You can learn from my mistakes

201105300834.jpgI’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.

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