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Grammy Pros Share How to Overcome Recording Obstacles

Top pros weighed in on topics ranging from “demoitis” to the role of the producer.

Nashville, TN (August 8, 2019)—The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing hosted a panel at the recent Summer NAMM Show in Nashville, “The Road to Great Recordings: Meeting Challenges, Overcoming Obstacles.”

Panelists were Aaron Pearce (Grammy-winning songwriter and producer; Justin Bieber, Lauren Alaina, Brian McKnight), Leslie Richter (engineer; Ben Folds, Dierks Bentley, Kings of Leon) and Dave Way (Grammy-winning producer and engineer; Christina Aguilera, Fiona Apple, Ziggy Marley). Shannon Sanders (Grammy-winning producer, engineer, composer and arranger; India.Arie, Jonny Lang, John Legend) served as moderator. Grammy-nominated engineer and producer Jeff Balding, known for his work with a wide array of music icons from Don Henley/Eagles, Taylor Swift and Maren Morris to Megadeth, helped organize the panel and hand-selected the panelists and moderator.

The panel explored issues and roadblocks often faced in the studio. Topics included the ubiquitous perils of demo recordings, where artists and writers become attached to certain aspects of an early song demo that, in today’s recording world, is often a work in progress rather than a rough work tape, requiring what may be a poor-quality recording in a less than ideal key to be repaired. Way offered a classic example from Macy Gray’s hit “I Try,” on which the label insisted on using her vocal from the demo over a newly recorded track.

Blog: The Psychology of Mixing

The discussion went on to cover such other topics as techniques for keeping sessions moving forward with positivity and the role of a producer in getting the most out of a song. A Q&A completed the event, providing NAMM attendees the chance to pick the brains of these industry pros.

Sanders noted, “I’ve always said that producers and engineers should strive to be excellent problem-solvers, and that’s what this panel has explored in detail. Everyone does things a little differently, and the most interesting conversations between producers and engineers happen when they can compare approaches and share their personal techniques.”

Leslie Richter remarked, “Regardless of your role or level, it’s important to know that we all often face very similar challenges in the studio. It’s refreshing and educational to hear peer stories and perspectives, but it’s most invaluable to hear their methodologies of tackling common issues. I hope the audience gained a little insight from the experiences we all shared.”

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Dave Way added, “When you get working recording industry professionals together sharing their stories, I think there’s a bond that forms between them and the attendees. No matter what level you’re at, hearing these anecdotes from the day-to-day workings of studio life is special and valuable. I enjoyed the talk with my fellow panelists and learned a lot myself. I hope that each attendee got something special and unique out of it.”

Recording Academy •