3 client questions to becoming a better audio engineer
A great way of optimizing your customer service and becoming a better audio engineer is to ask your clients a few questions before you start working with them. This not only makes the client feel valued, but it will also enable you to know exactly what the client wants so you excel in your craft. Here are 3 topics or talking points for when you’re starting out working for a new client. Talk about these before you start working on the client’s music I won’t go into specific questions as these can differ greatly depending on what services you are providing.
1. Get to know the client
It might be a new artist you’re working with. Every artist is different. So, to do the best possible job for this exact client, you’ll need to get to know them. Find out what they like and where they want to go. A lot of people are using some sort of form to do so. Many website builders already have built-in forms like Squarespace or Wix. Why are they creating art? You can, for example, dig into what kind of artists or albums they are listening to at the moment. It is also a good idea to get a sense of the artist’s engagement as well as their hopes and dreams for their career. Is the artist doing it as a side-project more as a hobby or are they all in.
2. Talk about what can and cannot be done on this project
This step is all bout quality control and alignment of expectations. A crucial part in upping your skills and becoming a better audio engineer. Here you’ll talk to your client about what is possible with their project and if everything needs to be changed for you to do the best job possible. Are the melody and arrangement strong enough for you to do a stellar production? Is the production done well enough for you to mix a full sounding record? Is the mix bang on so you can make an exceptional mastering? If not, communicate this to your client in a nice way. Be tangible in what needs to be changed. Don’t just say: “This is too bad, I can’t work with this”. Every project has different starting and end-points. Your job is to get the most out of everything and communicate limitations. This will help align expectations between you and the client and avoid problems down the road. You could also have a chat about the project’s further future after it leaves your desk, for example, the mastering engineer vs. algorithm choice for mastering
3. Get info about the project itself
Now it’s time to dig into what the client wants for the specific project. What are their thoughts? This is where you’ll have to freestyle a bit, as the questions really depend on the project. But, it’s always good to figure out how the artist wants their music to connect with the intended listener – and who these intended listeners are. Not because you should make music for the listener, but I’ll help you to get more into the specific project. Figure out what the essence of their song is and what they like about it. Try asking if there’s anything that the clients doesn’t like too much about what they are giving you. Are there any problems that you should be aware of and try to fix? I had a mastering from a client where I asked this exact question. The client answer that the electric guitar solo was a bit harsh and he has lost the original mixing project, so we couldn’t fix it in the mix. So, by asking, I could define a part of my job for this specific mastering project: Try to control the harshness in the electric guitar solo.
You can ask multiple questions to get to know your client and their music. The above three steps are just some important suggestions. But, they will all help as you get better as an audio engineer and improve your results with your clients.