3 Tips on Studio Etiquette from Steve Catizone of Sanctum Sound

Sanctum_Sound_1When you operate a full scale audio recording and production facility whose clients include major entertainment giants like Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and Disney as well as superstar clients like U2, Justin Bieber and Black Eye Peas, proper studio etiquette is vital to your success. We recently took the opportunity to talk about this ever-important subject with none other than industry heavyweight Steve Catizone of Sanctum Sound.

Here are Steve’s 3 Tips on Studio Etiquette:

#1- Be Tactful and Don’t Be Too Opinionated!

“Don’t be too opinionated when you’re talking to the clients,” says Steve. “Just sort of listen and absorb. See what the climate in the room is, and make sure that if you do say something, it’s tactful.”

Always remember the client is the boss. Even if their creative vision is not one you personally like or feel is best for the project, it’s best to keep quiet and observe. This is the perfect opportunity to watch and learn. See how expertly the bosses manage their client, how they help steer them towards making the right choices or how they capture what the client is seeing/hearing in their imagination. Trust us, at times like these you’ll learn more by listening than by interjecting your opinion. Now, when and if your mentor or the client does want your opinion, it’s a good idea to state the positive first. Say what you like about the song, the production, etcetera. Then, state any criticisms you might have carefully and with the utmost tact.

#2 – Be Likable

Want to get work and keep on getting work? Well like many of the pros, besides having the necessary chops, Steve also takes a person’s “hangability” into account when he’s bringing someone onto a project.

Steve says, “If people enjoy having you in the room, it’s a big thing. A lot of that comes down to personality, basically just being a positive force in the room, being creative and knowing when to offer up ideas and how to tactfully do so, and knowing when to not be the guy ‘doing your job’ but just being cool to hang around with.”

Now, being a know-it-all or a name-dropper are NOT the best ways to increase your hangability. Be the most positive, genuine and dedicated person you can be and yes, have a sense of humor!

#3 – Commit to the Experience of Apprenticeship

Sure it’s natural, even healthy to think about the projects you’ll ultimately work on as an engineer or music producer but don’t forget to make the most of the opportunities you have now as an apprentice! Learning directly from a seasoned pro like Steve Catizone is a very rare and special experience. Focus on your apprenticeship. Commit to the journey you’re on and learn as much as you can.

Steve says, “Just dive in head first. To be great at anything you need 10,000 hours so you just get the process started. Get in and absorb as much as you can.”

One of Steve’s apprentices, Camilo Cedeno, has fully committed to his apprenticeship and has the says this about his experience so far:

“I have had a great time learning with Steve Catizone. Every single week I look forward to learning new things as he is extremely knowledgeable in production, business, and engineering related subjects. He wastes no time when we have our lessons… Even during casual conversation, he lays down knowledge that is valuable to my own creative process as a producer and to my growing knowledge base of engineering. I feel that he gives me gentle but honest feedback when it comes to the work I have done so far, not simply pretending to like everything I show him.

In the few weeks that I have been working with him, I definitely feel a greater handle on what it will take for me to have a successful career in this business. He has taken much of the scattered knowledge that I have learned on my own and given it structure and flow, where it now makes more sense and serves more as a reliable roadmap.”

Want to build a lasting career in audio engineering and music production? Then heed Steve Catizone’s 3 tips and ask your mentor for their advice on studio etiquette! Remember how you conduct yourself matters almost as much as building your skills and connections so take the time, assess where you’re at, and if you find there’s room to improve your game, now’s the time to do it! You can even make it a resolution for 2015!
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