It’s a question I’ve been asked several times recently. More specifically, it involves a debate between two possible approaches:
OPTION 1) Concentrating your budget on a smaller body of work (e.g. a single, or at best an EP) with a more established producer who has good credentials and equipment,
OPTION 2) Working with a producer who is still early on in their career and makes up for whatever they lack in experience (and top class equipment) with boundless enthusiasm and dedication to your project.
Given the saturated nature of the indie music scene, there is a case to be made for ensuring the quality of your recordings stands out – it could be a big factor in setting you apart from the rest of the new music coming out in your genre.
However, the best way to approach finding the right music producer is Option 2, focusing on the huge potential value in finding someone who is as invested in your project as you are.
Choosing a producer without an impressive client list of decades of experience does not necessarily mean a compromise on quality.
Let me explain. There are a huge range of factors that determine how suitable a given producer is for you, including:
- How much time they can make for you
- How excited and emotionally invested they are in your project
- What sort of music is inspiring them at the moment
- Whether they have other commitments, big projects with deadlines that might draw them away from your work
- The quality of their equipment
- The location of their studio
- Whether they have access to great session musicians playing the instruments that suit your songs
What people forget is that, while producing great quality tracks with a polished sound can be a great marker of your intent, showing the outside world that you’re serious about your career in music, the recording quality is a relatively unimportant determining factor in how good (and successful) your songs are!
What will really grab people are factors like: how distinctive your vocals and instruments sound; how well constructed your melodies are; how original your songwriting style is; and so on. It doesn’t matter how expensive the microphone is and how well mastered the finished track is – if what your recording is one-dimensional, rushed, unoriginal, your success will either be short-lived or never get off the ground in the first place.
Also, if you’re spending your entire budget on recording/mixing time (and limited recording time at that), you’re missing other great investment opportunities that can be far more important and often overlooked – things like hiring great instruments or good session players, or extra training to improve the way you write lyrics or memorable melodies.
One of the biggest artists can make (I’ve been there!) is to assume that the one thing that needs no work or investment are the songs themselves. Your producer can be a huge part of this journey, but only if you have the time to build a solid creative relationship with them.
None of this is to say that you wouldn’t have this perfect creative relationship with a really established producer who charges you big rates for their time but is able to give your songs that killer edge they need. You might even be lucky enough to find a producer willing to give you reduced rates because they love your music enough.
But the main point I am trying to make is that the songwriting-producer relationship has more impact on the quality of your songs than the quality of the mics and which artists they have worked with.
With that in mind, read on to discover my step-by-step guide for finding your dream producer in PART 2…
If you found the dream producer and want to share your experience with us, leave a comment below!