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viitalahde

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Posts: 597 Member Since: 04/02/2011

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Nov 10 16 4:00 PM

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I get well along with my clients, and the attended sessions usually go very well. Now there is an exception. The client came through a recommendation from a tracking/mixing engineer I consider to be my personal mentor, and with whom I get along perfectly.

The client comes in with someone who isn't a part of the project, both sit down, and when I come back from getting an extra coffee mug, they start personally attacking me and our profession by telling 1) that they hate EQ and compression 2) mastering always makes mixes worse and 3) pancakes 4) they don't even understand why this has to be done.

This goes on for minutes, and I barely get to say anything (and I didn't yet play a single second of the work I had already done for them while they were 1,5 hours late). The situation is so weird that I eventually had to stand up, raise my voice a little and ask them why they were so hostile since I was there to make their record sound better? I also told them that if by the end of the day they felt the mixes sound better, I would have no trouble assembling a master out of the mixes alone.

This calmed down the clients a little, and I started playing them what I had done so far.

"Hear? The mix balance has not changed a bit, the tracks alone just sound a touch better and the beginning of the album is more cohesive. The limiter takes away a few odd peaks here and there, and all of the dynamics is still there."

After a few more questions like "are you going to change the sound of the snare drum" and "don't touch the panning" (all of these questions were answered with the same answer of "no, and I can't even do that") the situation finally calmed down.

The rest of the day went better, but my personal flow was gone, and if I don't accept a jelly donut the other guy offered me, you know things are bad.

OK, I just had to get if off my chest. I am always polite to my clients, but this time I had to take control of the situation. It is strange to see a 60+ professional musician start attacking me in front of my eyes. At the end of the day while they were walking out with their refs, they seemed relieved and thought the record sounds good - "even if we were a little hostile at first".

Over and out.

 

Last Edited By: viitalahde Nov 10 16 4:05 PM. Edited 1 time

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viitalahde

Gold Finger

Posts: 597 Member Since:04/02/2011

#2 [url]

Nov 10 16 4:19 PM

compasspnt wrote:

Bravo for getting thru it successfully (without killing anyone).
 


Thank you. For a brief moment, I do confess I was visualizing a way to remove these persons out of my room by simply throwing them out.

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gold

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,517 Member Since:27/01/2011

#3 [url]

Nov 10 16 4:21 PM

I've gotten the same thing on occasion. I did basically what you did. I said "It's no problem to cut it flat if that's what you want". Then I was able to figure out whether they actually wnated it cut flat or were just scared you would destroy it.

I had a woman from Finland here last week. She showed me how to pronounce your name.

Last Edited By: gold Nov 10 16 4:23 PM. Edited 1 time.

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morespaceecho

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 2,323 Member Since:29/01/2011

#4 [url]

Nov 10 16 4:58 PM

i fortunately haven't had any mastering clients like this...but at a tracking session years ago the guitar player was suspicious of absolutely everything i did....i've told the story here before and don't feel like recounting the whole thing, but he was infuriating and i was very very close to just calling the session and tossing them out. but the other 3 guys in the band were saints, and i'd worked with them before, so for their sake i gritted my teeth and we got through the day without any murders.

i did have one mastering client who didn't laugh at any of my jokes. not a one. not even a chuckle. that was a fun day.

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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chance

Aqua Marine

Posts: 2,686 Member Since:30/01/2011

#5 [url]

Nov 11 16 10:04 AM

It takes all kinds. I once had a client "insist" that I use a piece of gear that was a fake rack panel filler and completely non functional. When I told him "it is non functional" his words to me was "I'LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT, I AM THE ONE PAYING YOU". I turned the fake knobs to his delight and he was happy and I got nauseous. LOL Don't burn bridges, keep them happy and they'll be return business

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hank alrich

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,755 Member Since:28/01/2011

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Nov 11 16 12:38 PM

chance wrote:
It takes all kinds. I once had a client "insist" that I use a piece of gear that was a fake rack panel filler and completely non functional. When I told him "it is non functional" his words to me was "I'LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT, I AM THE ONE PAYING YOU". I turned the fake knobs to his delight and he was happy and I got nauseous. LOL Don't burn bridges, keep them happy and they'll be return business

He appreciated your transparency, Chance. Really clean kit you have there.

hank alrich
http://hankandshaidrimusic.com/
http://www.youtube.com/walkinaymusic

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tbethel

Gold Finger

Posts: 307 Member Since:21/02/2011

#8 [url]

Nov 12 16 6:38 AM

I did a mastering for a four piece rock group. They almost got into a physical altercation during the mastering. Everyone wanted more of themselves in the mix. After a ten hour session spread over two days we got the final mastering done. Later I did "individual" masterings for each person in the group. I had not heard from them in a while and called one of them to inquire when the CD was coming out. He said they had disbanded and that the CD would not be coming out. I was not surprised.

I had a client spokesman/manager who was very picky about everything that was done to his group's music. We would do some mastering and then at the next session I would get a "change" sheet from the spokesman outlining the changes in EQ. It read something like this: Take 1/4 dB off at 3130 Hz. increase the EQ by 1/2 a dB at 64.8 Hz. At 3:02 minutes increase the gain .5 dB and leave it that way until 3:08 where you should drop the gain by .25 dB until 3:10 and then the gain can go back to normal. This went on for days. At times he would completely change his mind and want everything back the way we started and he would start over. This client liked to stand with his head right above my head leaning over so I could feel his breath on my neck. One time I pushed my self up in my chair and hit him on the chin. It was not at all deliberate but it made him not stand over me from then on. We finished up the mastering and they seemed happy and I got paid. It was an ordeal I do not want to repeat..

FWIW.

-TOM-
Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director, Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
www.acoustikmusik.com/
Celebrating 22 years in business in 2017

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viitalahde

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Posts: 597 Member Since:04/02/2011

#9 [url]

Nov 12 16 2:23 PM

gold wrote:

I had a woman from Finland here last week. She showed me how to pronounce your name.
 

Ha! Now you can teach it for the rest, now that the secret is out.

Tom's experiences started rolling in my head at that exact moment I was sitting there, watching the clients get aggressive. You have shared some pretty strange stories over the years.

All in all, I can only wonder if these people think at all how the way they are acting affects the results. You pay for the master, but come in to poison the air. Or, maybe you just come to the mastering and chat with your friend all the time. Luckily, these cases are rare.

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jimlongo

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Posts: 630 Member Since:28/01/2011

#10 [url]

Nov 12 16 4:48 PM

It can be challenging dealing with someone who might have PTSD from a previous encounter with the profession.
Sounds like in the end you may have done some real service.

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hank alrich

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,755 Member Since:28/01/2011

#11 [url]

Nov 13 16 12:07 PM

jimlongo wrote:
It can be challenging dealing with someone who might have PTSD from a previous encounter with the profession.
Sounds like in the end you may have done some real service.

This. Sometimes you have to call your inner Buddha before your inner Clint Eastwood shows up. Clint's clients never return.

hank alrich
http://hankandshaidrimusic.com/
http://www.youtube.com/walkinaymusic

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ArtSta

Silverado

Posts: 66 Member Since:30/04/2014

#12 [url]

Nov 13 16 1:27 PM

hank alrich wrote:
This. Sometimes you have to call your inner Buddha before your inner Clint Eastwood shows up. Clint's clients never return.

 Brilliant! 
The most difficult thing for me so far is to learn to talk client’s language, independently from his/her knowledge level.  

What works for me is to ask questions in some weird situations and usually it happens that answers occupy the brain enough to decrease emotion level. Being more knowledgable helps a lot. 

Art

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viitalahde

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Posts: 597 Member Since:04/02/2011

#13 [url]

Nov 13 16 3:03 PM

Yes, the reason this topic exist is that for the first time in my career, I was unable to call my inner Buddha. The situation didn't go out of hand and the clients seemed happy when they left (still waiting for a comment about the refs though), but all of it left a bad taste in my mouth. I wish to not to run into such situation again.

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compasspnt

Diamond Forever

Posts: 21,223 Member Since:08/01/2011

#14 [url]

Nov 13 16 10:38 PM

hank alrich wrote:
jimlongo wrote:
It can be challenging dealing with someone who might have PTSD from a previous encounter with the profession.
Sounds like in the end you may have done some real service.

This. Sometimes you have to call your inner Buddha before your inner Clint Eastwood shows up. Clint's clients never return.

However, they made his day.



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zmix

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,189 Member Since:20/01/2011

#15 [url]

Nov 18 16 10:04 AM

Look...

Before you demonize the client (and I haven't read any replies, so bear with me), or generate another internetz pile on of slagging, try to understand what that client was feeling.

Most artists have been "burned" or at least feel that they have, somewhere along the process.

Most artists look forward to mastering the same way most people look forward to seeing the dentist.

They expect to feel criticized.

They expect to be shamed.

They expect to be overwhelmed with technical details that only mean "you suck" to them.

Supermodels feel the same way about photo retouchers, by the way. Even though you're going to make the project "better" they feel vulnerable and exposed.

Be sensitive.

Be empathetic.

It's not your baby, it's theirs, have a good bedside manner.

Be aware of your own sensitivity to their criticisms.



...

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zmix

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Posts: 4,189 Member Since:20/01/2011

#16 [url]

Nov 18 16 10:07 AM

hank alrich wrote:
jimlongo wrote:
It can be challenging dealing with someone who might have PTSD from a previous encounter with the profession.
Sounds like in the end you may have done some real service.

This. Sometimes you have to call your inner Buddha before your inner Clint Eastwood shows up. Clint's clients never return.
"You feeling like you're going to Get Lucky, Daft Punk..??"




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morespaceecho

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Posts: 2,323 Member Since:29/01/2011

#17 [url]

Nov 18 16 10:44 AM

zmix wrote:
Most artists look forward to mastering the same way most people look forward to seeing the dentist.

They expect to feel criticized.

They expect to be shamed.

They expect to be overwhelmed with technical details that only mean "you suck" to them....

 

uuuhhhhhhhh....what?

i REALLY don't think that's how artists feel AT ALL. if they do, then they shouldn't, because that isn't even remotely how i (and i assume everyone else who's any good) interact with them.

i never criticize people. shame them? what is this, church? i never talk technical stuff at all unless they bring it up first.

we're here to help. i think most people look forward to mastering because it means THEY'RE DONE.

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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viitalahde

Gold Finger

Posts: 597 Member Since:04/02/2011

#18 [url]

Nov 18 16 11:53 AM

zmix wrote:

Be aware of your own sensitivity to their criticisms.



...
 

Hey Chuck, all good points, and believe it or not, I know this is the case. Most of my clients are nervous when coming to a mastering session, and leave relieved. It is good to be a part of the project at the very and and see relieved, happy people.

This was why this case was so different. The sheer upfront aggressivity surprised me, and tested me how I can cope with it. In some ways it felt like someone trying to pick up a fight at the pub. My response was not perfect, which is also why I had to write about it. This is a service industry, after all. On the other hand, the situation was quickly going out of hand, and a part of me said it needs to be reset.

The client emailed me and said the record sounds good, and can go to pressing like that. So, probably there was no permanent damage to our feelings, and both of us learned a valuable lesson.

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zmix

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,189 Member Since:20/01/2011

#19 [url]

Nov 18 16 2:39 PM

viitalahde wrote:
zmix wrote:

Be aware of your own sensitivity to their criticisms.



...
 

Hey Chuck, all good points, and believe it or not, I know this is the case. Most of my clients are nervous when coming to a mastering session, and leave relieved. It is good to be a part of the project at the very and and see relieved, happy people.

This was why this case was so different. The sheer upfront aggressivity surprised me, and tested me how I can cope with it. In some ways it felt like someone trying to pick up a fight at the pub. My response was not perfect, which is also why I had to write about it. This is a service industry, after all. On the other hand, the situation was quickly going out of hand, and a part of me said it needs to be reset.

The client emailed me and said the record sounds good, and can go to pressing like that. So, probably there was no permanent damage to our feelings, and both of us learned a valuable lesson.
Glad to hear it.  It can get touchy sometimes, you just never know what they've been through by the time they get to you.  I primarily mix, and that handoff is often fraught with all the tensions of the session between the artist and producer, producer and label, etc..   Sometimes my choices are seen as a decree, and sometimes people freak out.. In the end everyone is happy, and usually back on the same page..



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zmix

Aqua Marine

Posts: 4,189 Member Since:20/01/2011

#20 [url]

Nov 18 16 2:44 PM

morespaceecho wrote:
zmix wrote:
Most artists look forward to mastering the same way most people look forward to seeing the dentist.

They expect to feel criticized.

They expect to be shamed.

They expect to be overwhelmed with technical details that only mean "you suck" to them....

 

uuuhhhhhhhh....what?

i REALLY don't think that's how artists feel AT ALL. if they do, then they shouldn't, because that isn't even remotely how i (and i assume everyone else who's any good) interact with them.

i never criticize people. shame them? what is this, church? i never talk technical stuff at all unless they bring it up first.

we're here to help. i think most people look forward to mastering because it means THEY'RE DONE.
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in  what I said, I meant that they "expect" to "feel" criticized, not that anyone is doing so, it's just the feeling of scrutiny that is so difficult for an artist.

Maybe you need to talk to more artists... ESPECIALLY the ones that are *not* working with you.. I have had many conversations where I'm telling the artists to trust the people they've hired...

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