Do You Really Need a Producer?
Saturday May 03rd 2008, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Audio recording

One of my favorite musicians, James Lee Stanley, has a great journal I highly recommend to any performers who want to take their gigging, audio recording and CD sales to a higher level.

Awhile back, he offered a series of article on music production. James has self-produced most of his albums (he’s recorded over 20 CDs). But does he recommend self-producing for others?

Well, according to James, if you have four things in place, you can consider producing yourself. And what are those four things?

  • The ability to listen to yourself critically. Does it work? If not, do it again, as many times as necessary.
  • Distance from the project. You know how hard it is to proofread something you wrote yourself? You tend to read what you meant to write, not what’s actually on the page, so you can easily overlook typos and grammatical errors. But when you come back a day or two later, they stand out like a sore thumb. Same thing with your music — do what you need to do to ensure you hear what’s actually there, not simply what you intended to record.
  • The willingness to cut something from the project if the first two points above reveal to you it doesn’t belong. No matter how much you like the song, no matter how cool the effect sounds, no matter whether the vocalist is your best buddy… if it doesn’t work, it has to go. You have to be ruthless.
  • A trusted adviser. This could be a friend, your significant other, your recording engineer, etc. No matter how critical, distant and ruthless you are, it’s still helpful to have another set of “outside” ears to listen and critique. The trick is, they have to be willing (and able) to be honest — if necessary, brutally honest. And you have to be willing (and able) accept their honesty. If they’re going to tell you it sounds good (even when it doesn’t) just to avoid hurting your feelings or starting an argument, they’re not going to be much good to you.

If, after considering it, you decide you might be better off with an outside producer, James has some excellent tips for finding a good producer without spending a fortune.

Article copyright © by Diane M. Aull. All Rights Reserved.

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