Deadlines are a ubiquitous feature of any business. Things have to be done on time and there’s often a “drop dead” deadline for certain aspects of a project, or it can no longer move forward. Entire careers are based on being able to manage projects to meet deadlines, i.e. project managers. The pressure is always to deliver a finished product on time and on budget (but that’s another topic for another day).
In the music preparation industry, some of the most difficult deadlines are recording sessions. For example, recently at Engraver’s Mark Music, we had a situation where, following 4 days of 12 hour recording sessions for another project, there was 3,000+ pages of parts and 1,500+ pages of scores to prepare, print, assembly, bind and organize to deliver to another session in less than 12 hours for the following day. That’s right, we had less than 12 hours to finish this project and deliver to the studio by 9am for a 10am start time. In situations like this, there is a very obvious deadline; at 10am, the orchestra is recording and there better be music on the stand, it better be the right music and it better be correct. That’s a lot of pressure.
Even during the recording session, the pressure doesn’t let up. Let me give you another example: for the project mentioned above, we had a 60 piece string section and a 20 brass section. Additionally, there were engineers and assistance engineers, producers, orchestrators and various other people involved with the project that were at the session. And everyone there is being paid by the hour, including the rental of the studio itself. Let’s say we have 90 people at the session making $75 per hour. That comes out to $6,750 per hour. Divide that by 60 minutes and that makes $112.50 per minute. Add the studio rental cost and it could come out to more that $130 PER MINUTE. That is really expensive. And, it makes every mistake that costs time, or any part that’s missing, really stand out. If there’s a problem with the music that requires a rewrite or there’s a missing part in the 10th stand of violins, even if that only take 3 minutes to rectify, that would cost the client nearly $400. This is a really high cost for a simple mistake.
Similar deadlines are also present in the music publishing world. Engraver’s Mark Music works with many publishers and they all demand their music is perfect before making it available for their customers, because if they have to deal with constant customer service calls or complaints, their profits tank. Similarly, if the IT department is trying to deal with finding and organizing digital files that should have delivered in better condition but now are costing them time to fix before they are available for sale, it makes the company look bad and could delay the release of the product, all because of issues with the music preparation and delivery.
This is the pressure cooker of the music preparation industry; do you have the systems, the processes and practices and people to deliver. It shows all the flaws and inefficiencies in stark relief. Sometimes, there’s just no room for even the smallest mistake, whether that’s fair or not.
However, there’s something really awesome that happens because of this kind of pressure. Pressure and time can work wonders. Take a diamond for example. A diamond is rather ugly lump of coal that has been transformed over time by enormous pressure and heat within the earth. The intense pressure over time refines the coal, changes into something else which is far more valuable. Coal by itself is useful, but diamonds, besides being a girl’s best friend, are unique and rare in the natural world. In the jewelry industry, diamonds are even graded on just how close to absolute perfection they are.
In business, this kind of pressure results in companies learning to sink or swim. You have to deliver; no 2nd chances. Engraver’s Mark Music has been working under these conditions for more than a decade and it has refined us. What all that pressure has taught us is to be constantly ready to change and adapt, while also refining our systems and processes we have in place to ensure the most accurate and highest quality products possible are delivered, consistently, for every project, every time. And this kind of refinement is not only for those major projects. If fact, it benefits smaller projects, companies, composers and orchestrators perhaps even more than most because with Engraver’s Mark Music, they get more done, faster, with efficiency and dedication to perfection that makes their time and money well spent, and providing significant savings for both areas, especially when the budget is tight and the time is short.
Let Engraver’s Mark Music help ease the pressure on you and your project; we have the experience to handle the pressure, all the tools to accomplish what needs to be done, manage the workflow and delivery of your music, and provide the highest quality music preparation to make your project a success. Let us take the heat, we can handle it!
Sammy Sanfilippo, CEO of Engraver's Mark Music