South Tampa Sound

Defining Your Dream: Knowing Your Goals and Learning How to Get There

2018-04-07

A typical interaction for many first-time production clients goes like this: the engineer arrives on site to record a demo for a punk rock band. The band has booked 4 hours of production work, so the engineer arrives an hour early to setup equipment and perform sound checks. When it is time to begin, he asks, "What is the name of the first song we are going to record?" The response is usually something like, "Well, we just thought we would run through our entire set list and then pick the best sounding songs for our demo after listening to all of them." The set list consists of 20 songs which they have, no doubt, worked tirelessly to perfect. Image the dissapointment when they are told that, unfortunately, there is absolutely no way to professionally record all 20 songs in the 4 hour block they booked.

Notice the use of the word "professionally," which is extremely important in this context. Professional recording takes a lot more effort than simply running through the set list. There are a number of factors that will require multiple takes, individual performances, and other nuances that bands rarely factor in. For example, you will never produce a professional demo using the vocals from a live performance. The instruments simply create too much background noise that will inevitibly be captured in the singer's microphone. In all cases, the original vocal track is removed and re-recorded after the fact. This is done in a sound proof environment in order to get the most clear and concice recording possible. Only then are we able to properly mix and master the final product.

The above scenario is precicely why we meet with all of our clients prior to beginning a project. Setting clear expectations on both sides is extremely important in production work, not only to organize the session, but to make sure the client received the product they are hoping for. This is one area where failing to clearly define your goals will hinder your efforts to achive them, or increase timeframe and cost to do so. We typically inform clients that for a demo, one hour per song is usually sufficent. When the client inevitibly pushes back, stating that the song is only 2 minutes long, we are happy to take the time to explain the multiple takes and individual overdubs that will be required to produce a professional product.

One of the most important things we do for our production clients is aligning their goals with realistic expectations according to the necessities of the production process. After all, you are hiring a professional for their knowledge and expertise in the field. Clearly define your goals and let them guide you down the path to success. Putting your faith in professionals will help you actually achieve your dreams rather than just wasting time and money.