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What to do when a client want to mix their song ???
Old 17th May 2006
  #1
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exfakto's Avatar
What to do when a client want to mix their song ???

Im sure it has happened many times before to many of you. You record a band and get a spectacular sound, spend hours setting up, moving mics around the room, and all that stuff. When everything is finished you do a mix of the songs with your clients, in your mind you going "this has to be one of my best mixes ever, everything is in place and perfectly balanced". Then the bands says "can we mix the song ? and a dark cloud starts to gloom over. You say "Yeah sure, go ahead" saving the previouse project just in case. They start mixing the song, telling you to add more EQ, more effects,a whole bunch of other **** the song doesnt need and they seem to love it. All i hear is this awful amount of "mush" and piercing highs and unbalanced level of instruments.

I tell them that their song will not sound very good when burned to CD, its too over processed. But they dont care. The problem here is MY STUDIOS'S NAME IS GOING TO BE ON THE CREDITS, when people ask where was it recorded they are going to say my name!!!

I know that the clients are paying for this, at the end its what the client wants not what I want. Ive tried to talk to them in many cases but they think that their mix is the **** and mine isnt. Any suggestions here? Thanks alot!
Old 17th May 2006
  #2
Gear Addict
 
AdAudioInc's Avatar
 

Make it sound like a positive for them - "you guys mixed this song, so you should have an album credit for the mix"

You could still have the tracking credit
Old 17th May 2006
  #3
Gear Nut
 
safe as milk's Avatar
 

re mix

obviously every project is different but
don't do it, let them mix that is.
make them bring in a reference cd to mix to and a/b during your mix.
sometimes i'll use a reference cd(s) to get individual sounds during tracking,
it also makes them feel like your making the effort to get what they want.
i feel tracking is the point at which the band kinda signs off on the sounds that'll be in the final mix,
let them make comments and you do the adjustments.
when a band starts asking for loads of effects you know your in trouble.

if all that fails give em the files, let em mix it themselves and just take your name off the cd when then ask you what credit you'd like.

sometimes i'll use a psuedonym when i get really paranoid bout my rep!
Old 17th May 2006
  #4
MDM
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MDM's Avatar
part of being a producer is owning your sound

if you're an engineer only, then what to do - they pay you, you do the job.

you can try bringing across your position to them

say how things really are , like that it takes more than just moving faders up and down, that the record will not sound good if you have no experience with engineering, that basically it is your job, they're paying you for it, and also, tell them, your name is on it and so, yes, you are willing to listen to their suggestions, but no, they can't touch the board.

it's a fine line between being an arrogant prick and being the daddy that all the musicians feel comfy with, look up to and wanna listen to ...
Old 17th May 2006
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
exfakto's Avatar
I kind of overheard that they had a really lousy time in the past studio they went to. That the engineer didnt want to listen to them and that he mixed the record his way. So they decided to take this prohect completely into their own hands.

I dont even think I want the tracking credits either.

Safe as Milk: Thats exactly what I did, I told them to bring a reference CD so I can get an Idea of what they want and they did. They just want everything louder, and louder, and louder!!! Im gonna have to keep raising the monitor volumes so they "think" its getting louder. I keep telling them that this has not been mastered yet. let the mastering engineer raise the general volume.

Its not that their touching my gear, nobody does. They tell me what they want and I execute but to the point of stupidity. Im going to rethink this whole thing over and take a different approach because they really DONT want to listen. They are pissed at their past engineer and now Im paying for it. This is one of those events that rarely happen to me. Ive been recording and mixing for 10 years and this is like the third time its ever happened to me and its the same story, Band comes frustrated from past recording experience and take **** into their own hand in the next studio they go to.

Thanks for the replys, anyone else??
Old 17th May 2006
  #6
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flail19's Avatar
 

Not to be paranoid here but....... You want to make sure that they don't come back after their record is pressed and try to blame you for a bad sound, credit or no credit. Remember they got pi**ed at the last guy, they sure have the track record. I would just communicate with them and flat out tell them like this: "I have been doing this for 10 years guys, I know how to mix." "The mix that is coming out of those monitors right now, is gonna sound like poop on a cd". "Are you guys understanding this?" Anyway, thats my .02
Old 17th May 2006
  #7
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Infernal Device's Avatar
 

God I hate that. Usually younger bands that want to add WAY too much. If you are hired as an engineer, do the job, let them know the difference and let them make the choice. That way when it gets bad reviews you can point out that you saw this coming. They would get the mix credit.

If you go to a restaurant and order chocolate sauce on your steak, they will give it to you. That is what you ordered. But you cannot expect the rest of the place to eat it. (meaning mix all you want, but dont expect others to buy it!)

I tell bands up front--This is what I do, this is how I do it. Hire me or do not. If you buy a plane ticket, they do not let you fly the plane.
Old 17th May 2006
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
aetucker1's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by exfakto
I kind of overheard that they had a really lousy time in the past studio they went to. That the engineer didnt want to listen to them and that he mixed the record his way. So they decided to take this prohect completely into their own hands.

I dont even think I want the tracking credits either.

Safe as Milk: Thats exactly what I did, I told them to bring a reference CD so I can get an Idea of what they want and they did. They just want everything louder, and louder, and louder!!! Im gonna have to keep raising the monitor volumes so they "think" its getting louder. I keep telling them that this has not been mastered yet. let the mastering engineer raise the general volume.

Its not that their touching my gear, nobody does. They tell me what they want and I execute but to the point of stupidity. Im going to rethink this whole thing over and take a different approach because they really DONT want to listen. They are pissed at their past engineer and now Im paying for it. This is one of those events that rarely happen to me. Ive been recording and mixing for 10 years and this is like the third time its ever happened to me and its the same story, Band comes frustrated from past recording experience and take **** into their own hand in the next studio they go to.

Thanks for the replys, anyone else??
i personally would tell them that they can sit in after your mixes are done and you can fix what they dont like and if they completely dont like it, you wont charge them for the time...the problem here is that you HAVE to deliver. One of my worst experiences at my studio is mixing while a band was there...tons of stupid effects that added nothing to the song...reverb on everything. and i remember the guitar player saying " i want my guitars to sound like chevelle"...he tracked with a marshall solidstate modeling amp. idiots. i had this "feeling" when they came to talk to me about recording them. I just knew that i shouldn't have taken the gig, but I couldn't turn down the money. If i could do it again, i wouldn't take the job.
Old 17th May 2006
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
aetucker1's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infernal Device
I tell bands up front--This is what I do, this is how I do it. Hire me or do not. If you buy a plane ticket, they do not let you fly the plane.
OMFG!!! that is perfect. I am using that if you dont mind.
Old 17th May 2006
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
exfakto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infernal Device
If you buy a plane ticket, they do not let you fly the plane.
There is no better way to explain it than this phrase!!! I'll be writing this down on my "read this before recording on my studio" letter I give to all my clients. thumbsup

Quote:
Originally Posted by aetucker1
" i want my guitars to sound like chevelle"...he tracked with a marshall solidstate modeling amp. idiots. i had this "feeling" when they came to talk to me about recording them. I just knew that i shouldn't have taken the gig, but I couldn't turn down the money. If i could do it again, i wouldn't take the job.
Oh man!!! What a flash back, Could this be the same band?!!? jesus, he drummer kept saying I want my drums to sound exactly like DIO. And I told him, you want Dio Drums? go to where Dio recorded their drums and book there, hire the same engineer and make sure to get the same mics and equipment setup, oh and also, make sure the Dio drummer is playing. Its the only way to get your drums to sound exactly like that.

When they went for the studio tour I already had a bad fealing about them. All they did was complain and I was going on the back of my mind "well thank god their not coming to record here" after 2 weeks they call and book me for 8 songs. Same **** that happened to you and I keep regreting the day I took them but hey, It was a piss load of Money that I needed at that time and I couldnt let it go. Learn from this people, when you get that funny fealing a client is going to take away your sleep, "JUST SAY NO Damn it!!"
Old 17th May 2006
  #11
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The dman's Avatar
 

Quote:
and i remember the guitar player saying " i want my guitars to sound like chevelle"...he tracked with a marshall solidstate modeling amp
Been there done it. Don't you love this logic
Old 17th May 2006
  #12
I'm sorry but I must completely disagree with the responses posted on this topic. It is the artist's vision that you are there to create, not yours. If they hire you because they want your vision for their music that's one thing but when it comes to mix time, the artist hears something in their head that they want. They are paying you to realize their goals/dreams. It is your responsibility to make that happen no matter what. Who knows? maybe their vision is the right one after all, even though you may not initially agree.
Old 17th May 2006
  #13
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espasonico's Avatar
 

Many bands don´t understand what is mastering so the best thing you can do is give them a loud mix for reference. Most people go home or get in the car and play their favourite CD and then play yours and they don´t understand what´s going on even if you explain them 100 times. I always put something like an L3 for them to hear the refs.
Old 17th May 2006
  #14
Lives for gear
 

I feel what you guys are saying.... I am in a hard position right now that is going to cost me this huge dollar client and probably miss my break into something huge..........

I got hired to mix some records... I was told to worry about artist a first then artist b's cd. So I am working and refrencing this cd and it sounds great. Then I get a call and say we are chaging the single to a track that is on this cd. I said great I can have it done in a day for mastering.... but they also asked for a mix on artist b's cd. I havent even touched that cd.... There is a compilation and huge mixtape coming out where the dj's are going to put it on and push the track. We are talking about one of the hottest dj's out right now! Anyways, I make 2 mixes. One great one (in my opinion) and one with more bass and louder vox. They picked the 2nd mix. Fine I got paid!!! Well now the track was sent out and the DJ's and radio say "This sounds like ****!!!!"....

When I released the cd's to them I didnt know it was going to be pressed 100,000 times plus and get spins and all that jazz.... I thought it was a smaller marketing push! So my name is on it and people think it sounds bad!

Thats what you get when you let clients tell you how to mix! If you know it is going to sound bad... dont even let them hear it! The bass and loud drums and guitars and all that DO NOT TRANSLATE well at all!!!! And we as engineers know that, they dont!
Old 17th May 2006
  #15
Up the rates.

When someone wants to take the reins, just charge them for the equipment rental.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 17th May 2006
  #16
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 

Be cool with them , If your getting paid let them do want they want .

If they have a good experience with you they'll hire you for more projects .
Old 17th May 2006
  #17
MDM
Gear Addict
 
MDM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by exfakto

Its not that their touching my gear, nobody does. They tell me what they want and I execute but to the point of stupidity. Im going to rethink this whole thing over and take a different approach because they really DONT want to listen. They are pissed at their past engineer and now Im paying for it. This is one of those events that rarely happen to me. Ive been recording and mixing for 10 years and this is like the third time its ever happened to me and its the same story, Band comes frustrated from past recording experience and take **** into their own hand in the next studio they go to.

Thanks for the replys, anyone else??
Share with them - Really ! - Just sit down with the guys, and tell them exactly how and what you feel - Make them trust you. Give them the sense that their music is in good hands with you. Ya know ?
Old 18th May 2006
  #18
Lives for gear
 
nlc201's Avatar
 

It's tough to be very diplomatic in this situation sometimes, but there's usually a compromise in there somewhere. If things just aren't happening, try this:


I assume this is a multi-day venture so they'll probably be coming back the next day. Let them do their ****ty mix, print it, let them take it home, etc. After they leave, do a mix yourself the way YOU think it should be done. Print it and put it in a DAW session with their mix (or the DAW multitrack for that matter) and set it up so that you can A/B the mixes back to back. Maybe throw in a refence CD or two but be sure to include something that THEY like (IE, Dio or Chevelle for example). Odds are that your mix will much closer resemble the refs than theirs (don't pick a terrible sounding reference!). When they come back in the next day, tell them, "Hey guys. I was listening to XYZ track after you left yesterday and I really think that it's possible to get a bit more out of the track. Take a listen to this mix I made, don't worry about the studio time for it, I won't charge you." Don't come off as high and mighty or tell them their mix sucked. If you give the impression that you're on their side, working for their benefit, it will help you out much more than being stand-offish.

Then proceed to play your mix. Also ask them to refrain from commenting until they've heard the mix TWICE through. They're going to have a tough time adjusting quickly from the one they're used to so enforce a no comments rule for the first few passes. Then start A/B'ing it with theirs which they should be chomping at the bit to do by this point. Make sure that their mix is not played back louder than yours, otherwise you can get the false "louder sounds better" syndrome. If anything, make yours a dB or so hotter than theirs! Then start bringing in the references, comparing theirs to the refs and yours to the refs. Hopefully by this time at least a band member or two might start to be converted. Don't directly knock their mix, just take something that they did and say, "hey, that verse FX part is really cool.....but check out something like this...." Then play it for them. The key here is not to insult their mix or their ideas but to give the impression that you're enhancing and bringing out the best parts of what THEY did. And that really is the basis of what you're doing for them as an engineer anyways. It's not about you. It's about you helping them.

Obviously they're going to want to do some tweaks and that's cool. That's part of the gig. Don't insult their requests and call them stupid. Find a way to make them work or suggest something different that may get them what they're looking for. Take an idea they have like "put a ton of reverb on the guitar for the whole song" and do something where you automate the send on certain sections/notes to get what they're looking for. Take THEIR idea and run with it. By the end it may be so different that it doesen't even resemble THEIR idea anymore, it's yours. But who cares? Remember, it's not about you. And let go of the concept that all of their ideas are stupid because they don't match your ideas. You'd be surprised that even with all these terrible ideas that they have that one or two are actually pretty cool. Don't have an ego about it just because you didn't think of it. Bottom line is that the band and you are now working together, as a team, on this mix instead of against each other.

I've used this technique several times in sticky situations and it has always led to a better conclusion. The best scenario is that you've now built up some trust between you and them. That was they key thing that was missing with their last engineer that caused them to get paranoid and want to mix it themselves. Once you can get a certain level of trust, the friction will typically lessen drastically. Then you can tell them on the next track, "Hey guys, why don't you all go chill out on the patio/go into town for some coffee/etc. while I set this next mix up. Come back in a few hours and we'll mix the track." And they'll probably go for it. Even though it's obvious that you're not "setting up" the mix but actually MIXING it, it will come accross that they're still involved and in creative control of their project. Which is not altogether untrue. They've simply let go of the need to micro-manage every aspect and let a trusted professional and friend handle certain aspects for them. It's their record. Put aside your ego and find a way to make their vision work. Find solutions, don't fight problems.


The best engineers I've seen seem to exude this mentality. That's why they get a lot of work and make amazing sounding records. 90% of this job is pure psychology......
Old 18th May 2006
  #19
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Bat Head Sound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kittonian
I'm sorry but I must completely disagree with the responses posted on this topic. It is the artist's vision that you are there to create, not yours. If they hire you because they want your vision for their music that's one thing but when it comes to mix time, the artist hears something in their head that they want. They are paying you to realize their goals/dreams. It is your responsibility to make that happen no matter what. Who knows? maybe their vision is the right one after all, even though you may not initially agree.
I agree. However, if you're worried about how the mixes will come out, just don't take credit for it, plain and simple.
Old 18th May 2006
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Theo Desktop's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infernal Device
If you buy a plane ticket, they do not let you fly the plane.
This is quite true, but the pilot should take you to your desired destination, right? There might be some delays, some ego check-in, and some patience required, but when musicians and an engineer and/or producers are working together it should be a learning experience and combined effort for both parties to obtain a desirable result. I find it hard to believe that a result can't be obtained in situations like these that both parties are proud of.

Theo
Old 18th May 2006
  #21
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nlc201
. If anything, make yours a dB or so hotter than theirs!
It never will cease to amaze me how dishonest a lot of people in this business are. You'd never get any work from me, and I'll sure never send anyone your way.


As to the original question of this thread, the answer is easy. You tracked the thing and say you did a good job of it(though I doubt you do anything wrong in your mind) so you get paid for that and the credit there. They want to mix the thing, so they can go mix the thing and get the credit for that. It doesn't sound like you rent out your room to other people to mix, so they can go mix it elsewhere at their discretion. I also suggest you let the band read this wonderful thread, and I bet they will regret they ever worked with you at all. I know I would.

Quote:
Originally Posted by espasonico
Many bands don´t understand what is mastering
Neither do the mastering engineers or the rest of the world. All those 'great rooms' and 'golden ears' going to waste that could be used for recording and mixing. So sad. If the labels really want to make more money, well there's the answer.
Old 18th May 2006
  #22
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

my take on this is that my role as an engineer is whatever the hell i say it is, and i state clearly, up front, what i'm about. i mix, i mix badass and deliver that badassery to you, and that's what you pay me for. i love working with artists to realize a collective vision that is greater than what either of us could do on our own. you tell me what you want to hear, and i will worry about what to do to make that happen.

if you want to be mister mixer, push faders and play in the studio, or realize your vision to the exclusion of outside input, i fully support your right to do that... you just have to go somewhere else and hire a different guy.

the artist makes the art but you own your studio, and you can create any world you want in there. communicate honestly, deliver on your word, and create some magic with your voice and skills... everybody wins.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 18th May 2006
  #23
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nlc201's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyesore
It never will cease to amaze me how dishonest a lot of people in this business are. You'd never get any work from me, and I'll sure never send anyone your way.

Hmmmm...I do a long post on a topic of building genuine trust and rapport with a band and you rail on me for dishonesty for suggesting a commonly used psychological trick that turns a situation where no one wins to one where everyone wins. You know what, I withdraw the comment. Play the mixes at equal volume. It will still work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyesore
As to the original question of this thread, the answer is easy. You tracked the thing and say you did a good job of it(though I doubt you do anything wrong in your mind) so you get paid for that and the credit there. They want to mix the thing, so they can go mix the thing and get the credit for that. It doesn't sound like you rent out your room to other people to mix, so they can go mix it elsewhere at their discretion. I also suggest you let the band read this wonderful thread, and I bet they will regret they ever worked with you at all. I know I would.
Yeah. They'll probably shun the guy who cared and genuinely wanted the band to reach their fullest sonic potential and go back to the engineer who didn't care about them and just mix at his place. Why hire an engineer/mixer whose experience and insight can help them make a far better product when they can just do it themselves? Why should this person care at all? They're just a hired a gun who by your logic should be fired because that person thought that something better was possible.


Originally Posted by espasonico
"Many bands don´t understand what is mastering"

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyesore
Neither do the mastering engineers or the rest of the world. All those 'great rooms' and 'golden ears' going to waste that could be used for recording and mixing. So sad. If the labels really want to make more money, well there's the answer.

Mastering engineers don't know what mastering is. Phew, I'm glad we cleared that up. That answers a whole lot of questions about why the industry is in a slump!

So, exfacto and I shall go work at Starbucks (because you stopped referring me work and exfacto got fired) while Greg Calbi goes to get paid to not mix this band's record. Why don't you become A&R for this band? You definitely seem like the type.

thumbsup thumbsup
Old 18th May 2006
  #24
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

I tell groups up front that if I am going to be recording them that when we come to the mixing stage we won't be doing a "group grope". I want them to decide whether that is ok BEFORE we start a project. If it isn't ok then we won't do the project together.
Old 18th May 2006
  #25
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by aetucker1
I just knew that i shouldn't have taken the gig, but I couldn't turn down the money. If i could do it again, i wouldn't take the job.
Kevin Killen gave me a great piece of advice one time -- 'Never take a gig just for the money.' Every time I forget that, i have a horrible time...

JP
Old 18th May 2006
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MushroomKingdom
Be cool with them , If your getting paid let them do want they want .

If they have a good experience with you they'll hire you for more projects .
That line right there speaks volumes. Both is sound and cash.

Rather than using my alias in the credits...Rock Enrolla, I will usually let them do their thing and have fun. I will first allow them to give suggestions or as I have called them, 'mix tokens'. If I am working with friends or clients I have a repor with, I will lighten up the session by saying 'i gotta handful of mix tokens and you each get 3'. this allows the band to give their suggestions if they want. If they don't, I am doing a good job and they are happy. It's all tongue in cheek and I would NEVER deny them trying something they want. I will tell them that it doesn't sound good if it indeed doesn't.

guitar players seem to be the biggest issue in mixing. I have assisted/engineered for several sessions where the guitar player spent an hour trying to get something across that was in his head. It always turned out that the orig. idea that the engineer had served the song better than his. still, we made more money and the guitar player got to try his thing.

It's a careful balance of damage control and letting the reins go. I base it more on specific circumstances than having a blanket rule. don't be so into yourself. the band might actually know more than you for 1 section of the song.
Old 18th May 2006
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by paterno
Kevin Killen gave me a great piece of advice one time -- 'Never take a gig just for the money.' Every time I forget that, i have a horrible time...

JP
most of us wouldn't be here if it was for the money. There is a difference in doing something that a client wants (making more money) and doing something that might not make the client happy.

I am sure we all would want to be left alone mixing but sometimes you gotta do some customer service.
Old 18th May 2006
  #28
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mixerguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdAudioInc
Make it sound like a positive for them - "you guys mixed this song, so you should have an album credit for the mix"

You could still have the tracking credit

correct.
Old 18th May 2006
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton
I tell groups up front that if I am going to be recording them that when we come to the mixing stage we won't be doing a "group grope". I want them to decide whether that is ok BEFORE we start a project. If it isn't ok then we won't do the project together.
That seems like a bold statement. If it was a killer band, I would be in love with the fact that I find a happy medium. Your version seems to say 'it's my way or the highway'. Again, as in my previous post, nobody here should be close-minded.
Old 18th May 2006
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b i k

the artist makes the art but you own your studio, and you can create any world you want in there. communicate honestly, deliver on your word, and create some magic with your voice and skills... everybody wins.


gregoire
del ubik
Not everybody 'owns' the studio. I freelance and represent both the studio that hires me and the client that hires me. The key is having the experience to balance things. I would sacrafice some personal mix tricks to make the client happy. That is MY ultimate goal. I'm not doing this to fluff my own hammer. If the band is happy, and I can be happy...then that is what is important.
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