The truth is, we all want to make better decisions in the studio. We want our productions to shine like the pros. But we tend to get caught up a lot of times – by the time we listen to our song for the final time, we hate what we’re hearing. Why is that?
Here’s a theory – (almost) everyone loves peanut butter. (Almost) everyone loves pizza. Therefore, I’m going to open up my very own restaurant and call it “George Washington Carver’s Pizza.”
Wrong – that’s a terrible idea. Why? Because peanut butter would be a terrible pizza ingredient – we know that just by thinking about it! But my logic seemed solid before…
That’s because I was too focused on the details and the individual ingredients – not the whole of the idea. This happens all of the time when we’re working on music and recording as well. We worry about the ratio on the compressor and which frequency to cut by .28 dB. We are so concerned with minor details that we lose sight of the overall vision. Then, when we finally decide to listen to the song as a whole, we’re disgusted.
So how can we avoid this trap? It’s pretty difficult to do – especially because it can be so fun to get in and mess around with all of those knobs and buttons. But by asking this simple two part question, you’re sure to better your productions:
“Does this sound good? Does it sound like something (fill in favorite artist here) would do?”
If your answer to either of these questions is “no,” you’re moving in the wrong direction. Everything you add or change to a song should make it sound better than it already does. And if you couldn’t hear your favorite artist, engineer, or producer making a similar decision, chances are that you’re not going to like it.
Believe it or not, these questions are not limiting. They’re actually quite the opposite. When you take a conscious moment to think about your decisions, you’re making yourself better in the long run, and able to explore new ideas because of it.
Ask yourself this two part question next time you’re working, and I’m positive you’ll be impressed with the results. Be sure to ask it at just about every step of the way for it to be effective – and give yourself honest answers! Happy recording!