thanks for doing this and the video series, very enjoyable!
My question is rather non-technical, could you please speak about the importance of mentorship (receiving one and being a mentor), especially regarding work ethic?
I’ve heard a lot about Tom Coyne being in the studio early and working fast, how do you structure your day and keep staying fresh while avoiding mental and creative exhaustion?
Thanks in advance!
I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the videos. I thought the folks at MWTM did a fantastic job.
Yes, I believe mentorship is a crucial part of growing any skill. I had the fortune of coming up in a few different studios surrounded by several engineers, many of whom I learned a ton from. These experiences were invaluable. Beyond that, it is important to always be working on your own as well; trying different things, messing around, etc. to see what works for you and allows you to convey what you like to hear. I learned a ton from Tom about mastering, about life, and about being a pro. He would start around 5 or 6 am and usually finish midafternoon. He was into golf, which gave him a way to blow off steam and put the day behind him, so he could start fresh the next day. It’s important to have a discipline about work as much as possible and a discipline about time away from work. Getting up early gives you time to yourself in the morning to take care of yourself – exercising, reading, meditating, etc. I only started doing it a few years ago and it’s been a game changer. Then I’ll work from 9-1, leave the studio for an hour for lunch, then work 2-7 or so. I take breaks throughout the day, usually after each song to reset. I’ll go through about 12 songs a day on average, so it kind of happens naturally. Hope this helps.
Hi Randy, thank you for your thourough answer, this is much appreciated!
Do you find yourself incorporating habits that you observed your mentors like Tom having over time?
My mentor has been doing this thirty years longer than me and I recognize behavior creeping in from time to time, mostly important and helpful stuff.
Yes, absolutely, I find myself incorporating habits and mastering techniques I learned from mentors like Tom and others I had before him. I also learned about how to interact with clients, especially from Tom, whose outlook was and whose outlook I share is that our jobs are service oriented, so working to make the client happy is paramount whether or not I personally agree with their vision. Avoid arguing or justification, but instead direct all energy towards coming up with solutions to achieve the clients’ requests, regardless of my own personal opinion. Easier said than done, but with practice will become second nature, like any habit. And never underestimate what you think people can or cannot hear.
Thanks again, Randy, this all reads easily relatable to me.
Could you elaborate on what you learned from mistakes in the past (either done by you or that you observed), obstacles to avoid in terms of communication during the process?
It’s important to not argue with or justify yourself to your clients. If they hear something they don’t like, it’s our job to change it into something they do like, whether it falls into our preferences or not. Even though it’s difficult, in most cases I’ve learned something in the process. Sometimes clients will keep coming back to you simply because you’re easy to work with and accommodating to their requests. I’ve learned to never underestimate what people can hear. As ME’s we have to remember that we only spend a fraction of the time working on the song as the artist, engineers, producers and mixers have, so they are generally deeper in tune with the song than we are, so it’s important not to make assumptions about what changes they are or are not able to hear, no matter how subtle. In order to satisfy some clients in the past, I’ve had to even make small moves like changes sample rate conversion or dither because the one(s) I was using changed something in a way they didn’t like. These are rare occurrences but eye opening and informative. So, it’s good to take criticism as a means of learning and broadening your skill. It never feels good to receive it, but in almost all cases I end up agreeing with the client regarding the needed change in the sound. Hope this helps.