It’s nice that you want to give your local producer a bunch of extra money but, after the 5th hour of you sitting in on a mix session, I’m sure they’d rather be doing something else (like bathing the elderly).
Plus, if you’re a musician, we know that:
- You’re poor
- You make terrible life choices
So save yourself some money, impress your producer and start making some better life choices by not doing these things…
1. Spending Too Much Time On Guitar Tones
If you’re the guitarist/main songwriter and this band is your vanity project, I know you really want to spend the whole day parsing every tiny detail of the guitar’s EQ curve.
But here’s the thing. With all of the Axe-Fx, Kemper, Bias and Helix options out there, you can basically shit-out a good distorted guitar tone in under 10 minutes. If you can’t, you’re fucking up.
Admittedly, if you’re doing it like your grandpa did (using those mics and cab things) it might take a little bit longer.
The point is to stop once you get a tone you like. You can then A/B it against something if you really want to make sure that you’re not way off base or something.
But, unless there is something seriously wrong with what you’ve got, you probably shouldn’t start over. Whatever tone you make next won’t be better, it’ll just be different, and now you’ve primed yourself to end up settling on your first tone anyway.
Any extra amount of time spent here will be an ever-increasing slippery slope of (ultimately inaudible) perfection chasing. Plus, those “super important subtleties” you’re adding will probably just be negated once the guitars are sitting in a full mix.
2. Not Practicing Your Songs Before Entering the Studio
You may think you’re ready for the studio once you’ve tabbed an album of material into GP5. But there’s another step.
You’ve gotta learn your stuff.
Every time someone needs to get punched-in to that same part (that no one has evidently ever actually played/sung/heard before) you’re throwing money down the drain.
Want to be super smart with your money and time and make BFFs with your engineer? Just go in and play everything first try.
3. Not Writing Your Songs Beforehand
Same as not practicing. But worse.
The amount of music a band has written before they walk into the studio has an inverse relationship to the amount of money they spend. See Figure 1.
Figure 1: Money/time spent in the studio vs. number of pre-written songs
The take away is: if you walk into the studio with no material, like a rock star, you’ll end up paying the rock star rate.
4. Attending Mix/Master Sessions
Don’t do it.
5. Having Poor Communication in the Studio
You have to be on the same page as your producer/mixer/engineer. As soon as you book time, you guys are joining together as a team.
Teams have goals and they have a game-plan to get there. But everyone on the team has to be looking for the same thing in the finished product or you’re gonna be on different game-plans and, ultimately, different teams.
If you aren’t happy with how things are going, speak up. The producer is there to work in your best interests, but they can’t read minds. Also, it’s just way easier to change things if they are brought up early. Late changes come at a premium.
But by the same token, don’t be a dick and ask for multiple mix revisions with .03dB up/down changes to the hi-hats. That shit doesn’t matter.