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My recent ethical dilemma


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Jeeze... Thats one ignorant noob rant... You really really don't get it but obviously those of us who do this full time and have for years don't either. If you ever make any real money, you will realize your entire prior post is malarky.


This is whats sad about the internet. You got GREAT and REAL advice from people MAKING a living recording and instead you get pissy and say you know what you are doing.


No, my friend, you really really don't. But good luck and enjoy the hobby!

 

 

Much to the contrary, advice is actually what I'm here for. When it's delivered with snarky condescension I will gladly take it with a grain of salt. Anytime you feel like clarifying your vague insults with factual statements, feel free. FYI I also work at a professional recording facility the next town over. The home studio is supplementary income.

 

I had my own set of qualms with your post.

 

 

Its the fatal flaw of hobbyist recorders- engineer, arranger, orchestrator, producer, mastering engineer... These are all DIFFERENT jobs. If you treat them as such it will be easier...

 

 

Do you really think that a local band just starting out, on a local band's budget, can afford to hire these roles separately? In pointing out the "fatal flaw" of hobbyist recorders you miss the entire reason for their rise in recent years. Aside from the fact that I am a professional, not a hobbyist, my home studio is successful because it exploits an entirely different market niche than the professional studio I work at. This is a band who, 15 years ago, could not have attained even a quality demo tape on their budget. I repeat, I am not overstepping any bounds because the boundary lines were laid out clearly when the client was booked. I would be engineering and producing.

 

Also, what makes you think I'm not qualified to produce and arrange?

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Ken,....don't,....

Breathe ,....Inhale,..exhale,....

Nummyo Ho Renge Kyo,... Nummyo Ho Renge Kyo,...

;)



:D It's all good, Booshy. He may be offended by my response, but I believe it was still milder than his insults.

Still, maybe I'm completely full of it!!! That's okay!!!

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo indeed!!

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Also, what makes you think I'm not qualified to produce and arrange?

 

 

You know what? I'm sure you are. In fact, you probably have much more equipment and can engineer circles around me and can kick my ass.

 

You caught me.

 

Yes, you did. I'm a condescending "hack engineer". You saw right through my bull{censored}, yes you did.

 

I'm sorry I even thought I was helpful enough to give you advice about drummers playing to a click.

 

I'm out.

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I repeat, I am not overstepping any bounds because the boundary lines were laid out clearly when the client was booked. I would be engineering and producing.

 

But you didn't state that in the OP, or this..

 

 

I made it very clear that I am operating a home project studio, and
I feel that numerous jobs are all rolled into one.
Let's face it, when we do edits for time, when we auto tune a vocal, or sound replace a drum, we are fixing something that was not right going in.


One of my personal goals is that no one walks out of my studio sounding like they made a mistake. Mistakes make a recording sound amateurish. To the general public, bad performances and a bad production are very hard to distinguish. If I don't take a drastic approach to fixing those drum takes, I'm letting them leave with a product reflects poorly on my abilities and my studio. It's a product that I cannot use to attract other business to my studio. You're only as good as your last mix.

 

Well.. You feel that way but there are plenty of people who don't, and it does not make their opinions any less valid. Nor does forgoing a click. Getting stubborn about it makes you appear very threatened.

 

Replacing the drums relies heavily on the fact that you did happen to be the producer. I think it's the right choice because of your stake in the final product, but engineers typically do not have that kind of jurisdiction (except mix engineers in rare cases, but they still do consultation and their job is more an extension of producing rather than capturing fidelity).

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+1

Years past, we had a few tracks done with a local "producer" on the cheap for a quickie demo, and as we finished up, we figured, hey, let us put a little keys in the background to fill this section out. Nobody could even come close to playing any kind of keys whatsoever, but I could at least hold a chord or two, which was fine for what we wanted. Held the chord, tracked, went home. When we went back to pick it up, he had called his buddy over who actually CAN play keys, and he had added a very interesting little harmony/arpeggio piece on top. He played us ours, then his. We loved it. It's not like he was charging us extra or anything, so why not? We didn't end up using it, but it was cool of him to try it out.




But, if I'm understanding you correctly, the local guy was hired as a "producer"; in which case, I think he approached it in exactly the right way. He produced... discussed things with the band, and gave you options.

I've certainly been known to add stuff to a track when it was warranted. If you hire me, you're hiring a producer, and that's a given going into the project, unless you're specifically bringing in another real producer, and I always discuss "who's going to produce?" with the band in advance.

Communication is ALWAYS important IMO. :idea:

I've also been known to "fix" stuff - IMO, that's part of the job - my job is to make my clients sound good - as good as I can given the material and budget I have to work with. I've even done the "before / after" thing - taken a song and edited it, and presented both versions to the band as an example of what could be done, if they wanted to go in that direction [and wanted to pay for it... :D ]; but what I've never done is to "replace" someone's part and try to pass it off as what "they" played, or what "they played + editing / studio magic". As tempting as the idea has been on a few occasions [hmmm... I could spend an hour comping / editing that guy's bass part, or ten minutes setting up and just playing it right myself...], I won't do that without telling the band about it.

YMMV.

BTW Fletcher, I owe you a beer at NAMM for my extensive use of your expression. :D:wave:

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Here's where I need to mention that the rest of the band ARE actually great players, and they have a great vision for their record..

 

I hope you didn't find my post condescending as well; I have no lofty perch to be condescending from. :idk:

 

But I do have a question: you say above that the other guys are great players. Do you think that they hadn't noticed the drummer was terrible before you pointed it out? If so, why did they choose to take him into the studio? If not, maybe their opinion simply differs from yours?

 

Great players tend to play with other great players, seems to me. :confused:

 

Terry D.

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Ustad, are you interested in having an exchange of ideas or starting a flame war? It seems like you want to be offended a lot more than I do here.

The simple statement that I was making was that a lot of the old pros weighing in here are describing how they would have approached the situation from their respective positions, which in this case, are as employees or owners of professional recording facilities, where the staff is bigger and the roles are more striated and spelled out. It is, to grossly oversimplify it, a completely different business model. If you employ that model in a home studio, it's my opinion that you'll walk away with {censored}ty sounding results every time. There are a LOT more workarounds and a lot more resourcefulness required in a home studio, where the tracks are rarely as good as they need to be on the way in.

It was funny to me that the posts telling me I had outstepped my bounds were punctuated by musicians saying that they can remember many situations in which they'd have jumped on the offer I gave.

I'm a level headed guy and not easily flustered. If you guys wanna turn this into a flame war, go ahead and run with it. I called something out as I saw it - if you disagree, refute it intelligently. No one has stepped up yet to make counterpoint to my response, but some of the names that I respect a lot here have certainly stooped lower than I have in any of my posts. It's ok, I can wait.

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I hope you didn't find my post condescending as well; I have no lofty perch to be condescending from.
:idk:

But I do have a question: you say above that the other guys are great players. Do you think that they hadn't noticed the drummer was terrible before you pointed it out? If so, why did they choose to take him into the studio? If not, maybe their opinion simply differs from yours?


Great players tend to play with other great players, seems to me.
:confused:

Terry D.



Terry- it is, to be sure, a hilarious case of "one of these things is not like the others." He's clearly the weak link in the band, but it's not my place to be pointing that out to anyone in the band. He gave it his best and was a team player who simply needed more practice. They are a very new band and may fear that they lack the resources to find a replacement if they boot him. It's anyone's guess.

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No one has stepped up yet to make counterpoint to my response, but some of the names that I respect a lot here have certainly stooped lower than I have in any of my posts. It's ok, I can wait.

 

You didn't tell us the whole story the first time. Obviously that caused a lot of the misunderstanding in subsequent replies.

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Ustad, are you interested in having an exchange of ideas or starting a flame war? It seems like you want to be offended a lot more than I do here.

I'm a level headed guy and not easily flustered. If you guys wanna turn this into a flame war, go ahead and run with it. I called something out as I saw it - if you disagree, refute it intelligently. No one has stepped up yet to make counterpoint to my response, but some of the names that I respect a lot here have certainly stooped lower than I have in any of my posts. It's ok, I can wait.

 

I simply questioned why you would ask someone who has never played to a click before to play with a click and expect better results. You then accused me of saying you were "springing" a click on someone; I said no such thing. Then you said, "recording without a click track is for hack engineers". I do this more often than not; I'm therefore a "hack engineer."

 

Great. End of subject then.

 

You clearly don't want to hear anymore on that subject, so case closed. You know best.

 

You get all pissy and slag people off, but now, you want to be disagree intelligently and make counterpoints?

 

No, you know best, so have at it. And since you're into intelligent discourse, I'll dismiss the subject as you did...:wave:

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One of my personal goals is that no one walks out of my studio sounding like they made a mistake. Mistakes make a recording sound amateurish. To the general public, bad performances and a bad production are very hard to distinguish. If I don't take a drastic approach to fixing those drum takes, I'm letting them leave with a product reflects poorly on my abilities and my studio. It's a product that
I cannot use
to attract other business to my studio. You're only as good as your last mix.

 

While it is the truth that no producer or engineer wants their name on poorly done recordings, the fact remains that it is not their art. It is the band's art....they are paying you, so they are calling the shots, not you.

 

In this case, if you struck up a deal with the band to produce and offer your critique, then an opinion is warranted. Also, if you struck up a deal where you volunteered your time on spec (free work) for publishing or points, then i'd agree with you.....it is partly your vision and you putting your time and effort into something that benefits you, as well.

 

However, if you didn't strike up this deal, you are sounding like an outright ass. The band may be under the assumption that you weren't producing, and that you were simply the recording engineer. As one person once said, "opinionated engineers will quickly find themselves out of work". If they're not looking for an opinion, it is best not to offer it.

 

Case in point: when Ed Stasium was tracking songs for Motorhead on the "1916" album (I believe), Lemmy said that he "put a bunch of claves and {censored} on there. He must have stayed longer in the studio to do it". They didn't like it, Ed was even the producer and they fired him. Ed had done Ramones and tons of other big albums by then, and even he didn't have the clout to start changing things that wasn't sanctioned by the band. Don't do things without the band's permission, because you will usually make them angry. Whether you've had your name on records that have sold 1 million copy or 1 copy, no band wants to have some guy changing things and thinking that it's his record.

 

I really appreciate the condescending insinuation that I'm making recordings for high school kids to take home and show mommy and daddy. No really, I do. You really shot yourself in the foot with that one.

 

I don't think that anyone said this here. Maybe you think that they did, but I didn't read it.

 

A great recording on someone's myspace page can get them a lot of new fans, a lot of gigs, and generally get them noticed by people.

 

True.....but a band being out there gigging and having a network to sell the album goes much further. Great recordings only go so far.

 

If you don't think that can happen, then it's time for a serious reality check. I know you do this on a bigger level than me, and I respect your experience, but you'd do well to check your tone in more threads than one.

 

No one here copped an attitude with you. I think that you started reading more into this. You wanted advice and when you didn't like it, you started putting words into people's mouths and assuming that they were assuming things.

 

As for the people telling me that I "sprang" the click on the poor guy? Give me a break. They knew three weeks ago, when they booked their time, that a click would be used. He had three weeks to practice his bands songs to a click and get comfortable with it. He didn't. Oh well. Recording without a click track is for hack engineers, or musicians who don't screw up. Editing anything that wasn't recorded to a click is a nightmare and I'm not just talking about quantization. Ever take a part from another verse or chorus later in the song where it was played better, and use it to replace a questionable part? Have fun doing that without a click.
:wave:

Here's where I need to mention that the rest of the band ARE actually great players, and they have a great vision for their record. Production wise the whole operation was going to tank if the drums weren't doing their job, and that's why I brought it up. I made it clear to the client that I would be taking a producer's role in some ways. I did not overstep my bounds. Please don't suggest that I just HAD to jump in and play... I get enough session gigs already, and those ones actually pay.
:p

And to alcohol... any engineer that voiced criticisms to your band's playing without offering a constructive solution is an engineer that you wasted your time and money with. He was writing you off from the time he heard the first notes. Sorry man. You insult me by likening me to him.

 

You may want to read this whole part again five times and then offer an apology at how ridiculous you sound here. I guarantee that if you said this to the band right at the start, they'd say, "thanks, but we'll go elsewhere". It's not "your recording with this band and bunch of guys on here", it's "the band with your assistance".

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You didn't tell us the whole story the first time. Obviously that caused a lot of the misunderstanding in subsequent replies.

 

 

Fair enough. Either way, the whole story is out there now and people are still choosing to be less than constructive.

 

 

I simply questioned why you would ask someone who has never played to a click before to play with a click and expect better results. You then accused me of saying you were "springing" a click on someone; I said no such thing. Then you said, "recording without a click track is for hack engineers". I do this more often than not; I'm therefore a "hack engineer."

 

 

Alright, so maybe that was a colorful choice of words. But there are no two ways around it - if recording sans click is your M.O. you are either tracking some killer players, or you are NOT doing the kind of in depth editing I'm doing. It's as simple as that. Some players just have bad feel - click or no click. If your approach to fixing that is more hands off - i.e. just do more takes until they get it right - that's fine, but in this case I had to pick my battles and make a call that the drummer wasn't going to get anything right, at least not on schedule. It's in dire situations like that that tools like quantizing are useful, and it's impossible to utilize them if you have nothing to quantize to. You're not a hack engineer, and I rescind the comment. It wasn't directed at you in the first place.

 

 

Don't do things without the band's permission, because you will usually make them angry. Whether you've had your name on records that have sold 1 million copy or 1 copy, no band wants to have some guy changing things and thinking that it's his record.

 

 

This is a great point, but I did expressly get the band's permission.

 

 

I don't think that anyone said this here. Maybe you think that they did, but I didn't read it.

 

 

Really? I think Fletcher made his stance pretty clear:

 

 

Don't worry about your credit as no one is going to hear this thing except family and friends...

 

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i don't think you're overstepping your bounds here by offering to track the drums yourself, although you definitely have to be careful how you approach the situation.

 

my one criticism is this: why did it take you so long to realize that the drums sucked? after the first hour or 2 of tracking, i'd have sat down with the ENTIRE band in the control room and listened to the drum takes. i'd have (tactfully) asked them: 'is this the drum sound you're going for? what about the performance? i think you can play better than this. are you comfortable behind the kit? why don't we try some takes without the click? is the headphone mix ok? etc...'

 

maybe the band would realize that their drummer isn't in shape for the studio. this way they could either arrange for you to track the drums or postpone their sessions. sometimes it takes actually being in the studio to realize that you're not ready.

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i don't think you're overstepping your bounds here by offering to track the drums yourself, although you definitely have to be careful how you approach the situation.


my one criticism is this: why did it take you so long to realize that the drums sucked? after the first hour or 2 of tracking, i'd have sat down with the ENTIRE band in the control room and listened to the drum takes. i'd have (tactfully) asked them: 'is this the drum sound you're going for? what about the performance? i think you can play better than this. are you comfortable behind the kit? why don't we try some takes without the click? is the headphone mix ok? etc...'


maybe the band would realize that their drummer isn't in shape for the studio. this way they could either arrange for you to track the drums or postpone their sessions. sometimes it takes actually being in the studio to realize that you're not ready.

 

 

IMO, this is an excellent post.

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I had been warned



it becomes abundantly clear that the cat just cannot play.



I am looking at a mountain of drum takes to comp together.


So now I'm looking at a 1 to 2 week editing job and a lot of long days.













why are you using a click ? sounds like you're making this more difficult than it needs to be. let the band play. record it. mix it.

not every recording has to be perfect....hell, you can ruin a song with too much homogenization. let it be what it is. enjoy it for what it is instead of hate it for what it is not.:wave:

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i don't think you're overstepping your bounds here by offering to track the drums yourself, although you definitely have to be careful how you approach the situation.


my one criticism is this: why did it take you so long to realize that the drums sucked? after the first hour or 2 of tracking, i'd have sat down with the ENTIRE band in the control room and listened to the drum takes. i'd have (tactfully) asked them: 'is this the drum sound you're going for? what about the performance? i think you can play better than this. are you comfortable behind the kit? why don't we try some takes without the click? is the headphone mix ok? etc...'


maybe the band would realize that their drummer isn't in shape for the studio. this way they could either arrange for you to track the drums or postpone their sessions. sometimes it takes actually being in the studio to realize that you're not ready.

 

 

Man, that is right at the core of what is probably the biggest mistake I made. I knew from the earliest takes that the drummer was having issues. We did futz with the headphone mix quite a bit.

 

I think I feared that I lacked the people skills to really tactfully approach the subject then and there. I knew it was going to be touchy and I guess I needed to take time to collect my words and figure out how to keep things positive. A lesson learned for sure. Great post.

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For a band, it's not only the performance that counts.

I record a band where the bass player is a really good singer, but a poor bass player. The guitarist could knock off the bass part in one take and it would be better than anything the bass player would do. Instead, we give the bassist all the time to get it right, including comping many tracks.

You got to give the band some credit, that they know what's going on, and have other considerations. Comparing demo band recordings to the the Beatles when they were signed to a major label is not a good comparison.

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IMO, this is an excellent post.

 

 

Definately, about the only one that wasn't complete nonsense.

 

 

I doubt I'd want to work with any of these "pro's" if they completely avoid telling me I was out of time or could play something better because "it's not their job"...

 

I've never had a problem with this on either side of the glass and no one I've worked with ever had a problem. Maybe it's a British thing, we have no issues with telling people they are {censored}ing awful.

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Hmmm.

I've been reading this thread with a lot of interest. One thing that keeps entering my mind is, we all have different goals.

For me? I have zero interest in recording a crappy drummer and leaving it be. I understand those who would want to. I've been in bands where I'd want to, sure. For either politcal or artistic reasons. But...

...there is nothing wrong with knowing what it is you want to do. It's fine if he doesn't want to let the crappy drummer be. We all make our own worlds and this is his choice. Mine too.

I don't engineer without producing. I'm not interested in it. I love the great engineers. The Swediens of this world. But it's not for me, even if I had their skill. So if a band came to me with a drummer who's work didn't fit my idea of where the project should go, I'd have a few options.

Discuss with the band how we can use time correction methods (if it's even possible)

Discuss finding a replacement for the recording.

Or passing on the project.

What's wrong with knowing what you want as an individual? I know what I want. That in no way has any bearing on what you may want.

So Alcohol and Fletcher, while I very much respect your outlook, I would offer to you... your's is not the only way. I respect a man with vision. Fletcher and Alcohol both have that. The OP's only mistake I see is not being sure just what his vision is yet. That'll come.

Stick to your guns man. Do what you believe is right. Ain't nothing wrong with suggesting they replace the drummer. If they disagree, that is their artistic right. Then you decide if you still share a common vision. If not, move on without regret.

If that is your vision.

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What's wrong with knowing what you want as an individual? I know what I want. That in no way has
any
bearing on what you may want.

 

..Only if the artist accepts that first. Some won't. Then you're stuck rejecting the project if you can't share. It doesn't have anything to do with not knowing what would help. It's purposely staying out of it.

 

But along those same lines, the artist is going to take full responsibility for what they've done or I'll pass no matter what.

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..Only if the artist accepts that first. Some won't.

 

 

Absolutely. This is all based on agreement between artist and producer. Somehow I think if the OP hasn't made a clear agreement with the artist, going forward he will.

 

My point... find those that you share a vision with and work together to reach it. Click, no click. That's just arguing over which cake recipe is better. Hey... I like lemon. I'm going to cook some lemon for those that like it. Maybe I'll expand to chocolate, but for now? I'm specializing in lemon.

 

I think the OP has made some very pertinent points about "The New Model". Producer/Engineer. I think the OP too, could use a little more finesse in his counter points but hey, live and learn.

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This thread is fascinating.

From a purely professional standpoint, if I design something and hire someone to help me build it, I don't expect them to make design changes without consulting me. It's MY project, after all. But if they approach me with sound reasons for the changes and make a convincing argument, the changes will probably happen. And if I didn't respect their opinion enough to WANT to hear when they thought a change was necessary, I wouldn't have hired them for the job.

I don't understand why it would be any different just because the project is musical in nature.

And that's about all I'm going to say here. :) I don't operate a professional studio, and lack the clout to give much advice on such a subject.

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