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Click track in studio?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BassPastor, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. Engineer/Studio staff

    22 vote(s)
  2. Band

    126 vote(s)
  1. BassPastor


    Dec 7, 2018
    Ive had the opportunity to play out with a newly formed country band with some really talented musicians. We play mostly covers but are working on some original tunes to mix in.

    We had a connection through one of our band members to cut a song in a high end studio because his cousin is in school for sound engineering. We got a severely discounted rate for time and mastering. This studio was great, all the highest end equipment and had a great process.

    My question is this, is it ultimately the bands decision as to whether or not a click track is used in studio. We use all in ear monitoring for rehearsal and live play so have used a click track 100% of the time so far. Our drummer keeps great time but we have several songs with acoustic intros and the click has kept us really tight since we haven’t been playing together super long. In the studio last night, the head sound engineer (the guy teaching the student) was adiment that we could/should not use a click to the point where he wouldn’t give us one. He said that he records musicians, not robots, and that we needed to learn to not use one.

    While I understand where he is coming from, I hate that the studio was where we had to depart from our routine. I can’t help but think that the lack of click attributed to some sloppiness on our part. I get where he was coming from, but should it have ultimately been our decision as to whether to use a click or not?
    ScotRFM, jamro217 and Smooth_bass88 like this.
  2. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    You're paying the bill, you have final say. Especially since you know it would have improved the band.
  3. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    I have been blessed with playing with GREAT drummers. None of them use a click, as they like to mess with time, particularly on the blues.
    I think that if a producer is hearing time drift he doesn't like, he's allowed to throw on a click. It is his opinion you are paying for.
    Chef, saabfender, okcrum and 6 others like this.
  4. BassPastor


    Dec 7, 2018
    What about the opposite case though? We WANTED a click and he wouldn’t let us use one. Our drummer does a good job keeping time. On this particular track, it was acoustic only until the second chorus so a click would have been useful.
  5. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    It depends on the dynamic with whoever is producing. If it's the house engineer, do what you want, it's your gig. If you hired Glyn Johns, you will bow to his demands.
  6. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    The studio is supposed to working for you, not the other way around. If the sound engineer won't give you a click track when requested, he is not properly servicing his client. Were you paying to record at the studio or were they doing it for free? I would think that the drummer at the very least would have a click track and everybody else plays from the drum track. I believe using click tracks is a very standard practice in the studio.
  7. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    You should fire that sound engineer. He's welcome to his opinion & should be making recommendations, but it's not his place to dictate to the band.
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The band and the producer decide that together based on what will get the final result they're looking for.

    The engineer is there to do what all of the above tell them to.

    Who was the producer of record for the track?
    marcwhy, Silthis89, hbabels and 6 others like this.
  9. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    This is the correct answer. Money decides. If you’re paying for it, you dictate. If a label is paying for it and they’ve sent in a producer, they dictate (although historically there are plenty of arguments to be had with a label-funded producer).
  10. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Generally when there is a difference of opinion between the band and the engineer, the producer decides. Sounds like you decided not to use a producer in this case, and it came back to bite you.

    That said, an engineer who refuses to use a click track is like a barber who refuses to use scissors, or a chef who refuses to use butter.
    DrThumpenstein, Kro, Andre678 and 8 others like this.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    the cat(s) who writes the checks makes the call on all production elements ---obvious! smart producers accommodate the best efforts/abilities of the musicians. engineers accommodate the producer.

    sounds like your band wanted a standard-operation-procedure. also sounds like the producer was the engineer's teacher. but you wrote the check. :)

    since you got such a great deal: it might be worth it to let it slide this time, but insist on it going forward. if you were paying full rate (as the check writer and producer) you would not have had the issue, or, you would have known not to proceed (pay for services unrendered).

    good luck getting your click next time! :thumbsup:
    saabfender, Charlzm, Mr_Moo and 2 others like this.
  12. BassPastor


    Dec 7, 2018
    Paying at a discounted rate, but enough that it was still an investment for a band of our level.
    Glenn Mac likes this.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    an "investment," but: it was a 'friendly' deal where you guys paid a little to get a little benefit. the cats who benefitted most: the engineer/friend who completed an assignment, and his teacher who gets paid for giving "studio lessons" to the engineer. you guys get a less-than-optimum recording for less-than-usual rates.

    at some point, you'll get your own recording going and you'll be able to do it the way you want --- you'll probably be paying for it and you'll probably be the producer. the engineer will offer advice and you'll decide what's right for your project.
    Mr_Moo and BassPastor like this.
  14. BassPastor


    Dec 7, 2018
    Fair enough. Just asking on here to get an idea of what standard operating procedure is so that we’re more prepared next time.
    JRA likes this.
  15. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    while being in the studio recording ... is Not the correct time to be changing things up ..! i'd insist on doing whatever the band is used to for the best/quickest results ...

    on the flip side ... i wouldn't want Click tracks to become a crutch ..! but they should help develop everyone's ' internal click track ' ..!!

    i don't like Click tracks
  16. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    If you found your engineer because you liked his previous and successful work, for Heaven's sake do what he tells you. Let the professional ply his trade.
    Mushroo likes this.
  17. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    Yeah, if you're paying, then you call the shots (unless you hired some mega engineer). If there is fundamental artistic disagreements, then you should find a studio that better fits your goals. If it's a case where you're getting something, they're getting something, you have less leverage. If you're Jason Isbell, I'm the engineer and I don't want to use a click track but Jason does, Jason will probably win that one every time. So, I guess more than money, who has the most leverage in the situation. Usually that's, who is paying, but can also include fame and prestige.
  18. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    as an engineer i have been in the situation of trying to convince clients to record to a click but they weren't prepared for it, weren't comfortable with it, etc, and so i didn't press the issue because you are exactly right--the studio is NOT where you should depart from your routine. if they had hired me to produce, i would have insisted they spend a month rehearsing to a click in pre-production before we even hit record. they needed it, and their music would have benefited from it. not all music does. but if the band ASKS you for one? you do it every time.

    if you're being hired to engineer, you do the best you can to make the musicians comfortable and make the best recording possible, you don't dictate the process. i can't imagine any student that would like to have any chance to be employed as an audio engineer refusing a request from the band to record to a click. if your bandmate is close with his cousin or cares about his future career as an engineer, make him understand this. he might be at the top of his class in recording school and have an internship at the best studio in the world. his first job as an intern will be to shut up, mop the floor, and fetch coffee. his next job as as assistant will be to shut up and do what the engineer says. his next job as an engineer will be to shut up and make the clients feel comfortable being creative in an environment where time is money. there is a lot of shutting up involved... it's part of the job and you have to be good at it. if he goes on to get work as a producer, it's only then that his opinion on using a click or not matters--and you talk that out in pre-production not force it on the band in the studio.
    Keger Jupit, eric_B, JeffC23 and 8 others like this.
  19. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Ultimately if it's your dime, then it's your decision.

    Side note - is this really a thing? As in live musicians all need a click track to keep time to? I'd be down the road.
  20. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    I believe it's in studio. Depends on the style, but very useful in some situations.

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