You’ve reached that point in your career where you are ready to make your first high-quality recording.
It’s a step up to showcasing your musical gifts on your website and social media accounts, expanding your audience base, positioning yourself as top talent, attracting the attention of future employers—and, yes, making money.
But it had better capture your range and sound as clearly and passionately as your live performances.
Otherwise, what’s the point?
Here are some thoughts on taking a big step in your career: becoming a recording artist.
Music Production Today
It’s no longer sufficient to go into a hall, set up, roll tape, and begin playing. Unfortunately, the recording process is much more complicated and expensive than in days of yore.
To do it right, it takes a 24- or 48-track studio and an experienced lead producer and production team to create a professional recording that meets your standards. If it doesn’t, do you want others to hear it?
Good producers don’t simply record the music. They capture its depth, your technique, and the emotional qualities that make you a unique talent.
Producers typically freelance. They usually have an agent who handles fees and negotiations with studios and record companies. The companies, in turn, match them with artists who can benefit most from the producer’s specialization, including musical genres and artist personas.
Producers in this class, however, are top-shelf professionals and often command fees that price newer artists out of the market.
Fortunately, there is a Plan B.
Opportunities for Emerging Artists
Many high-quality producers will work with unsigned artists if they believe the recording will help them elevate their careers. For example, they may waive the upfront payment or reduce their fee in return for payment when you get a record or publishing deal. They may also forgo a flat fee for a percentage of future income or royalties.
Additionally, just as there are emerging artists, producers are also trying to make their mark. They often look for artists or bands to work with to gain experience and build their portfolios.
An up-and-coming artist teamed with an up-and-coming producer can lead to a mutually rewarding, long-term partnership.
If A & B don’t work, try Plan C: Produce your music and hire an engineer to do the technical work for you.
Engineers typically work with producers, setting up the recording equipment and handling the technical side of the production. Many producers began their careers as engineers before moving to the creative side of the business. Working with an artist to self-produce a recording raises their profile as an effective collaborator, which can help them catch the eye of a studio willing to give them a shot at producing.
How Musicians Find Producers and Engineers
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!