Post by Brian Charles of Zippah Studio
In this age of DIY budgets, it often turns out that bands are quick to decide that they can save money by opting to not use a producer. This probably stems from the basic fact that many people don’t know what a producer actually does. A producer? Isn’t he the guy who sits in the back of the control room and barks commands like “print it”, and “rolling”? Or maybe he’s the guy who’s made it his mission to make you sound like him…brand you with his sonic imprint…whether you like it – or not. Well these are actual stereotypes that I have heard artists mention when talking about their awful experiences (horror stories) related to working with a producer. I believe these stereotypes stem from reality in some capacity, because of the many inexperienced people who dared to call themselves a “producer”. Making decisions based on their ego, or adopting an aggressive attitude to prevent his motives from being challenged. Honestly, these are the things that recording horror stories are made from and you should know, that an experienced producer not only knows how to avoid these horror stories, but also knows how to help you realize your vision.
An experienced producer will pay for himself in many ways…finding ways to keep you within your budget without compromising the quality of the recording as well as maintaining efficiency in the studio are just a couple of ways. A good producer knows how to get everybody working together…sharing momentum. Spending time in the rehearsal space with a producer (pre-production) making crucial decisions “off the clock” before setting foot in the studio can be the difference between staying within budget and going way over it. A good producer strives to keep harmony amongst band members by being the person that all ideas can be communicated to, and in-turn presented with objectivity to the others.
If you think that you’re this person in your band, I’d be willing to bet that not everyone in your band agrees with this (just a hunch). A good producer also strives to get the very best performances out of an artist, and should be armed with techniques to make this happen. Keeping players rotating during the “overdub process” so that the singer isn’t stuck with three days of singing to do at the end of the recording schedule is second nature to a seasoned producer. Your recording should be about the music…this sounds simple, but a good producer knows how to keep the technical part of recording in the background so that you, the artist can concentrate on the music. I’d be willing to bet that your favorite records in the world…the ones that inspired you the most were probably made with a producer. I think that great musical performances are inspired… and capturing and nurturing these performances is best achieved by the deliberate actions of an experienced producer.