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Your Producer
By Bronson Herrmuth - 06/28/2011 - 11:48 PM EDT

No doubt that recording original music as an artist is the best route for most artists whether they actually wrote the music or not. At the same time, working with the best producer you can find is definitely the best route for all artists. However, the first rule in the Music Business is that there are no rules. Your individuality - being unique - is pretty much the whole point as an artist. That you bring something to the table that no other artist does, because it is you and your music. Recording original material is one way to do that, another is obviously your voice and another is your "look".

The style of music you perform as an artist dictates what needs to be done - the plan of action and attack - when making these kinds of decisions. In some genres it is common practice to re-record, or "cover" a classic that has already been a hit and is already known to your desired musical audience, your fans. In other genres that is looked down on, and you have to record something new and fresh, something - original - when you debut with a new record.

All of the above are decisions that your producer helps you make. What to record. When to record. How to record. Where to record. Who to record with. Who to engineer your recordings. These are all things that it is a producers job to assist you with. When a producer works with an artist, these are all things that they bring to the project as producer. They can give you sound advise, direction, and input to make these kind of important decisions with you and then make sure they all get done right, with the end result being your new record. Choosing the right songs to record and release is a major issue on all recording projects. Good producers have access to those songs and the songwriters that write them if you don't write music yourself. An experienced producer also knows the best musicians to use for your recording sessions and has worked with them before. Working in the studio always has the potential to be stressful, but working with professional musicians who know each other and who have recorded together many times and are all friends can turn a recording session into a whole lot of fun. A good producer can make all the difference when it comes time to record, for sure, especially if you are not seasoned in the studio.

So how do you find a good producer for you and your music? Many artists use other artists that they admire and respect to pattern their own careers after, not to copy, but to learn from and garner valuable information to help them make these kinds of career decisions. If you look at the credits on CD's of artists that you admire and see who produced them, who played on the record, who engineered the records, who wrote the songs on the record, you'll get the idea. Good chance that all of those folks are people you would probably be well served to work with. Again, never forget the power of using the search engine on your computer. Type in music producers - New York, or Los Angeles or Nashville, and just see how many hundreds will pop up. Surf around and visit those producers and their web sites and ask around with all of your artist/band/musician friends in your area to see who they know.

How do you find out about a producer you have never met? Just ask them. Ask to hear music they have produced that is in your genre. Again, you can use your computer and type their name into search engines. They should be there, and the more they have accomplished, the more there will be there about them. Don't be shy about asking them to tell you who they are and what it is they do. A producer/artist relationship is very intimate, it has to be to be effective, and the fact that we are talking about your music, makes it that much more personal. You definitely want to feel comfortable working with your producer, and should, if they are the right producer for you. An accomplished producer will have some form of promotional package they use to show their work, just request it from them if you are serious about working with them. It is how they make their living. Don't forget, any producer worth their salt is going to want to hear your music, probably even meet you, maybe want to see you perform, before they will agree to work with you. I would avoid any producer who says yes to producing you with out ever hearing your music if you are making a record as an artist.

Who should pay for your recording sessions? It costs a lot of money to record in a top studio, that is a fact that all of us face. Your prospective producer, who will be putting a price tag on your recording project, should have no problem giving you a written breakdown on how that money will be spent, a cost sheet. It will show you exactly what every part is costing and what you will be getting for your money, including how much they are charging for production fees. I know everyone is afraid of being "conned" or ripped off and they should be. But a producer makes his/her living producing and should be paid for their experience and talent, and all the other expenses are exact costs relating to the physical recording process. The reality is You are the artist, it is Your career - who else should be paying for it? It is your decision, your idea, and your choice to make a record. Even if you get signed to a recording contract with a major label you will ultimately be paying for the costs of recording, they will just advance all of these costs on your behalf and then take it all back from the sale of your CD's before you see any of your actual artist royalties. You will always pay to record your music, up front, or down the road. This includes paying your producer.

Why not just produce your music yourself? There are artists that choose to produce their own records, any many more that co-produce their music with an established producer, or sometimes several. Producing your own music is of course very cool, if you know what you are doing and know your way around a recording studio. Most artists tend to learn about production as they go and generally take a more active part in the production process as they do. With the multitude of home recording studios and the never ending new recording technology, many artists/songwriters/bands buy their own recording gear and make their own recordings. There are hundreds of thousands just on mp3.com alone, and the majority of those artists use their own or a friend's home studio to make their music. If you know what you are doing and have experience producing, of course you should be involved in the production aspect of your recordings, and if not, you should work with a good producer. It is the best and fastest way to learn to produce if you enjoy the production process.

One of the most important advantages of working with an established producer is that it gives you access to the people in the industry that you don't know who you want to hear the finished product. It's good to have someone else to help you get your music heard by the right people, someone who also has something to gain from the success of your project. As a producer, I have played every song I have ever produced to anyone and everyone who will take the time to listen to it, and I think the majority of producers are the same way. They are just as proud of your record as you are, and having that extra industry insider to assist you can make all the difference. Many a recording contract was initially instigated by the producer of that recording who played it for their connections at the record label because they could get in and because their reputation got them a good listen.



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