I had an email exchange with a client earlier this week I thought I’d share with you.
Mike has hired me to mix and master a few of his songs as well as record and produce some from scratch. As with a lot of my clients, Mike doesn’t live in Nashville, so we do all our work remotely. Mike expressed to me in a recent email that while he loves writing and recording songs, he hates “the drudgery of long hours of filling a song out with virtual instruments when I can’t play the real instrument at all or very well.”
That really struck a chord with me. So many people I interact with struggle with the same thing, but they don’t really know it. They think that just because they can do everything on a project, that means they should.
Here’s a part of my reply to Mike:
* * * * *
You obviously have a desire to record, but you also recognize that there are parts of the process that aren’t as inspiring (or efficient) as others. This is why I encourage people so much to collaborate. While I hope some people will want to collaborate with me and my friends and hire us, that’s not the real reason why I push that so hard. The real reason is what you wrote. You hate the drudgery of forcing yourself to do things you’re not good at.
I go through phases of reading a lot of business books and paying attention to business leaders and consuming their content. One theme that comes up a lot is that business owners should focus on their strengths and outsource their weaknesses. Now, you can’t always do that. For example, I don’t love editing all my videos and getting them scheduled and posted on YouTube, Facebook, etc…but it only takes an afternoon and then I’m done for the month, so it doesn’t make sense for me to hire someone (or maybe it does??). But if it took me days to do it, days that I could be doing something I’m actually talented at and enjoy doing, well then that’s where it starts to make sense, from a financial and productivity standpoint.
What’s the point? I encourage musicians to collaborate because real, good musicians will do the job better AND faster than you, especially when you work with people who live and breathe music. It just comes out of them almost effortlessly, because it’s all they’ve done, day in and day out, for the last couple decades.
My kid asked me why I take him to a barber and pay them to cut his hair. I told him because even though I could technically cut his hair, they do it better and faster, and that’s worth the $12 or whatever it costs. It’s a worthwhile investment.
SO…either way you’ll have to invest something (either time or money) to get these songs where you want them. Time (although insanely valuable) won’t cost you money. But there’s a chance you’ll put in all this effort only to have a mediocre result. Money will get you better results quicker AND will free you up to focus on the parts of the process you DO like, which will get the results you want faster and move you towards your bigger goals faster.
I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but it’s not. I’m just laying it out there. You have a finite amount of time and money. How you allocate it is completely up to you, but I can tell you when I’ve shelled out for really good talent I’ve almost never regretted it.
* * * * *
Sometimes you just gotta do everything yourself, but I encourage you to work with people who are better than you…JUST to experience it.
Home Studio Corner
P.S. Need help on a project? Whether it’s basic production advice or critiques or something more in-depth, I’d love to talk about it. Leave a comment and tell me what you’re up to.