Control. It’s not an easy thing. Everyone wants it in one way or another, and it can do strange things to people. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to know how much to seek, and when.
Take, for example, the relationship between artist and the other players in the recording process. If we look at it from an “assembly line” point of view, the musicians come into the studio, play their parts, and leave. The mix engineer is responsible for capturing those sounds properly and mixing them. Then, he/she hands it off to the producer, who plays with the sounds captured and potentially adds new ones. Once that’s done, it’s handed off to the mastering engineer, and the final product is ready for press.
Of course, this is far from a real world scenario. Along the way, the artists want to give input into how the record is mixed, produced, and even mastered. As a guitar/bass/keyboard/percussion player, your expertise may lie primarily in playing your instrument, but as a musician or member of a band, musicianship extends to artistic expression on a larger scale.
This can lead to disagreements, and when it comes time to figuring out who has the ‘final say,’ it’s a matter of role definition and – you guessed it – control.
So how do you tackle this?
It’s important to remember that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Identifying your strengths is often much easier, but it’s the latter that is often more important. The main role of a producer is to take the songs he or she is presented with, work out an overall ‘vision’ for the album, and make the two meet. That’s a difficult task that not everyone can achieve, and even MORE difficult to define.
However, if you recognize someone who has experience or expertise in this specific, it’s vital that you allow them creative space to work. This doesn’t mean allowing them ‘free reign,’ but it does mean that they’re the experts who’s ‘say’ should hold more weight.
That may sound scary, but in reality, it all comes down to trust. If you chose a producer whose work you respect and trust, you should feel comfortable letting them take the lead. If you don’t, you might want to re-evaluate your choice.
This applies to other aspects of your career, too. In general, you should be the leader of your career at all times. Just make sure that you leave room for others to be in control from time to time, in the areas where THEY shine, and you’ll find that everyone will benefit.
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