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What are your terms of service?

I will discuss what my terms of service are once we’ve established what my responsibilities for your project are. They will be very specific and written out in contract form. No work will begin on my behalf until we have come to terms for the project and that a contract is signed by all parties involved.

Do you do live sound?

No. I do not do monitors or front of house. The only thing I do in a live concert setting is record the show and/or mix it post. The client is responsible for hiring out the appropriate equipment to make the live recording happen.

Do you master?

No, I use mastering engineer John Horesco of One Up Mastering in Atlanta. He’s a pro all the way. I used to assist him on Usher, Brian Michael Cox, and Jermaine Dupri sessions. I highly recommend working with John. If the client is already set on using their mastering engineer, I generally do not have a problem with it. The finished result must meet or exceed my expectations and policies.

Can you work for free, and get points on the back end?

No, I do not work for free, I do not work on spec or in trade. I don't care how "amazing" the project is, if there is not a legitimate paycheck involved, I WILL NOT DO THE PROJECT. 

Do you tune vocals?

If I need to slap some Autotune on or get a few notes with Melodyne, no worries, but if you are looking for me to tune and time a song with 80 tracks of vocals, I will not be doing it. I have several people I use that specialize in vocal tuning. The person that is used is dependent on your budget and the complexity of the tuning (the more out of tune and time you are, the more expensive it’s going to be).

Do you travel for sessions?

Yes, I do. I prefer to record out of the Clubhouse recording studio in New York, but will travel to other studios as long as the project is worth the trip. My making “guerilla warfare record” days are very few and far between, meaning I like working in a studio that has good maintenance and a great professional staff. 

What do you consider being the most challenging part of audio engineering? 

Communication and logistics: I can’t count how many times no or late communication with inaccurate information has compounded minor issues into meglapoundings. DO NOT DO THIS. For example, if I send you a mix for you to listen and send mix notes, please don’t ignore me or wait three plus weeks to submit changes. An engineer loves quick feedback. It moves the process along so much more fluidly and helps greater retention of the vibe. The vibe is the most important thing. If the vibe is fleeting or gone, it’s a very serious problem. Also, please remember that while I’m waiting for you to get back to me, I’ve stopped working on your project, moved on to something else and pushed your project to the back of the cue.

Another example would be communicating the correct setup information for a tracking session. If I am given inaccurate or incomplete information and must make fill-in-the-blank judgments, it’s only going to eat into your session time and money because we now must make major amendments to the setup, which could have been done prior to your arrival. It creates unnecessary fire drills which are no bueno. Constant open line of communication, no matter the situation, will always make for a much smoother session.

How should your credits read?

Credits are very important to us all, and when they are not done properly or even flat out not done at all/left out it's beyond unprofessional. It happens to us all, and it is not cool when it does, we need to be better. Please have my credit as Mark Everton Gray followed by what my roles for the project are (Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, etc.). Don’t forget to include the Assistant Engineers and the Production Assistants, and any other studio staffers that contributed to your project. Thank you in advance for taking the time to make sure that spellings and roles are correct. It goes a very long way.

Are you a producer?

No, I am not. I really don’t have any interest in it. I have produced in the past and those experiences have helped bolster my depth of audio engineering. What people don’t understand about what a producer does is much more involved than just being responsible for music content. The Producer is the quarterback, the psychiatrist, the head of logistics, the beacon, and the liaison between all parties. It’s very extensive and exhausting, and not everyone is cut out to be one. I am not one of those people. My talents are much more suited in the music engineering department.

Can we record as many songs as humanly possible in one day?

Not unless you’re in the Frank Sinatra Band. The more things you cram in a session, the more stressful it is; mistakes are made, and more time is then needed to fix them — which means more money. I understand that budgets are smaller than ever, but I feel it’s no excuse to cut back on quality. Please plan your projects out meticulously, or at least hire someone to do it. Take the time to do your preproduction properly and make things flow as smoothly as possible. Stupid expensive mistakes are horrendous and avoidable. 

Do we need hard drives?

Yes, you are going to need at least two: master and safety. Recording studios and engineers do not provide you with drives. Please be diligent about this. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been on a session, and no one brings a drive, let alone two drives. Please keep in mind if you do not have hard drives and are forced to purchase blank media at a studio, you are going to be paying a very high premium.   Also, avoid cheap slow drives. They are awful to run sessions off of and if you’ve got a large amount of data to backup twice daily (minimum), think about having faster drives: otherwise, it’s more time and more money. A studio is not responsible for your files. Some will keep a copy for a while on their systems, but most will not. Depending on the facility too, you may or may not be able to keep drives in the studio library. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your files; stay on top of it, please.  

Should we change strings, drumheads, and things of that nature prior to coming to the session? 

You know your instrument best and how to take care of it (we hope), so that’s your call. If you’re rolling into the session with beat-up drumheads and gaff tape all over them, chances are very high that new heads are going on. My advice is if you can get your gear in the studio the day before to let it acclimate in the room, do it. Climate plays a big role in how instruments behave. At Studio at the Palms, we would always have to tend to tuning issues because of the dry, hot climate and cold casino air. It’s always the little things; if we stay on top of them, fewer poundings happen.  

Do you have procedures in place regarding how you like to have sessions presented to you? 

Yes. If you are submitting sessions prior to our session date, I do request the sessions be prepared a certain way, especially if you are using a different DAW from ProTools. Please click here to learn more about this.  

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