Once in a while you might be inclined to invite hired pros, meaning superb instrumentalist or vocalist, to a session. However close or tight this relationship might be, in its core it is a professional working relationship and should be handled as such.
Musicians tend to take things easy, business and workflow wise, to keep the creative mode open and unhindered. It makes sense. You don’t want to tighten up a great vibe, dash in with expectations and conditions of a collaboration not even walking in its baby-shoes, so to speak.
Clear up things professionally, especially prior to engaging in a fun and free-spirited session, is vital. We gathered some important things to think about when inviting hired pros, so your session can run as smoothly as possible:
Things that come naturally to you, workflow wise, might not come naturally to others. This can start with the preparation of material, the communication etc.
An open question or suggestion on how to handle the workflow is essential. Finding out how your collaborator likes to engage in music exchange not only helps your own planning but demonstrates respect for the possibility of diverging styles.
Explain the way you handle collaborations, or how you’d like to handle them, and see if that matches the rough blueprint of how the hired pro usually operates. Be open for suggestions, and try not to handle concept as chiseled in stone.
Mutual money game
Even if it feels like a friendship scenario – make sure you achieve mutuality in terms of compensation. It just seems easier to get things started, letting the creative juices flow freely prior to dipping into possibly unnerving, economic realities.
Actually, this is one of the first things you should engage upon.
And pro’s will actually appreciate your straightforwardness. Economic inconveniences only arise, if services have already been delivered. 99% of the time, conflicts will arise after a session with an unclear frame of monetary compensation.
So, make sure the money game is mutual.
Even if it might dampen the vibe for a moment – that’s the first test that your new working relationship will have to withstand. If things start to crumble here, they probably would have done so during the creative process also.
Find out in which surrounding your collaborator feels comfortable.
There are some musicians that actually fail to perform in earnest, professional studio settings. They’d rather record either in a home setting or something close to that, and you’ll have to respect that.
Also – if you’re talking about recording something in “the lab”, make sure your collaborator knows what she or he is getting into. A bedroom setting can supply creative gold. But only if you have the mindset and are ready to work in an environment like that.
Don’t build up promises of diversified studio surroundings, if you’re recording realities are more in line with a home-type setup. That’s absolutely fine – just communicate it.
This way you avoid weirdness in the initial phase of set-up.
Develop Soft Skills
You’re going to have to develop soft skills in terms of “reading” a collaborator, emotionally.
Some people work on the clock. They won’t tell you, but you can sense it in the way they move and act throughout the session. Don’t feel disrespected or somehow unappreciated because somebody is just performing a straight job.
Not every recording session can be drenched in companion-like exchange. Especially if you’re in an early phase of getting acquainted, professionalism on the side of the instrumentalist can be misinterpreted as decoupling, or somehow detachment from the emotional sides of making music.
Some people have to warm up musically and personally, and that’s just something you’ll have to go through. The more you collaborate, the more you’ll get a grip on things though.
Try to develop soft skills in terms of emotional understanding and patience