The role of the producer is vital but most don’t exactly know what it means. Starita wrote a blog post on this very subject for GrammyPro and you can check it out below.
A lot of independent artists have asked me, “Do I need a producer?” I like to reply with a deeper question: Do you want your project to be as great as it can be? Of course, the answer is always affirmative on both accounts. As a DIY artist, you’re probably executing the thousands of tasks an artist needs to in order to make a living. Wouldn’t it be nice to focus solely on playing the music with the confidence that someone else is making sure you’re doing things right when you invest in your recording?
Artists work tirelessly to save money, write songs, rehearse, hire session players, and then go into the studio with the hope that their vision comes to fruition. As the old saying goes, hope is not a strategy. The producer’s job is to bring your vision to life – no hope required.
The producer can also oversee the recording process from start to finish, and can work with the artist, writers, session players, engineers, studios, and programmers to ensure the creative vision of the project is brought to light. The role of a producer in any project is ever-changing, and can consist of many different roles to make the project the best it can be.
To create the best recordings, a producer should be involved in the entire process of pre-production, recording, and mixing, and he or she may wear many hats throughout the life of the project. Depending on the artist’s needs, a producer can be heavily involved in all creative decisions, or they might simply act as a guide through the recording process. For instance, a singer/songwriter may only have a basic song idea and a vision of what he or she’d like it to sound like. In this case, the producer may be arranging, hiring session players, writing hooks, programming drums, and playing instruments. On the other end of the spectrum, a band may have songs and performances that are well arranged and tightly rehearsed, adhering to a unified vision. For them, the producer can be a voice of reason and experience to pick the best take or act as a liaison between the studio engineer and band.
A producer can fill various roles crucial to realizing the full potential of a recording. When looking for a producer, it’s important to have a chemistry with that person, and for both parties to have one thing in common: an unflinching drive and desire to do what’s best for the project. This is dependent on a particular producer’s skill set. There are a few different types of producers, but most blur the lines and have skills in all areas. So what are the types of producer?
The Gear Guru
There are producers that know the technical aspects of recording and can make certain decisions in the studio to get the overall sonic sound of the project by selecting mics, using mixing techniques, etc. This is useful in the case where you are going for a certain sonic quality that is very important to your vision.
The Partner In Crime
There are others who are players and songwriters themselves. They may dig a little deeper into the writing process and help with melodies, chord progressions, and arrangement. These producers are crucial when you just have ideas for song or sounds that to need to be worked through.
There is also a producer type who doesn’t play an instrument or engineer, but who has a great ear, and talent for bringing the best out of people. They usually bring a different perspective since they aren’t making any decisions based on music theory or engineering.
Regardless of the producer type right for your particular project, it’s critical to be aware of how to craft producer/artist agreements that benefit all parties. For more, be sure to review our recap of the San Francisco Chapter’s Music Business Night School session on the subject featuring attorney Michael Aczon and A&R expert Jerimaya Grabher. In the meantime, consider focusing on your art and craft, and don’t forget to thank your producer for the work they’ve dedicated to their own.