Article : Etiquette : The importance of healthy relationships in the Music Business
Updated: Jun 19
In this article we are going to give some valuable insight into the inner dynamics of working in the studio and how you can make the most out of your time working around others in the Music Business.
Our focus today will be both musicians/artists and producers/audio engineers and we will be building on both why healthy relationships in the studio are vital and secondly; how that can be built over time.
We will explore the perspectives of musicians/artists, audio engineers and producers and how the inner dynamics work.
Musicians in the Studio:
Firstly we will address the perspective of artists and musicians. For an artist, their experience in the studio can vary depending on the regularity and actual experience working in the studio.
An experienced artist/musician will usually have a broader perspective on the inner workings of the studio so runs into less of the hick-ups. But for artists (independent or signed means little here) with little to no experience, there are often assumptions made based on a deep lack of understanding about the field broader than what is understood in popular culture.
Studio sessions in pop culture:
Many tend to get their perceptions of what an Audio Engineer does directly from pop culture; mostly because that's the most reference-able place most people have to refer to where they have seen an Audio Engineer working.
Practically speaking, when we think about mainstream/Hollywood accounts of an audio-engineer, the task in itself seems non-primary, somewhat unimportant in the grand scheme of 'the music' and the focus is placed largely on the artists and occasionally the producers on being the creative force in the studio.
More than often you will hear artists 'directing (Or yelling at) the audio engineer' and telling them how things need to be done.
Studio sessions in reality:
In Reality, a professional studio experience is completely tailor made around the Engineers standards and workflow. At the recording stage at the very least, the Engineer plays a key role in arranging artists, directing an artists delivery, key, pitch and notifying the artist if they need to re-take.
In this respect, artists are heavily dependent on an Audio Engineer to capture their music in the best way possible. It isn't simply a matter of button pushing, rather understanding the feelings, principles and theories that come together to make music that is palatable to many.
To the experienced artist, the studio is both a place of focused work and moments of play, to an inexperienced creative, the studio is essentially their playground, they have seen a bunch of famous musicians getting 'wasted' in the studio in movies/documentary/music videoand they imagine that this is where inspiration is meant to be drawn from.
That is not to take away from anyone's individual tastes as an artist; remember art is to some extent just a matter of opinion. It is to say that many people enter the studio already with misconceptions about 'how things work'.
Audio Engineers; , with our own experience we have witnessed, artists and producers that haven't the slightest clue that Audio Engineering is actually a discipline which combines science, music and maths in order to make a song compatible and listenable on all platforms.
They often perceive the Engineer as "just using Logic" because the software is so accessible and common, anyone can record and export vocals on a beat and call themselves an Engineer.
Where it gets complicated is that whether that "Engineers" music will be universally playable and at a quality standard that meets the demand of major outlets/platforms is another matter.
This is where we find the most common point of tension in the studio occurs, because the equipment is so popular and the entry level to Audio Engineering is so accessible, there is often a lack of boundary/respect exercised by some artists/musicians.
Any experienced Audio Engineer will testify to the fact that their "worst results" always come out of working with clients who over-instructed/believed they knew the Engineers job better than the Engineer because they worked at a Studio where they saw another Engineer do things differently.
The problem with this (and many experienced studio animals will testify); means nothing. In each session, an experienced Engineer will have anything from 5 to 20 different technical process they will run through to achieve their desired quality.
What you hear as an artist while they are on stage 3 will not be the end result and trying to direct a professional whilst in their process will only disrupt their workflow.
The solution is simple and really does make a dramatic difference (Thank us later), communicate, and do so 'before hand'.
What you communicate is key, we have found the most effective structure to be to have a 5-10 minute conversation about the song and the desired direction before hand as well as agreeing to go over your preferences after the Engineer has done their job.