By Tim Dolbear
Over the last 30 years, since joining my first 'Pro' rock band, on through some touring, studio work and then on to owning Eclectica Studios and working full time as a producer for the last 16 years, I have learn a lot of things about people, musicians, egos, pride, and artist. I have learned a few thing about who we pick to work with, or your 'team'. I wanted to share a few things that I hope will help you out as you work in this strange industry full of musicians, producers, wannabees and professionals.
Who you choose to work with.
You have to remember that you do not have to work with the person you are currently working with, unless there is a gun to your head, you are free to move on. If its not working, cut and run. Or in a blink of the eye, 20 years will have gone by and the ship you hoped to be on will have sailed.
There is no time for drama, druggies, alcoholics, nut jobs, prima donna... And you need people who understand your vision and are at or above your level of talent. Above your level is really what you need to be striving for. Team members that are 'above' your level help you strive. Teaming up with people below you will usually drag you down to their level.
I understand that change is hard sometimes, but moving to a situation that fits you better is always worth it. And it can be quite inspiring too.
Choosing a studio engineer.
Find someone who gets you and your music and will put the time into achieving what you are paying them to do. If they are not the most knowledgeable person about what you are hiring them to do, don't hire them. Why would you? Their lack of knowledge will cost you money and time and cause all sorts of stresses.
Find someone with proper experience and not just credits. Gold records and a Grammy do not equal experience. I know, as a trainer for Sequoia now for 5+ years, I am still amazed at the lack of experience and knowledge some of the people I've trained have, yet they have Gold and Platinum albums hanging on the wall.
Picking studio musicians and players.
I always say, let the professional do what they do best, and with session musicians and players you always get the best results by doing this.
For example, I give a drummer the basic grooves that I need him to lay down, then I let them do that voodoo that he do so well. This is what they do, and their enhancements to my basic ideas will be way better then what I could have envision, you know?
I have played guitar on hundreds of releases, you probably know my background. I was tracking an acoustic guitar solo on a song and the client instructed me to the point were it sounded like a horrible solo done with a keyboard. They even at one point said "I don't think it should be played like that, a guitar player wouldn't do that."
Other clients have brought me simple solos to redo that they had played but wanted done better, but then would not let me do anything other than note for note exact reproduction of what they did. Imagine what the song and solo could have been like if they had allowed me to do my thing.
I'll leave you with this.
Remember if you have chosen a person to be part of your team, you need to trust what they do, otherwise you really do not have a team and you will be unhappy and frustrated, along with frustrating everyone around you through out the project.