An Open Letter to Musicians Everywhere

2 January 2010 § Leave a comment

Hi,

I’m interested in the ad you have up in which it is implied that recording your project for an extremely discounted fee would be doing a personal favor to you. Having been a studio and live engineer for a number of years, I’ve come to realize that many people seem to be under the impression that engineering is something we do purely out of love and devotion to music. While this is indeed the case for some on an idealistic level, myself included (because I have worked incredibly hard for minimal and no pay on more than a few occasions), it should also be understood that while your music is special and deserves the attention you have paid to it, engineering is a career, a job that must pay the bills, that must cover food and expenses, including those associated with pleasing relatively high-maintenance clients.

I mean no insult or reprimand toward you, but I do hope that you read this and understand that a quality engineer with quality gear that is truly capable of delivering the excellence you require does not come at twenty dollars an hour. 15 tracks from setup and tracking to mixing and break down is a process that can take weeks, if not months, and a “package” deal is not designed for that. A package deal is designed for bands and artists trying to get their first demo or first EP out, not looking to record their dazzling debut. When that time comes, they will have the time and appreciation to invest in themselves to achieve a quality end product.

Putting together and operating a studio is no small task or small investment of time, energy, or money, and any engineer who knows his or her own worth will not lower themselves to the level of those who think their love exists as a favor to their clients. The musicians and companies (and please understand, I’m not singling you out – this is a widespread problem that has had devastating effects on the industry, and is a main reason many top recording studios have had to shut their doors over the past decade) that low-ball this service are devaluing the people that have to take the work for such a low price, keeping them from acquiring better quality gear, and thus not allowing their skills to develop to their full potential. All of this effects the quality and integrity of the end product – the project you love so, or the commercial that some company needs to air in order to stay afloat. They need that sparkling image, and so do we.

Thank you for your time and business.

Sincerely,

Your local sound guy.

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