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Can a technical error cost you your record deal?

So you're signed to a label and your first release is only weeks away. Is there any way you could screw up your whole career with a simple technical error?

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Not so long ago we published an article titled How to prepare your recordings to be PROFESSIONALLY mixed, by engineer Dan Guerrie. The article was about mixing, clearly, but there was a paragraph that has implications in other ways. Read this carefully...

"I had a project come to me last year for a remix from an indie label who wanted to sign an artist and release their CD. The engineer had used Auto-Tune on all the vocals. The parameters were improperly adjusted and the result was a lead vocal which sounded like Cher's vocal on Do You Believe. OK for the pop and dance genres, definitely not OK for the heavy metal genre. Because the Auto-Tune plugin had been rendered to the original vocal tracks there were no unprocessed tracks to use. The only option would have been to put the vocalist on an airplane to me so we could re-record all of the vocal tracks. The label didn't want to invest the time and money into doing this so they dropped the artist. Less than a month later I got another heavy metal band's tracks from that same label to mix for release."

So one technical error got a band fired from the label, which took on another act instead.

You might consider this harsh, but no-one goes around talking about the people in the record industry being as gentle as fluffy little lambs, do they?

Although it seems, according to Dan, that this band didn't yet have a contract, having a contract doesn't make things much better. Recording contracts are full of obligations for the act to fulfill, and equally full of options for the label to cancel the deal at the slightest opportunity.

So the moral here is not only should you have a great act, you need to dot and cross every technical 'i' and 't' too. Thoroughly!

By David Mellor Sunday April 1, 2012
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