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When and how to refuse a project.
Old 29th July 2005
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
Bones's Avatar
 

When and how to refuse a project.

Hey.

In a diminishing market, do any of you ever turn down a recording project based on the probability that the shocking artists will sound like 'turd' and you might be assosciated with this?

I have been a 'recording - dabbler' for years as I do more live sound and have also spent MUCH more time on the 'other side' of the glass in recording studios, so the longevity, or business side of a studio and it's reputation are newish to me.

Live sound is SOMETIMES easier, because if you have a cracking sound, the audience can usually see/hear that the band is crap, but I fear that recording carries a longer lasting stigma.

I have heard MANY first comments from people hearing a crap bands demo being "Yeeuugghhh ... where did you record THIS??"

It is difficult to explain why you are not interested in helping out with a recording (especially when you know the guys).

Maybe a leader track embedded in each tracks intro saying, "This recording was done as a favour with a limited budget and the guitarist simply CANNOT play very well yet etc etc ..."

Ciao
Old 29th July 2005
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Yep, you're absolutely correct, with live sound if you make a mistake, it's over and done with, and most times forgotten in a few seconds, if it's even noticed at all. Recording a mistake though, is sort of like etching it in stone, and magnifies the mistake, puts it on a pedestal for all to see and criticize for all time.

It's a little funny, a very prominent recording artist I know who has sold millions of recordings, is not a big fan of live recordings, because of this fact. They are very careful about what they release. If it's not all shiny and sparkly, finished product, forget it.

Just yesterday I posted a sound check type recording with the guitar out of tune, and somebody had a fit about it...it was uploaded by mistake as there's about 50 files on my computer with various sound checks, and I happened to grab the wrong one....so yes, you have to be very careful on what you release, because everybody's a critic.

Most musicians and vocalists also need time to polish up their music. It's very rare any artist will record everything perfectly in one take. A good recording has to be worked on, cleaned up, and polished to perfection. There's a lot more involved than just plugging a mic into a P.A. system, because in recording, your mistakes will be listened to over and over, and over again.

I've had many artists over to my place that just make me want to cringe, and I rarely will work with anybody anymore.....Silence Is Golden.....there's a big difference between musician and recording artist. Even though they can be great live, they may totally not work in a studio setting, and the opposite is also true, a great recording artists, may put off a terrible live show, or may not even want to perform live, so it all depends on the artist's specific abilities.
Old 29th July 2005
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Bones's Avatar
 

Yeah ... it is a much overlooked fact IMHO that a musician (once past that elusive grade of real musical ability/talent) can entertain around a campfire with a crusty old acoustic with HUGE intonation problems or whatever and pull it off no problem whislt a wannabee with a 335 is in the deep stuff!!

I just seem to be finding a change in the younger generation around me (maybe a sign of getting a bit older??) that seem to be a little more arrogant about the ART of music as such.

I guess nowadays the kids are growing up with DVD's, home theatre systems, the WWW and the basics are perhaps often overlooked.

Ciao
Old 29th July 2005
  #4
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aliases rule!!




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http://www.fakeassmoneyfiend.co.uk
Old 29th July 2005
  #5
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Albert's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=toolskid]aliases rule!!

Excellent advice.

Also, the old standard is "I'd love to, but I'm busy".
Old 29th July 2005
  #6
Jack up the price to be really high - and if they wont 'go away' at least you will be earning some coin for the grim task.

You can get free counciling in the "Moan Zone" every night during the session.

Old 29th July 2005
  #7
Dot
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Turning down someone because you're concerned about your safety or not getting paid is one thing, but I think it's foolish [ if you have a working studio that's in business to make money ] to turn down paying work just because you don't feel a band or artist is up to a certain musical level - unless, of course, you're booked solid and have enough of a track record that you can pick and choose.

If you haven't been recording that much and just consider yourself a "dabbler", chances are you might not be all that hot of a recording engineer yourself. I've usually found that good engineers tend to attract good musicians and projects. One way to become a good engineer is to work on everything that's thrown your way - and learn from the experience.
Old 29th July 2005
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

I'd do what Jules suggested. Charge em a ton, and if they agree, do it thinking about all the money you're gonna have for gear.
Old 29th July 2005
  #9
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drew's Avatar
all the above are good. but don't forget, if they truly suck, few will hear it anyway. an old friend and i had a saying. we called those projects "x-mas presents" as in no one will hear it but the poor family members of the band mambers who will get it as a present!!!

seriously though, if one project is gonna bring you down then maybe you don't have the body of work needed to sustain you anyway. just a thought, not a dig.
Old 29th July 2005
  #10
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I've had projects that appeared to suck lead directly to great sounding other projects by people who were grateful that I was willing to help them. I learned to never judge a book by its cover!
Old 29th July 2005
  #11
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GP_Hawk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
I've had projects that appeared to suck lead directly to great sounding other projects by people who were grateful that I was willing to help them. I learned to never judge a book by its cover!
Well said Bob! I agree 100%.

And most comments I have heard when sitting down listening to demo's was to this effect, "Ok, these guys shouldn't be recording, they should be practicing!"

Not "Where did these guys record this??" And think about it, someone could be saying " This is the most amazing sounding turd I've heard in a long time. Wonder where they recorded this...." heh
Old 29th July 2005
  #12
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The first band ever I recorded some years back, who played like ****, but they had some good songs, came back last year to record there first full lenght album. With more than 100 shows under their belt, the playing got a lot better and we recorded a cool cd with them. They'll certainly come back. That first demo got me started because quite some bands heared what was possible (knowing how this band played at the time).

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 30th July 2005
  #13
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kudzu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by toolskid
aliases rule!!




--------------------
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http://www.fakeassmoneyfiend.co.uk

BIG TIME.....if its a recording that'll be released, send'm your album credits details.....your real identity will not b included in these details!!!!!!.....it sometimes can be a bit difficult if ur a name.....
Old 30th July 2005
  #14
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bunnerabb's Avatar
Quote:
When and how to refuse a project.
The second you know it's just a pain in the ass waiting to happen.

Diplomatically as possible.
Old 30th July 2005
  #15
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Kingtone's Avatar
 

The type of people / musicians / engineers that do say "where did you record this stuff"... are the ones that will not bring you more work and better work. The ones that you do want to record / work with are the ones that will hear a demo or project and hear and understand that the band is crap but the engineering you did on it was the best turd polishing that you could do.
As has been already said... good engineering will attract good musicians etc... and i think it will do this regardless of the performancd (within reason heh )
Old 30th July 2005
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingtone
The type of people / musicians / engineers that do say "where did you record this stuff"... are the ones that will not bring you more work and better work. The ones that you do want to record / work with are the ones that will hear a demo or project and hear and understand that the band is crap but the engineering you did on it was the best turd polishing that you could do.
As has been already said... good engineering will attract good musicians etc... and i think it will do this regardless of the performancd (within reason heh )
True words. I've been recording for over 20 years and have never turned down a project because I thought the artist or band sucked. Just do the best you can do. I have heard some pretty bad sounding artist tracked in great studios and never thought it was the studios fault for the poor playing.
Old 30th July 2005
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones
Hey.

In a diminishing market, do any of you ever turn down a recording project based on the probability that the shocking artists will sound like 'turd' and you might be assosciated with this?

I have been a 'recording - dabbler' for years as I do more live sound and have also spent MUCH more time on the 'other side' of the glass in recording studios, so the longevity, or business side of a studio and it's reputation are newish to me.

Live sound is SOMETIMES easier, because if you have a cracking sound, the audience can usually see/hear that the band is crap, but I fear that recording carries a longer lasting stigma.

I have heard MANY first comments from people hearing a crap bands demo being "Yeeuugghhh ... where did you record THIS??"

It is difficult to explain why you are not interested in helping out with a recording (especially when you know the guys).

Maybe a leader track embedded in each tracks intro saying, "This recording was done as a favour with a limited budget and the guitarist simply CANNOT play very well yet etc etc ..."

Ciao
I was more inclined to turn down questionnable projects simply because I didn't want to subject myself to the experience of having to record them.

Pro bono work is even more problematic than paying customers, all too often.

I don't want to sound like someone's dad, and I never used to believe it, but, yeah, it's true: all too often, if you give someone or some organization a break to work for cheap or free, their respect for the work you're doing diminishes proportionally.

It's not always true... but it's true often enough that I learned to pick pro bono work with a jaundiced eye -- and the proviso that I would only be available to do x amount of work/hours. Period. That sometimes put a bit more of a point on things. (Of course, I 'm a big softie and that's part of the problem, too.)
Old 30th July 2005
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johns
I have heard some pretty bad sounding artist tracked in great studios and never thought it was the studios fault for the poor playing.
We play bands stuff we have done to get the work in here..

Difficult thing that...

Bands very often HATE any other band...

For that reason we only play them 40 second snippets in case they 'suffer' too much listening to material that is not theirs..

Throughout this whole demonstration session - there can often be an overriding vibe from the bands listening... one of - "do you ACTUALLY think ANY of that music is GOOD?"

Now... I dont turn on them like a madman and scream "I could give a rats ass what YOUR opininion of other bands is - you are supposed to be listening for the SOUND and the PRODUCTION you dumbasses! You probably think the ONLY band on this earth that is any good - is YOURS - and that is a ****ING JOKE!" (much as I might like to in many cases)

But I DO make an effort NOT to play them bands THAT I THINK are totally ****.

Ergo, therfore, quad executum, rectumfrydium..... it follows that....

I feel I need to stockpile productions of good bands - in order to get MORE bands to record with me.. and that my productions of BAD bands - will be of no future use to me.

I like usefull stuff

I dont like useless stuff

But I also need money

So I accept a certain ratio of work that can be called 'trash for cash"

I see the quality of the acts through the studio being linked directly with the survival / progress of the studio and it's reputation.

This may be a rose tinted viewpoint.
Old 30th July 2005
  #19
IMO, if you cannot, after trying, make it 'better' (according to the client), it's time to pass on it...
Old 30th July 2005
  #20
Dot
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Dot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules

Bands very often HATE any other band...
Jules, I wonder if that's a Euro thing?

From my experience in the states, bands - and even other studios and engineers - tend to help each other out - or at least be supportive of what the other guy is doing. But when I lived in Europe I found that all the studios and bands tended to stay to themselves, and not really interact too much with others.

It's been my experience that since Americans generally have more to share in the first place, they tend to be generous. Whereas in Europe people are often scraping and fighting for what they have, and aren't so interested in sharing once they have it. I also had more problems in Europe with bands and companies trying to stiff me on the bill.

No real conclusions [ that's why I'm asking ] ... just some of my experience from working half my professional life in the US and half of it in Europe.
Old 30th July 2005
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
allbaldo's Avatar
 

In some ways, working with a "green" band can work the same for a producer/engineer as it can for a concert promoter. You work with them, they improve, and hopefully continue bringing their buisness when they get "bigger".

I've had many bands improve by leaps and bounds as we've gone through the trials and tribulations of recording something together, and it can make for a great long term relationship.

I try to remember the old saying, "It's much easier to keep a client you have than find a new one". A lot of bands quickly learn in the studio, how much work they have ahead of them, and get humble real quick. If you can bring their recording a long way...even if it's still not perfect...they'll remember it. Even if it's something you don't want your name on, you've done them a real service.

That being said, I have asked a couple of bands to credit me as "recorded by" instead of "produced by".
Old 30th July 2005
  #22
Moderator
 
toolskid's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by allbaldo
You work with them, they improve, and hopefully continue bringing their buisness when they get "bigger".
sorry for being slightly OT, and this is not directed at you allbaldo, but:

make sure you get it in writing!

before you start!!
Old 30th July 2005
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dot
Jules, I wonder if that's a Euro thing?

From my experience in the states, bands - and even other studios and engineers - tend to help each other out - or at least be supportive of what the other guy is doing. But when I lived in Europe I found that all the studios and bands tended to stay to themselves, and not really interact too much with others.
When I say hate, I meant dont much like another bands music, songwriting, think all bands suck except for their own not a personal dislike for each other as people. This is common here in Europe and this self puffery is perhaps a common feature within 'the arts' in general over here. I mean you can have nice people with nice music nice people with ****ty music, ****ty people with nice music..

To be a little bit selfish, self obsessed, arrogant aren't those personality traits on rock star's 'required' list?

I've seen US bands interviewd on MTV UK asked (by our very own VJ twit Zane Low) a question like... "so you are from Boston! Do you feel part of a music scene there? Do you support each other?" - and the band look at each other for a while and then one of em says... 'er... we dont really like other bands from Boston"

Are you saying US bands are all "perfect gentlemen" (or ladies)? - cause I aint buying it!



But back to my point - I cant get work by playing ****ty music to bands.. I need good music examples to play my potential clients.

I am an American who has been long term resident in the UK. I have always had A slightly 'outside looking in' view of things here..

I bet the two are different in many ways US & European musicians
Old 30th July 2005
  #24
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I own a working studio...By that I mean, I turn down nothing as far as engineering, I need the cash. When it stinks, it stinks. However, I go out of my way to make it smell less. Be cool and make sure they knwo that you are doing everyting you can. (Most of the time, even a member or 2 knows that another member is ****.) Even if the band is the only one that knows that, they will tell their friends/other bands about you. My hopes are this:

1. Their friends secretly know they stink and won't hold you responsible and actually find it cool that you tried your ass off.
2. Their "friend" bands stink less and use you also.
3. The good members go on to new bands that will return
4. The band practices their asses off and return at a later date so you can redeem

I have personally found work in all the above. And quite honestly, sometimes I learn the most from the bad bands because I really have to work at it. The good bands sometimes make it so easy, I forget how difficult it can be. (Then again, none of this is hard compared to working a real job! heh ) I use it all as a learning experience...even if it is learning what not to do or what you never want to do again.

And you can always try putting your competitors name on it instead (JK)

Production wise, I will turn down gigs in circumstances I think that it will hurt my cred....And this only came after having a few that I think did just that.
Old 30th July 2005
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones
Hey.

In a diminishing market, do any of you ever turn down a recording project based on the probability that the shocking artists will sound like 'turd' and you might be assosciated with this?

It is difficult to explain why you are not interested in helping out with a recording (especially when you know the guys).

Maybe a leader track embedded in each tracks intro saying, "This recording was done as a favour with a limited budget and the guitarist simply CANNOT play very well yet etc etc ..."

Ciao
If you decide you don't want a particular project, you can always pass it along to someone you know who may be interested in it. Some of us, for various reasons, may have the luxury of passing on a project every now and then. I have 5 recording studio friends in the area I can refer work to if I am too busy or not interested in a project. Their geographical area ranges from 2 hours south of me to 2 hours north of me.

Even though the band may be friends or aquaintances, they should pay you what you are worth. If you are giving them a discount you are only doing them a favor, it's not like you'll get another sample of your 'good' work to play for other customers out of it (because they aren't good themselves, not because of you).

From my own experience, my friend's band came in, I gave them a huge discount, and they sucked. I always have clients sign a contract before hand for their project, but with my friend, I told him everything verbally, and he screwed up, there was too little money for the project and I wasn't going to make my friend come up with the extra money they owed. He named his kid after me. So what do you do? I just let it go, at least we are still friends. I'll avoid it the next time the situation comes up though.
Old 1st August 2005
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
Bones's Avatar
 

Thanks for all comments fella's.

I appreciate the majority concensus here that seems to point to accomodating the client rather than my own tastes and opinions.

My "deflated" reason for posting the question was probably coming from a bit of laziness really.
Although I must say that Jules's suggestion of making it well worth my while is probably the simplest answer.

I am definately NOT busy enough to turn down work, but in my little hometown, I tend to find that a LOT of the artists require tons of tedious work (in terms of their abilities) ..... ie. 40 + takes on a 1 bar passage before the guitarist gets a VERY BASIC riff right .... AUTOTUNING well into the early hours of the morning etc.

But in saying that .... I guess there is also a BIG truth in saying "who ever said this would be easy!!!!".

Am looking to move (to the UK in fact) pretty soon, so maybe there I will get a chance to work with a few decent acts (or perhaps find out that I really SUCK at this!!).

Ciao
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