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June 23, 2011



This is so true, I've read Seth talking about this before and it is so helpful to remember when getting bogged down in the intricate details that no one will notice apart from yourself. I guess if the producer in this story was stalling because he didn't want to take the step to the next stage then this was fair enough, but there are often times when you do need to tweak little things just enough to be able to be happy with something (not perfect but good enough) - and if you have label people using their definition of good enough over your own (as the artist) that could be quite compromising. I suppose that is what happens when the art is becomes slave to the business - the integrity and detail of the work is less important than its ability to make money efficiently.

Thanks for posting!


I totally agree, accept that under the newer models that say you need to produce new stuff every 3-4 weeks...what's a starving musician to do? I mean, if you can't afford pro recording at all, and you don't want to put out inferior content...

David Hooper

This concept doesn't have as much to do with the quality of recording as much as how, in general, a lot of people get caught up in "perfection" and, because of this, never release anything. That won't work with the "always be creating" model you're speaking of, either. :)

You want a product that will stand up, but don't get caught up in perfection that isn't attainable. You end up with a "Chinese Democracy" situation and you saw what ended up happening with that. They would have been better off to release the "not perfect" version 10 years earlier.


Another example could be "Listen to what the Man Said" (McCartney). It went to #1 and had all kinds of accolades. But when I listen to the track, the mix is kinda messed up - especially near the middle where it gets saturated.

The track was finished, and did great, but the producer (Sir Paul) could have spent a little more time in getting it done in this case (sez I).

State of Mind

I find it helpful to challenge the quest for perfection with the simple question "does it matter?"
Because what you're obsessing about might be a tiny detail that no one will ever notice.
There is no upper limit to how long you can spend adjusting the EQ of the hihat. But I doubt whether has ever been known to make or break a hit single.
That time might be better spent doing vocals or changing the arrangement - all those things that people actually hear.
And in the end, most listeners actually like the tiny imperfections - the human touch. Anything that gets too polished tends to get boring.
(Though of course, just how imperfect you like your music is a matter of personal taste)
And finally: The less time you spend perfecting each song, the more songs you'll be able to release. And in that equation, I'd value productivity over perfection.


I've heard it said from a friend of mine who has done 3 albums produced in Nashville (by a very good producer using well known session players down there) that your average fan won't notice the difference between a good recording and a stellar one, or at least can't describe the difference in, let's say, an MP3.
But...the people at the top, the other producers and artists that, say, nominate for things like the Grammy's and whatnot, those muso's know if something is produced by a novice or a professional. And they're the people that need to be impressed.

It isn't so much the need for perfection that has caused me to pause, but the idea that my own mixes (which I don't think are crap but are not quite broadcast) are not up to par, and the cost to get a pro involve is prohibitive. I don't want to put out mediocre content, but I can't tell if my mixes are above mediocre or not.

Does that make sense at all, or am I just staling?

David Hooper

Makes total sense.

Are you stalling? Hard to say... Ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?"

The problem is that self-deception is tricky!! ;)

Sometimes we're too close to the music to see that it's good the way it is. I always think about Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson, which was mixed 91 times. They ended up going with the second mix.

This is one reason it's good to bring in other people, like a producer that you trust.

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