Recording Artist Advocate: Artistry and Craftmanship...

These are my opinions. Yours may differ.

I know artist who are not great craftsmen. They write great songs but don’t play well – or need help moving things around to make the song flow better.

I know great craftsmen who have honed their skills to near perfection, but they don’t have the creative side down.

Both are necessary and even a great artist who plays well and sequences a song well can benefit from a craftsman who helps realize their vision. I’ve been there when an artist changed the way they performed a song because a studio musician offered an improvement. Good songs have become hits because of a small changes.  

You should always be trying to improve. Part of that is a willingness to take advice. Yes you are the artist, but a craftsman may improve your project. You don’t have to do what they suggest, but at least listen.

Artist and craftsmen. Working together.

That’s the good side. An artist who pays attention to the world around them.

The bad side, or the sad side, is the artist who is so locked into their original vision that they won’t. You may know someone like this.

One word or overused phrase can turn off the audience when another would connect with them. Be willing to find those things you could improve.

The distance between success and not even being invited back may hang on a single word.

Recording Artist Advocate: Making the most of the time you have.

You need to make hay while the sun shines, or is it cut hay – Well, you know what it means.

There are only so many hours in the day and you still need to take time to practice and write and sleep somewhere in there.

How do you make the most of your time?

One thing I found was that we were taking too long to get the mix right. Everything down to 200Hz or so was right, but the very low stuff was still hit-or-miss. The kick drum and bass relationship is critical.

It meant seeking out professional help. It also meant admitting I needed the help – and being willing to pay for it.

Are you willing to accept that you may need help?

For me it was admitting that the things I had built just weren’t enough to handle those low frequencies. I put a lot of work in and it was hard to tear out and start over.

Are you hanging on to something?

I’m glad to say mixing goes much faster now and everyone in the room hears the same thing. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap to get here.

There will always be one more thing – that’s the nature of things. When you reach a new level you see the next level to achieve.

Another thing I’m realizing is that there’s just too much going on to keep posting weekly. It feels like I’m starting to repeat myself and there just isn’t enough time. I've been holding onto the idea that quantity is important when it's really quality that matters more.

Here at Rough Wood “good enough” isn’t good enough. It’s worth it to dig in and find that better vocal phrase - move those late bass notes or drum hits – or the other small things that would eventually drive clients crazy. Our work still depends on the artistry and craftsmanship of the writers and musicians, but we have a part to play too.

Look at your life and career and see if you're holding onto something you could get rid of to focus on more important things.

I decided to start my own studio after hearing several artist tell horror stories about the shady studios they had to record in. Vibe killing engineers - never delivered projects – missed opportunities. I set out to build Rough Wood with those artist experiences in mind.

So, less blogging for me means more time working on your project.

I'll still add posts, but much less frequently.

Come see us at Rough Wood Recording Studio. Lets make something great together.

Recording Artist Advocate: What do they say about you - when you are not in the room?

I’m hearing that attributed to several different business leaders; “What people say about you is your brand.”

It’s one of the most important questions you need to know the answer to. And it is something you have a great deal of control over.

Do people say you put on a great show, or do they tell their friends about the time you got drunk and started calling out people from the stage?

Do they say you show up on time or how they never know when, or if you’ll show up?

Do you take care of your equipment or always have breakdowns or missing cables?

These are all things you have almost absolute control over. You know your limits and how to stay sober – You have a clock and alarm. – You can go through your gear and plan ahead.  

And if something does go wrong, you deice how to react. How you react will be remembered more than anything else. Get upset and start blaming, or have a sense of humor and resolve to do better.

As for me, I can truly say that whenever something failed royally, I had the opportunity to fix it – often several times, but put it off. I had to realize it came down to me.

So, young grasshopper, learn from the mistakes of others and take charge of how people remember you. It is a reflection of who you actually are. Be better and people will say good things – even recommend you to others.

That’s how you become successful or fail. It's up to you. 

Recording Artist Advocate: The power of being nice...

Google Andrew Scheps. Look for videos where he is just talking to someone.

You will get the impression he is a really nice guy. Genuine and articulate, but more than anything he is very competent and able to connect with people.

I don't know if he works at that or if it comes naturally. But I want to be like that.

As successfull as he is, I'll bet there are people who want to work with him just because he's so easy to be around. I know there are people I don't want to work with just because they arent. 

So, assess yourself. Are you easy to work with. You may need to ask someone else this.

If you are, that's good. It's basic to your success. If you arent; what can you do to get there? 

A small change in your attitude can come back to you in more ways than you expect. I'm not saying to be a pushover, but do what you can to be nice. Leave a good impression. Be active about it.

Think of the word : attractive.  We think it means "good looking"...  but a magnet is attractive.

When you are nice - easy to work with - you are like a magnet to other people. 


Recording Artist Advocate: The mental game of expectations

Somewhere in the past I have a really good post about spiraling up... as opposed to spiraling down. It comes from a commedian - slash - motivational speaker who realized he could go in front of an audience expecting a great show or a bad show... and he would usually get exactly what he expected. So he started going in expecting a great show. 

As I recall, he started even thinking about how he would be at ease and the audience would start to feed off him. No detail was too small or specific. He said it became like remembering backwards. He would look at a future event as if he was remembering the details. 

The take-away is that the better he expected the show to go, the better it went.

Now he also has to write good material and do his homework, and you do too. You can't neglect practice or writing and expect to just wing it with a good attitude... but some successfull people do that.

Set yourself apart by working harder than the rest AND expect the best.

You will find what you look for... what you expect.