Great sound starts at the source
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
When you are recording in the studio, things can get stressful, for both the engineer and the performer. You have probably heard, or said yourself, "Ah it's fine, I'll fix it later" or "that'll do". Not realising that when later comes, that one thing can become your biggest headache.
Here's a couple of thoughts to help avoid this:
1. Plan your session.
A lot of problems can be solved by a well planned session. Simple things, like setting up the DAW session before hand, organising what channels you use, even laying out mics and cables you might use. Everything saves time and stress during the session meaning you can stay focused on the project and what it needs.
2. Always focus on positive feedback
Here's a scenario, a vocalist has just finished a take, it was ok but you have to do it again because it was a bit pitchy in the first chorus. Rather than say "vocals were off, try again" maybe go with, "hey, awesome vocals for that second chorus, would sound amazing to get more of that throughout the song, can we do that again?".
They both get the same outcome, you are redoing the vocals. Except the first approach crushes the vocalists confidence and leaves them wondering what happened; while the second approach, encourages them on what went well and boasts their confidence for the next take. As well as getting a better take next time, the performer will also remember that you built them up to get the best out of them rather than pick out every flaw. By having a positive attitude, most of the other stuff fixes its self. The performers also leave the studio happy, and feel better about themselves and their music.
Most issues can be narrowed down to communication issues. Most of the time as producers it's our job to interpret what the performer is trying to say which a lot of times can be a challenge. However, when it comes to production and you are dealing with an artist in the studio communication is key to helping the artist feel comfortable and know whats going on. If you have a cool idea for the bridge but you need 10 minutes to set it up, let them know! It goes back to school were you had to show your working, show your thought process. Otherwise, we come across as just wasting time which could have an impact on the artist if it loses the flow of creativity.
And thats it to get you thinking. Building a good relationship with the artist can help a tonne in the studio and getting things right at the start. You might not have a big fancy studio but at some point we will all be working with people in one way or another. Remembering it's a person with emotion on the other side of the microphone will go a long way in getting the best take from performer.
Listen to the podcast with country music producer Billy Decker. Everyone speaks about him as being the nicest guy and he says 98% of his work and success comes down to his people skills. He has mastered his relationship skills and worth checking out.
2. If your into books "How to win friends and Influence people" by Dale Carnegie is a book on building relationship skills with people and listed as one of the most influential books of all time by Time Magazine.