Hi Howie, welcome and thanks for letting us pick your brain!
When applying any changes (EQ, compression, spatial), do you make a conscious effort NOT to affect a song's balance and focus?
Or do you do whatever you consider necessary and hope the client is happy?
I do a little of both. You have to know your client, and know what makes them happy. If you're gonna be heavy handed, keep the client involved. A lot of clients expect me to be heavy handed, but some don't want me to mess with stuff too much. It changes with every record. The most important thing is to keep the original vision and not damage it.