Perhaps you’ve got a few songs written, have been gigging for a little while and you’re ready to lay some tracks down in a recording studio. Your first job is to find a producer and here’s everything you need to get started.
What does a producer do?
The producer’s job is to make your music the best it can be. They will have experience in your genre and the scene and should understand your aims. They’ll figure out your strengths and identify where you might need some help. Producers also play a role in booking studio time and musicians (including session singers, featured artists and instrumentalists), so their contacts and connections are really important especially when you’re starting out in your career.
Things to do before you search for a producer
Before you approach a producer, it’s important for you to have a few things clear in your mind so that you can look for the right person and get your partnership of to a smooth start.
Take some time to understand your audience and how you plan to reach them. Whether you’re looking to produce a hit that will ultimately help you to land a record deal, or you want to put together an EP that will appeal to fans on Soundcloud, you’ve got to figure out what your goals are, as it will affect the type of producer you choose and the kind of relationship you will have with them.
Pull together a compilation of reference tracks that show the kind of sound, beats, mix or vocals you are looking to achieve. It’s famously difficult to get inside someone else’s head when it comes to describing music. These reference points will really help you and your new producer end up on the same page and get to the sound you want faster.
What should you look for in a producer?
You want someone who’s produced the kind of music you want to make and they need to have experience in your genre or your sound. If you have the opportunity, speak to artists they’ve worked with before and get some feedback. Another thing to look out for is, good industry connections. The producer should have relationships with musicians, engineers and studios that can also help craft your sound. Also, it’s worth thinking about your budget and whether you can afford the producer you want to work with, but also don’t get too put off by their status. Sometimes, a more expensive producer will work at a reduced rate because they believe in your vision. Alternatively, you might even decide to work with an up-and-coming producer who is less expensive but really keen, because you’re also willing to grow with them.
How to find a producer
Start local and research artists you like in your area; listen to their music and research the producers that they’re working with. You could even go one step further and contact them directly to ask about their producer. You can also find producers and artists collaborate with by visiting local recording studios - ask to have a listen to their music to see if it might be a good fit for your sound.
If you don’t find anyone from your local search, or if there isn’t much of a music scene in your area, head online. Look out for resources like like Urban Development’s owns Industry Takeover where you can meet various people from music industry, also The Music Directory, which list producers’ details and events.
What to do once you’ve found a music producer
When you’ve shortlisted a few producers, send them a demo of your songs – you could even invite them to a gig – so they’ll have a chance to see if it will be a good fit for their production. Some producers will be keen to work with a new artist if they believe that they’ll be successful later in their career. However, it’s also worth looking out for a rising talent yourself, as an upcoming producer might be willing to work for a reduced fee or even none at all so that they can get experience and exposure themselves.
Once you’ve locked down your producer, you’re one step closer to creating that track you’ve had inside your head.
Discover more tips and advice on producers and music production at our Industry Takeover seminars. Find out more HERE.