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Studio Sense: Dear Client, Please Don’t …

Rob Tavaglione. Educate clients without alienating them…and blame it all on me!

Studio owners, engineers and managers: copy or print out this letter and post it on your message board, bathroom wall or lounge area. Educate your clients without alienating them through humor … and blame it all on me!

Dear Client,

It’s a pleasure to work with you and watch your musical vision take form. Your entourage is a nice group of folks, too. I appreciate the way you keep appointments, pay on time and care about the condition of this studio. But there are a few things you’re expecting of me—nothing horrible, really—just little things that are distracting me from getting the job done on time and within budget. Indeed, I am here to serve you, but allow me to share a few pointers that can take quality, cooperation and efficiency to the next level.

1. Please don’t show up early. There’s nothing worse than a wide-eyed rookie showing up an hour early to a session so that they “won’t be late.” If you’ve never seen an archetypal grouchy engineer denied of their morning java moments while ushering a wet-eared client into a still-dark studio, let me tell you—it’s an ugly sight.

2. Please don’t rip your own MP3s. I realize it seems easy but unless you know an AAC from an MPEG; the ins and outs of variable vs. constant bit rates; what inter-sample distortion is; or the tradeoffs of file size vs. quality; just don’t do it. I can make you a 320 Kbps file that sounds great and a 256 Kbps one that still sounds decent … but don’t ask for a 128 K, ‘k?

3. Please don’t ask me to e-mail demos, roughs and mixes to your entire list of 26 performers, handlers, suits, and/or cousins. I’ll send them to you; find that ”forward” button and click it yourself.

4. Please don’t distribute roughs unless the talent actually needs them. Worse than me wasting time burning dozens of CDs (or forwarding MP3s) is the thought that my unfinished roughs will be bouncing around the web for all of eternity, feeding trolls and discouraging new clients.

5. Please don’t disappear after getting your masters, replying with “the audio is A-OK” in the form of a text, e-mail, voice mail, smoke signal, etc. I need just a bit more closure than that; I must archive your files and move on to the next job with a clean slate (and hopefully a little more drive space).

6. Please don’t steal un-cleared samples; songs you “borrowed” from an old band mate; covers you didn’t clear with Harry Fox (or Loudr); edits from another orchestra’s CD to cover up your ugly clams (yes, you just can’t make up this stuff). Save your dishonest tendencies for tax forms and otherwise try to act like a grown-up.

Your attention to these six requests is greatly appreciated. I promise that with your help we can make our sessions even more productive and enjoyable. But while I have your attention, perhaps we can have a frank talk about hygiene, too … 

Rob Tavaglione is the owner/operator of Charlotte NC’s Catalyst Recording. Stay tuned to Rob’s world via Twitter: