Why Creating A Team Will Make You A Better Engineer And Producer
Hey guys! Brad Simons here, and today I want to talk about one of the most important parts of Velveteen, team. It's no secret that we really push the teamwork environment at Velveteen. We began building our team about 3 years ago, and the benefits have really helped us grow rapidly as both a collective and as individuals. The famous quote "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" really does ring true here.
So today's post is a lot about why a team is an amazing thing for your music career as a producer or engineer, and in the midst, I'll talk about some of the ways that we do it. Here we go!
Getting feedback on your work is absolutely crucial to improving it. Modern neuroscience shows that one of the fastest and most effective ways to learn is by getting constructive and immediate feedback on our work. That way we can quickly adjust, learn from our mistakes, and improve. But without constructive feedback, we have no idea where we're heading.
So here's what we do at the studio. Whenever someone at our studio finishes a project (or gets close to finishing), they submit it to the rest of the team for feedback. This could be a mix, a production, a tracking session, really anything. The rest of the team will provide comments on what they liked about it, what they didn't, and most importantly, how they think it can be improved.
By doing this, each team member can get different opinions and ideas on how they can improve their work, leading to better sounding music for the whole. Some suggestions work and some don't, but the feedback helps us see different points of view and shows us points of fault that we might not have seen on our own.
It's pretty common for engineers and producers to get stuck in a routine where we use the same plugins, same sound libraries, same techniques, same routing...basically a whole lot of the same thing. When you work with a team, you are immediately exposed to a wide array of different approaches, as every engineer or producer does their work in a totally different way.
When several of us are in the studio at once, you'll often hear other engineers say things like "what did you do there?" or "oh my how did you do that?" or "what mics did you use there?". This is not all that different from the feedback. You are exposed to a new technique or new sound and are immediately instructed on how to achieve it.
Have you ever felt so confident about a mix, and then as soon as you went to show someone else, you started hearing it differently? Maybe you suddenly hear the problems in the low end, or the vocals are buried, or the cymbals are too bright. But you weren't hearing that when you were alone in the control room. You might say to the other person, "it's just a rough mix", or "I know there are issues with such and such" etc.
You've lost perspective at that point. There are usually two fixes for lost perspective: time or an outside opinion. We tend to get tunnel vision if we spend too long on something, and we get accustomed to the sound, even though it might not really be what we're looking for. Having another engineer around allows your perspective to remain as unbiased as possible, giving you the refresher you need. You can speed up those moments where you have to get your perspective back. This could be with an assistant engineer, co-producing, or just having another team member check in on your work periodically. It works!
SPECIALIZATION AND HELP
By creating a team, you no longer have to worry about being a "jack of all trades, master of none." We all noticed that we started to gravitate towards a certain part of the music creation process. For myself, I realized that my strengths lie in the songwriting and production. For others, they realized that mixing is where they want to be.
So when your team has a diverse skillset, then you can promote further teamwork, and each person will be that much better at their job. This improves quality, reduces stress on each person, and further negates the loss of perspective.
I would argue that this is one of the greatest parts of being on a team. You no longer have to simply be accountable to yourself, you have other people depending on you. That can really force you to get your act together and make things happen.
We have weekly scrum meetings where we discuss what we've done the past week, what we're doing next week, what worked well and what we struggled with. Having to attend this and provide something to talk about is a motivating factor. Furthermore, we all have monthly requirements we must hit. This is alot more difficult to pull off when you only have yourself to answer to.
So go out there and build yourself a team! It works really well when you can do it in person, but if that's not possible, find yourself a group of producers online that you can form a group with. You won't regret it!
Thanks for reading!