Over the past 3 months, we've spent almost ONE THIRD of the original budget altering a piece of work as per the whims of the MD, the label boss, the band and now, it seems, the band's mate who's "done a bit on photoshop." This is so painfully true that it stings.
we're at the point where we've packaged up the files to give over to the band in the hope that they'll hang themselves and allow us to do our job.
In all honesty, I'd really appreciate a bit of advice on how to avoid repeating this kind of situation again, we've never come across such a difficult client (obviously there are the clients who haven't ever commissioned design before, but the one's who should know better but don't actually terrify me!)
You can't. Unless you're Saatchi's or someone, in which case the client will worship every word you say. You can try to politely put over your arguments, or mention up front that too many amends will add to the cost, but really you'll always get clients like this. Everyone's a designer nowadays - it was was easier before everyone had access to Photoshop etc and left it to the professionals. It's the old argument that having a scalpel doesn't make you a surgeon.