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soapfoot

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Posts: 7,310 Member Since: 04/02/2011

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Dec 20 16 8:45 AM

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A hypothetical scenario:

What do you do when you have a lovely client who has been fabulous throughout multiple projects, but very late in the game on a project (two weeks before mix) has a whole lot of labor-intensive things he or she wants to try that you don't think will work very well?

Mostly things that are following trends in recent (but not immediately current) pop records that could make what is shaping up to be a very good record ripe for sounding dated-within-a-year and cheesy.

It is HIS or HER record, so he or she must be "right." 

But there's plenty to do on an already short timeline, and there's not really much time to be chasing after things not likely to work. How do you break that to the client without sounding a) condescending, b) sounding like you're shutting them down, b) seeming like you're making it more about you than them.

Or do you just stay up nights for the next three weeks and not get any sleep and chase down every wild goose?

brad allen williams

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seth

Ruby Baby

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#2 [url]

Dec 20 16 9:51 AM

When you say client, do you mean artist? It is his or her record. I'd do what the artist wants (on a copy) on one or two songs and hope they come to the same conclusion as you've come to. I might mention my concern as a concern rather than a criticism, discuss the possibility of having to push back the mix dates whatever the consequences. But if the music itself doesn't win your argument for you I think you have to go with the artist's vision. That's a broad-brush approach and assumes you're a hired hand and not a partner.

That's just how it is - if the record sucks the producer wasn't good. If the record is great, the artist is a genius.

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mcallister

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Posts: 777 Member Since:22/01/2011

#3 [url]

Dec 20 16 10:08 AM

Be honest.

If it's your place to voice an aesthetic opinion, do so.

Otherwise, lay out the time/financial constraints, and agree to a list of priorities.

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gtoledo3

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Posts: 4,110 Member Since:23/10/2013

#5 [url]

Dec 20 16 10:52 AM

I can think of times when I've felt this way, but some overdub or idea wound up working a lot better than I would have thought. So I just accept that this can be part of any project, and I try to keep skepticism a little bit at bay.

Sometimes a long shot, or seemingly hokey idea can in fact be executed in a way that makes it awesome. It can often be quicker to just execute an idea than debate about it, especially if feelings get strained.

But, when a task is done, I would just be quick to bring up whatever is on my own list of things that need to get done. I would just try to lead the agenda and advocate for my own short list rather than get into the philosophical question of whether an idea that no one has heard yet could turn out good or not.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

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#6 [url]

Dec 20 16 10:59 AM

absolutely agree, George, for ideas that are simple enough to try.

On the other hand, some ideas require hiring four musicians and a day of studio time when the project is already over budget and out of time, AND are unlikely in my estimation to pan out in a satisfactory way. Sometimes you do, pragmatically, have to try and suss out what's likely to work and what's not ahead of time, you know?

Thanks to everyone here for the insights offered so far.

brad allen williams

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owlander

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,034 Member Since:27/01/2011

#7 [url]

Dec 20 16 11:11 AM

I would at least try things on one or two songs, while interweaving my views along the way. You might be surprised, they might reconsider...

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weedywet

Ruby Baby

Posts: 5,866 Member Since:20/01/2011

#8 [url]

Dec 29 16 12:17 PM

Is this a record that does have a chance to be a pop hit now? (On a label? Has distro? Has star presence in the artiste? they play in support? Etc. )
if so then making a currently trendy record might not be the "bad" call. 

If NOT, however, then I think that can be part of your argument. 
'You're not going to compete with Beiber now, and I think these things will sound dated and desperate a year from now. We should be making the record for YOUR existing audience ...'
 

Last Edited By: weedywet Jan 5 17 1:14 PM. Edited 1 time.

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zmix

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#10 [url]

Jan 5 17 9:30 AM

I've been in this situation many times...  It gets easier if you can identify the cause.
It's usually rooted in some critical anxiety, sometimes as simple as fear of taking a stance.
Focusing on the disparity, for example between the artists's vision and what they are hearing, can lead to artistic breakthrough, or a complete breakdown.
Making a record, at face value, is documenting a moment in time.
I always ask the artist where they might see this particular work in their retrospective, which usually gives them the needed perspective to make a clear decision.

Last Edited By: zmix Jan 5 17 9:45 AM. Edited 1 time.

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seth

Ruby Baby

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#11 [url]

Jan 5 17 1:11 PM

I have on occasion gotten the sense that someone has been advising the artist without my knowledge. Some artists are more susceptible to that than others. The more insecure, the more susceptible. It rarely works out well. If you guys have encountered this, what do you do about it?

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weedywet

Ruby Baby

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#12 [url]

Jan 5 17 1:17 PM

it's difficult.
mostly you have to try to keep the 'Yoko' out of the loop.

But eventually you have to confront it directly if it really is obstructive.

Sometimes I've found that a direct conversation with "John" about how "Yoko" is either co-producing or not leads to him telling her/him to butt out.

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seth

Ruby Baby

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#13 [url]

Jan 5 17 7:23 PM

It's definitely tricky. In this case there are several "Yokos," including a medium. (Did we think that crap went away with the sixties?) I've kept my mouth shut thus far - that could change.

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seth

Ruby Baby

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#15 [url]

Jan 5 17 8:37 PM

Yes, thanks Bill. That's the conclusion I've been coming to. I'm not there yet, but it's one of the few options.

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,310 Member Since:04/02/2011

#16 [url]

Jan 6 17 7:58 AM

seth wrote:
I have on occasion gotten the sense that someone has been advising the artist without my knowledge. Some artists are more susceptible to that than others. The more insecure, the more susceptible. It rarely works out well. If you guys have encountered this, what do you do about it?

bingo.

I have encountered this multiple times. I've typically chosen not to address it directly, because it's seldom been anything more than a VERY strong hunch. And I feel that throwing accusations around would be much more detrimental to the health of both the project and the relationship rather than simply trying to navigate it.

Although once an artist revealed to me directly that they were listening (of all things) to notes on the music from their 60 year old mother. I informed them that the only good reason for an artist to solicit their mother's opinion on their work would be to make sure she hated it and it pissed her off. The artist laughed and saw my point... but I'm not sure it fixed the issue.

brad allen williams

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seth

Ruby Baby

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#17 [url]

Jan 6 17 8:13 AM

The problem isn't the opinion - everyone has an opinion about music and people are flattered to be asked - it's the soliciting of the opinion. It's often based on unfinished tracks, or no tracks, just verbal discussions. If an artist has qualms about where something is going I want them to talk to me. If I'm the wrong producer I can live with that. It's the sneakiness that really bugs me, and the sense that there's a sub rosa battle for control. If someone is moving in a direction I think isn't good or is for the wrong reasons and refuses to change, it's time for me to go I guess.

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maarvold

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Posts: 3,093 Member Since:23/01/2011

#18 [url]

Jan 6 17 9:30 AM

seth wrote:
The problem isn't the opinion...it's the soliciting of the opinion. It's often based on unfinished tracks...

The potentially applicable phrase I've heard through the years is: "Never show an idiot an unfinished product".  

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soapfoot

Ruby Baby

Posts: 7,310 Member Since:04/02/2011

#19 [url]

Jan 6 17 9:39 AM

seth wrote:
The problem isn't the opinion - everyone has an opinion about music and people are flattered to be asked - it's the soliciting of the opinion. It's often based on unfinished tracks, or no tracks, just verbal discussions. If an artist has qualms about where something is going I want them to talk to me. If I'm the wrong producer I can live with that. It's the sneakiness that really bugs me, and the sense that there's a sub rosa battle for control. If someone is moving in a direction I think isn't good or is for the wrong reasons and refuses to change, it's time for me to go I guess.

For me, an even more difficult situation... and I've been in this sitaution exacly once, and ended up leaving the project...

...is when the "hidden collaborator" is the artist themselves, i.e. an artist is secretly very opinionated about every single thing, but does not feel comfortable enough (my failing) is for some reason too insecure (their struggle) to discuss these things with their collaborators directly even when directly asked what they think.

I beat myself up a lot when I found myself in that situation... I obviously failed to win the artist's trust somehow. The artist seemed to want my approval (or fear my disapproval?) to the extent that they couldn't bring themselves to voice a difference of opinion directly... instead, the method of dealing with a difference of opinion would be to ignore and/or sabotage any idea they didn't like (this was much more transparent than they thought, I think). This became too frustrating to continue working with, for me.

brad allen williams

Last Edited By: soapfoot Jan 6 17 9:42 AM. Edited 1 time.

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dr funk

Platinum Blonde

Posts: 1,636 Member Since:24/12/2011

#20 [url]

Jan 6 17 7:23 PM

maarvold wrote:

The potentially applicable phrase I've heard through the years is: "Never show an idiot an unfinished product".  

Thanks Mike! I'm filing that away for future use...

Frank

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