Otis, my soul music side project, is finishing its debut album. The mix was done by a wicked young talent in LA named Steve Kaye. The guy has incredible ears and impeccable creative judgment. As we got to the end of the mix, I realized how vital Steve’s judgment was to the power of the end product. “Should we bump the B3 in the outro?” “Honestly, this section is all about the vocals, not the organ.” “I don’t know if we need the horns here.” “I’d leave them in, it’s their best moment in the whole song.” We challenged each of Steve’s recommendations, but in the end he was pretty much always right.
Being the client for a change reminded me of the value of specialists. And it made me reflect. Our clients hire us to do something we’re excellent at. Still, many of them have no hesitation to impose changes that dramatically weaken the impact of our work. Like Steve, we always listen to clients. But we also articulate our rationale and recommendations, based on judgement honed over 25 years. There’s a direct correlation. The clients who follow our guidance reap the biggest rewards from our work. By far.