In the studio, be a team-player, always.
One of the most important things to me when making records/singles/music/art/whatever with fellow creatives is making sure they're aware that I'm playing for their team.
In short, when I'm working with an artist/band, from first contact, to pre-pro to the finish line - I try at all times to make it known that their music is just as important to me as it is to them.
When I first started making records and learning about the process, I noticed that some things that audio engineers do/say can make the artist feel somewhat separated from them in a sense.
Maybe this is because I've come from the artist/band background, but the "holier than thou" attitude is the worst and is a massive put-off to bands/artists (or anyone for that matter lol).
No one feels comfortable making art with someone who's whole thing is "I'm the smart one who pushes all the buttons on the expensive gear and you are the dumb musicians, the reason your record is going to be a hit is because of me". I can honestly see no benefits to making a band/artist feel this way. All you're doing is making them feel lower than you/separate from you and overall uncomfortable, and when an artist/band is uncomfortable whilst trying to make art, it will reflect in the performances they'll give you and the results will be less than worthy!
This means that the finished product will not be it's best, and therefore nor will your reputation once the music is released to the world, which in turn will directly effect your career and future projects.
So with this analogy always being present in the back of my mind, I'm always striving for ways to keep the team player vibes strong in the studio. This obviously benefits the record in the ways I mentioned above, but it also allows me to criticise constructively (for the good of the record) when needed and provide feedback on how to improve/make things better, without some awkward feeling floating around the room, because the band/artist knows that my goals are aligned to theirs.
If at any time during the recording session I can feel an awkward, or even tense vibe, I tend to step back for a moment and ask myself:
- "Am I coming across as a team player to them?"
- "Do they value my input to their craft?"
- "Are the outcomes to either of the above questions reflecting in their performances?"
One thing I also do is keep myself updated with the band/artists release plan for the music after we've finished working on the music. This is something that won't earn me an hourly rate, but it is so important. Bands need all the additional help possible these days, the music industry is as fickle and ever changing as ever. Think about it, if no one listened to every band you worked on what would that make people say about your career? I'm not saying it's directly your fault, but all I'm saying is that if you know a few good contacts that can help them out, or a more efficient way of doing something like a decent digital distro company or a merch company that has some great prices, the band/artist will appreciate you for helping them out and it will no doubt help them to keep making music, which will help you in the way that they'll most likely use you again for your services!
I know that much like music in general, there are no rules. Especially when it comes to making records with creative people, and hey - some people are just difficult to work with.
But nonetheless, this mindset is something I always enforce upon myself no matter what the circumstances, and it has always served me well in the past.
The people I work with value my commitment to their art, which helps build a strong relationship for the future with them because they know that I'm not just pressing record until quitting time. Most of the clients I work with are now great friends of mine which is amazing, because my dream has always and will always be to make great music with great friends :)