When is your session at the client’s studio really done? Part 1 of 2.


NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 2!

Sessions at a client’s studio (rather than your own home studio) are increasingly rare, but maybe that’s even more reason to review how to wrap one up. In an “away” situation, it may be your last chance to do everything right. Unless, of course, you DO everything right ... which will increase your odds of having more chances to come!

So, what should you do when your away-session is done?

The answer to this question depends partly on whether you’re being directed, even if the director is also the engineer or your client.

If the client is present (and/or client’s ad agency, etc.), that’s good. Even if the client is just tagging along, it’s good to have their immediate feedback, because they’re there to approve it. If they have any script changes, the voice actor can make them.

If the client wants to participate more actively, let them. (If the client is inexperienced at audio recording sessions, you might have to be a bit more diplomatic than if working with an experienced Director, but take them seriously. If you try to change them, they might hire another voice actor who is more welcoming of their input.)

Also, working with the client makes it a more personal relationship, which in turn increases the likelihood of having the client come back to you for future work.

If the client or the writer or someone else is present just to answer questions, not to direct, that’s fine – you take the helm. But nevertheless, it is still collaboration. In determining what they need, let them be your guide. If in your view they were satisfied too easily (that is, if you had additional creative paths to explore), be tactful ... and think carefully. Provide your expert ability and knowledge as requested or required. But remember that you’re directing yourself, not directing them. If they have approval authority, leave the final call to them.

... Which is why we have been belaboring the “during-the-session” discussion; it bears on when to call it a wrap:

If you’re working with a director or creative team, you’re done when they feel they have what they need. After all, the recording isn’t about your needs. It’s about theirs. When the engineer or director says, “Come out of the booth,” come out.

When you're invited out of the booth at a client’s studio, here’s how it should usually go ...

Smalltalk. Enjoy the bit of good feeling that typically follows a job presumably well done, but don't overstay your welcome. Your part of the project is over, but they still have work to do. Or other places to be, other clients to serve.

Most clients want to hear only things that benefit them, such as, “Want me to stick around while you review everything, in case you want me to re-record?” Most clients do NOT want to hear about your personal news, whether it be your family life, the weather or a promotional spiel. If the client talks about their family, it doesn’t mean that you need to talk about yours.

But use your judgment. On one hand, creating a friendly, personable relationship is critical. On the other hand, overstaying your welcome is detrimental. Find the balance. It depends on the client, their mood that day, their timeline, and so on.

Come to think of it, you have other things to get to, too, right?

Do NOT ask how you did. Assuming things went well, you should already know that they were satisfied. If you had a question regarding, say, tone or creative approach, the session was the time to have asked it. Asking now could introduce doubts, and is unprofessional because it shows a lack of confidence in your performance.

Instead, express your gratitude for the chance to work with them, and your hope that you'll get to work together again soon. If there's something nice to be said about them, their company or the session that's relevant and doesn't sound sappy or embarrassing, say it. It helps makes it genuine.

Offer your business card to the studio and the client or director, and have extras for anyone who asks. They should already know who you are, but they don't all have a copy of your contract and contact information. They may not all work for the same company, and in time, some of them will move on. Hopefully, they’ll take your card with them.

(However, it should be totally simple for them to find your website just by knowing your name.)

Just as important, ask for their cards. That includes the creative team and producer, director and engineer. Again, they’re not all from the same companies, and what if you lose touch with your main contact?

Sign any remaining paperwork. A signed-contract exchange should have taken place before the session, but if not, be sure you've signed and handed over the contract. If they haven’t already signed your copy of it, get that done. Also check with the client, the studio manager or reception desk in case there is a voucher to sign. The job is not completed until the paperwork is completed.

While you’re at it, be sure you have the client’s job number for the project, in case of a future billing issue or a request for audio, desire to publicize, etc.

And, as you thank your client or the producer, gently ask what the next step will be.

Hopefully, your contract has provided for you to receive a sample of the produced recording. If not, and if you have not signed an Non-Disclosure Agreement, sometime in this brief concluding process, ask when and how you can get a copy of the finished recording, or at least when it will be run or released. But if they make one for you there, or send it to you, do NOT publicize your work (let alone use it in your demo) prematurely! Ascertain your client’s (or the end-client’s) wishes regarding that. Ask for permission. For all you know, this recording was part of a hush-hush plan or presentation. The last person a client wants the world to learn their marketing plans from is you ... except, of course, when your recorded voice is heard in their product or campaign.

turn on your mobile phone’s ringer.

But you’re not done yet. One reason for getting all those business cards is that you should send an email later that day (or better yet, snail-mail a business note ... a relative rarity these days) again thanking them for your business. If snail-mailing it, include another card. Consider writing the name of the session or client on the card, because it's easy for people to lose track of who gave them what and why.

And then email meaningful update reminders a few times through the next year.

If working from your home studio, it’s a bit different. We’ll cover that next week, and some of its details will also apply to an “away” session, rare in your career or not.

Next week: When are you done with a home-studio recording session?

Do you have a comment or suggestion? Please send to Marketing@EdgeStudio.com.

Just booked first client studio gig, this will help!

This advise couldn't have come at a better time. I just booked my first client-studio gig and I feel confident that I will be better prepared for the session...and after! Thanks so much...

Nice read!

My other favorite reminder to myself for *any* coached session is "Speak less, listen more." Whether it's nervous energy or your own inner voice coach leaking out, you can't really understand and express what they want if you're competing for attention.

And also always, always be positive. Even if you're sure you did the line exactly as they're requesting, but they want you to do it again. (You can scream in your car on the way home.) Remember that how you handle yourself is also a reflection on those who suggested/selected you. Take a deep breath, assume they're having trouble communicating what they really want, and shift your approach to help them, help you, find it.

Etiquette in the studio

Since pretty close to the beginning of my career, my watchword has been: “My job is done when the client is happy.” Rare exceptions for unreasonable clients exist, but 98+% of the time, this has worked for me. (Besides, it's easier to "fix it now" than fix it later.)

Also, a suggestion re: cards: if the end client is the studio's client, especially if you are the studio's hire, try to check first (or away from the client) if it is OK to hand the end client a card. Often it is not, as the studio may be marking us up to the client and handing out a card threatens the studio's income. (I learned this from empirical experience and almost lost a contact in the process!) Or, as the old expression goes, "Dance with the one what brung you!"

Thank you for another thoughtful article. I don’t comment frequently, but I check out - and appreciate - every dispatch.

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