When a musician writes and records a song, it's almost as if they have given birth to a new child. Much as a parent often looks past their child's shortcomings, it's hard for an artist to hear the flaws in their song -- such as how much it sounds like another song or whether it truly has mass market appeal. A music producer is essential to find the faults that the artist doesn't hear and to help ensure their song is the best it can possibly be.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Producers charge by the hour or by the project. A well-known producer like Swizz Beats is going to charge you more than a producer that has made a name for himself in your hometown. Set your own budget of what you will be able to afford to pay. Even top industry producers may consider working with you if they see potential.
Put the word out on social networking sites that you are looking for a producer. MySpace is still a major hot spot for musicians, music lovers, and producers. Start with your network of friends and let them know you're looking for a producer. Someone may be able to recommend you to someone they have worked with.
Contact artists with a similar musical style and ask them about their producer. Ask them about their experiences with some of the producers they've worked with. Remember the ones with the bad referrals so that you don't make the mistake of hiring them. Contact the producers with the best referrals and tell them about your upcoming project.
Ask for references when producers start returning your calls. Call their references and ask them to be frank about their experiences with the producer. Request samples of music the producer has been involved with, particularly if it is within the same musical genre as yours. C. Cirocco Jones, author of "The Music Powers That Be," says, "His or her knowledge of your particular style will help in determining production chores and how well they can create the best musical tone for the performances needed." Review the producer's previous work. The best judge of the producer is what he has done in the past.
Interview your top three choices face-to-face. You are hiring this person to do a job for you, so make sure you feel confident in his abilities. You also want to see if you'll get along well enough to work together. The producer will be interviewing you at the same time. He doesn't want to waste his time if he doesn't think you have what it takes to succeed in music. His reputation is on the line, too.
Discuss rates. Ask the producer about his fee structure. Is it by the hour or by the project? If it's not within your budget, tell him what you can afford and ask him if he is willing to work with you. Jeff McCullough, Record Producer for Tree Hill Media says, "My experience has shown that setting a flat fee helps everyone relax and focus on the music and not the clock."
Agree on contract terms. Put in writing what you expect from the producer. Discuss ownership of the masters. Depending on the producer's level of involvement -- whether he helps write the song or creates a beat for a track, for example -- U.S. Copyright law gives him partial ownership of the recording. Review copyright laws and make sure all parties involved agree to the terms of the agreement.
How to Hire a Music Producer
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