I’ve heard it said that you learn more from making mistakes and correcting them than you do from doing it right the first time. So, I thought I would tell you about one of my recent mistakes.
I was recording an accompaniment track for a friend of mine. The budget for this track was very low… mainly because she is a friend and client … and I just wanted to do it for her.
After I’d cut the drums in Superior Drummer and played my trusty bass, I sent it off to another musician who then overdubbed keys, B3 and guitars for me. I could have done this myself, but it would have taken much longer to complete. Outsourcing this consumed almost all of the budget (which, by the way, I had not even billed for it yet).
I then talked my lovely wife into helping with the background vocals (that part was free, thank you Janna!). The track was sounding really nice now.
I put a quick mix on it by comparing it to the original track and then sent it off to the eagerly awaiting client.
After waiting a day or so without hearing anything, I should have known something was up. Usually, clients who are happy will call back almost immediately. She sent me a text asking if we could chat. My heart dropped. It felt like getting called in to the principle’s office at school. She kindly told me that the track that I was so proud of was in the wrong key… Not just a half-step or two… like A FOURTH.
At this point, I could’ve said a number of things:
- “That’s all the money I have to work with. If we had more of a budget I could do more this”.
- “Can’t you just get someone to sing it with you?”
- “I know a vocal coach who can increase your range, here’s his number”
Or I could continue to gain trust with her by saying “I’m sorry. This is my fault. I should have checked with you about the key before moving forward”.
Note: I thought I had sent the skeleton track (without overdubs) out for her to approve and as it turns out, I composed it, but never sent it. 🙁
After she offered to give me more money to correct the track, I told her that she wouldn’t incur any additional cost.
I corrected some of the tracks with “Pitch N Time” (which sounded awesome by the way), replayed some of the tracks and resang the background vocals. She is very happy now.
Even though correcting this particular track was a no-brainer, there are times when you feel that a costly mistake is not your fault. This is the time you have to decide, “Is this project the ONLY project I ever want to do with this client, or is this project just part of a bigger plan?”
Sure, I could have accepted her payment for what was really MY mistake. It would have felt great NOT to lose a little money on this deal…. but the bottom line is she is my client. I have to keep her trust. If losing a little money now means that she will bring me her next project, and the next project after that, then I have won.
The bottom line is this… Whenever there is a mis-communication, a mistake, or an oversight, there is a unique opportunity to either lay blame or gain trust… Always choose to gain trust.