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Why most recording engineers suck... Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 15th May 2014
  #451
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLKjr View Post
I think the issue is that, generally speaking, the musician(s) hire the engineer(s).

So it's about wasted time and money. And musicians generally don't have a whole lot of either to waste.
because if their record fails to become a huge hit, the money was "wasted"?

it couldn't possibly be because their music isn't quite good enough?

They "don't have money to waste" to hire an engineer but they have money to buy software and interfaces and mics and treat their rooms. They don't have "time to waste" but they can take a dozen hours a week AWAY from writing, practicing, rehearsing and gigging to teach themselves to become (at best) the same level of mediocre recording engineers they complain about.
Old 15th May 2014
  #452
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
because if their record fails to become a huge hit, the money was "wasted"?

it couldn't possibly be because their music isn't quite good enough?

They "don't have money to waste" to hire an engineer but they have money to buy software and interfaces and mics and treat their rooms. They don't have "time to waste" but they can take a dozen hours a week AWAY from writing, practicing, rehearsing and gigging to teach themselves to become (at best) the same level of mediocre recording engineers they complain about.
Everything you're saying is irrelevant.

The topic is about engineers who suck, but some people want to turn it into musicians who suck, as if it's not possible the other way around.

And again, if an engineer hired a musician and PAID them, and the musician turned out to be a lousy egotistical waste of time, then the engineer would have a legitimate complaint. As would anyone who hires people to work for them.

Seems to me, only ones who suck would take issue with this topic or take it personally.
Old 15th May 2014
  #453
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLKjr View Post
The topic is about engineers who suck, but some people want to turn it into musicians who suck, as if it's not possible the other way around.
you are the one who seems to think turnabout is not fair play.
Quote:
And again, if an engineer hired a musician and PAID them, and the musician turned out to be a lousy egotistical waste of time, then the engineer would have a legitimate complaint. As would anyone who hires people to work for them.
I hire musicians all the time. When I pay somebody to work for me, I don't pick him out of the yellow pages. Or because he has cool haircut or a shiny guitar. I listen to what he has done before. I talk to people who have worked with him before. If I get good responses, I hire the guy. I do my homework.

Quote:
Seems to me, only ones who suck would take issue with this topic or take it personally.
convenient and self-fulfilling. The percentage of people who suck in any field is likely to be a majority. Whose fault is it if the client fails to do his homework? Whose fault is it if the band picks a studio based on brand-name gear or because the cool kids go there, instead of hearing the engineer's previous work? Whose fault is it if they go to the "cheap" guy?

I have a client who goes to the cheap guy over and over, then he comes to me to FIX the stuff the cheap guy screwed up. Is that a comment on the cheap guy's skill? Or a comment on the client's basic stupidity?

furthermore there are a large number of musicians who are complaining their engineers suck based on "outcomes". Their record went nowhere, even though they spent a 'lot of money' in the studio. boo-hoo Their outcomes will unfortunately be the same no matter what kind of engineer they get, because they themselves might suck. Or maybe the record is great and the music is great but the music business sucks.

Here's a tip: if your record does not sell, it is probably not because your engineer sucks.

Whenever they record themselves the musicians say: "all you need is a good song". They are excusing their own mediocrity as engineers. Their own desultory attempts at engineering may well be cheaper than a studio. They may well "listen" to themselves more than anybody else will. But will the results be BETTER? Any fool can please himself. And any chimpanzee can Obey Orders. My job as a professional engineer is to give the artist what he asks for - WITHOUT the mix falling apart.

Sure, I know some mediocre engineers, and yet even the worst of them slays the output of the bands with a laptop and an MXL mic "mixing themselves.

The reason you hire an engineer is so that you, the musician, can focus on what is really important, the music. The greatest example of "ego" run amok is the person who thinks he can do everything himself better than anyone else.

There are perhaps a few individuals on the planet who meet this description. There are however apparently millions who believe they meet this description. Most of them are clearly incorrect. Which is why for all their bluster, they go on the internet to sites like Gearslutz to ask the engineers.

I am quite confident that I am a better engineer than any of my clients. They know it too, which is one reason why they pay me to record them. The other reason of course is that by paying someone else to worry about recording they gain the FREEDOM to focus on the actual music. This specialization is the "system" that made 99% of the music that you like.
Old 15th May 2014
  #454
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brockorama's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I am quite confident that I am a better engineer than any of my clients. They know it too, which is one reason why they pay me to record them. The other reason of course is that by paying someone else to worry about recording they gain the FREEDOM to focus on the actual music. This specialization is the "system" that made 99% of the music that you like.
I agree.

A better room would help most.

A better monitoring space and monitors would help most as well. Those things are a given tho.
Old 15th May 2014
  #455
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
you are the one who seems to think turnabout is not fair play.


I hire musicians all the time. When I pay somebody to work for me, I don't pick him out of the yellow pages. Or because he has cool haircut or a shiny guitar. I listen to what he has done before. I talk to people who have worked with him before. If I get good responses, I hire the guy. I do my homework.



convenient and self-fulfilling. The percentage of people who suck in any field is likely to be a majority. Whose fault is it if the client fails to do his homework? Whose fault is it if the band picks a studio based on brand-name gear or because the cool kids go there, instead of hearing the engineer's previous work? Whose fault is it if they go to the "cheap" guy?

I have a client who goes to the cheap guy over and over, then he comes to me to FIX the stuff the cheap guy screwed up. Is that a comment on the cheap guy's skill? Or a comment on the client's basic stupidity?

furthermore there are a large number of musicians who are complaining their engineers suck based on "outcomes". Their record went nowhere, even though they spent a 'lot of money' in the studio. boo-hoo Their outcomes will unfortunately be the same no matter what kind of engineer they get, because they themselves might suck. Or maybe the record is great and the music is great but the music business sucks.

Here's a tip: if your record does not sell, it is probably not because your engineer sucks.

Whenever they record themselves the musicians say: "all you need is a good song". They are excusing their own mediocrity as engineers. Their own desultory attempts at engineering may well be cheaper than a studio. They may well "listen" to themselves more than anybody else will. But will the results be BETTER? Any fool can please himself. And any chimpanzee can Obey Orders. My job as a professional engineer is to give the artist what he asks for - WITHOUT the mix falling apart.

Sure, I know some mediocre engineers, and yet even the worst of them slays the output of the bands with a laptop and an MXL mic "mixing themselves.

The reason you hire an engineer is so that you, the musician, can focus on what is really important, the music. The greatest example of "ego" run amok is the person who thinks he can do everything himself better than anyone else.

There are perhaps a few individuals on the planet who meet this description. There are however apparently millions who believe they meet this description. Most of them are clearly incorrect. Which is why for all their bluster, they go on the internet to sites like Gearslutz to ask the engineers.

I am quite confident that I am a better engineer than any of my clients. They know it too, which is one reason why they pay me to record them. The other reason of course is that by paying someone else to worry about recording they gain the FREEDOM to focus on the actual music. This specialization is the "system" that made 99% of the music that you like.
This whole argumentative post is, imo, the perfect telltale sign. I wouldn't hire you based on this alone, I don't care how awesome you think you are!

I think it's up to the individual, even all those losers with a laptop and an MXL mic , or the ones who apparently suck but all those awesome engineers happily take their money anyway, to decide what approach they'd like to take.
Old 16th May 2014
  #456
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLKjr View Post
... or the ones who apparently suck but all those awesome engineers happily take their money anyway...
If somebody "sucks" but still wants to make a recording, are you suggesting that the studio should turn them down? Sorry, you're not good enough!

The engineer's job is not to turn lead into gold, it's to make as good a recording as possible given the musical input. ****ty musicians deserve to record their music as much as anybody else. In fact, I place my microphones with the same care, I mix the levels with the same attention to detail whether the singers sing in tune or not. Whether the drummers play in time. Or not.

Only an entitled idiot would equate the engagement of recording services as a guarantee of musical success. If the client gets a good-SOUNDING recording, the studio has done its job. If somebody hires my studio, they get as good a sounding recording as they are capable of making. I have never been the 'weak link'. Besides, its the same bunch of complainers who think they can do a "better job" by recording themselves.

How's that working out?

If somebody inquires about hiring me as a Producer, I will of course weigh in on whether this person has any business spending money in the studio. Whether it is even possible for me to make them sound like a real band. But if they are producing themselves that means they are taking the responsibility for their product. Producer=product. They are a Big Boy Now and can make their own decisions about how to spend their money. So what kind of a half-assed "Producer" just sits there and lets the engineer do things that aren't what he wants it to sound like? . This is a commercial transaction. You are calling the shots. Speak up.

Grow a pair.

What doesn't fly is to come along whining like a baby about the outcome of your recording after the fact. Were you not there from day one? Were your ears clogged up? You were man enough to say you are able to produce yourself, you were man enough to say you were "ready" to record in the studio.

When your band DOES hit the big time, what will you owe the engineer who made the recording that got you signed? Answer: nothing. You hired him by the hour to make your recording. But it cuts both ways. If it doesn't get you signed, YOU take the responsibility for failure as well as success.
Old 16th May 2014
  #457
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Like I said............
Old 16th May 2014
  #458
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLKjr View Post
even all those losers with a laptop and an MXL mic , or the ones who apparently suck but all those awesome engineers happily take their money anyway, to decide what approach they'd like to take.
Speaking of tell tale signs......
Old 16th May 2014
  #459
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Maybe you sensitive engineers should start a thread moaning about all those musicians who you think suck that you have to deal with, and then a bunch of them will post long rants at you about how you're being a whiny baby who should "grow a pair" as it's those losers who are your bread and butter, unlike all the ones you don't have to deal with who seem to bug you just as much if not more.

Seems about as useful as this.
Old 17th May 2014
  #460
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLKjr View Post
as it's those losers who are your bread and butter, unlike all the ones you don't have to deal with who seem to bug you just as much if not more.
actually, I work mostly with professional musicians. They are my bread and butter. When someone who is an amateur or a beginner comes to me, they get the same respectful treatment, and the same professional attitude and work ethic from me.

And they almost never walk away whining.

I only seem to encounter these whiners on the the internet. The people who record themselves and don't really know what they are doing, so they come here to ask the engineers how they do it. And then they bitch when the answer turns out to be hard work instead of a magic box.

The people who, instead of doing their homework, then go to a "professional" studio that is invariably the cheapest place in town with the most blowhard engineer in town, and start threads crying that their recording did not get them signed to a major label because "engineers suck"
Old 17th May 2014
  #461
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post

And they almost never walk away whining.
So apparently some do. I guess they should grow a pair as well as start practicing.

Quote:
I only seem to encounter these whiners on the the internet.
Yeah, that's for SURE.

Quote:
The people who, instead of doing their homework, then go to a "professional" studio that is invariably the cheapest place in town with the most blowhard engineer in town, and start threads crying that their recording did not get them signed to a major label because "engineers suck"
The OP didn't even say, nor did I, that "engineers suck", which implies they all do.

All I said was if you can't or are not in the position to work with someone who can take what you are doing to another worthwhile level you might as well do it yourself. It all depends. Many people are doing great things without the need to hire someone.

And if you do unfortunately hire a lame engineer, that sucks, as it is a big waste of time and money as well as a frustrating experience. So, yes, i essentially agree with the OP that you can't just assume that engineers know what they're doing or aren't sometimes big egotistical jerks.

if you want to rant and rave and put all the blame in all cases on the supposed stupid untalented musicians who don't do their homework and then cry like babies on the internet, then that's your problem.

But imo, it's just more internet whining.
Old 2nd June 2014
  #462
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackened View Post
Most recording engineers are failed musicians. As a musician, I have very little respect for recording engineers. The field of audio engineering is a field that should have no ego. That is a job for musicians. A matter of fact, engineering is a job well suited for a musician. I am both an engineer and musician, and being a musician gives my ear the musical training that most engineers would only dream to have.

The problem here is that engineers charge a lot of money merely to do something they enjoy, and most engineers deliver less than satisfactory results. This is the reason for the explosion of everybody and their mother having a Pro Tools rig. What musician would want to deal with some screwball engineer when for the most part, we would be better off just doing it ourselves?

The job of the engineer is to record the musician, and in the mixdown, enhance the vision of the musician in the recorded medium. As a musician, dealing with audio engineers is almost always a waste of time and money. The prices studios charge are outrageous. If most studios could deliver a great product at a reasonable price, then that would be one thing, but the truth is most studios can't.

I offer up a scenario. Band X goes into Studio Waste A Lot to record said album. Band X spends five thousand dollars in studio time tracking, and after mixdown they are unhappy with the results. Studio Waste A Lot says the mix is great, and the recording is great. What recourse does band X have. Court? Na probably not.

So, bands need to be very weary of all studios and flakey engineers. Most engineers suffer from extreme OCD. I'm saying that seriously. Also, I believe that after all is said and done, musicians should never assume that just because a studio has an SSL or Neve that they will get good results. Why do I say this? Well let's just say i've lived it.

Blackened
What are your expectations of the engineer? They aren't a producer unless they have that experience and you are working with a seasoned professional who's got a laundry list of album credits as an engineer/producer. Not many of them around.


I guess it's all about picking the studio, having a producer, and being prepared ahead of time is all that you can do. Any low budget recording is what it is. Low budget. If you get something that's more than demo quality, be happy.

Decent projects come out when you deal with top studios, with experienced engineers, a prepared band, master level musicians, a producer (typically VERY helpful). Otherwise you are just wasting money on a demo and that's what you should expect.
Old 2nd June 2014
  #463
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlheinz View Post
An artist who spends money on a recording should always research who they are working with and the studio well before the red light turns on.You as an artist are to blame if you shop on the cheap without doing the homework or are not really prepared for what the process requires to realize your expectations.
I would think having an experienced producer and a decent budget is also kind of required, otherwise it's basically demo music.

I think the biggest mistakes unsigned bands make is not having proper legal representation and a producer involved from the beginning. Otherwise, a band or a solo "artist" is just creating a demo that's probably legally unsellable. I've been in situations where someone gets a wild hair up their rear end, they get some money and they spend money on a bunch of musicians, get an expensive (relatively) but they don't have the vast experience they really need and then they start recording THINKING it's going to be some major recording, when in the end, all it was was an expensive learning experience because they didn't have proper legal representation to ensure the proper legal contracts were in place and an experienced producer helping the band/solo artist produce something that's legal and sellable where the solo artist or band is happy and able to either get a decent recording contract or be able to have something sellable to recoup the recording costs and to possibly make some money.

Without these two elements, just go into the project knowing it's not legally sellable (until REAL contracts are signed with everyone) and a producer to help with the production to get a finished product that you are happy with.

Just my 2 cents.
Old 3rd June 2014
  #464
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Jimmy Page just re-mastered all his studio stuff, I don't think he'd send it to an engineer.
Old 3rd June 2014
  #465
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Quote:
Originally Posted by INVERSOUND View Post
Jimmy Page just re-mastered all his studio stuff, I don't think he'd send it to an engineer.
Oh, like Page did ALL of the re-mastering by himself without the use of an experienced engineer? Oh, OK. If that's what you think. He compiled and SUPERVISED the re-mastering, but he had the assistance of a mastering engineer.

Here's the other take on the project.

JOHN DAVIS REMASTERS LED ZEPPELIN'S FIRST THREE ALBUMS | Metropolis
Old 3rd June 2014
  #466
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
I would think having an experienced producer and a decent budget is also kind of required, otherwise it's basically demo music.

I think the biggest mistakes unsigned bands make is not having proper legal representation and a producer involved from the beginning. Otherwise, a band or a solo "artist" is just creating a demo that's probably legally unsellable. I've been in situations where someone gets a wild hair up their rear end, they get some money and they spend money on a bunch of musicians, get an expensive (relatively) but they don't have the vast experience they really need and then they start recording THINKING it's going to be some major recording, when in the end, all it was was an expensive learning experience because they didn't have proper legal representation to ensure the proper legal contracts were in place and an experienced producer helping the band/solo artist produce something that's legal and sellable where the solo artist or band is happy and able to either get a decent recording contract or be able to have something sellable to recoup the recording costs and to possibly make some money.

Without these two elements, just go into the project knowing it's not legally sellable (until REAL contracts are signed with everyone) and a producer to help with the production to get a finished product that you are happy with.

Just my 2 cents.
What do you mean by this legal aspect here? Are you presenting a scenario where a band / producer made an album that was awesome but it couldn't go any where because they didn't have the correct producer-band contract from the beginning?

What would prevent it from selling exactly? We have an unsigned agreement with our producer to give him a % of any album sales since he is doing it at a discount - Should we get that in writing before we approach any labels or anyone?
Old 3rd June 2014
  #467
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chiimba View Post
We have an unsigned agreement with our producer to give him a % of any album sales since he is doing it at a discount - Should we get that in writing before we approach any labels or anyone?
you should hop in a time machine and get that in writing before you make the album
Old 3rd June 2014
  #468
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiimba View Post
What do you mean by this legal aspect here? Are you presenting a scenario where a band / producer made an album that was awesome but it couldn't go any where because they didn't have the correct producer-band contract from the beginning?

What would prevent it from selling exactly? We have an unsigned agreement with our producer to give him a % of any album sales since he is doing it at a discount - Should we get that in writing before we approach any labels or anyone?
Any time you have more than one person that's involved with writing or involved with a musical project, it's just best to have legal contracts, especially with a producer or anyone. It just prevents a lot of hassles later on down the road, because "band" generally don't last forever and band mates may change their minds and it's just the best move to have legal repressentation, especially since a good entertainment lawyer might be able to help shop they band.

Any successful artist/band, has attorneys, get used to it. It's part of the gig.
Old 3rd June 2014
  #469
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by INVERSOUND View Post
Jimmy Page just re-mastered all his studio stuff, I don't think he'd send it to an engineer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
Oh, like Page did ALL of the re-mastering by himself without the use of an experienced engineer? ...
JOHN DAVIS REMASTERS LED ZEPPELIN'S FIRST THREE ALBUMS | Metropolis


I am trying to decide on picturing the image of Jimmy Page sitting in his house with a copy of Izotope on his laptop remastering the first 3 Led Zeppelin albums, or picturing the image of Jimmy Page sitting at the console of the mastering room at Metropolis, having kicked the ME out of his chair!


Old 3rd June 2014
  #470
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post


I am trying to decide on picturing the image of Jimmy Page sitting in his house with a copy of Izotope on his laptop remastering the first 3 Led Zeppelin albums, or picturing the image of Jimmy Page sitting at the console of the mastering room at Metropolis, having kicked the ME out of his chair!


Jimmy was the producer and compiler of the material, but he's NOT going to be the engineer as well. I'm surprised they didn't give the engineers that worked to the project credit on Wikipedia and other sources. Who's listed on the physical copies?

It would be great to know what setup, and what techniques were used. I know some of these remasters they are using very little audio compression, which I personally like, it gives a better dynamic presentation which helps with the emotion department of what the band was doing since there are loud and quiet passages in the performances.
Old 3rd June 2014
  #471
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
Any time you have more than one person that's involved with writing or involved with a musical project, it's just best to have legal contracts, especially with a producer or anyone. It just prevents a lot of hassles later on down the road, because "band" generally don't last forever and band mates may change their minds and it's just the best move to have legal repressentation, especially since a good entertainment lawyer might be able to help shop they band.

Any successful artist/band, has attorneys, get used to it. It's part of the gig.
Ok makes sense thanks. The "band" is just my brother & I and we've written and performed everything on the album; and have always been 50/50 about this which makes everything really easy for us. The producer is a local friend who had a great reputation with other bands he's worked with; and he'd already said he'd do a contract if we wanted but didn't stress it early so we didn't really worry about it at first.

So I'm guessing if we just get a contract with the producer on what his fee was and what % we will be paying him from our future earnings (just a % of my and my brother's earnings - not the total sales earnings or whatever the label takes); that would cover us in the future?
Old 3rd June 2014
  #472
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
you should hop in a time machine and get that in writing before you make the album
lol well it isn't done yet
Old 3rd June 2014
  #473
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiimba View Post
lol well it isn't done yet
people's memories of their verbal agreements can change. Honestly or dishonestly. It's not "unfriendly" to get it in writing.

A guy connected with their management told me Kiss's original contract was literally written on a paper napkin.
Old 4th June 2014
  #474
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
people's memories of their verbal agreements can change. Honestly or dishonestly. It's not "unfriendly" to get it in writing.

A guy connected with their management told me Kiss's original contract was literally written on a paper napkin.
Sweet yeah it won't be a big deal at all. I honestly think even if we didn't sign a contract and a label was interested; we'd just get one done then to make them happy and then move forward; but might as well have it ready before we start pitching it / releasing things / marketing it.

So based on your KISS story - can we just type up a generic document in MS word basically and sign it? Just detailing the fee ; what his role & our role on the CD was; and what % he's entitled to out our sales $?
Old 4th June 2014
  #475
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chiimba View Post
So based on your KISS story - can we just type up a generic document in MS word basically and sign it? Just detailing the fee ; what his role & our role on the CD was; and what % he's entitled to out our sales $?
sometime before you sign anything with a 3rd party (like a label) you need a lawyer to tighten up the language and plug up potential loopholes. But a contract is a contract in the eyes of the law and what the paper provides is evidence of what both parties were thinking at the time.

Technically, a handshake is a "contract" but if someone remembers the handshake as 5% and the other person remembers it as 15%, it's nice to have a napkin!

One thing I have found is that drawing up a contract often gives a boost of energy to the project, totally aside from what may happen down the road.
Old 4th June 2014
  #476
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
sometime before you sign anything with a 3rd party (like a label) you need a lawyer to tighten up the language and plug up potential loopholes. But a contract is a contract in the eyes of the law and what the paper provides is evidence of what both parties were thinking at the time.

Technically, a handshake is a "contract" but if someone remembers the handshake as 5% and the other person remembers it as 15%, it's nice to have a napkin!

One thing I have found is that drawing up a contract often gives a boost of energy to the project, totally aside from what may happen down the road.
Well I always planned to hire a lawyer if we ever get into negotiations with any labels. I just didn't ever think us making an album with the arrangement we had would be some issue in getting signed/ selling the record. I figure we would just tell the label our deal and then they'd get us to do a contract to make it official before we pushed the album; but I might as well get a step ahead on that with the producer.

Thanks for the info / advice
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