How to Deal with Music Production Clients

If you produce music for a client, then your job is to be the chaneller of your client’s wants and demands.

The client takes a risk in trusting you to make music that they don’t have a clear picture of come alive.

Music is subjective. Average people do not have the vocabulary to describe music accurately.

“Please keep and sustain the note from the chord on the fourth beat of measure 43 so that the following measure starts with a sustained forth chord which give off an unresolved feeling” said no client ever.

Here’s what I keep in mind when dealing with clients for music production.

Don’t just relay what client has said to your production team. Your job as a producer is to be an interpreter. You live in the world of client and the world of music geeks. Speak the correct language to make yourself understood.

Not sure what your client really wants, or how to articulate the instruction to your team? Ask confirmation questions. Challenge the client to be specific if necessary. If the client is vague in what she wants, suggest some options.

Clients make purchase decisions based on emotion. Be friendly and professional, but do not be an annoying prick even if you’re right. Manage expectations. Have clients trust you by letting them know through your action that your’re on their side.

When communicating with my clients, I often reiterate and remind the end goal the client wants, so that we stay aligned and do not deviate from the goal (sometimes even the client forgets why they’re working us). Where appropriate, I tell my client what step of the music production will be done by when.

Sometimes the clients say things that make no sense. It’s your job to help them think clearly.

Deliver the final product as WAV or AIFF file. You may also create an MP3 version for their convenience, but your final deliverable should be of a higher quality audio file. Needless to say, MP3 ruins music.

Depending on who and what you’re dealing with, be so specific that music-making is more of a technical endeavor (it is) than a creative one.

For example, when I produced a virtual MIDI orchestra accompaniment for a vocal performance, the choir director and I sat down and marked every tempo change and wrote out the BPM.

In a live performance, the choir and orchestra can just look at the conductor for tempo changes. But we don’t have such a luxury when creating the accompaniment electronically.

If the score calls for a fermata, write or indicate the exact note length.

Ask the client to share a benchmark music.

If you’re convinced that following your client’s exact order results in inferior music, prepare two versions, preferably in the early stage of the contract when you’re presenting them with demos.

You want to get things right from the start and make sure their expectations match your deliverables. The last place you want to be is having to do endless revisions. That’ll be frustrating for both you and your client.

Be thorough in your preparation and planning ahead of time to avoid the project from hell.

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