Improving workflow is a term I always kind of scoffed at when I was working in an office environment, amongst several useless colleagues and desperately clinging to the idea that I was going to be a producer.
Luckily, I was taught those values of the workflow as my every day, now that producing is my full time, relies on them running my day to day smoothly; just in a different sort of way. Let me explain how I further clientele, speed up my turn around and have a consistent quality to my work that is what artists look for.
Templates - Using as a Guide, not a one mix does all
Templates are a great way to pull up a familiar mix of a session as a starting point. Think, if you find a new plugin you try out the preset for that plugin to find a rough ballpark of what sound you’re looking for, right?
The same applies for templates, except its 100’s of your own presets set into one mix, ready for you to start tweaking to fit the new band, rather than dialing everything from the start.
The key thing here, is to understand that no mix is the same - guitarists and vocalists are all different, and you want to throw in a different spice each time (think changing the snare, or the guitar/bass cabinets) to differ from the last mix that worked from this template.
After all, if you haven't done the perfect mix, then your experimenting to find the answers isn’t over quite yet.
Organization - Pre Production, Demos, and Time Management
Pre Production and demos are often taken as being the same thing, however, there’s a large difference - The Producer being involved. Demo’s are often what you ask of the band to get a good idea of the project genre, the essence of what the artist is looking for - this could be from a home studio, usually the guitarist of the band, or a poorly recorded practice session, or even a vocalist singing over the beat they’ve made or brought in a video they send.
Preproduction is the early points of the first takes, playing with ideas after consultation, or recording first takes with the artist to start building the song and making suggested chances you have.
A lot of the time, a mixing engineer, recording engineer and a producer are all bundled into one but are the producer it is your job to become the surrogate member of the band/artist and help guide them to better choices, unforeseen ideas you may have had to improve or help build upon their vision through years of experience.
You also have a hard job or telling them that something is a bad idea, or the song isn't quite there yet and to choose a stronger song for the sake of the release doing well. This is why Pre Production is so important to iron out these small changes and help the artist realize their full potential.
Time management then comes into effect. Once the session has started, you’ve quoted the on your time, and time = money for the artist and the label. Most artists will not want to pay for another day to finish their takes if there’s been a misquote, so it’s important to feel out the length of the sessions before you start (this comes from experience).
But the best thing you can do to keep to that schedule and keep the bands' moral high is by using a whiteboard and an X system to cross off each completed part of the songs. It helps you as the producer keep the focus on what needs to be done, as well as the artist, but it’s a simple way to keep score on who needs to do what, and when - the last part, How, is up to you to make sure they perform well!
Now we’re on to the sessions, you’ve completed the preproduction, pulled up your template, consulted the band on ideas and you’re ready to go. And as you start, you realize that time is being wasted due to the endless battle with microphone placement and sound you’re getting.
A builder can’t build a house with poor tools, and an audio engineer can’t produce good records without a good microphone - especially one that lends itself to several different tasks.
Without bias, the BH1 and the V67 are those tools, specifically designed for their natural and highly sought after characteristics, there's a never-ending plethora of tones to be found with these mics and they are yet to let any of our clients down.
A great example is Sean Genockey (The Who, Manic Street Preachers) who has been playing alongside Roger Daltrey for the last decade, as well as using the BH1 for the same length of time on every single vocal recording he’s done. The tools he has performed at the highest quality day in, day out, allowing him to have risen to his success’ thus far alongside his own incredible talent.
Alongside this integral part of capturing a good sound, the tools you mix with are integral to your sound, and also make up a vast majority of the sound you have within that template we spoke of earlier. Plugin Alliance has been a go-to for me for the last year, adding endless plugins to their list, namely the console emulations I’m yet to hear better versions of including the SSL 9000 E, G, and J, Lindell 80 Channel (Based off the old Neve consoles), Focusrites ISA Console, and many more.
Subscriptions are a great way to start off accessing the sounds you hear on records you love at a convenient price for the producers starting out, or further ahead like myself so make sure to check out their Mega Bundle, Mixing Bundle, and Artist Bundles.