Last night my wife and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.

I bought her some pearl earrings.

At first she said she loved ’em…you see where this is going.

Later on that night she informed me that she actually doesn’t like pearls.

She was afraid my feelings would be hurt, or that maybe she just shouldn’t say anything and force a smile and where ’em.

Was she right?

Do I wish she hadn’t told me?

Heck no.

I’m thrilled she told me. I’d much rather she get something she LOVES than pretend to be happy with my silly pearls.

There’s a recording lesson here…can you see it?

It’s simply this — encourage your clients to be honest.

Tell ’em up front that you’re going to make creative decisions all along the way in the recording process, and that you want their input. Assure them that they can’t hurt your feelings (even if that’s not entirely true), and tell ’em to be honest with you.

It’ll be worth it.

It reminds me of a project I was mixing last year. The producer sent me the tracks and essentially just said, “Here ya go!”

So I listened to the tracks and started mixing. I had in mind a create direction I was taking the song, and it was sounding pretty cool! So I sent a mix over to her…

And she was honest. πŸ™‚

As it turns out, she had a VERY different idea of how she wanted the mix to go. Once we figured that out, I was quickly able to make the right adjustments.


We were both happy. She got the “feel” she was going for, and I made her happy. (And the mix still sounded really cool.)

Win. Win. Win.

I know it can be difficult to hear anything less than absolute praise for your work in the studio, but it’s a heck of a lot better than them lying to your face and never working with you again, right?


Go forth and let ’em tell you they don’t like your pearls, then go back and get ’em something they REALLY love.

Joe “Better Luck Next Time” Gilder

P.S. Getting feedback from your clients is the first step. Knowing how to take that feedback and get the sounds they want is the second (potentially much more challenging) step. They may say, for example, they want the lead vocal to stand out more in the mix. You’ll need to have a good understanding of compression to do that without killing the vocal tone entirely.

Fear not.

I can help you with that. πŸ™‚

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