How to convince your clients that you know what you’re doing (Part 1)

This is a guide to being respected, feeling valued, and creating personal brand ambassadors. Music producers work with artists from all walks of life. The artists have different skill sets and varying levels of experience. But, you’re the producer. You have A LOT of jobs to do. You manage the sessions, help structure the songs, place the microphones, get the tones, supervise the performances, edit the audio, stop the artist from making mistakes that they’ll regret later, and that’s just scratching the surface. Even with all of that in mind, I still see this as a dream job. But, there’s one thing that can quickly turn this dream into a nightmare.

Your clients!

Part 1 of this series explains how to spot the problem client.

Identify the person who will give you the most trouble. The problem clients come in several forms, but they are very easy to spot.

Here are the archetypes I most commonly see:

1. The know it all. This person has went to school for music. They have their nose up in the air while they explain their grasp on music theory.

2. The know it all audio student. This person is going to or has went to school for audio. He is probably the person telling you how to use the microphone you’ve owned for 6 years in a room that you spent months fine-tuning.

3. The hobbyist. This person will quickly say something like “That’s not how I do it in garage band.” Or “I read an article on what you’re doing. I should forward it to you.”

4. The idealist. This person will tell you how the record has to be produced with absolutely no real knowledge on the subject. Watch for statements that contradict themselves like “I want the drums to sound like they do on that Taylor Swift song, but there’s no way we’re using any drum samples. We have to record it live like Rage Against The Machine!”

5. The quiet leader. This person hides in plain site. The entire band defaults to his decisions, and look at him every time you ask a question about their music. He is comfortable being king of his small group, and he is waiting to see you fall in line so he can secretly run the session himself.

6. The too cool. This person has worked with other producers that he considers more high-end than you. He’ll spend most of the session telling you how good the other producer was while second-guessing everything you do. You may even hear something like “I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but I’ve been in the studio before.” Followed by him telling you how to do your job.

Have you dealt with any of these archetypes? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section.

Now you know how to spot the clients who are most likely to mess up your workflow, turn the band against you, and ruin what can be a great record. In Part 2, we’ll learn how to disarm these record ruining time bombs by gaining their respect and confidence.

If problem clients are a real worry for you, you’re not alone. I originally spoke about this subject with the interns I’m currently transitioning to producer roles. They’ve worked on dozens of records with me and are very capable of doing the job. What they’re worried about is dealing with difficult clients. Here’s what I told them…

Please check back for Part 2 on April 14th.


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