Engineers; CONSIDER THIS before mixing a record
To the artist, producer, label or music supervisor;
Whether you're the one creating music or a working on an artist's music we all have one common goal. To achieve the BEST results. For an engineer, this means being the best engineer they can possibly be. How one qualifies "the best" is a matter perspective;
The engineer with the most projects under their belt;
The engineer with the most accolades;
The engineer with the biggest gear collection;
The most technically proficient skill set.
All these things, are not qualities which accurately qualify the success of best engineer for your project. The best engineer is the one that doesn't tell you what you want to hear, but LISTENS to what you NEED & WANT from a project, then "engineers" a game plan to achieve them.
The Artist's Struggle
I know the uphill battle, an artist, with a vision who wants to get it down and on the board, to their listeners. The process of creating a record isn't something that happens over night, it's one that can involve multiple parties and requires a level of respect, because this is something an artist engages with for the long haul up and until the release date...
To the engineer;
It's important to recognise the lifecycle of creating a record and how we are needed to facilitate taking what's inside an artists head and translating that into something tangible.
The Critical Questions
Here are some of the critical questions I use in a project to set my self up for being the best engineer on my clients projects.
What can it sound like? It's difficult for someone to say "mix it", and I run out of the blocks knowing where to go, asking for direction on what it CAN sound like is a critical part to recognizing the key needs and wants to achieve the clients vision they have in their head.
What can't it sound like? People dislike different foods, colours and drinks. In the same manner, their are things they don't like the sound of, creating this boundary or line in the sand allows me to recognise exactly what people DO NOT want.
Who will hear this music & why it's important to them? If a phat beat is played in the woods and no one is there to hear, what does it sound like? This is critical, knowing their audience and why they engage with your clients music directly dictates the needs of the material at hand and how it may be presented.
What are you trying to communicate with the music? Music is the universal language, each and every artist has a reason for creating the music they do, and recognizing the key aspects of what they're wanting to communicate plays directly into my hands of knowing their WANTS.
Where and how will it be heard? This is very important, music doesn't exist on the play button, it exists and inhibits listeners lives in different ways. Recognizing where and how it does that is critical information to how us as engineers present and formulate the best presentation of our clients vision.
What is your timeline? Accountability is very crucial to the professional satisfaction of any client, allowing things to linger on for months on end with no deadline in sight is dangerous. Set boundaries, stay accountable, this way you can focus on the big picture of achieving the goals, needs & wants of your client.