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Emotions and Revisions
Old 3rd June 2020
  #1
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Emotions and Revisions

Hi John,

first of all many thanks for doing this Q&A! As a young engineer your and Serbans work is a BIG inspiration to me.

I would like to know your opinion on getting the feel/emotions right and moving in the right direction with the mix.
Do you call the client and ask for direction? Or is the rough mix enough information?
What do you pay attention to?

Also how many revisions do you guys usually do until the client is happy?
Old 15th June 2020
  #2
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Originally Posted by Tommiiii ➡️
Hi John,

first of all many thanks for doing this Q&A! As a young engineer your and Serbans work is a BIG inspiration to me.

I would like to know your opinion on getting the feel/emotions right and moving in the right direction with the mix.
Do you call the client and ask for direction? Or is the rough mix enough information?
What do you pay attention to?

Also how many revisions do you guys usually do until the client is happy?
I think mostly it is the rough mix and familiarity with various producer's overall style (and quirks) from past experience with them.

With producers new to us, we'll sometimes talk a bit, get some pointers on direction, but often I think they've picked Serban specifically for his interpretation and input on that.

I like to try to glean as much as I can out of the rough mix, figure out what they are shooting for by feel and what feels good for the song and production as I unravel it.

Number of revisions can be anything, whatever it takes. From first pass approved to upwards of 15 or 16. Try to never leave a client unsatisfied, but also try to let them know when their requests are not improving the mix any longer.
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Old 15th June 2020
  #3
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🎧 10 years
Going off this question (which was a really great one). Do you think it's the wrong mindset to have limits or rules on revisions? Example: I tell a lot of bands to agree on revisions as a group and then have one central person communicate with me.

One thing I've taken away from this whole Q&A with you (and that I've discussed with some friends that are engineers or producers) is your attitude of rarely saying "no" to people and really wanting to make them happy. It's really made me rethink my mindset of interacting with clients, as I've had a lot lot of people warn me over the years to "set boundaries" so people don't walk all over you and take advantage of your time.

I'm kind of struggling to find a good middle ground, especially these days when everyone has a bedroom studio and knows enough about mixing/recording to be "dangerous". I've been kind of surprised that someone on your level is willing to do so many revisions for people and be that flexible. Most of my battles are scenarios where the revision should have been "turn the vocal up", but it turns into 3 different people sending revisions like "decrease compression on the first half of the chorus vocals and automate delay down and reverb up".

You get the point.
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Old 16th June 2020 | Show parent
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Originally Posted by andersmv ➡️
Going off this question (which was a really great one). Do you think it's the wrong mindset to have limits or rules on revisions? Example: I tell a lot of bands to agree on revisions as a group and then have one central person communicate with me.

One thing I've taken away from this whole Q&A with you (and that I've discussed with some friends that are engineers or producers) is your attitude of rarely saying "no" to people and really wanting to make them happy. It's really made me rethink my mindset of interacting with clients, as I've had a lot lot of people warn me over the years to "set boundaries" so people don't walk all over you and take advantage of your time.

I'm kind of struggling to find a good middle ground, especially these days when everyone has a bedroom studio and knows enough about mixing/recording to be "dangerous". I've been kind of surprised that someone on your level is willing to do so many revisions for people and be that flexible. Most of my battles are scenarios where the revision should have been "turn the vocal up", but it turns into 3 different people sending revisions like "decrease compression on the first half of the chorus vocals and automate delay down and reverb up".

You get the point.
I think that at this high level of the business we have to have a bit more openness to achieving the artist and producers vision of perfection than most.

It helps that we are working remotely. If you’ve got an artist or band sitting in on the mix that can take a whole day to mess with things on one song. We have the ability to slow the process down a bit by taking our time, sending out the new pass, and then waiting maybe another day for approval or more notes. I think that it removes some of the impulsive requests and makes them more thougtful.

I think you do need to balance your time and set boundaries where you can.

I would say that in general, and I don’t want to sound elitist here, that our clients are highly experienced and educated in the processes involved.

Part of that education and experience would come from having those boundaries set on them earlier in their careers.

It definatly helps to get consolidated and agreement on notes. It helps to have a strong producer who will oversee the direction and be the voice of reason in disagreements.

Through all of that we try to do everything asked but also will say that “this isn’t getting better” when needed.

Sometimes it comes down to trying what the artist wants because they just want to know they’ve exhausted every avenue they can think of. We’re not often going to say “no” to a Beck, Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, or Taylor Swift. When we do say “no” they understand and trust that opinion.

So overall I do think you should work on that balance. Make the clients feel that you are open to all of their ideas, while finding a way to not get run over. Sometimes we do get run over too, and feel taken advantage of with excessively "needy" clients. In the end a happy client is your best advertising.
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Old 16th June 2020 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHanes ➡️
I would say that in general, and I don’t want to sound elitist here, that our clients are highly experienced and educated in the processes involved.
Not elitist at all. Occasionally, I actually enjoy working with new bands that have never been in the studio before and those sessions come with a whole different set of expectations and mindsets (This might be better off as a different topic, I'll let the mods decide).

You're obviously working with a whole different level of people (on a daily basis) than most of us. Did that kind of growth naturally happen for you, or do you remember taking steps to (and this is definitely going to come off at elitist..) "weed" out a lot bands? Lately, I've had a lot of other peers pressure me into raising my rates substantially. I've done it gradually over the years, but things like raising rates seem to be more of a tactic for a lot of people rather than a necessity from a business standpoint.
Old 17th June 2020 | Show parent
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Originally Posted by andersmv ➡️
Not elitist at all. Occasionally, I actually enjoy working with new bands that have never been in the studio before and those sessions come with a whole different set of expectations and mindsets (This might be better off as a different topic, I'll let the mods decide).

You're obviously working with a whole different level of people (on a daily basis) than most of us. Did that kind of growth naturally happen for you, or do you remember taking steps to (and this is definitely going to come off at elitist..) "weed" out a lot bands? Lately, I've had a lot of other peers pressure me into raising my rates substantially. I've done it gradually over the years, but things like raising rates seem to be more of a tactic for a lot of people rather than a necessity from a business standpoint.
I'd say that it is a natural growth cycle. However, some of my favorite projects that we've worked on are new artists, first records, and new styles. We don't "weed out" a lot; in fact our managers are often pushing to do more new acts, more trendsetters.

Again going back to Music Soulchild and Jill Scott, and some work with The Roots; it was a lot of fun to be in on the beginning of that resurgent Philly Soul sound.

My first Grammy win for LaRoux is another one. Not a polished act or technically great recordings, but it had that vibe and feel.

My recent mixing of soon to be released Morgan Saint is again another new act that is a lot of fun to help to craft a sound and vibe for. I personally find it more satisfying to be in at the beginning of a new artist's career, a new sound and vibe, and to be a part of crafting that.

We are definitely not just catering to established, well financed, and well promoted artists.
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