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Producer nightmare...
Old 19th November 2009
  #1
Producer nightmare...

I have been working with this "producer" for the last 2 months on his album, recording, editing and this week mixing...Man, its the worst engineering nightmare of my career..He is one of those guys who thinks who knows everything and who wants to be deciding every single thing regarding mix decisions..He wants to sit in all the time and direct me on every single mixing step.

First he made me clean out EVERY single breath in the album, whether the song warrants it or not...Because he thinks radio won't play it and today's production is like that...I showed him many hit tracks with breath's left in, but he is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo pigheaded...

If "I" suggest ANYTHING, he would refuse it immediately, doesn't matter what it is...

Examples:

Me: Hey, this breakdown could really use a bit more drier vocals so that the vox are more intimate, it also goes very well with the lyrics/

Him: No, no, no, nooooo!!...It sounds "dynamic" with reverb and delay (??dynamic? he would throw in these terms iin without hesitation by the way..whether or not it means anything!)

Me (during tracking): So now that you want the vocals to be "poppy" maybe we should double track it..

Him: No no no no no no...I want them natural and on its own..we are not a pop band..

During mixing: Him: Listen to this track..I want this kind of vocals (double tracked, quite poppy, bright, mids scooped etc..)

Me: Speechless...


Also, he wants to control the balance of the track as well..He wants to have a say in every single mixing decision, but usually he is wrong. I make a balance, he comes in he says turn this up, turn that up, turn bass up, drums up..so everything is louder one by one, then I turn down the master fader and turn up the main volume and we are at the same place after 1 hour spent...But you can't say anything to him, he gets upset in 2 seconds if I don't agree with him....


There are millions of more examples I could write here..but I think you got the idea...If I don't get ulcer in the next 4 last days I will be fine..and stronger for the later part of my career...
Old 19th November 2009
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

sounds like someone i know, i think the best thing to do in your position is to put him in his place and speak your mind.
Old 19th November 2009
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiseg View Post
sounds like someone i know, i think the best thing to do in your position is to put him in his place and speak your mind.
I always tell him what I really think, but you know, we lose precious time where I can do MORE about the mix rather than chasing our tail only to come to a point where I could take the mix in 30 minutes...

He is extremely pigheaded to a degree of arrogance...and he won't change his mind until it turns into a big discussion...and he is inconsistent as well, one day he says he is not producing a pop track, the later day he comes with all these over produced pop reference tracks...

I am learning to live with it though..
Old 19th November 2009
  #4
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiseg View Post
i think the best thing to do in your position is to put him in his place and speak your mind.
Not if he's paying you. You are there to realize HIS vision. Period, end of story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emreyazgin View Post
I always tell him what I really think, but you know, we lose precious time where I can do MORE about the mix rather than chasing our tail only to come to a point where I could take the mix in 30 minutes...

He is extremely pigheaded to a degree of arrogance...and he won't change his mind until it turns into a big discussion..
You're charging hourly right? So what's the problem? Let him waste his time, or quit the job. Simple. Being an engineer is a SERVICE profession. State your position, listen, and then do what you're told to the best of your ability.

If you're not on a hourly, you should be. Especially with a client that you don't bond with, and you obviously don't bond musically/production-wise with this guy. Charge accordingly, suck it up or quit the job.

I see this all the time in young engineers (not saying you're young, but I see it all the time in them) where they get mixed up with their own artistic vision, their producer goals, and thinking it is THEIR project. Unless you're producing, it's decidedly not your project and you either need to accomplish what the producer wants or hand it off to someone who can.

Hard-assed, I know. But that's the right way to do things. If you don't get on with the producer, then cordially suggest a new engineer/studio. Or change your attitude.

(learned the hard way after many years......)

bp
Old 19th November 2009
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

lol bro, i know the type, as long as the workflow is steady and your not going back on yourself you should be cool.
Old 19th November 2009
  #6
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
PS - somewhere, there's a conversation or thread entitled "engineer nightmare" and your name is attached to it. Think about it. Do you want that? None of us do, and the best way to stay employed is to avoid it.
Old 19th November 2009
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Not if he's paying you. You are there to realize HIS vision. Period, end of story.



You're charging hourly right? So what's the problem? Let him waste his time, or quit the job. Simple. Being an engineer is a SERVICE profession. State your position, listen, and then do what you're told to the best of your ability.

If you're not on a hourly, you should be. Especially with a client that you don't bond with, and you obviously don't bond musically/production-wise with this guy. Charge accordingly, suck it up or quit the job.

I see this all the time in young engineers (not saying you're young, but I see it all the time in them) where they get mixed up with their own artistic vision, their producer goals, and thinking it is THEIR project. Unless you're producing, it's decidedly not your project and you either need to accomplish what the producer wants or hand it off to someone who can.

Hard-assed, I know. But that's the right way to do things. If you don't get on with the producer, then cordially suggest a new engineer/studio. Or change your attitude.

(learned the hard way after many years......)

bp
Thanks for your input. I wholeheartedly agree that If I am not producing its not my project and also agree 100% that I should do my best in the compass of HIS vision, and that what I am trying to do all the time. However, I think there is a difference between any other service business vs audio engineering where in this one you put your name into the credits list. Would you be OK to put your name under something as MIXED by or ENGINEERED by where its actually only 20% is truly accountable to you?..
Old 19th November 2009
  #8
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by emreyazgin View Post
Would you be OK to put your name under something as MIXED by or ENGINEERED by where its actually only 20% is truly accountable to you?..
No. I have a psuedonym for those projects. Tell him right now that you don't feel comfortable with some of his decisions, that you'll do your absolute best to accomplish his vision, but that you would like to NOT receive credit on the record. (Or use a psuedonym. Maybe that will break thru his thick skull, but either way, he's paying, so he gets the ultimate glory / embarassment. Again, if it's so bad that you can't even deal with it, the best thing is to bow out and turn it over to someone who can. Really, when you boil it down to it's bare essentials, it's no different than any other service business. If you're treating it that way, then your personal esthetic/artistic production value is creeping in and needs to get shut down.

Mind you, I speak from personal experience here. Anyone who's been doing it for awhile has been in your shoes. Those that are STILL doing it decades later figured out a way to survive. I told you mine.

The good news is that if you stick with it long enough, and do your job right, and keep a good attitude, nature will have it's course, and you'll most likely end up working with people that you "see eye to eye with". Hopefully the production process becomes second nature, and you start getting grammy's.



good luck.

bp
Old 19th November 2009
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
No. I have a psuedonym for those projects. Tell him right now that you don't feel comfortable with some of his decisions, that you'll do your absolute best to accomplish his vision, but that you would like to NOT receive credit on the record. (Or use a psuedonym. Maybe that will break thru his thick skull, but either way, he's paying, so he gets the ultimate glory / embarassment. Again, if it's so bad that you can't even deal with it, the best thing is to bow out and turn it over to someone who can. Really, when you boil it down to it's bare essentials, it's no different than any other service business. If you're treating it that way, then your personal esthetic/artistic production value is creeping in and needs to get shut down.

Mind you, I speak from personal experience here. Anyone who's been doing it for awhile has been in your shoes. Those that are STILL doing it decades later figured out a way to survive. I told you mine.

The good news is that if you stick with it long enough, and do your job right, and keep a good attitude, nature will have it's course, and you'll most likely end up working with people that you "see eye to eye with". Hopefully the production process becomes second nature, and you start getting grammy's.



good luck.

bp
Very good idea, thank you so much for sharing your experience on this. I am really grateful and in an interesting way happy to hear that it is something I should be aware of and find a way to tackle with it. Thanks again thumbsup
Old 19th November 2009
  #10
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by emreyazgin View Post
Very good idea, thank you so much for sharing your experience on this. I am really grateful and in an interesting way happy to hear that it is something I should be aware of and find a way to tackle with it. Thanks again thumbsup
Cool. Glad I could be of service.
Old 19th November 2009
  #11
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toneguru's Avatar
Let him win his little battle, you cash the check, you allow him his little victory and you win the war.

Think of working with him as practice, an opportunity for you to refine your zen skills and concentrate on your breathing. Seriously, the control room is an incubator for ego expansion, rise above it.

Get to the point where you do not qualify anything that you do. It ain't easy but when you get to that place it is a beautiful thing.

Good luck my brother, most of us slutz have been there and can relate.
Old 19th November 2009
  #12
Gear Nut
 
Matty Muir's Avatar
 

It's easy to complain now, but when the work dries up, which it will, you'll look back and say, 'I guess it wasn't that bad'. LOL! I think we've all been there brother. I always try to smile a big smile and think of my bank account getting a little bit bigger. Good luck!!
Old 19th November 2009
  #13
Gear Addict
 

I worked w/a guy like this. TOTAL PITA. The funny part to me was how he got me to give him a cut rate for his project, because there was "no budget man, you know how it is" and at the end of the session I help him load up his gear....into his Lexus
Old 19th November 2009
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
Blake Eiseman's Avatar
We've all been there, I definitely feel for you.

Let me ask you this, are you enjoying the music? Don't let this producer sway your answer, I'm asking if you like the project itself. Does the music move you?

I'm guessing yes, because usually when the music is good, we have a hard time distancing ourselves from the creative decisions. At least for me, that is. If I'm working on a project and it's total crap, then I have an easier time sitting back and letting the producer decide what to do, and if I disagree with his decisions, it's easier for me to keep my mouth shut. But if the music is really cool, and I'm digging the project, I start thinking of ways to make it better, and when the producer goes a different way, it's more of a personal thing because I think "Damn, it would be really cool if we did this, or that..." . But as other people have already said, that's not your job as engineer, you still need to defer to the producer's decisions.

When I'm working with a new client, I can usually tell within 15 minutes whether they want my opinion, or not. Most of my regular clients come to me because they know I have great pitch, good production ideas, and a great ear for things like arrangement, mixing, etc. But new clients don't always want that. Within 15 minutes, if I realize that all they want me to do is shut up and push buttons, then I shut up and push buttons. But in those cases, I'm always getting paid by the hour, so I don't care if they want me to push buttons all night long while they get nothing done, that's happening on their dime.

I hope this helps... just giving you some of my experiences over the years.
Old 20th November 2009
  #15
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miro's Avatar
 



him: (for the 99th time) no, nooooo...not like this - like THIS!!!

you: dude, ya know what....why don't you go home, turn on your laptop and do it yourself, if you know it all better?!
Old 20th November 2009
  #16
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toneguru's Avatar
him: (for the 99th time) no, nooooo...not like this - like THIS!!!

you: cool. (man this guy is a piece of work... I am just thinking this and not sayin it right... cool)
Old 20th November 2009
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

sounds like he just wants to prove something. in the end, nobody really fools anybody... everyone (including ourselves) sees who people really are in the end... it's all about 'making your own bed' in the end.

sounds like you're on your way to producing his clients!

s
Old 20th November 2009
  #18
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Weasel9992's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by toneguru View Post
him: (for the 99th time) no, nooooo...not like this - like THIS!!!

you: cool. (man this guy is a piece of work... I am just thinking this and not sayin it right... cool)
Yeah...totally agree with you and Bill. At the end of the day it's a service industry and we have *customers*. I've tracked and/or mixed all kinds of crazy stuff for all kinds of crazy people, and as frustrating as it can be (and man, it can be frustrating), the client pays the bill. Believe it or not, once you really *get* that, this whole gig gets a lot easier.

Frank

P.S.: I'm down with the pseudonym advice though...
Old 20th November 2009
  #19
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davedarling's Avatar
 

There are so many "tell him what you think - tell him what he's doing wrong" answers
from the hobby set that I feel the need to chime in.
He's the producer. That you agree, or disagree with his methods, or process doesn't matter. If the job is too painful for you to bear ...quit. Or don't work with him again.
I've been lucky to have worked with some truly great engineers, and they all seem to have a couple of things in common - a good attitude, a willingness to try new things,
and they don't whine. You know "professionalism".
Even when they're working with producers who aren't a great fit for them.

dd
Old 20th November 2009
  #20
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-silent-sam-'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by emreyazgin View Post

First he made me clean out EVERY single breath in the album, whether the song warrants it or not...Because he thinks radio won't play it and today's production is like that...I showed him many hit tracks with breath's left in, but he is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo pigheaded...
Hahaha thats good..... I seem to recall Butch Vig saying something along the lines of "Keep the breaths" in the Butch Vig Q&A section.

Now I am not saying that JUST because Butch Vig said it, that it must be right..... However I have heard a couple "Butch Vig Projects" on the radio from time to time...... I mean usually I can't listen to a big rock station for more then 30 minutes without hearing something that Butch Vig produced but ya.....

Don't leave those breaths in if you want to get radio play ! ha!
Old 20th November 2009
  #21
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_Ludovico's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by emreyazgin View Post

First he made me clean out EVERY single breath in the album, whether the song warrants it or not...Because he thinks radio won't play it and today's production is like that...I showed him many hit tracks with breath's left in, but he is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo pigheaded...
Hope it's not a MUSE album..... sorry too easy
Old 20th November 2009
  #22
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rectifier's Avatar
 

him: ah time for a coffee break... what to do..

I know - I'll go check the new posts on GS... Hey now what the...
Old 20th November 2009
  #23
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_Ludovico's Avatar
 

Me again, what about suggestions coming from the artists? How does he react to these?
Old 20th November 2009
  #24
make a 'shank' out of a sharpened spoon. ask him to sit at the desk and then stab him in the neck.
Old 21st November 2009
  #25
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by emreyazgin View Post
Thanks for your input. I wholeheartedly agree that If I am not producing its not my project and also agree 100% that I should do my best in the compass of HIS vision, and that what I am trying to do all the time. However, I think there is a difference between any other service business vs audio engineering where in this one you put your name into the credits list. Would you be OK to put your name under something as MIXED by or ENGINEERED by where its actually only 20% is truly accountable to you?..
when you mix under direction the credit is often "mix engineered by"...keeps it easy.

I also have "other names" to use
Old 21st November 2009
  #26
Gear Addict
 
beanface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matty Muir View Post
I always try to smile a big smile and think of my bank account getting a little bit bigger.
I just sweat less and think of my overdraft getting smaller.
Old 21st November 2009
  #27
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weasel9992 View Post
Believe it or not, once you really *get* that, this whole gig gets a lot easier.
thumbsupthumbsup And not only that, sometimes (maybe 1 out of 10) you learn something that breaks your whole vision of audio engineering wide open. Honest. It happens when you start listening and quit arguing.
Old 21st November 2009
  #28
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Lrmusic's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matty Muir View Post
It's easy to complain now, but when the work dries up, which it will, you'll look back and say, 'I guess it wasn't that bad'. LOL! I think we've all been there brother. I always try to smile a big smile and think of my bank account getting a little bit bigger. Good luck!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanface View Post
I just sweat less and think of my overdraft getting smaller.
rofl I have a new sig
Old 21st November 2009
  #29
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Storyville's Avatar
This is very common. He just needs to hear it one way before he can hear it another. The instinct is to counter his opinion with yours, but his insecurity will surely over ride this tactic. Instead, it's better to let him hear what he wants to hear, so that he has some kind of reference. He basically just doesn't know exactly what he wants, and wants to make sure there aren't better options. And he has a personality defect that makes him communicate this in weird way.
Old 21st November 2009
  #30
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toneguru's Avatar
Thumbs up

Storyville, you hit the nail on the head.
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