Posts Tagged ‘ Interpersonal ’

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!


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.



My industry contacts won’t help you

Don’t ask me for my industry contacts. I’m not selling them.

I don’t do everything myself – I partner with other people and businesses in order to achieve more than I could on my own. Some of these partnerships are open and available to anyone – you or anyone else can partner with these people in the same way I do. You can also find them in the same way I did – they’re not secrets.

Other partnerships are based on a history of mutual trust and respect. These are partnerships that have been built over a number of years. Actually, it’s more accurate to refer to them as relationships. In these relationships both parties have demonstrated reliability, competence and good judgement.

If I recommend that they work with someone, that recommendation carries some weight. The ‘weight’ is my reputation and the trust that person has in me. You know it yourself – you’re much more likely to check out a website or online video if it comes from a trusted friend (rather than someone you don’t know).

My reputation influences the recommendation, but it works the other way too – the recommendation influences my reputation. Reputation and trust don’t come from nowhere, they are developed with consistent demonstration of good judgement. This is how reliability and trustworthiness are developed. Again, you know it yourself – you’re much likely to check out a band from someone with a track record for finding and recommending good bands, rather than someone with a track record for recommending anything regardless of quality (or someone with a track record of accepting payment for recommendations).

Knowing the right people is not a silver bullet. It’s important, but it’s not the difference between success and failure. It might have been in the pre-internet era, but these days anyone with a laptop and an internet connection has worldwide reach. The tools are out there. Even better, the knowledge is out there. ‘Industry contacts’ can help – either by guiding and advising you or by finding the right professional assistance. It speeds up the process and can make it easier, but it doesn’t make it possible.

The only thing that makes it possible is your own creativity, work ethic and resonance with your audience. If you have those things, career advancement is inevitable.


The vibe of a session

I recently came across this article, with this great paragraph:

THE REALITY is that 90% of the time, the artist (and probably the producer) dont want to sit around and watch you turn knobs and swap mics until you get your idea of the most awesome sound. They want to record. Instead of the perception that you are doing your job to the fullest, the actual perception will often be “this engineer doesnt know what he’s doing”, and then before you’ve recorded a single note, everyone has already lost faith in your abilities, and the session vibe is blown. The most important thing in any session ever is the VIBE. A great vibe will usually translate to great feeling takes, which is a bit more important than the most amazing vocal sound. a bad vibe will equate to unusable takes, even is sonically they are wonderful. VIBE. believe it.

And this gem:

The engineer is doing their job the best when they are transparent to the session. When nothing they do is slowing down the creative process.

My personal view has long been similar to this: Technology is best when it stays out of the way. As far as recording going, the engineer is part of the technology. The artist is in the studio to make music. Any time they spend not making music is time they spend waiting to make music.

Read the rest of the article. It’s worth it.


Producers and “producers”

I’m an old curmugeon.

Something interesting has been happening to music production. More specifically, something interesting has been happening to the role of the music producer.

I commonly see the term “producer” to refer to various roles, usually something like “the guy at the computer” or “the guy who does the mixing”, or even “the guy who makes the beats”. Maybe a “producer” is simply someone who produces music?

Traditionally, the producer is someone who works with a band and is responsible for the creative vision of a project (usually an album). The producer might perform any of the following tasks:

  • Help choose band members or additional studio musicians
  • Help with instrumentation and arrangement of songs
  • Maintain the mood, esteem and motivation of the band members
  • Communicate the creative vision for the project to third parties such as studio musicians, mix and mastering engineers, marketing and promotion teams, record label staff, etc
  • And others…

Nowadays though, modern technology has allowed recording studios to be owned and run by almost anyone. Now people with creative vision for music projects are likely to skip working with a band. Instead they’ll set up their own computer studio and write and record their own music. Now all of a sudden there’s a single person who is a composer, musician, recording engineer, mix engineer, studio owner, promoter, etc.

Sometimes this “producer” will outsource to cover gaps in their own knowledge and abilities. Weaknesses in songwriting or composition skills can be covered by doing remixes or covers. Weaknesses in singing or playing instruments can be covered by bringing in musicians. Sometimes people try to cover weaknesses in engineering skill are by purchasing more expensive gear. Either way, the lines are blurrier now, and the term “production” has grown to include a number of newer roles.

In todays smaller studios, there is production implied when people speak of recording or mixing. Likewise there is often recording or mixing (or even composition) implied when people speak of production.