Why Do I Need A Producer?

Let's take a trip back to 2006. Emo bands, ignorant hair styles (remember "coon tails?"), the music "scene," and crappy sounding recordings on MySpace that everyone loved because they didn't know any better. Did I make you cringe yet? Good. Welcome to where I grew up.

 Remember the glory days? (The Medic Droid)

Remember the glory days? (The Medic Droid)

I started recording music in high school out of pure financial frustration. There were no affordable options for recording in my small-ish Midwestern town on a sixteen year old's McDonald's budget. Armed with nothing but a laptop, Adobe Audition 2.5, a $30 dynamic vocal mic, some budget music gear, and entirely unrealistic expectations, I started a "studio" in my grandparents' garage. Nothing in my facility was even remotely set up for recording; the acoustics were crap, I had to move vehicles around to load a band in, I had no isolated control room, the list goes on.  

On most of my "recordings," I played the roles of co-writer, producer, session musician, tracking engineer, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, (sometimes) the client, and distracting best friend that shouldn't be in the studio with your band. I wish my sixteen year old self knew the definition of delegation. Playing all these roles at once are probably why I have anxiety issues at age 26. I was unfortunate enough to get into the recording industry when home recording technology was still in its infancy all the while living in a small town where hardly anyone even understood computers; I was alone with the internet as my guide. (Did you cringe again? Sorry, mate!)

 My first "studio," circa 2006

My first "studio," circa 2006

Because of recent developments in technology, anyone with $1,000 (or less) can achieve sounds in our bedrooms that cost $10k+ ten years ago. With the rise of affordable home recording gear, I truly believe most of us "average joes" are tempted to make the same mistakes I did growing up. We've lost the dynamic of having multiple people work on our recordings simply because we think we can't afford it. Truth is, we would rather spend MORE money on gear we don't know how to use rather than spending LESS on someone who already knows what they're doing.  Don't get me wrong, investing in gear and learning the audio engineering trade is a noble feat, but it should not be a direct response to your need to record music.

 

Why should you hire a producer instead of recording yourself?

They can see the big picture.

A good producer doesn't miss the forest for the trees. They see the sum of the parts of your music because that's all they've ever heard.

They know their gear so you don't have to.

A producer who knows their $1,000 worth of gear makes better recordings than someone who has $10,000 worth of gear and doesn't even know what the gain knob does.

They hear things you don't.

You wrote the music, so you're emotionally attached to it. Sometimes, a part (or the whole song) just flat out sucks and you need someone you trust to tell you that.

They both author and pace the recording process.

A good producer knows exactly how to capture your best performance. They also know when you're banging your head against a brick wall on the same six second guitar riff and can divert that frustration.

 

Don't be like me. Learn how to delegate what matters. You'll be a better musician for it. You'll be a better recording engineer for it. I was bullheaded enough to think I could do it all. Years of this mentality have crippled my development as a musician AND an audio engineer because my focus and funds were split between the two. If you're an artist, hire someone to produce your music. Your music will sound ten times better.

Share your opinion and/or story in the comments below!