“Thou shalt not steal.”


But…sometimes stealing is the best thing you can do for a song.

Lemme back-track and explain.

When you’re working on a project for a client, especially if you’re playing the role of producer, it can become really tempting to make all the decisions yourself. Not only that, it’s easy to want to re-evaluate every decision that’s already been made.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say you’re producing a rock song for a songwriter. He comes to you with a rough recording of how he wants the song to go. He’s programmed a drum beat and came up with a cool lead part, but he leaves it to you to decide how you want to sculpt the song.

I’ll be completely honest.

This is the part where my pride gets in the way.

Even if the parts this guy came up with are great, I’ll still try to rewrite them, to make them better.

Even if the arrangement is perfect, I’ll try to change it, just to flex my creative muscles.

You get the idea.

There are plenty of times where I make creative decisions that really change the song for the better. But there are also times where I really should just “steal” the parts that someone else already wrote and incorporate them into my song.

(Just to be clear, I’m not advocating copyright infringement, etc.)

I’m simply saying don’t be so arrogant that you refuse to use a good musical idea…just because you didn’t come up with it.

This happened to me recently. I was working on a full-band project for a songwriter. I decided to come up with a “better” lead guitar part. My part was cool. His part was better.

We met to go over the song, and he asked if we could use the part he wrote.

Now, I could have been super-arrogant and moody and mean, and refused to do it. But when I tried it, it really did work better.

Was my pride hurt? Maybe a smidge, but the song sounds better, and THAT is always a good thing.

Keep that in mind on your next session.

The concept applies to mixing, too.

You may decide to mix a song with a certain “sound,” but the artist wants something very different.

You gotta be a master at EQ if you want to give them what they want.

I can help with that. Get started here: