HIRING A PRODUCER

Producers serve a vital role in the music industry but oftentimes what they actually do is a bit of a mystery. There are several different kinds of Producers, but for the sake of this article I’m going to focus on Producers that deal with making an album from start to finish. I’ve broken down some of the hows and whys of hiring a good Producer and why it might be something that you want to consider.

          1. What does a Producer actually do- At the professional level a Producer acts as a project overseer. This includes handling everything and anything that may arise from pre to post production. They are often involved in developing talent and work with them directly; often being an objective outside voice grounded in reality that helps bands/artists with songs and arrangements. They are also responsible for things like the budget, studio booking, contracts, and scheduling. On a much smaller scale they can be more closely related to a consultant or coach.
          2. Should you hire a Producer?- This is something that a band/artist needs to considerably weigh the pros and cons of before choosing whether or not to hire a producer. There are certainly good reasons for hiring a producer but at the same time there can be a considerable cost investment involved that some artists simply can’t afford. Each album and set of artists are different and there often isn’t a right or wrong answer but I urge each band/artist that I work with to take into consideration hiring a producer.
          3. Why hire a producer?- Often one of the first questions I hear when I suggest looking at hiring a producer is why? There are a whole host of reasons that can be argued for or against at this point. The answer is expertise. To put it simply, I suggest hiring a producer for the following reasons. The first is that they can give critical advice as an often much needed outside perspective on everything from songs in the songwriting phase to mixing and mastering. They also have the knowledge and know how of what it actually takes to make a record from start to finish and as such can handle a lot of the responsibilities that go along with making a record; leaving the band/artist to focus on giving the best performance they are able to while in the studio.
          4. What to look for in a good Producer- Surprisingly the list of attributes needed to be a producer are relatively short. Firstly, they need to be some sort of competent arranger, composer, songwriter or musician that can give critical feedback to bands/artists that help in the songwriting process. Secondly, a good Producer needs to be familiar with the technical aspects of the recording process to communicate effectively with Audio Engineers to get the best results possible. Thirdly they need to be able to stick to a schedule while still being flexible enough to deal with the last minute things that come up. Lastly, a good Producer believes in your music just as much as you do. This last step is probably the most important thing to look for in a good Producer. They need to be a fan of your music while still being able to play the Devil’s advocate.
          5. Will your budget allow for a Producer?- Most bands/artists I’ve worked with don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on making a record. But that doesn’t mean that hiring a Producer is out of the question. On a much simpler scale Producers can be thought of as consultants or coaches. They have they knowledge and expertise to save you money and time in ways that may not be apparent to you. Your budget may not allow for hiring a Producer for an entire project, but you may be able to have a Producer come in for a day or two at a time to give advice and to point out areas for improvement.

-S. F. Shields

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Posted in Enigineer's Corner.

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