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Should I cancel the session
Old 6th August 2005
  #1
Gear Head
 

Should I cancel the session

I recently put an ad in the free paper here in Japan announcing that I was looking for projects to practice my engineering skills on. I wrote on the ad that it was for experience etc. I had about 4 or 5 people contact me. I was set to record one band, and the day of the session I call the contact to confirm times and he tells me that the lead guitarist quit last night and so they cant make it. Bummer. Good thing I called.

Anyway, on guy called and asked me I would be interested in recording him. He is a drummer and want a "couple" of clips for his homepage. He send me the link, and it makes him out like a pro drummer. Some Tv appearances, shows with a big name Tokyo based cover band etc.

As we talk about the project it is decided that he wants to do 8 - 10 40 sec clips of different styles. I ask him to get the backing tracks to me so that I can have everything set before hand, He agrees to put everything on CD and mail it to me.
He calls afew days later to say that his computer can't handle the midi files and that there are drop outs in the files he is trying to output. He wants to know if I can record them into my machine the day of the session...

A few days later, after looking over his homepage I realize this guuy had contacted me a few months earlier when I was looking for a drummer for my band and said that he would be happy to work with us, but he would expect to be paid for his time...so, after all this I write him back and say I am interested in doing it, but that I feel uncomfortable doing it for free, and that I would like to make a small something for my time. He says that "I think you have the wrong impression, I really am not that succesful with my drumming and don't make much off it. I can't afford to pay you."

Hmmn.

next day he calls and asks if I am able to bring a video camera and video the session cause he would really like some video on his web site. WTF! Umm, OK?

So i sort of want to blow him off, but wonder if I should just do the session and use it as a resume sort of thing. Experience. One to try and figure out how to work with people, all that jazz. Foreign community is pretty small here as well and it would be in my best interest to not blow it, but at the same time don't want to be the guy with all the gear that you can expect to work for free...ahh what to do?

Any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas.

Thanks for reading, and apologies for the long post. Not alot ogf people around here to bounce this off of.

leon
Old 6th August 2005
  #2
Lives for gear
 
swankdoc's Avatar
 

I dont think anything he's done is exclusionary. Youre looking for work. He's work.
There isnt gonna be a ton of polished acts wishing to have a "practicing" engineer record em. I say do it. Everyone has something to offer when you're learning.
Old 6th August 2005
  #3
Lives for gear
 
bunnerabb's Avatar
I think that it seems ytou are getting milked like a cow.

If you offered free services, fine.

If wants free everyting and a nice .mpeg, tell him to spends some money.
Old 6th August 2005
  #4
Gear Head
 
Quigley's Avatar
 

NIGHTMARE.
Trust me, I've worked through a lot of these, and this guy sounds like a
NIGHTMARE.
He will bug you until you feel like wringing his neck.
Old 6th August 2005
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
Bones's Avatar
 

I reckon you should outline your original ad and his original phone call.

You offered to practise engineering ... he wanted a couple of tracks.

The midi and video things are not what you originally offered ... point that out nicely but confirm that you are willing to do what you originally offered or advertised to do.

Just MO.

Ciao
Old 6th August 2005
  #6
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 

Trust me, running an ad like that is flypaper for wackos.

Why not go to some clubs and when you hear someone you think would be good 'practice', approach them after the gig, preferably with a cd that has a couple of your tracks on it.
Old 6th August 2005
  #7
Guy is taking advantage...

Asking too much...

do a 'simpler' free project!

Old 6th August 2005
  #8
Gear Head
 

hey all, thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. It puts a number of things into perpspective. I think the ad was a desperate act in that I tried to get some assistant work, but being 32, and in Japan, it has been difficult. I thought an ad in a paper might help spark some interest.

I met with a guy today who is playing in a band and would like to record in Sept/Oct. They seem pretty sincere. A 4 peice "grunge" band. So that is a step in the right direction.

i think what has me most pissed about this drummer situation is the fact that when he called when I was looking for a drummer he said he wouldn't do it unless he was paid, and that he keeps expecting more and more out of the deal. the original ad made to mention of doing it for free, only that I wanted to get some experience and was looking for people interested in recording...

i think what I might do is keep the session alive, but only do 3 or 4 clips. Mix them and get them back to him ASAP. Then i will tell him that I am happy to do the other 6 or so he would like done, plus the video, for X amount. If he says no, he says no, and we both still have a couple things to show for it.

I think that would be fair, yah?

I am gonna write him tomorrow and let him know my thoughts.

Thanks again all. If you have more to add, cause your perspective looking in is often much clearer than mine looking out, please do.

Leon
Old 6th August 2005
  #9
PlugHead gave me this wonderful tip : have a written studio policy, make sure your client prospects read it before starting any project

regarding your situation with the nightmare guy I agree with the everyone else who posted before me, he is trying to take an unfair advantage, I'd definitely cancel the session in a very polite way but that's just me
Old 6th August 2005
  #10
Pro bono work can be problematic.

When I was in school, I did some free work and, when everything worked out right, it could be great. I got to work with a couple of my favorite LA bands of the era (happily it was the early days of punk, so a lot of cool bands were pretty accessible -- and broke).

But, as others will no doubt point out, there is a nasty human tendancy to treat "free" stuff as though it were valueless.

I can't help but think that 'advertising' that you'll do free work is a mistake. I think I would go directly to up and coming bands and artsists I like and thought I could help and make the pitch one on one.

In pro bono work I think it's important for you to set the tone. If you approach it as a Saturday afternoon goof, show up late, and have a lacksidaisical attitude -- trust me, your beneficiaries will take their cues from your demeanor.

Also, even if you're not charging for your time, you have to make it clear through your time is valuable. Set time budgets. Set deadlines. Make them stick.

Doing pro bono work is one of the few times that the engineer is even close to being on the top side of the 'golden rule' of the studio: the man or woman with the gold, makes the rules.

If you set the guidelines and act professionally, chances are, your talent will pattern their demeanor on yours and behave professionally as well (or at least as much as they can... they are, after all, musiciains... heh ).
Old 6th August 2005
  #11
Gear Addict
 
dhughes's Avatar
 

I'm going to say you should still do it. Even if it turns out to be a very bad experience...you will learn from it and when someone makes a post like this in the future you can offer your hard earned wisdom.

I would 1) offer to do the recording for free as you originally advertised 2) offer to do the midi work for $100/hour or whatever you want 3) offer to hire a video crew and editor at whatever their rate is plus a contracting add on for you.

Then see how he responds. This way you have kept your word and offered him a clear way to extend your services if he is willing to pay.

If he is willing to pay....ask for at least 50% up front!!!! Very important.
Old 6th August 2005
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

If your gonna work for free, why not make it fun for you.

Go to clubs and find some bands that you really like. Record those bands.

I can't imagine any band not wanting a free demo. Sure you might suck. But it was free.

Most of my work I do for free. (in the beggining)

So I only record what I like. Funny thing is that the stuff you like has the most chance of being successful.

The music business is funny that way.
Old 6th August 2005
  #13
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
everyone has already said it all ... many of the people who are attracted to the word "free" are sponges that will keep sucking.

clearly define your limited offer and keep to your word. your integrity is the most important thing in a conflict, without that you're a wet noodle in a rough world and you cant even respect yourself.

after either satisfying your initial offer/commitment, or pissing him off by re-drawing the original line ... find some cooler people/better music to record.

the more of these tricky moments of conflict we do the better we handle them
Old 6th August 2005
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quigley
NIGHTMARE.
Trust me, I've worked through a lot of these, and this guy sounds like a
NIGHTMARE.
He will bug you until you feel like wringing his neck.
Old 6th August 2005
  #15
Gear Nut
 
heartsoffire's Avatar
 

I did some pro bono work for a band to gain expereince. When the drummer came in, he couldn't stay on the click (badly). After several takes, I sat down with the band and said, if you were paying for this time, you would have been more prepared.

As was already said, your time is worth something and this is what I told them. I bounced down the scratch vocals & guitar with click and gave them to drummer and said, PRACTICE. Once you all feel that you can stay on time, we'll schedule another session.

Bottom line, establish a professional standard. Your expectations and theirs should be of the highest standard possible. Schedule the time and work with the artist as if he/she was paying.
Old 7th August 2005
  #16
Gear Head
 

Hey folks, thanks again for all your thoughts. Very much appreciated.

I was able to find the original ad so that you could see how this all started.

Looking to record bands for experience and online exposure. Meet in rehearsal studio, I will bring my portable rig. Let's see what we get!

Does this give the impression I will work for free?

I am going to do the session (next weekend) and will let you all know how it goes.
Thanks again,

leon
Old 7th August 2005
  #17
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dstole
Looking to record bands for experience and online exposure. Meet in rehearsal studio, I will bring my portable rig. Let's see what we get!

Does this give the impression I will work for free?
it's a little blurry .. and I woulnt call you because it says, "for online exposure" ... what's that all about? Sounds like I'm there for you, not you're there for me.



I'd say something like: "Free tracking session - one time offer. Competent, young engineer looking to record a great band with no money in their rehersal space. I'll bring the portable rig ... you bring the music."
Old 7th August 2005
  #18
Gear Head
 

I knew someone was gonna comment on the "online exposure" thing.
What I inevitably want to do is create a way to introduce English speakers to some of the amazing Japanese indie bands that are out there right now. In hind sigh I realize that a Free English Speaking community paper (and it's online version) doesn't need the online exposure cause anyone reading it can probably do it themselves :-)

I like your approach way better. Thanks for the sample.

Leon
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