On the beach near my house in Brighton & Hove, I popped out in the cold with my hot cup of tea to share some thoughts about what it’s like being a Music Producer / Entrepreneur / Freelancer in Feb 2020. It’s not easy but I feel lucky to be doing it!
I think it’s really important for artists to know what goes into the arrangement, production, recording and mixing of a track.
Explaining what I do as a music producer, musician and mixer can be difficult to summarise so here’s a YouTube video of me walking through one of the tracks I worked on for Brighton project Wounded Gods.
Its called Ghost and is a synth-funk-pop banger about how we relate to the people we love (I think)…
Think about your favourite songs: the greatest artists, the biggest selling albums and songs of all time….
How many were made without a Producer, Recording Engineer or Mix Engineer?
Basically, none. Not even Prince engineered his hits.
In the golden age of huge budgets, even Tape-Operators, Assistant Engineers, Technicians and Runners (and tea boys) were on the payroll. Those days are [almost] gone and a Producer / Engineer will do most of the work
I’m a fan of DIY, Lo-Fi and Indie music; a lot of cool stuff is put out directly by bands and artists skilled enough in recording and mixing to match their tastes with their audiences’ expectations – perhaps a band member or friend has enough studio gear and know-how to make a cool EP.
Whichever way, I’m all for that: creative, liberating and fun, and really what the Indie scene is about, but it’s rare for successful career-making albums to come out of the D.I.Y. method.
At the very least, a Lo-fi, self-producing artist will pay to have their music mixed and mastered by a pro before it’s released.
It’s common for an artist or band to make their debut EP/album themselves for next-to-nothing (Garageband is called that for a reason), pick up some interest via gigs and radio, before getting signed to a label who – you guessed it – wants to make that band ‘successful’. So, they hire a Producer, Recording Engineer and Mix Engineer to either re-record the album or go straight to the second one.
Arctic Monkeys’ debut album was mostly re-recorded versions of their own cheaply made demos, which were leaked online.
Elsewhere, Mix Engineer / Producer, Owen Morris, (who cited Tony Visconti and Phil Spector as his inspiration) is responsible for the success of Oasis’s debut album. The initial mixes of Definitely Maybe were weak and thin and after having a go themselves, the band got Morris in to sculpt it into the fastest selling UK number one of all time.
You don’t have to be an Oasis fan to appreciate how the production on that album was like nothing heard before. If they didn’t hire Morris, they wouldn’t have made it.
Michael Jackson & Quincy Jones. David Bowie & Brian Eno or Tony Visconti. Radiohead & Nigel Godrich. Blur & Stephen Street. Red Hot Chili Peppers & Rick Rubin. The Beatles & George Martin. Eminem & Dr. Dre. Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre. Countless artists & Pharrell Williams… Timbaland, J Dilla, DJ Premier, Nile Rogers, Pete Rock, Steve Albini, Tyler The Creator, Mark Ronson, Danger Mouse, Sylvia Massey…. right back to Sam Philips recording Elvis in Sun Studio in the 50s. The list is endless (and mostly men – but that’s another blog post). Producers & Engineers are an invaluable prerequisite for success.
These names and many, many others have made the music we love, dance to, share with mates and listen to in the car. Without them, the sonic landscape of our lives wouldn’t be worth tuning into.
So, can you afford to hire one?
Well, if you’re serious about your music and career, can you afford not to?
At any stage of your career, badly produced or poorly-mixed music simply won’t engage listeners and the listeners you do get probably won’t become fans – especially since they listen to music on playlists of their favourite tracks. You want your songs to be on their playlists and to feel proud about sharing them. Better gigs, more fans, more followers and greater industry attention stems from great recordings plus excellent execution.
Integrity and artistic vision is important to your fans. The most important part of an idea is its execution and a Producer’s job is about professional execution and the distilled delivery of an artist’s ideas.
So how much does excellent execution cost?
My clients are mostly independent artists for whom the time is right to invest in their career.
Budgets are always tight but you might be surprised at what can be achieved with your budget. Hopefully this post has helped show the importance of hiring someone like me.
So, contact me for a quote or find out more via my other posts (more to come).
I’m happy to talk music and process, find out what you want to achieve and how I can help you to achieve it.
As a Producer & Mixer I help artists to achieve and often develop their musical vision. This can start from the song-writing process, right through to recording, editing and mixing.
This is essential to get industry attention, gig bookings and new fans. It also makes being an artist much more rewarding because you can be proud of your music and share it with everyone in its best form.
A lot of my clients are singer-songwriters who don’t want the pressure or high costs associated with big studios where the clock is ticking & the Engineer is there just to do their job, not to get involved with the music.
As well as creating the best environment for the artist, a Producer offers fresh ears, musicality and objectivity to help make choices and get tracks finished.
Working with a Producer will get your tracks finished.
Whether you have a recording on your phone, a GarageBand project or a full band recording, I can develop that into a finished track to share online or to send to gig bookers.
A Producer doesn’t need to be a musician but it really helps. I’m an experienced musician with a passion for music across a huge range of styles. I’m a music addict and spend a lot of time at gigs, clubs and in record shops. So, not only do I have a firm grasp of the characteristics, aesthetics and performance style of a huge range of genres – from 60s rock ‘n’ roll to 90s electronica to 2000s Hip Hop, but I can play the instruments, program the beats & synths, record your vocals and do the mixing!
I write, record and produce my own music under the alias Champion Fever and have been a guitar player in several bands over the last 20 years. Currently playing and performing with Shona Foster & Sam Walker.