What artists need

What do you think artists need? As a producer, this question should be at the top of your mind. Before I go on, have a guess…

Do they need time to practice and hone their craft? High quality instruments? A record label to provide funding and expertise? A good rhyming dictionary? Oh, I know – they need a producer to guide and organise them!

Ahem.

I’m going to ask you to take a step back. Ask yourself – why is your artist making music at all? Why even embark on this journey? For most artists, it’s because music is enchanting. It’s because listening to their favourite songs has compelled them to use express their own stories through music. It’s because they’re inspired.

And so your artist is sitting or standing in your studio and they’re about to sing or play something that’s quite personal. And, quite often, unfinished. If you’ve been in this situation yourself, you’ll know how nervous and intimidating you can feel.

The first thing artists need is belief and support.

Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do for someone is believe in them. Standing where you are, it might be so obvious that you’ve overlooked it, but any journey, any career, any recording project starts with (and is enabled by) self-belief. A lot of it. If your artist doesn’t have as much belief in the project as you do, your first job is not to start reassembling lyrics or setting up microphones. Your first job is to develop your artist’s belief in themselves and in the project.

You can do this in a number of ways, for example:

  • Show that her/his personal expression is valid and legitimate
  • Allay any fear that the songs are not good enough (after all, your job as a producer is to make them shine!)
  • Take the time to really understand what the artist is trying to express and how their personal taste is shaping the way they do it
  • Provide constructive guidance and advice that helps their music sounds more like how s/he wants it to sound.
  • Be positive – focus on what s/he is doing well and what s/he can do to make it even better.

Remember – if you’re working with artists, you’re working with people. Artists, just as much as anyone, want to be loved and nurtured and taken care of. If you can create a working environment that feels like this, you’ll create a positive working relationship that will allow you to create amazing music together.

-Kim.

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  1. Kim, I think this is maybe the most insightful topic you write on. I’ve got a pretty healthy ego and can separate my songs from my self worth, but in the deepest, secret part of my soul, I just want validation and to be told I did a good job. Working with a producer that helps build a self-belief is HUGE. Beyond huge.

    Great blog. One of the few I read frequently.

  2. @Shane Sparks
    Thanks Shane. You’re certainly not alone. A producer is not just a gun-for-hire. A producer is a co-conspiritor, a wingman, a navigator. As an artist, you’re the one in the driver’s seat, but in rough terrain it helps to have a trusted partner.

    Have I tortured that metaphor enough? ;-)

    -Kim.

  3. thanks for showing me im not the only one who feels like this…

  4. @Oktavio Pineda
    Musicians (and I count myself as a musician too) have more commonalities than differences.

    -Kim.

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