you said and even if you were 100% correct on every decision, what chance do they have of making it big? Until you and your studio are much further along, such Vanity productions may be the bulk of your clientele for quite some time.

Your next client and your next will probably also be dilettantes, who may come to you because their friends told them about how much they enjoyed the experience. Or they may not come to you because their friends told them about how you were bossy and a know-it-all.

Be aware that there is a strong possibility that you are selling an "experience" even more than you are selling a "finished product".

FranciscoFrugoni 29th December 2019 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by joeq (Post 14412349)
Your next client and your next will probably also be dilettantes, who may come to you because their friends told them about how much they enjoyed the experience. Or they may not come to you because their friends told them about how you were bossy and a know-it-all.

Be aware that there is a strong possibility that you are selling an "experience" even more than you are selling a "finished product".

THIS.

I’m trying hard every day to keep this in mind.

I don’t want to be bossy and least a know-it-all (since I believe you never stop learning), in fact I try to make the recording experience as enjoyable as possible. Almost every night after the recording sessions are over, I have dinner with the band I’m working with and we all stay long hours talking and having a good time. I think that is as important as knowing how to handle my equipment and to make the right production decisions.

Philter 29th December 2019 10:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FranciscoFrugoni (Post 14412207)
Yes it’s quite simple. I know how to do it, but it takes time, not only editing but getting the singer to record all the parts again.

What happened in this particular case is that we agreed 20 hours of vocal recording (that’s what they could afford), and we already spent all those 20 hours (in fact way more, but I’m not being that strict on turning on the chronometer at the beginning of every session), and now they want to double each vocal (which theoretically will take about the same time to record as the main vocals at first).

That’s where the problem is, even leaving aside the fact that I think the result won’t be what they expected. In any case, that’s another topic of discussion.

Well you certainly should let them know they're over budget.

And you should also own Vocalign if you're going to be doubling vocals. It will pay for itself on this project alone. I used to align by hand, and while my editing is like lightning, vocalign is still a huge timesaver.

If the singer likes the way he sounds doubled, I would go with it.

Also I will say, while getting really chummy with the artist has some benefits, it needs to be done in a way where you maintain some degree of formality around the process. It sounds like you may have demoted yourself to 6th band member.

warnogs 30th December 2019 12:41 AM

One of the big problems i’ve faced in producing others, as well as being an artist being produced by others, is that if your working with people that have done their own demo’s and got very used to hearing their voice doubled or whatever else, it’s very hard for them to let go of that, hear their voice more exposed or different to how they usually do.

In terms of doubling, maybe just spend the time getting the doubling takes right, if they’re willing to pay for the time. Ultimately, it’s their music, so they should have the final say. There’s also plenty of ways to get doubles tighter or fatten up vocals, i.e Vocalign. Maybe just explain to them doubling is fine but it can be done better than on their demo’s, to achieve better and more professional results. If you’re the producer, then they should give you a chance to show there’s way’s to improve on what they were doing.

I’d explore these avenues and if at the end of the day, you’re still really not happy producing their stuff and their artistic decisions are not what you agree is right and wouldn’t want your name on their work, then it’s probably best to part ways. It’s fair on both them and yourself.

chrischoir 30th December 2019 02:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Philbo King (Post 14411045)
Options:

1. Return their money, minus pay for time spent, and offer your condolences that it didn't work out.

does any engineer/producer in 2019 have enough work that they can afford to turn down work??? prolly not


Quote:

Originally Posted by Philbo King (Post 14411045)
Options:
2. Offer to do tracking and mixing for a per hour fee.

They obviously aren't ready for the studio.

A good producer can make any band ready, especially with a DAW at hand.

vernier 30th December 2019 02:41 AM

Have him sing 16 tracks of the same thing. Then play with the faders to get it to sound good.

WarmJetGuitar 30th December 2019 02:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FranciscoFrugoni (Post 14412100)
I think the same way you do. Luckily I got to have a friendly chat with the band members and we ended up agreeing that those extra takes and time will be charged separately (as the hours we agreed at first have already been used).

Well done, glad you got it all sorted out. I've been in a similar situation about double tracking a few times, although as far as I remember never so bad that I considering refusing getting credited.

It seems like you normally have a pretty good chemistry with your clients. Do you have some common musical preferences in common too? Cause in that case it can be quite effective to, preferable face to face and not in writing, straight up tell the band something like "I dig your music and respect you as individuals, but as someone who's into much of the same music as you and was hired to produce your EP it'd be wise to listen to me. And with all due respect the double tracking sounds like ****, which is a shame since the song as such are great". I find that sort of honesty usually works.

With sloppy double tracking there's also the middle ground of making the strongest take/specific comp the dominating one, say 70 % and let the second one add weight and texture. Also it sometimes works really well to just sending the weaker take to reverbs/delays and let the main one be dry as a bone. In that way I sometimes make friends with the timing/pitch imperfections that would otherwise have been garbage.
Another way to satisfy the frustrated doubletrackoholic that don't have the skills or stamina to pull it off are ADT combined with subtle hardpanned delays with slightly different lengths, sonic textures and feedback amounts.

ohgee 30th December 2019 02:49 AM

Quote:

then use Melodyne and Vocalign to tighten things up tuning-wise and alignment. Edit out the "S" in the doubled track. Seems pretty simple? What am I missing?
This was my thought exactly.

Samc 30th December 2019 05:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chrischoir (Post 14412791)
does any engineer/producer in 2019 have enough work that they can afford to turn down work??? prolly not

A good producer can make any band ready, especially with a DAW at hand.

The idea that every producer and/or engineer is good for every job/situation is the biggest mistake many producers and engineers make. It is just as important to know when to say no to certain jobs than it is to accept to work on projects.

Samc 30th December 2019 05:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FranciscoFrugoni (Post 14412100)
I think the same way you do. Luckily I got to have a friendly chat with the band members and we ended up agreeing that those extra takes and time will be charged separately (as the hours we agreed at first have already been used).

I hope you also came to an agreement about your role and responsibilities in the project...do you now have a clear understanding of what they expects from you.

PRODUCER means different things to different people and you should clarify your role and not assume things.

Good luck.

Papanate 30th December 2019 06:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FranciscoFrugoni (Post 14411032)
What would you do?

Change the Credit to Ignored Consultant or Alan Smithee. Or have a Come to Jesus moment with the band with the future expectations written down and signed off on. I understand you want the credit - but credits are to extend your career - and if you have to explain why a record sounds mucked up - the credit does you zero good.