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As a producer how do you tell a band a song sucks

Discussion in 'Andy Sneap' started by Santiago Romero, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. Santiago Romero

    Santiago Romero New Metal Member

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    I'm recording this band and they have this one song that is terrible and it would be a waste of time to record it. How can I tell them that this song sucks.
     
  2. ~BURNY~

    ~BURNY~ Member

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    First and foremost, make sure this isn't about your taste. You won't always record songs that you like if you're serious about this job. Not your business. Try to make the best out of it.

    Now let's assume this is a really poorly written song (again you need objectivity here, this is a grey area and you don't hold the truth) OR the musicianship is not on par with the music (this happens way too often).
    IF you feel you can make suggestions that will improve it start from there.

    You need to figure the personality of the guys and where your relationship is at first. This is crucial.
    Some people will stomach brutal honesty, most won't. The hardest most important part is to earn respect and trust from the musicians you're recording in the first place.
    If you have a very good relationship, it might be a bit rocky but it should be fine.

    On the other hand they won't listen to you If they see you as a mere service provider or even worst, "that one friend who knows a bit about recording". They will think you're a pretentious jerk.
    And truth to be told there are no good ways to say an (aspiring) artist his work isn't good. Some are less damaging than others but you'll always harm their ego some one way or another.
    So choose your words wisely, stay positive as much as possible.

    My typical way of formulating criticism is something like this (in the most calm and empathetic tone):
    "Guys, I really hate to say this but something isn't working here, this is song is missing something, It certainly has potential but I would suggest you do this or that or put it aside"
    "This song doesn't fit in with the rest/is not as good as the other songs..."
    "Just my opinion..." etc...

    After that, you will get reactions to which you need to object in a subtle way saying stuff like:
    "I know what you're saying, I agree but..." etc
    At least that's how I'd deal with it, assuming they respect me.

    And even after that, you may have to record the fucking song anyway. They are your client, they pay you, you do your job.

    I hope it helps.
     
    #2 ~BURNY~, Jan 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
    Heabow, KillFrenzy and CASSETTEISGOD like this.
  3. CASSETTEISGOD

    CASSETTEISGOD Apocalypse Yesterday

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  4. Genius Gone Insane

    Genius Gone Insane http://www.¯\(°_o)/¯.com

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    Ask them "What do you like about this song?"
    Then say, "Well, when I listen to it, that is not what I get from this song. I feel like all your other songs have a meaning that takes the listener somewhere. This song doesn't seem to be doing that. I'd hate to have it take away from an otherwise solid record."
     
  5. Hugues Berger

    Hugues Berger Member

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    Well I'm not a producer, but I play in a band and I can at least tell you how I see this from a musician point of view.

    I'd start by saying, as was mentioned before, that it is extremely difficult to state that "something sucks", since by definition, it can't really be objective. Saying that something sucks is totally an opinion.

    The only way it could be an objective statement is if the song IS UTTER SHIT by all existing standards. Like, it's the sound of someone defecating in the mic for 4 minutes with background noise of washing machines... I don't know. To say that "it is a shitty song" would be quite close to being objective.

    Apart from that, you can probably find "what sucks" in your opinion and just say it, with your outmost diplomatic tone. Either you find the lyrics are dumb, or the singer is bad, or whatever. Saying, in a more diplomatic manner "The singer is bad", is completely different and more useful than just saying "The song sucks".

    So I don't know if you get what I mean, but I just wanted to point the difference (difference between saying it sucks at large, versus saying what sucks precisely)... Music is so subjective, thousands of band make music that in my opinion, is shit. Yet they sell albums, go figure...

    The day you'll make millions producing albums, then go ahead and tell them whatever you want!

    (I know I haven't heard the band in question, therefore take what I just said with a grain of salt. But that is how I see things.)
     
  6. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

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    I'm in a band with some of my best friends and it's even hard to tell them my opinion on some of their ideas because people get BUTTHURT and don't want to hear that the riff they wrote is lame/doesn't fit, etc.

    That said, the band is coming to YOU to produce them. They should most definitely be somewhat open to an outside opinion, especially if they are more experienced musicians and not 13 year old kids who just started playing last week.
     
  7. CASSETTEISGOD

    CASSETTEISGOD Apocalypse Yesterday

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    Are producers open to criticism?
     
  8. Jarkko Mattheiszen

    Jarkko Mattheiszen The FU guy.

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    Were you hired to be the dude to tell the band which of their songs are good and which suck? In other words, were you hired to be the producer? If yes, you probably should already know how to handle the situation in a constructive manner that serves the band, the music and you.

    Were you hired to record their music and take care of the technical aspects? In other words, were you hired to be the engineer? If yes, you keep your opinions to yourself and do your job. Your job isn't telling the band what you think of their music, and the band's job isn't making music for you.

    Nothing can be as destructive in a session as an engineer who takes the role of a producer without being asked to.
     
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  9. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    ^ I agree. The first thing is to stay in your role. Then, if you produce this record, what Burny said sounds right to me.
     

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