It’s absolutely OK, and thank you. I didn’t want to mess up Paul’s song thread and again appreciate that he was kind enough to allow it. I’m actually going to delete my thread there with the songs.
Glad you liked it, thank you. Yeah once I got the OK from the client to do it myself, I totally did what I would do. But the original scratch tracks that I sold him on were geared more towards him redoing the song using the new image I had provided.
What stinks is, I have several situations where I’ve stepped in and taken something to a different or more intense place…but once we make up our minds as to what we’re gonna do, we get rid of the original idea and the scratch tracks. And usually the client doesn’t want to share “what it was” once it turns into “what it has become”.
The cool thing about anyone in this position is, you can print up a few tracks to show someone what you hear them doing. It’s OK if they say no. To be honest though, it’s rare for me to step in and say “hey, I’m going to totally rewrite your song”. As a matter of fact, I’ve only done that two times in my whole life and this was one of them.
I wanted to share the other one with you, but it was another situation where the band was going for one thing, I heard something else, so I pitched it to them. It’s probably the weirdest, yet catchiest rock/metal tune I’ve ever done. The band passed on my idea but again, I got a totally cool song that I can use on my own.
But upon thinking, it’s not a good representation of what we’re talking about here. Producers DO in fact step in and add parts to songs and even write the songs with the artists. But I’d rather show you something where the song started out as one thing, and then because of my ideas, me and the client turned it into something else.
I have a band I worked with recently that used one of those Grammy winning guys that was pitching his services on facebook. The client who is actually a good friend of mine now, takes the bait. This well known producer and engineer takes him on for $insanity per hour. My client goes to his studio, does his thing for 5 songs and sits with them for a while. He calls me on the phone and at the time, we were just respected friends. (now he’s become my brother.) He asks if I can make the stuff sound better through mastering it.
I asked him what was wrong with it and he said it just wasn’t sounding like a $insanity per hour recording and he was actually unhappy. I told him mastering won’t always fix something you simply don’t like and that I wanted to hear the stuff on my gear to evaluate it.
He comes over and we play the stuff. I cringe not only at what I heard but by what I see! Tracks squashed and obliterated with limiting to the point of degraded audio. It just sounded so bad for that to come from such a big name guy, I was truly astonished. I asked him why he didn’t come and record with me and he said he thought all I did was mastering. Lol!
Long story long, I gave him a super reduced rate because I really felt sorry for the guy. We tried to use the tracks but most were unsalvageable. We re-recorded all the tracks we needed to, and I added my input or as he likes to call it “my DNA” to the tracks and man, what a difference from what they were verses what they had become.
He’s totally happy and doing the next album with me where he’s given me full control over assisting and I’m playing rhythm and lead guitar on it. My reason for this…
He has some garage band tracks that he did to pitch the songs. I wanted to see if he would allow me to share one or two and then share what we did as the final. So let me contact him and see what we can do. I think THAT would be a totally relevant way to help further discuss this as it is the artist literally applying my changes to his material.
At the end of the day though, music is and always will be subjective. What one feels is the better option may not be the case when another pair of ears with a mind for music gives a listen.
Our jobs as producers will always vary from client to client but first and foremost, we have to totally accept their vision for what it is, not what we want it to be. From there you make sure the artist is giving you their best and you can even coax them or coach them leading by example.
The other side of the coin is, a lot of times you’ll run into artists that DO want your input. The idea there is to try not to change them unless you hear something that is truly remarkable. I have quite a few of these moments with the client I mentioned above. Times where we rewrote a chorus, changed harmonies to something else, rewrote a solo passage, added a bridge that wasn’t there, special effects…the list goes on and on.
But, you have to really be connected to the artist and have their trust. It’s much like a relationship with a significant other. You know how once you trust in each other, the sky is the limit? Same here. Each situation is different though and you just have to do your best with each one. You learn from them, they learn from you, and as long as you’re not trying to push your agenda in attempt to get your name on their material, they love you.
When you have the right connection with them, they have no issues adding your name to their material when they know they couldn’t have done it without you. Me, I’ve never wanted songwriting credits on their songs. I’ve just always been happy to be a part of it so I can share in their happiness as well when we’re all done. Seeing their faces happy are the equal to children happy at Christmas. When that happens, you know you’ve been successful.