Having just release a new album, I thought it would be cool to share my thoughts on a very important part of the recording process – finding a producer! I hope these tips point you in the right direction.
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE AS A MUSICIAN
Musicians who don’t know their “sound” often create studio albums that take on their producer’s sound. It’s not your producer’s album. It’s yours! Be confident in your music and your style. Bring what you have to the table and make sure your music stands strong on its own so that your producer knows exactly what he/she is working with.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
# 1 and #2 go hand-in-hand. Being in the studio gives you the opportunity to create a piece of art that explores the various personalities in your music. Even if your music is folksy, the studio gives you the flexibility of making a multi-genre project. Some songs may end up being more poppy, more bluesy, or more jazzy. There are so many options in the studio. A producer helps you discover the possibilities while still helping your project maintain its “YOU element”.
As you enter into the recording process, know what you want out of each song and make sure you’re working with someone who can understand that. Sometimes you might not know what you want from a song. That’s ok. But make sure you’re working with someone who can help you figure it out- not someone who does what they want. It’s not their song. It’s yours and ultimately you’re going to be the one to take credit (or flak) for the final outcome.
3. SHOP & OBSERVE
Spend as much time as possible listening to other artists’ music. Learn what you like and what you don’t like. When you hear an album that stands out to you, email the artist and ask who they worked with. Ask them their opinion of the working relationship they had with their producer. Talk with that producer to see if you two might be compatible. Spend as much time as you can learning about the person you could potentially be working with. Look for a producer who has worked with comparable artists. In other words, if you want to make a pop album, don’t spend your time talking to a producer who primarily works with heavy metal musicians.
4. PICK SOMEONE YOU GET ALONG WITH
Incredibly important! Just because someone is good, doesn’t mean they’re the right person to work with. Make sure you’re working with someone who you can get along with. Meet up before you ever decide to work on a album together. Can you talk with each other. Do you speak the same language? Are your personalities compatible? Is there potential to hash out touchy subjects civilly (these will definitely come up)? Being able to trust who you work with is of utmost important. I can honestly say that working with a producer who i actually liked and felt comfortable around was what ultimately made working on my new album fun and stress free.
Other than you, no one gets closer to your music than your producer. Choose wisely.
Joy Ike is a full-time singer-songwriter based out of Pittsburgh, PA. She is also the founder of Grassrootsy, a music marketing blog for independent artists. She believes the greatest tragedy in the world is having a talent and keeping it to yourself. You can find her at www.joyike.com or follow her via twitter: @joyike