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Author Topic: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?  (Read 7825 times)

Jules

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Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« on: April 25, 2004, 06:21:24 pm »

OK I am pretty much a make it up as I go along hack producer. I DO organize pre prod, but not long periods.

Some of you guys here like to do WAY more pre production than I am used to.

I hear about pre production time span that blows my mind.

1 month - 2 months etc

The type of kids I work with would go OUT OF THEIR MINDS doing pre prod for that long...!!!

How do ya do it?

Can ya somehow bring us into the secret world of how long pre production goes?

Thanks

Hack Standen

jwhynot

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2004, 11:45:57 pm »

the term "pre-production" doesn't really have much meaning the way I work...

whether I've thought about it in advance or not, I almost always make arrangement and part changes as the tracks are going down - and afterwards as well.

I don't see an advantage to recording the 2nd time the band gets it right.

my time is usually as expensive as or more expensive than the studio's time.

I don't include writing time in my production schedule - if there's writing for me to do I do it face-to-face with my collaborator(s) and go straight to the studio once I have the plot.

all these points and more would make me tend to think that there is no pre-.  It's all production.

JW
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mwagener

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2004, 11:48:34 pm »

Jules

I have done everything from a month to no pre-pro at all with similar results in sales of those particular records. It all depends on how far along the artist is in the right direction of arrangements etc.

Also, keep in mind that pre-pro is done mainly to save studio cost. If there is an unlimited budget, heck, let's just go in and write the record at the studio. At $2,000/day for a studio that is not very likely with today's budgets, but if it comes down to doing the project at my own place, why not. I see it as a month long soundcheck and you never know, if  you hit record during pre-pro, you might get something that is great.

Many times it's also cheaper to bring the producer to the place where the band lives/rehearses, you only have to put up and fly one person instead of five with a lot of gear.

The main reason for pre-pro in my book is to be prepared in a way, that the musicians don't have to think about arrangements while they are actually recording and can concentrate on the feel side of things.

BTW: great to see you here.

Ross Hogarth

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2004, 01:41:15 am »

I think pre production as John Whynot points out is kind of a mis nomer.
but whatever the semantics, with a new band going in make their first record , I think time spent outside of the expensive studio getting things tight is crucial.
These days I always bring in my pro tools rig and record everything.
If for some strange chance something can be kept,then great.
Also in this new paradigm with the young heavy bands always building tempo maps and grids and making sure tempos are correct and keys are correct.
I work with drummer and make sure his kit is right .
I work with the guitar players on their sound .
The time I spend at $100 a day or less for rehearsal studio time, is priceless.
The band gets comfortable with me and I get to see them play live in a "studio" environment , but outside of the pressurized studio .
By the time we go in, I find that the comfort zone all the way round is better.
I also make sure that the songs that are working don't get overplayed and the songs that aren't working either get rewritten or scrapped in lieu of better songs.
Yes this is all production.
and extremely valuable time spent at that.
Now does this equate to more sales ?
I couldn't tell you really but since I think it makes for a better record if done right, I continue to believe in it.
I do believe again, WHATEVER WORKS !!
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Jules

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2004, 05:19:57 am »

I do rehersal room work. But after a point, personally I need to be hearing via some monitors in a control room, not in the same room.

I am getting inspired and ideas from this thread...

Interesting...

Fibes

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2004, 10:12:45 am »

Yeah, i'm coming at it from more of an indy perspective and i agree with the frustration Jules is finding can be a tough thing to deal with. It's also important to show the band before the studio lights are on what you can bring to the table, what needs work and as Ross said that you develop a relationship/comfort zone with the band before the pressure is on. Creating a strong unified front outside the pressure zone is always easier.

Yeas, whatver works but as of late when i'm doing stuff on a budget i have a method that takes us through pretty quickly and painlessly.

Step 1. Bring the band in and do a live to two track demo of all their songs without spending too much time on a take. I've done 25 songs in a day using this method. Give a copy to the band and throw one in your car/Ipod for some right brain listening. Things will reveal themselves to you and to the band, especially song length, performance, song strength etc. The two track also gives you something to edit/rearrange...

Step 2. It's now time for a practice room visit with notes and suggestions. Work out some stuff and give them homework.

Step 3. Hopefully by now the songs are whittled down to a manageable number and we have rhythm section practice. Sometimes i do this at the studio and other times it's done at the practice space. Having a two track helps to illustrate when they aren't kicking the donkeys ass. If the rhythm section can't play the songs without the guitars they need to go home and practice more. Sometimes a vocal is needed for this work.

Step 3.1-3.9. More visits to the practice room as required.

Step 4. Maybe one more live to two track demo before the  sessions start showcasing the work that's been done and double checking any rough spots. After some evaluation it's time for some touch up and...

Step 5. Track it after the band has it down.
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lucey

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2004, 11:20:46 am »

Small-time here, but an example:

I just did a slide guitarist/singer with a hired rhythm section pair (30 years together) and the pre-production was in the studio, no tape running, billed at a lower rate.

Basically one day walking around putting up mics and talking to them about tempos, tones and arrangements while they got to know the material and each other.

So it was a low pressure day for me yet I did get to hear them thru the monitors and tweak my set up.  I also made poignant comments at times and slowly began to oversee the whole work.

On the one hand I made less money but on the other it was a fun day that set-up the real tracking days.  And the results were really rewarding.  



Previous pre-prod was going to the bands rehearsal space and billing cheap, going over everything a 1/2 day per song. Getting to know e.o etc.
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jwhynot

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2004, 02:56:24 pm »

good points all -

still it's been years since I was billed $2000 for a day of studio time (except occasionally in a mix room).  if it's about the $ then sure, get some homework done.

ross - I like to pick tempos and work out bars and so forth in a rehearsal - it's just that I so often change my mind on the session that a fairly cursory approach while rehearsing is right for me.  this assumes fairly fleet fingers on ProTools (if you're using it, which I am).  I hear of people having long delays while tempos are worked out/bar maps are changed.  I haven't had that problem on my sessions.  probably the thing I like best about PT is the speed with which I can make changes in arrangment and so forth - which takes the handcuffs off as far as making the decision during the date.  the more integrated PT has become in my method the less detailed I need to be in preparation - and in particular the less worried I need to be about overturning a decision made before arriving at the studio.  I'm always in the hunt, but never chasing another version.  which I like.

also many of the people I have been working with are great players, who also spend a lot of time refining their material on their 001s.  it's not that I just take their demos wholesale and reproduce them (although sometimes that really is the best tactic on a particular song) but I find that artists who've spent some detailed time writing and making their home recordings are capable of working very quickly on changes, and can be more decisive about the material in general.

in which case I'd really rather be recording for real when it comes together.

JW
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Fibes

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2004, 03:18:40 pm »

jwhynot wrote on Mon, 26 April 2004 14:56

- which takes the handcuffs off as far as making the decision during the date.  the more integrated PT has become in my method the less detailed I need to be in preparation - and in particular the less worried I need to be about overturning a decision made before arriving at the studio.  I'm always in the hunt, but never chasing another version.  which I like.

JW



At some point you have to make a decision and stick to it, I understand the beauty of flex but also realize that music has suffered due to a lack of decision making in a timely fashion. Maybe I need a little more clarification but IMO the bands that kick ass in the studio leave nothing up to luck, they work the board until it's a game of inches and let divine inspiration come into the picture rather than blind luck. Sure i like spontaneity as much as the next guy, in fact i live by Can's law but i also live by commiting early and using your gut.

Can's law: (paraphrased) "Humans are imperfect, if humans are to obtain perfection it will come by accident, therefore we only improvise."
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natpub

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2004, 11:44:23 pm »

Greetings all,

I have had limited but similar situations to most those described. I agree that pre-production may be a semantic misnomer, but prefer to seperate the time in my mind, if not in fact, when not working at studio rates. Depending on the budget a project may have, the amount of demoing already done on selections, and the preferences of the artists, pre-pro time may be anywhere from 4-5 days to 4-5 weeks.

I realize as Jules points out that many artists would not like this, but that may be the nature of your clientele. If I am working as producer for a project, it may be a group, or a signer/songwriter thing, they often will not have a record deal yet, or a very small one only. They are pretty much looking to me to tell them what they need and how much it will cost.

Perhaps this would better be characterized as artist development and spec work, but it is done with the end goal of a completed CD or EP (seems to be the preferred shopping format lately) in mind.

Even if the project is being funded by a small label, most of them are being made with shopping to larger distributers in mind. I think having several days or more to work with arrangements is very helpful, and is to me critical for doing a good job. I applaud any of you who are more advanced that are able to do these tasks while paying the studio rates. As mentioned by most other respondants, having some kind of DAW to drag to rehersals seems to be the trend.

As far as charging, I believe it should be negotiated into the overall fee for production, and one would want a per diem if you have to go out of town and live where the band reherses--this would also include travel and lodging.


Cheers,
KT [here's hoping my sig works...has been broken so far]
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lucey

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2004, 12:27:30 am »

i forgot to say, and it may be off topic or redundant but:

be sure not to blow the best take in rehearsal no matter what you do


as i say often, beauty resists being captured, so it's usually one and done for the magic take of a song (or the pass of a mix engineer)

and it's damn near impossible to re-gain that level
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Brian Lucey
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mwagener

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2004, 12:48:27 am »

lucey wrote on Mon, 26 April 2004 23:27

i forgot to say, and it may be off topic or redundant but:

be sure not to blow the best take in rehearsal no matter what you do


as i say often, beauty resists being captured, so it's usually one and done for the magic take of a song (or the pass of a mix engineer)

and it's damn near impossible to re-gain that level

... and it wouldn't be the first time that a pre-pro or demo take ended up on the actual album Very Happy

jwhynot

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2004, 04:39:13 am »

>>At some point you have to make a decision and stick to it,

1.  Yes.  When you get it right, as producer you should recognize it and stop changing.  In other words the decisions you stick to would preferably be the good ones, right?

2.  When I recognize that i/we've got it right I'm happiest if it's either about to be or has just been recorded.  First time right = best time right.  In a great majority of cases.

3.  My main practical point being, absent a large financial advantage, I prefer not to do mock-ups or get great performances before I arrive at the studio.

Which is not at all the same as being indecisive.

In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't over-prepare.  But I don't dally on the session either.

>>also realize that music has suffered due to a lack of decision making in a timely fashion.<<

You think?  What music do you mean?  (I assume you're not talking about my records Wink )I hear more suffering caused by cookie-cutter approaches - generic over-production - dumbing down - superficial imitation.  In my experience these effects are not caused by an overabundance of spontaneity.

JW
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Fibes

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2004, 11:30:56 am »

jwhynot wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 04:39

>>At some point you have to make a decision and stick to it,

1.  Yes.  When you get it right, as producer you should recognize it and stop changing.  In other words the decisions you stick to would preferably be the good ones, right?

2.  When I recognize that i/we've got it right I'm happiest if it's either about to be or has just been recorded.  First time right = best time right.  In a great majority of cases.

3.  My main practical point being, absent a large financial advantage, I prefer not to do mock-ups or get great performances before I arrive at the studio.

Which is not at all the same as being indecisive.

In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't over-prepare.  But I don't dally on the session either.

>>also realize that music has suffered due to a lack of decision making in a timely fashion.<<

You think?  What music do you mean?  (I assume you're not talking about my records Wink )I hear more suffering caused by cookie-cutter approaches - generic over-production - dumbing down - superficial imitation.  In my experience these effects are not caused by an overabundance of spontaneity.

JW


Yeah first take magic is the best. If i'm doing pre-pro I want the band to walk in on tracking night ready to go. We spend a day or two getting sounds and getting comfortable but the red light is always on.

Yeah, cookie cutter crap and the likes causes great suffering but my point is that vision doesn'y happen at the post stage it happens early on. So many producers take the approach of stack it up and let CLA sort it out later. IMO a great production/arrangement is mixed at unity. Sure hindsight is 20 20 but I'm more interested in 200 200 and that comes in the pre-pro and conception stages.
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Chris Lambrechts

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2004, 04:12:04 pm »

mwagener wrote on Tue, 27 April 2004 06:48


... and it wouldn't be the first time that a pre-pro or demo take ended up on the actual album Very Happy


exactly what happened over here the other day. guitar track recorded during original demo ended up being used as the lead track for a song. Despite numerous efforts (2 sessions on 2 different days) from both engineer (myself) and producer (myself) and the guitar player (not myself) to get a better performance.

(note I didn't mention better sound ... not needed since after all I recorded the demo track too ...  Laughing )


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John Ivan

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2004, 10:34:32 pm »

Hi all;

I sometimes have young bands that come in with good tunes and they end up being nervous. More than one time, I have had them come to the studio with the idea that we will be doing pre-production/arranging .I of course will record every note they play. I will get sounds up and let the Tape roll and go back into the room with them and they think they are playing through the tune to rehearse it and it will often be the final track. On thicker R&B stuff,I like to do pre production because of all the synth stuff and vocal arrangements but, this is only when I'm producing.If I'm not, they pay the full rate to get all that happening. If they are not ready with this stuff,it's on them. I find that with rock and roll where the band is trying to get a tune down all together, the first takes are usually the best ones..

Ivan.......
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Ross Hogarth

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2004, 01:47:47 am »

Its great to see the discourse and how everybody has their own little twist on it.
I guess what it comes down to is seeing the job before doing the job.
If I could boil it down. One must have a plan before implementing it.
All situations being slightly different and unique to themselves , we must be pliant and malleable enough in our ways to be able to see each situation for itself and then choose a course of action. Not every band needs a lot of work and then not very band is going to walk in cold and nail it on a first take. The varying techniques and tools become the keys to unlocking great music and great performances on hopefully good/great songs.

I believe it is important to

See the Job
Do the Job
Stay out of the Misery ....
this is one of my favorite sayings .....

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Fibes

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2004, 09:16:59 am »

Ross Hogarth wrote on Wed, 28 April 2004 01:47

Its

I believe it is important to

See the Job
Do the Job
Stay out of the Misery ....
this is one of my favorite sayings .....




So true, I have another issue that popped into my head last night in regards to pre-pro. Pre album touring. You old folks remeber it well, ya know when bands used to work out their songs all over the country in front of different crowds and by the end of the tour they knew what worked. It was in an era when DJs laugheed at formats and the 6 minute song was not uncommon. The fact is the 6 minute song of yesteryear was worked over the coals for as long as it took in front of  real audiences.

Snap back to today, pre-pro is used to shoehorn unrehearsed talent and material into a formula. So in a nutshell give me the old fashioned grind method anytime.
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j.hall

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2004, 10:31:07 am »

when i'm in charge of "producing" or "recording" or both i do the same pre-pro every time.

"send me a CD, or cassette, of all the songs we are going to record.  i couldn't care less what it sounds like as long as i can hear the rough outline of the song."

i don't have time, nor budget, to sit around in practice spaces listening to songs at 110dB adding my relatively nieve comments every other take.

i typically have littel time between projects to stop and think, and i often times crunch mix sessions all around tracking sessions.

if i can drive around town with a CD playing, and get to the point where i stop listening and start hearing, i'm much more effective when communicating with the band.

one caveat to all that.......i work in the indie rock community, it is not acceptable to change a bands song structure, in any way, shape, or form with out prior conversations and agreement.  doing this on the fly will CRUSH any hope you might have in gaining trust, and working with the band again.

i'm there to motivate, get performances, suggest overdubs, get in their heads and force them think of the song from all angles.  i'm not there to tell them how to write, or what to play.  i ask for CD's so i can start forming my thoughts on each song and i can know the arrangement in advance.  keeps me from jumping around in the quiet part and standing still in the loud part.

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Fibes

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2004, 10:48:18 am »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 28 April 2004 10:31

when i'm in charge of "producing" or "recording" or both i do the same pre-pro every time.

"send me a CD, or cassette, of all the songs we are going to record.  i couldn't care less what it sounds like as long as i can hear the rough outline of the song."
i typically have littel time between projects to stop and think, and i often times crunch mix sessions all around tracking sessions.

if i can drive around town with a CD playing, and get to the point where i stop listening and start hearing, i'm much more effective when communicating with the band.

one caveat to all that.......i work in the indie rock community, it is not acceptable to change a bands song structure, in any way, shape, or form with out prior conversations and agreement.  doing this on the fly will CRUSH any hope you might have in gaining trust, and working with the band again.




Yeah the boom box in the car method is another way to get familiar too. Yes, fucking with peoples music is only at their suggestion. All too often the arrangements are bloated and intro heavy.
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John Ivan

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2004, 02:29:13 am »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 28 April 2004 09:31

when i'm in charge of "producing" or "recording" or both i do the same pre-pro every time.

"send me a CD, or cassette, of all the songs we are going to record.  i couldn't care less what it sounds like as long as i can hear the rough outline of the song."

i don't have time, nor budget, to sit around in practice spaces listening to songs at 110dB adding my relatively nieve comments every other take.

i typically have littel time between projects to stop and think, and i often times crunch mix sessions all around tracking sessions.

if i can drive around town with a CD playing, and get to the point where i stop listening and start hearing, i'm much more effective when communicating with the band.

one caveat to all that.......i work in the indie rock community, it is not acceptable to change a bands song structure, in any way, shape, or form with out prior conversations and agreement.  doing this on the fly will CRUSH any hope you might have in gaining trust, and working with the band again.

i'm there to motivate, get performances, suggest overdubs, get in their heads and force them think of the song from all angles.  i'm not there to tell them how to write, or what to play.  i ask for CD's so i can start forming my thoughts on each song and i can know the arrangement in advance.  keeps me from jumping around in the quiet part and standing still in the loud part.




In a way, this is a cool way to work.I do some rock bands that really don't want me messin' with the tune/arrangement and they are very much set in they're ways. I'm there to ,as you say ,motivate, come up with back-up vox,counter guitar lines and shape the tones. Other times I really co-write and only get credit for producing. How I get paid and/or credited for some of my input on this stuff is another thing I need to come to terms with when the new room opens. It can sometimes leave me confused.
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Fletcher

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2004, 06:47:44 am »

I always do 8-track demos of anything I'm "producing".  We'll do a bunch of rehearsal space time, go into a relatively inexpensive studio with a 24 trk deck or I'll bring my RADAR... then break it down into 8 track groups and blow down all the songs we've worked on.

If I run into a song where there are timeing issues, I can then take the drums from the 8 track and build loops the band can play to while tracking... or build a complementary percussion part the band can groove with while tracking [two different things that are there for similar purposes]... I can also experiment with some overdub ideas [quickly, nothing to stress over] to get a handle on what I want to do with each song.

By being prepared, I don't have to worry nearly as much about surprises when we get in to do the actual production... but by not over focusing, some wonderful magic isn't "pre-produced" out of the product.

Other than building loops and stuff like that, the 8 track demos never go anywhere but in my car... we NEVER play the demos in the CR with an eye 'can you do something more like you did on the demo'.

I also like to keep the quality of the demos at a reasonable level in case I have to lift something from them [usually when the band isn't there], or if the loops will actually be part of the finished production.... hey, ya never know... right?
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mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
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If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

Rob Darling

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Re: Pre prod time / money to pay for it?
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2004, 07:03:07 am »

Familiarity and comfort are everything, whether it is with people, processes, pieces of work- whatever.  In as big a process as making a record, you have to find where everone's comforts/discomforts are, and pre-production is the place to explore this.  What is the musician like as person, what is their time flow, when do they get cranky, hungry, burned out, excited, creative, motivated- you have to know everyone's limits and optimizations.  

I like to have a good amount of time available and not use it all.  It makes people feel like stuff got done and they are starting out ahead of the curve.  

I like to start by not working on new songs or even on the artist's own songs- there's a reason doctors don't operate on their own family.  If you're going to explore, don't do it on your babies.

It is only supposed to be fun- setting the tone that this beats the hell out of having a real job is absolutely key.

Just a few observations.

r.

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