So… You’ve written a number of original songs.
You play them at your gigs.
Audiences eat them up.
Fans constantly ask how they can get their own 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 pressed a “record” button on a tape machine.
It’s all gotten way more complicated — and expensive — to produce recorded music than it was 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 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 amazing. A bad one could ruin them, or worse, rip you off by taking your money and providing 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 fees that newer musicians and groups can’t afford. 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 that many producers are willing to work with unsigned artists if they believe they could become a hit-maker later in their careers. If a producer agrees to work with you in this way, they either won’t ask for a payment upfront or reduce their fee in return for payment when you get a record or publishing deal. This could end up being a percentage of future income or royalties rather than a flat fee.
There are also many newbie producers who are on the lookout for artists or bands to work with so they can gain experience and build out their portfolios. You may find an up-and-coming talent yourself and both of you can benefit from working with each other over the long term.
Another option available to new musicians: Produce your own music and hire an engineer to do all the technical work for you.
Engineers typically work with producers. They set up recording equipment and handle much of the technical side of a studio production. Many producers actually 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 producing 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 you admire or have a connection to. 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’ll 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 on social media. One of your followers, or someone connected with them, may know a producer or engineer they can introduce you to.
- Check at local schools that offer courses in music production. 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 who is reputable and experienced. While most music professionals are good people, there are some bad actors and you want to make sure you don’t get involved with one of them.