You’ve written several original songs.
You play them at your gigs.
Audiences eat them up.
Fans constantly ask how they can get copies of your music.
It’s time to record your songs!
Not so fast.
Music production today:
Unfortunately, aspiring musicians these days can’t just get together in a garage or studio and perform while someone presses a “record” button on a tape machine.
It’s become more complicated — and expensive — to produce recorded music than just a few years ago.
It takes a 24 to 48-track studio, and an experienced lead producer and production team to create a professional-sounding recording that fans will find acceptable. After all, you don’t want to disappoint them when they download and listen to your music.
A good producer can take your great songs and make them extraordinary. A bad one could ruin them (or worse), rip you off by taking your money, and provide you with no usable recordings.
Most producers are freelancers. They are typically represented by their agents, who, in turn, will handle the fee and negotiate with record companies. Record companies usually match them up with artists who can benefit from working with them. However, producers often command high prices that newer musicians and groups can’t afford. So what’s a musician who’s just starting out to do?
Opportunities for newbie musicians:
The good news for musicians who have never recorded before is many producers are willing to work with unsigned artists if they believe they could be a hitmaker later in their careers. If a producer agrees to work with you in this way, they either won’t ask for payment upfront or reduce their fee in return for payment when you get a record or publishing deal. This could be a percentage of future income or royalties rather than a flat fee.
Many newbie producers are looking for artists or bands to work with to gain experience and build out their portfolios. You may find an up-and-coming talent, and both of you can benefit from working with each other over the long term.
Another option available to new musicians:
Produce your music and hire an engineer to do all the technical work.
Engineers typically work with producers, setting up recording equipment and handling much of the technical side of studio production. As a result, many producers begin their careers as engineers before moving on to the more creative side of producing music. This often happens when a studio recognizes their talent and gives them a shot at making some up-and-coming artists.
How musicians can find a producer or engineer:
Here are some ways you can find the production help you deserve:
- The Music Directory includes a list of producers and engineers you can reach out to; send them a demo of your music or invite them to a gig.
- Contact the producers of the bands who you have a connection with and, or who you admire. They may be willing to partner with you. Or, you never know; they might know someone or have an intern or assistant working for them who could help you out.
- Check with your network. One of your fans may know someone who produces music. Or you may have a producer or engineer in your audience base. You won’t find out unless you ask.
- Search online. Like most things, you may be able to find production help through Google.
- Check gig sites like Upwork or Fiverr; music professionals sometimes offer their services on these platforms.
- Put out the word through social media. One of your followers, or someone connected with them, may know a producer or engineer. If so, ask them to introduce the said person to you!
- Check out local schools that offer courses in music production; for example, a senior student may be able to produce your music or engineer it under your guidance. Also, teachers may be open to earning a few extra bucks working for you.
- Contact local recording studios; they may have a list of producers and engineers they could recommend to you.
If you find a producer or engineer you want to work with, check online ratings and reviews of them or contact references to ensure you’ll be working with someone reputable and experienced!