Thursday, October 20, 2011

5 Tips For Saving Money In The Studio: Tip #2

This week, I will be bringing you my top 5 tips on saving money in the recording studio. Each day for the next five days, I will present a new tip that is based directly on my observations and experiences with the many artists I have worked with in the studio over the years. Hopefully these suggestions will help make your next recording experience as fruitful and cost-efficient as possible.

Tip #2 - Hire a Producer

Can you guess which kind of producer he was?
Decades of recording history have given us plenty of larger-than-life caricatures of
what a music producer is supposed to be, from the half-crazed musical genius that babbles incessantly to himself and can barely form a coherent sentence, to the studio nazi that runs around screaming and throwing a tantrum every time someone screws up a take, to the somber, introspective, quiet type that says nothing for hours on end until he opens his mouth and utters a few magical words that make everyone fall to their knees in awe of his brilliance. But while these stereotypes make for some very entertaining episodes of Behind The Music, the truth is almost never as grand as that.

Simply put, a producer's job is to help keep a music project moving forward in an orderly and cost-efficient manner. In the corporate world, he would be called a project manager. His main duties include creating a budget for the project, working with the artist during pre-production to ensure that they (and their music) are ready for the studio, and coordinating between the various personnel that will be involved in the production and post-production phases of the project, including the recording studio, the session musicians, the mixing and mastering engineers and the record label. Sounds pretty pedestrian, right? But hiring a good producer to handle these issues for you can be a huge advantage to you both creatively and financially, especially if you are inexperienced at recording. Obviously it never hurts to have an experienced set of objective ears listening to your music and helping you make it better, but where a producer truly comes in handy is in managing the budget and schedule of your project. An experienced producer will be able to better prepare you for the recording process, letting you know what to expect and what pitfalls to avoid. He will probably have connections with all of the major studios in town, and will know which ones offer discounted rates. And once recording is finished, he will know the most affordable places to have your recordings mixed and mastered. Some producers also help with art work, packaging and manufacturing too. And because of the nature of their role, producers often work on a royalty basis, meaning that you may not have to pay them anything up front...they will receive a set percentage of your album sales. This provides added incentive for them to do the best job they can for you because their payday depends on it.

There's also a new breed of producer that is becoming increasingly common these days, and that is the producer-engineer. These guys (or girls) can be incredibly useful if you are on a limited recording budget, because most of them have their own private studio and they will usually offer you a discounted rate if you are hiring them to both produce and engineer the project. And in fact, working this way is not only more affordable, but it's often more relaxed and less stressful too because there's not as much pressure to move quickly. This gives you a chance to be more creative in the studio, which can often give you better results in the end.

Whichever route best fits your situation, the important thing to remember is that like everything else in the recording process, hiring a good producer is an investment in your recording project and in your career. Having someone in your corner helping push you to be as good as you can be could mean the difference between breaking through in the music industry and floundering in relative obscurity.

Check back tomorrow for my #1 tip.

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