Picking the Producer for Your Demo Recording

Picking the right producer can mean the difference between a really good record and a really bad one. Even though you may have to pay a producer to work with you, this could actually save you money in the long run. You’ll probably get a much better product, and in less time, than if you try to do everything on your own.

Why go you need a producer?

You may want to consider producing the CD yourself anyway, but having a third party there who can give you some objective opinions can be invaluable. Furthermore, if you choose a well-connected producer, he may be able to help you get a record deal, or at least open some doors for you so that the right people will hear your music and possibly sign you.

What a producer can do for you?

Your producer will assist you in a number of ways. He helps you choose the right material to record and assists you with all facets of preproduction. He makes sure you’re completely prepared to make the maximum use of your studio time, which saves you money in the long run. He may help you with arrangements, if needed, and he’ll make sure that all of the work that needs to be done actually gets done, both before you get to the studio and while you’re in it. He may even be able to help you pick a studio and an engineer, which is really good because he will be the one in the control room working with the engineer most of the time. He can arrange for any other musicians you may need, organize recording times to make sure everyone will be there, and get any extra gear you need for the recording sessions. He will also be at all of your studio sessions to guide you through the recording process, and will help settle any minor disputes or problems that may come up.

He may also be able to play certain parts or instruments to fill up any holes in the sound, or he can get you, your band, or other studio musicians to play or sing parts that will add to the overall production value of your recordings. He will know when to keep some of the mistakes that are made during the recording process, which can really add a human feel to the tracks. Or he will know what can be fixed in the editing process to save time and money. He will also assist with the mixing process and make sure to master your CD so that it stands up to other commercial releases. At the very least, the producer should have very good people skills so that he can keep everyone working together and keep the whole process moving along.

What do producers charge?

A producer is usually going to be paid by the number of sides, or songs, that he produces on your record. This often means that he will be paid a flat fee per song. The amount of money required for his services will depend on a number of factors. First and foremost is the size of your recording budget. If he is a well-seasoned producer, he could be quite expensive. He will also be asking for points on the deal, which means that he will expect a percentage of all records that are sold. The number of points on the deal depends on your producer’s skill and experience.

If you get a record deal with a major label, your producer will usually be included in the all-in rate, which is the amount of artist and producer royalties paid by the record company. A really seasoned producer usually gets 3–4 points, and the artist usually will get 8–12 points. If you consider the all-in rate, you and the producer will end up with 12–16 points. Of course, different deals can come with different rates. A producer who is in extremely high demand will be paid a very hefty flat fee per side, and may be able to command a much higher point payment schedule.

A seasoned producer will definitely have provisions in his contract that specify how he will get credit on the record. In some cases, he may not want to share credit with you or your band, as that could be grounds to reduce his producer’s points, so make sure you discuss that up front. Furthermore, a producer may insist that he produce all tracks on the record or he won’t work with you. He may not want to have his name associated with another producer, or with other songs on your record that he has no control over. Make sure to discuss all of these points beforehand, assuming that the producer doesn’t already have his own production contract.

If the producer is doing some type of development deal or you can’t really afford to pay him much money on the front end, he’ll ask for points on your first record or two. He may also ask for a percentage of your advance if his work helps you get a record deal. Be very careful with these types of arrangements. They can be a hindrance to you actually getting a record deal, especially if the producer wants to sign you to some type of development contract. Record companies sometimes don’t want to deal with a particular producer, or may have other reasons not to pay a third-party producer. You could consider a buyout clause or a percentage of your advance to get you out of any deal with a producer who has agreed to work with you as part of a development contract.

However, sometimes a record company won’t sign you if it means being forced to work with your new producer. This is especially true if your original producer wants the rights (or even the right of fi rst refusal) to produce the fi rst one or two new CDs with a major record label.

Executive Producers

The executive producer will assist in the overall production, but doesn’t necessarily share in any technical aspects of making your record. He handles all of the business and/or legal issues involved with making a record, such as song clearances, contracts, etc. An executive producer can be superfluous if you already have a really good producer. Also, you may have an attorney or business manager who may be able to handle these matters, so that you have someone who’s completely on your side when it comes to money matters.