Do You Need to Hire a Producer? - Outerloop

Do You Need to Hire a Producer?

To Hire a Producer for Your Album or EP can be a Significant Investment

This is Why You Should Hire a Producer Early In Your Career

Last week I talked about the differences between the Producer, the Engineer, and the Mixer. We KNOW you need a mixer. We KNOW you need an engineer. But since a Producer is not an Engineer, do you need to hire a Producer?

Check out the video above and scroll to the bottom for a reason I DIDN’T include in the video!

Many musicians, especially early in their careers, forego hiring a producer in order to keep their costs low. Too many musicians are determined to record whole albums completely self-directed. Sometimes this is by choice. Sometimes it is because they feel they can’t afford to hire a producer to help them. But this is a mistake.

The career path of some musicians is to work without a producer early in their career and then work with one later in their career. But this model is flipped!

The career path of MOST musicians is to work without a producer early in their career. They then give up when things don’t happen for them like they’d hoped for.

But if you look at the career path of most musicians who MADE IT, they worked with the RIGHT producer early in their career and found success as a result, either directly or indirectly.

Can’t afford to hire a producer for your album?

Instead, plan for an EP and spend the difference on the producer. If you need to, with the right producer, it is a better investment to record A SINGLE SONG than an entire album without one.

How do you find the right producer?

Start by going to your favorite albums. Find the producer who has experience making the the idealized version of the songs you are playing in your rehearsal room. If you network to them but they are unavailable or uninterested or way too expensive, ask for a referral. And if you are unable to network to them, use your local network to find a local producer who will provide the talent, insight, and attention your music deserves. Work with them before their resume’ has the names of your favorite bands on it! YOU can discover great producer talent much like you hope record labels or managers to discover great musician talent in you.

“Get the producer involved during the demo process,”

says Tim from Rozu in our exclusive Facebook group for OC students. He’s absolutely right. You want a producer who invests in your songs like you are investing in them. Again, check out last week’s post for some of the great reasons a producer is needed for your music.

Here’s a great reason to hire a producer I did not include in the video. It comes from a happy accident in my own career as a musician.

In a later band than the one I wrote about last week (with the guitar panning left and right incessantly…), we were finding some regional success. Producers in neighboring markets were putting us on great bills so we could build an audience beyond our home town.

On one of these out-of-town bills, I was sitting in the merch booth making conversation with the guy working merch for the touring headliner. The headliner was a band we were all fans of. When we finally got to introducing ourselves, I realized I had been speaking with the the producer of one of my favorite albums for the past half hour. The producer and I swapped information. I don’t recall WHEN we asked him to produce our album. I might have asked him on the spot! Regardless, I knew the moment I was shaking his hand he had to produce our debut album. The band added a few extra gigs in to our itinerary to cover the unplanned expense of his travel and fees.

We were still an unsigned band at that point. And I was looking forward to endlessly pitching the album to dozens of labels after it was recorded (not). But the producer was on the phone with a label he worked closely with before we were out of the studio. Within a few weeks of mixing, we had come to an agreement and were signed to my dream indie record label of the time and genre. And it was all because of our producer.

Hiring a producer can be one of the best investments you can make in the early part of your career.

For the money you might spend on a great instrument or new stage equipment, you could hire the very person who makes the difference between your songs being GREAT versus being just also-rans. Talented and/or experienced producers will build you and your music into the very music you look up to now. Do you need to hire a producer?