Making the Client Happy, is Only Half the Battle!!
I’ve heard many great engineers, producers and mixers refer to our industry as a “service” industry. As to say, our job is to service our clients. To give THEM, what THEY want. And I would argue that while that definitely is the case (an unhappy client isn’t coming back or telling their friends to record with you) it’s simply NOT the whole picture.
Our job is to also please the fans. The fans of this particular artist or the potential fans of the artist. It’s hard for us to be successful if they’re not successful too. So it’s important that we balance what the artist wants with what is actually good or wanted or in demand by the music listening public.
To take this a bit further. Often when I’m producing a record for a major label, I am made to keep many different “teams” happy. One is the artist. Another could be their manager. And finally, the label itself must be happy as well. They’re not releasing a bad record just because the artist and their management love it. So I’m juggling 3 different groups here. Except, as mentioned above, I add a 4th group into it. Again. The audience.
Our job is to give all of these groups the product that they’re looking for while also making a great record that appeals to the fans. Leaving them out is not only doing a disservice to the artist, but also doing a tremendous disservice to you. Because nobody hires the guy who makes the records that people don’t want to hear. No matter how happy the people involved were when they left the studio. It’s a bad career path.
Let me give you a real world example - When I wrote the song "Every Other Time" it was originally for my partner's rock band. When Rich from LFO (Boy Band) heard it, he loved it. He wanted to record it “as is”. I listened to what he wanted but I also felt he was wrong. He was just coming off the success of their last “Boy Band” record and a rock band sound wouldn't have made much sense to the people who loved their previous work. Even though, that is what HE wanted.
So I re-adjusted that song to meet him in the middle. If you listen to the track, it's very much like what Sugar Ray was doing at the time. Combining a band with a pop track. In the end, everyone liked it, it was successful but I didn't really listen to what Rich originally wanted. I made the record I knew he needed and I convinced him by producing the track and “selling” him on the idea.
So keep the audience in mind. Our job is always to keep the artist happy but sometimes the artist will be happier with a better production. And that might not be what they had in mind at first.
You can learn more by watching my videos at www.groove3.com
I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia