The most important thing to note about artistic development is that it’s not a service that’s rendered over a pre-determined length of time. I’ve never said to an artistic I was working with, “So I’ll see you tomorrow from 2-4pm for artistic development!” Ultimately, artistic development is something that happens over the course of a project; however, for me, laying the groundwork for this happens on pretty much day 1 of any project, far before we make any kind of official recording. I almost don’t like using this term because it can be interpreted as a bit condescending towards the artist, but nevertheless, I’m using it today, so to be clear, I think of artistic development in the context of recording, more so as concept development. My goal is help the artistic realize what he/she wants out of the project, and then to help achieve that.
Because artistic development is the overarching process that sort of mirrors and informs the project as it progresses, it makes sense that the first things we discuss about the project are related to artistic development. This is a really significant moment for any project because it’s basically like laying the foundation for a house upon which we can build the rest of the structure. Not every artistic knows exactly where they want to take things and that’s why using the word “development” is appropriate here. This is an excellent opportunity to start a dialogue about the music, what the songs mean, and what kind of energy we want to capture. The word development is also appropriate here in implying that the direction for the project can evolve over the course of the project itself, which again, speaks to the big picture-ness of the artistic development process. However, before moving onto pre-production, it’s important to figure out what kind of record we are trying to make. Is this a rock record with raw performances? A pop record with exacting polish? An intimate folk record with natural ambience? Having a sense of where we’re headed helps us enter the next phase on the same page.