After finding myself in some tough positions on this journey, the search for a production team became fraught with some intrepidation. Many Artists lose the only hard-earned investment they have on a production that gets carried away to an end that is gravely short of fulfilling their vision for their project, or even worse, to no end at all. I was asked more than once, “Why don’t you produce your own record?” Right. I barely know Garage Band, and at the time I was told that the learning curve to make my own quality recordings was stiff. I felt certain that kind of endeavor would have been much more discouraging than it’s worth and it would have taken my focus away from my singular purpose of songwriting. So I began a long process of reaching out to producers, studio owners, and audio-engineers in my local area, and sending original music samples all over the place, until I had production scenarios anywhere from $50.00/hour to $5000/song, with audio engineers from age 26 to 60+.
At first, the very humble Nick Bariluk with his small studio in the sticks of Danbury, Connecticut, seemed like a least likely candidate. But I found Nick to be a rare gem. His small studio was fantastically outfitted and his character and skill proved itself in no time. Nick was totally professional and grounded from the beginning of our interactions. He possessed an evident energy and excitement over my project that was not over-the-top, but on par with its size and nature. It wasn’t easy to find that balance in addition to someone who would take me seriously and instill a trust with me from the get-go; someone who cared more about my vision than his own.
It is important to know some of a Producer’s affiliations to establish his credibility. However, Nick never opened our initial dialogues with name-dropping. It took several weeks to happen upon findings that Nick had a touring and recording history with the Police, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, and an invite from Tina Turner, as well as a band that had hit songs of its own. In addition to hanging out with the likes of Simon & Garfunkel’s Manager, I’m sure Nick has more untold stories that I will dig up over time.
So how did I find Nick?
First, I looked for consistent and easy communication from earliest interactions. Because of past injuries, it was of utmost importance to look for someone who demonstrated transparency and reliability. COMMUNICATION is that which everything else in the relationship is built upon and was of utmost importance on my search for the right guy. Nick read ALL of my emails and texts, not the first couple sentences, and addressed them in full. He listened intently and patiently to my ADHD meanderings about my vision and tried hard to employ them. When it came to employing my musical ideas, he did so readily instead of trying to compete with his own. Once he “got” me, he developed a sense for my taste and tried to build on it with his own ideas. And he always had an ego-less way about presenting his stuff to me, full of openness to make changes I requested or try different ideas on each piece. Once communication and money-related issues were established and forth-going, the project could fly.
Second, speaking of MONEY, the past taught me to look for someone who did not insist on having control over it. Though there is nothing uncommon about paying a reasonable up-front deposit and negotiating written agreements, I appreciated the fact that Nick did not require that. (By the way, I’ve learned that many people in our litigation culture who promise a money-back guarantee, even in writing, may have a lawyer ready to legally shove satisfaction down their clients’ throats rather than true intent to refund or create genuine satisfaction. Be careful!). I never signed a contract or paid a large up front deposit. Fees paid to other parties did not pass through Nick’s hands. Though Nick brought in and scheduled musicians, he never insisted on using his people; and I, as the Artist and paying client, negotiated and paid each party independently. I loved the freedom in the whole process.
Third, I looked for someone who could play me his previous productions without hesitation. By the way, I was never his only client. He worked a couple other projects along side of mine and had regular gigs as well.
Fourth, I was happy to find in Nick someone who took pride in his studio and equipment as an investment with a growing vision for future expansion. Though his studio houses some of the best vocal mics on the market, Nick took no offense to my choice to test out a vintage mic from another studio. His stuff more than compared.
I consider this next point a bonus and an important part of Nick’s character: I was pleased to find Nick as someone who was not afraid to prioritize the truly important things in life, putting them ahead of my project when necessary, to keep his heart, soul, and mind in a good place, free from regrets that could also have become mine.
It is a privilege and honor to have worked with Nick and to be able to share his awesome work with you through my project. I would refer Nick to any artist of any age. Thank you for everything Nick! I hope all these lovely readers will buy our record so we can record more!