The first part is simple enough. You know its’ time to record your music when:
Now you know when it’s time to record your music. Knowing how to record your music—and do it right—is a little trickier.
This is not your grandfather’s music industry.It’s only been a couple of generations since competent musicians could get together in a garage or do-it-yourself studio, hit the play button on a tape deck, and play. Some of the eventual greats started by producing their own demos well enough to catch the ear of people who made things happen for them.
To get a recording that’s worthy of your talents as a musician and composer you’ll need time in a studio—preferably one that records 24 to 48 tracks—an experienced producer and savvy production team. In short, it’s more complicated and more expensive to create a professional sounding recording fans will find acceptable when they download and listen to it.
When it comes to music producers, there are two kinds: good ones who take your music and make it amazing, and all the rest. A good producer can launch your career. A bad one can leave you with a handful of muddy recordings and take your money.
Most producers freelance and rely on agents to handle fees and negotiate with record companies. The companies for their part try to match producers with artists who can benefit from working with them. However, producers’ fees can price up-and-coming musicians and groups out of the market.
Consider your options.It will take some work and time, but if you look hard enough you just might find your dream producer.
Option A: Top-tier producers will sometimes work with an unsigned artist—you—on spec. That is, they will produce newcomers if they believe they have talent and work ethic to break through. If a producer agrees to work with you in this way, money is negotiable. They may skip the down payment or up-front fee or reduce them in return for payment when you get a record or publishing deal. This could end up being a percentage of future income or royalties rather than a flat fee.
Keep in mind, though, that producer is betting on the future and will want the odds to be in his favor. Unless you are a lock for stardom, you might want to consider Option B, which is:
Find an up-and-coming producer. They have to start somewhere, too, and a newbie who knows his way around the soundboard may be more likely to work with you than a proven professional. Working with undiscovered but top-quality talent—you—is their opportunity to gain experience and build their portfolios. If the partnership clicks, you both will benefit from working with each other.
You’ve tried Option A—a producer who will record you on spec—and Option B—a new producer who is hungry—and neither is working. Time for Option C, which is:
Produce your own music.
You’ll still need to hire a sound engineer to set up recording equipment and handle much of the technical side of a studio production. If you find one with eyes on becoming a producer, you may be on the brink of a beautiful friendship. If you have studio contacts, you might also ask if they have an engineer with producing potential who would want to take shot at producing new talent.
Where to look.Here are some ways you can find the production help you deserve:
If you find a producer or engineer you want to work with, check online ratings and reviews of them or contact references to ensure you’ll be working with someone who is reputable and experienced. While most music professionals are good people, there are some bad actors, and you want to make sure you don’t get involved with one of them.