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How to proceed when you know it'll be a "mess"
Old 21st May 2003
Lives for gear
jeronimo's Avatar
How to proceed when you know it'll be a "mess"

Hello guys,

I have a doubt about how to proceed when you're tracking/mixing a band that you know it's not "tight" enough and the result will be "less than what you (engineer) expected" even with the client/band very satisfied with it...
Do you get the idea? You have a band in, that you know won't come out the way you want, but, they like the result...
Are you afraid of projects that you're not satisfied? How do you deal with your "name" linked with something not that good?
I don't know, sometimes I fear having too many "small" bands in, and all the results are not what I wanted to be... I have my place for a year, and have worked with more than 15 rock/pop/funk/metal bands, and I must say I'm only satisfied w/ 3 or 4 projects done by me in my place...
Am I a slut? Am I doing the right thing? Since I'm starting my career I feel like working the most I can... and not being selective as I wanted... Am I risking my "career"?
Old 21st May 2003
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar
🎧 15 years
My advice: Do the gig. Make it the best you can. If they won't let you "fix" them to your satisfaction, insist to the label that your name isn't used, or (more tactfully) have them credit an alias name. Actually, it's quite fun to stick with 1 pen name over an extended period of time and watch how it progresses.
Old 21st May 2003
Lives for gear
jeronimo's Avatar
Most of the artists are independent...
Should I fix what I don't like even not being payed for that?
I think the public in general won't notice anything unusual (if I don't like) on the result... and the most experienced will know that the problem is with the band not with the engineering...
Do you guys agree???
Old 21st May 2003
Gear Nut
🎧 15 years
Originally posted by jeronimo
Most of the artists are independent...
Should I fix what I don't like even not being payed for that?
I think the public in general won't notice anything unusual (if I don't like) on the result... and the most experienced will know that the problem is with the band not with the engineering...
Do you guys agree???
If the band are **** but it SOUNDS good you may get away with it, but it won't be something to put on your showreel for sure.

I really don't know for sure on this but, I reckon even the top studios get their fair share of unlistenable crap to record (I've even had to remix some, hah hah). I think the strike rate you mention is probably about right, especially for a non-high end joint.

If there is some talent that just needs more work, perhaps you could do a production deal?
Old 22nd May 2003
Gear Maniac
scotty-o's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally posted by mdbeh
I wouldn't worry that much about it. Most of these types of recordings sink without a trace,
I totally agree. The band will probably be broken up within the year and nobody will really ever hear the recording except their family and friends.
Go with it and make it the best it can be and don't fret over it.
Old 22nd May 2003
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar
🎧 15 years
ditto that... dont sweat it. you are bothered more by producing functions than engineering. just make it sound good. maybe do some off clock work to make it sound even better and file it under experience.

paying for more gear is the point of getting paid... only a few GREAT albums are made a year, if any... so dont sweat it if you arent making masterpieces. hell, i havent made ONE yet. stil waiting for that band to hook up with that floors me to the door.

the point however is that all these "so so" bands are prepping you for the time that one great band does come in and YOU are ready.
Old 22nd May 2003
Gear Nut
20to20's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Good replies...

Here's what I do:

Find a great band or 'soloist' and make them an offer they can't refuse...

I'll offer to record a few songs for them if
they'll let me use their cuts for 'experimentation'
purposes & the eventual inclusion on 'promotional' CDs...

It's definitely a win/win situation...

- I get to practice making satisfying recordings...

- the artist gets a few great recordings at no cost...

- they often come back to do more work...

- the relaxed, off-the-clock working relationship that
was established on the freebie sessions carries over...

- I can use these great, relaxed, satisfying, experimental
recordings to promote the studio & my engineering skills...

- the happy artist usually knows other quality musos
and relays the experience of making great recordings, etc...

Give it away, now...

In a similar vein:

We have a local PBS station that does
an annual on-air auction as a fund-raiser...

I'm gonna offer up a good chunk of
studio time to the highest bidder...

Lot's of good PR & 'free' promotion to that
good, dependable PBS-viewer demographic...
Old 22nd May 2003
Lives for gear
pounce's Avatar
🎧 15 years
dude, it's called trash for cash

i treasure the good gigs i get. by definition, it isn't going to be all of them. some just suck.

i am a house sound engineer at a local 4000 seat iatse roadhouse. but do i ever have to run sound for meetings and conventions and all sorts of low end stuff. including earlier today. including tomorrow. point is, that is some nice money for the new benchmark ad converter i'm buying.

do gigs. do your best. make everyone as happy as is possible. take the money and run. do other things to try to encourage quality acts to work with you for your reel. it'll all come out in the wash.

(i almost started a thread about how working with amateur talent can drag your work/mood/etc down with it. they don't have the chops, lingo, or expectations where yours are. can really keep you from getting into a good workflow. i had a bad week last week with this. thankfully, it's over. someone down there must like me. listening to another day of that would be a violation of the geneva convention. anyhow, you do the gigs, you take the money. i do work on some quality stuff and _they_ get my total involvement and appreciation for thier talent.)
Old 22nd May 2003
Gear Nut
20to20's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Hey pounce,

I see by your sig line that you're 'international' also...

Good ol' Modern Technology in the Global Village...

Thanks to London Jules for this 'Virtual Commons'...

Old 22nd May 2003
Jules's Avatar
Well, you cant be responsible for all of them to get drum / guitar / vocal lessons...

But you can suggest it.


1) Their cash in your wallet
2) The best sounding recording you can make for em
3) tips passed on to them on how to improve
4) Getting more of their money into your wallet
5) getting them out the door
6) Did I already mention the part about getting their money in your wallet?
7) Helping them, sending them off minus cash but thinking you did a great job
8) return work

- HOWEVER - some band simply DONT get any better, my engineering & producing career has, over time, been haunted by several acts who simply wont 'go away'...

These types of jobs can pay rent but unfortunately cant be played to anyone to get more work... When you have meetings with prospective clients, the "trash for cash" work stays in the drawer and never gets played..

Make a point to try new recording ideas out on these sessions!
Old 22nd May 2003
Gear Addict
ExistanceMusic's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally posted by alphajerk
........all these "so so" bands are prepping you for the time that one great band does come in and YOU are ready.

Gotta say, thats one awesome piece of advice!!!
Old 22nd May 2003
Lives for gear
davemc's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Welcome to the world of a lot of people...
As you are recording a lot your ears get better, your gear gets better and your skills improve. Although a lot of the bands just stay where they are. Look to do deals with better bands if you can as others have said..

The bass player in a band I was recording last weekend was out of time and could not hear it. Nor could the rest of the band, maybe the drummer but he kept quiet... We did a couple of takes I just moved it in time when they were doing something else. At the end of the day when we mixed he said see there's nothing wrong with it mixed...
You can only do what you can do.......

I have been down the stressed and I want out route... Just try to enjoy yourself.. If the band has real problems try thinking of some creative engineering... FX can make a crap part more Interesting

I recorded around 10-12 EP's last year for independent bands only 2 actually got released.. Another 2 are being manafactured now 6 months on...Some of the bands that did not release the CD's broke up or realised that maybe there chops were not that good to release a lot of them..
I get a lot of members of bands I have recorded come in with a new band the next year and the cycle starts again..
Old 22nd May 2003
Gear Head
Fat Cat's Avatar
🎧 15 years
If your the Producer and the project turns out like ****, then worry. Only Produce artists that are great.

If your the enginner and the project turns out like **** but all the guys in the band stlil like you, they will come back and so will their friends regardless of how crappy their playing is.

Mo money, Mo money, Mo money....
Old 23rd May 2003
Lives for gear
jeronimo's Avatar
Hey guys... thanks for all the replies...
I'm really trying hard to stay cool, focused and I must say, even in this kind of situation... I still love this job
Old 24th May 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
🎧 15 years
I experiment all the time with those kinds of projects. If it ain't gonna sound good, make it sound interesting was one piece of of advice passed to me early on by a pretty well known engineer.

I think what's worse then people who can't play is people who can play well but make stupid mistakes, have sloppy tracks and won't bother to fix them. That bugs the **** out of me and I usually become a slave driver to make the stuff, not perfect but tighter then they wanted it. By the end of the project those clients hate me but are usually happy with the album.

On a similar note I just got a finished CD from a band that I tracked quite a while ago. The original idea was to do a whole record at my place, have it mastered by Brad Blackwood and have a really great sounding product, which to this point they haven't had because they do everything themselves. Because I'm a huge fan of the band I gave them a pretty good deal on the tracking and whatever. To get to the point, the band took my tracks (they have .wav files) did some overdubs on their own, mixed it themselves and had it "mastered" by a "pro" with a Hacksaw. My name is on the back with a recorded at credit and the whole thing sounds bad IMNSHO. My rough mixes were better, another band that's friends with them said the same thing. Bummer. The real bummer is that over the next year these guys are going to move 1000-2000 copies of it like they did with their last two discs.


At least it doesn't sound like anything else I've ever done so nobody will be able to say I do cookie cutter work.
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