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Solicited advice on recording and the process…

by Steve Sobiech on February 19th, 2015

Below is what I wrote a client, thought there were some universal nuggets in it that apply to us all.  See what you think.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  I want your best out of you, and will cheerlead you as much as you’ll allow me.  I may not be the prettiest cheerleader, but I think I have the perfect cheer.  Try not to gag there, bottom line, I’m for you as the artist, I want what’s best for you and your song.  And this letter is as much for me as it is for you.


Hi wonderful client,
There are lots of effects I can do to the song, but they don’t always add to the sound.  I can tune some parts, but they will sound auto-tuned, the more out of tune they are, the more it will sound like I tuned them up.  I can move words and phrases more in time, but once again, the more they are not in time, the more it can sound like things have been moved.  Neither of these are bad in themselves, nor good, just depends what you want.  The easiest parts to move and tune are the background vcls, these usually don’t bother the ear.  So I tuned up the oohs and aahs, moved and copied them, there’s no problem there.  I can start tuning up the lead vcl a bit, but that’s kind of tricky, because there’s only so much that can be done before the ear notices it and doesn’t like it.  Unless, of course, you want the effect, which is on so many current songs (almost all?), then it’s all cool.
So, to answer your question about what effects can be done, lots, some, and none.
The following is my opinion, feel free to tell me what you want/think.  It’s your song, and I want it to be the best it can be.  For me, the most important aspect of your song is 1 – the message, and 2 – the emotion/delivery.  There can be all kind of mistakes, problems with intonation and time, but if the message and emotion are there, the problems don’t matter at all.  This is your first recording in a while, it sounds great, you will be your worst judge of it, nothing is perfect, expecting it to be perfect is being too hard on yourself.  The next song you do will be better, the next even better, then next…  I think the most important thing to do is to finish, it won’t be perfect, but it will be done.  Maybe you would have wanted to do one thing or another, but we all do, and beyond a certain point, it will just drive you crazy, you won’t finish it, no one will get to hear it.  The phrase I heard from you several times was about getting this out so others could hear it, that it could help some people that are lost.  If you don’t finish it, no one will hear it.  Because you expected yourself to be perfect.  That’s impossible for you and everyone else of this world.
Let me send you another version of the song, my mix, listen to it, then let it go for a few days, then come back to it and listen again.  If the message and emotion are there, but it’s not perfect, you’re done.  You did it, and you should congratulate yourself a little, then move on to the next.  This song was great.  Your next song will be better.
If, after letting it go for a while, you still think the mix has a problem with the message or emotion, that you can’t live with, then you need to make a solid plan, a comittment set in stone, no improv, no chance, practice every note and word until it’s second nature, set up a time, and we fix only what was planned to be fixed.  Then we’re done, you congratulate yourself a little bit, and move on to the next.  This song was great.  Your next song will be better.
Get it out there, play it in church, put it on youtube, vimeo, soundcloud, email it, facebook it, give to friends, put it on iTunes, CDBaby, Bandcamp…  And then move on to the next song.
The last part of my sermon –  you, as the artist, have the BS card, so, at any time, you can play that card on me, tell me what you want and think, and you will be right, ok?
I’ll get my mix to you later today.
Talk to you soon,

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