How much ego is healthy?

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by srblue5, Nov 12, 2020.

  1. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    755
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2020
    Location:
    Alberta
    This is a follow up to an earlier thread I posted about a conundrum I was/am facing with a band album project being dominated by a bandmate. Given that the album is about 90% completed, I'm choosing to grit my teeth until the album is released and then bow out gracefully, although the temptation to just quit outright waxes and wanes.

    As a bit of background, each of us members is pitching in equally with the financial backing and costs for this project and, at least in theory, splitting whatever money we make from the project equally (if we do make any). The alpha guy insists on mixing every song himself except for his vocals, which he has hired a professional engineer to mix separately. There has been a recurrent pattern where the guitar parts I play that he dictates to me are mixed very prominently/loudly, while he buries the parts I come up with on my own (even actual solos) deep in the mix, if he includes them at all in the first place, despite his apparent enthusiasm for them. Same goes for the bass -- if he plays the bass himself, it's very upfront in the mix, whereas if anyone else does, it's mixed way down.

    Last week, I told him that I would bow out of an upcoming video shoot for a song on which he completely excluded my guitar parts, as I'm not really a music video guy and I didn't see any point to miming in the video for a song that I don't play on. The alpha guy instead asked me to record a new stem for this new song last minute (as he reportedly forgot about and/or lost the previous one), which was then buried in the mix to the extent that I had to listen to it three times to tell if my part was actually there. This was pretty frustrating and almost insulting of my time and effort.

    As a result, I've started to directly voice my opinion of his mixes when the parts I come up with are mixed out or not included at all. It has been very frustrating to spend my spare time coming up with parts for the songs and to have them buried or excluded without any rationale or reason provided, despite being encouraged and praised about the parts I come up with. I'm not necessarily asking for the guitar to be front and centre but to at least be somewhat audible in the overall mix. Otherwise, quite honestly, it feels like I'm covering an equal portion of the costs of a project that is entirely the alpha guy's musical vision and "star" vehicle with very little of my musical voice represented.

    However, once again (especially as someone who has chronically struggled with assertiveness), I'm asking myself if I'm being reasonable or if I'm letting my ego get in the way unhealthily. Should I be speaking up for myself and my efforts/contributions, or should I just let it slide?
     
  2. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    38,073
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Wisco
    If his vision is awesome I'd stick with it.
    If not, I'd bail
     
  3. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    46
    Posts:
    1,483
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2018
    Location:
    Colorado Front Range
    You could express your concern with the mixes and ask to be included or you could bow out, citing creative differences. It really comes down to whether that relationship and subsequent creative output is worth the effort and if you think there's a path to a stronger outcome.
     
  4. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    15,770
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    The Far-Flung Isles of Langerhans
    Agree.
     
    Ronzo likes this.
  5. juxtapolice

    juxtapolice Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    646
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2011
    Location:
    Jersey City
    Enough to keep you believing in what you are doing, not enough that you think what you're doing cannot be improved upon.

    When I record parts for a session, I'll do a bunch of stuff, all things I believe in but Im never precious about it, Im just contributing to the bigger picture. If you attach yourself to a part you may become myopic and lose a sense of what you're doing. The idea is for the project to be the best it can be, if that means 99 percent of your parts not being needed, so be it. Look at what you can do to improve and fit the vision better. If you don't believe in the end product, make your own thing. Bands are relationships, don't be a masochist
     
  6. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    8,818
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Location:
    Antelope, California
    When I was recording and mixing for my band, I'd play each recording and ask for feedback from my bandmates. Some songs I'd remix half-a-dozen times. They'd tell me what they thought worked and didn't, which parts were too quiet and too loud. It was a democracy.

    I will say that you need more than just one person doing the mixing. When you're in the middle of it you get wrapped up in it and can't think about it objectively anymore. It's hard to hear it as it would sound to strangers listening for the first time.
     
  7. scook

    scook Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    482
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Location:
    Etlan VA
    What are the possibilities of having an outside party mix not only the vocals but everything else?
    It would also be nice to have some kind of outside input for what’s working and what isn’t. Many a producer has stated one of their most important duties is saving the artists from themselves.
     
  8. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    13,904
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Frontrangia CO
    A few parts of the story yet untold:

    Did Alpha Guy write all the songs?
    Who does the songwriting, if Alpha Guy doesn't? Are you recording covers?
    Is everyone paying for the pro engineer's work? I'm not sure I'm clear about that - did you have any voice in how that happened?
    When the band was put together, was it one for all and all for one, or is this Alpha's Guy's Band and the rest of you are sidemen?
    Was there any clarity/definition/assigned roles up front?
    Who books the gigs, and does the promo for the band? (or, rather, who did when live gigs were happening?)
    What do the other band members think about the process?
    Prior to recording, were you gigging? How did the gigs work?
    In other words, how long has this been going on? I mean, I can't help but have my suspicions...

    At the end of the day, though there's absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions about the process that you are helping to pay for and/or talking about your opinion about the results.

    You might also get a second opinion from someone whose musical tastes you trust. You should have a friend you can go to and say, hey what do you think of this?

    For the totally irrelevant recording projects I've been in, all two of them, we had beta listeners during the mix process. Friends and fellow musicians. And got a number of useful mix suggestions.
     
    Dismalhead likes this.
  9. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,362
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2019
    Location:
    Ohio (Nerk)
    You're a hired gun or a contributor.

    You forked over money. The final product needs to be something you're not embarrassed of, or you got robbed.

    I've been alpha guy, equal party, and hired guy. You don't get to treat the recording like that unless everyone with a stake in the finished product is onboard.
    Bad mixing can totally happen with too many chefs in the kitchen, but it sounds like this cat isn't really doing what's right for the song. If he were, youd be asked to redo parts but with specific requested differences, not buried because he couldn't mix right. Midrangey guitar can compete with aggressive snare, but nothing else. Burying it isn't a very tactical solution. And I know very little about what I'm doing. ....
     
    MatsEriksson and srblue5 like this.
  10. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    755
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2020
    Location:
    Alberta
    I can answer a few of these:

    - The project started out as all-for-one and one-for-all. In order to protect identities, let's say this project is called ABC, after each of the band members' last names. Originally, AB were a duo recording YouTube videos of covers, although all three of ABC were performing part of a bigger gigging band previously (AB's project was separate but concurrent to the bigger band). C (being me) was asked to provide guitar work for one of AB's YouTube covers as a hired gun -- there was chemistry and all enjoyed the experience of working together and the final product. With that in mind, A (Mr. Alpha) asked C to join AB as a new endeavour called ABC, in which all members would blend their unique talents and musical visions. He very categorically told me that this was not to be an offshoot or extension of AB's previous project. Each one of ABC initially contributed to the songwriting, but gradually A's song ideas emerged most prominently with most of B's and C's songwriting contributions rejected but potentially held over for a second album. So, now A does the majority of the songwriting but B and C both co-wrote several of the songs either musically or lyrically.

    - Everyone is paying for the pro engineer. All costs split down the middle, no matter what (including my renting of certain pedals to attain certain sounds they/we had in mind).

    - No, I did not have a say in the pro engineer being hired (let alone the pro engineer only being hired to mix the lead vocals).

    - No real clarity/definition of roles up front, which I think has been ultimately our undoing. My understanding at first was that I'd just provide guitar parts until I was asked, "Hey, do you write songs? Bring some ideas in for us to work on!" and "Hey, it would be great if you could come up with bass guitar stems for this."

    - Alpha now does all the promo for this project (even quoting himself at one point in the press release he wrote for our last single). There is a social media account for ABC that I don't have password access to.

    - We have not gigged together as ABC due to Covid (the album was still being recorded when the pandemic hit) but in the bigger band we were previously a part of pre-Covid, someone else did the majority of the bookings.

    - Not sure what the other band member (B) thinks, as he mostly only attends vocal recording and music video filming sessions.

    - How long has this been going on? The project itself has been going on since February '19 but A's dominance has emerged increasingly since August '19.
     
  11. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    2,434
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2014
    Location:
    The Dry Side
    Since you're an equal partner in covering the costs, you should have an equal say in the end result of the songs. If A wants to have 100% of the decision-making power, he needs to pay for 100% of the decision-making power by covering 100% of the expenses. It would be different if you were brought in as a hired gun, but you were brought in as an equal partner. You should be treated as such or be refunded your expenses and then rightfully treated as a hired gun.

    I think @Newbcaster gave you the best dialogue with which to handle it.
     
  12. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    32
    Posts:
    1,494
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2020
    Location:
    EMPIRE STATE
    Captain Beefheart ran a band like a fascist dictator, take after take, making demands, screaming at the guitarist.

    But damn that was a hell of an album when it was done. And he never buried anyone in the mix... Each player was a vital part of the final product. They played his ideas.

    Sounds like you should get out of that project. For the fact that he isn't allowing you to grow and be a part of the project. That's like covering up a plant and watching it die.
     
  13. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    4,488
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2017
    Location:
    Harvest, Alabama
    Walk away, Joe.

    If it isn't sounding brilliant at the current mix-down, like a trillion seller, walk away.

    :(
     
  14. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,329
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    "Walk Away Joe " a great song title !

    "Alpha Guy" Great CD Title !

    As many have stated above, Alpha Guy is in charge and it sounds like all you are doing is funding his pet project. I am curious, how do the other players feel about the sessions ? Maybe they have all already decided to walk , caved , gave up or lost interest.

    This type of scenario is a deal killer for me. At this stage of my life I would have already split.

    Press Release ? You have a Press Release ?


    Here is our bands latest Press Release for the CD we did a couple of years back

    CD On sale, was $10, now $5
     
  15. dannyh

    dannyh Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Posts:
    2,066
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Location:
    North Texas
    If you’re contributing money towards this project, you should have equal say in what happens. You’re not a hired gun at that point but an investor. If Alpha guy doesn’t like that he can pay for it himself. This is where it begins and ends for me.
     
    GibbyTwin likes this.
  16. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    3,022
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
    Location:
    Minot
    The dimestore Zen of ego

    +

    In the comfortable boutique shoes of:
    Assertiveness™


    =
    all ya need.

    .
     
  17. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    56
    Posts:
    2,944
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2018
    Location:
    Wilmington, DE
    Tough call.
    There are times in life when you need to put your foot down.
    But overall, generally speaking, everyone would be better off if we all used the "just let it slide" approach more often.
    Only you can decide which way to go in this case....
     
  18. JIMMY JAZZMAN

    JIMMY JAZZMAN Tele-Holic

    Age:
    70
    Posts:
    606
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2019
    Location:
    Baltimore
    Sounds like a "Humble Pie" recap. Look up "creative differences" one with money, one without.
    A lesson in life, we all should know.
     
  19. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    755
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2020
    Location:
    Alberta
    What happened with Humble Pie? Is that how Frampton left?
     
  20. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,794
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Yes you should. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of.
     
    WalthamMoosical likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.