So what is a “producer”? Well, the term means different things to different people. If you search Wikipedia or Google, the definition may look something like:
A music producer oversees and manages the recording, mixing and distribution of an artist’s music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, selecting songs and/or musicians, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through mixing and mastering. Producers also often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules, and negotiations.
Individuals who focus on the budgets and schedules are generally called Executive Producers these days. While I have been responsible for budgets and schedules before, I’m far more comfortable and experienced in overseeing the creation of the music. Some music producers focus solely on the compositions and arrangements of the music, leaving the technical aspects to the audio engineer. Some find themselves handling both the musical and technical aspects of a project – which is generally where I find myself.
To be honest, I “fell” into the producer role after a few clients (who knew that I was also an artist) started asking my musical opinions while I was on the job as an audio engineer or mixer. While rare, my favorite gigs are still where my role is simply the recordist – the guy hired to capture the music as best possible. The advantage, in my opinion, is that I can concentrate on the sound – letting someone else deal with the musical issues. I’ve always preferred to keep the musician and engineer roles separate. But with budgets steadily dropping these days, most individuals find themselves wearing multiple hats to get the job done. I am happy to do it all.
In addition to overseeing the musical decisions on a projects, here’s some other roles I play:
Audio Engineer or Recordist – I handle ALL the technical requirements to capture the individual parts of the music and prepare them for mixdown. I do this through the use of microphones, preamps, mixers, DAW, tape machines, etc. for the recording, mixing and reproduction of sound.
Mix Engineer – I combine all of the individual tracks of a song and try to convey the musical goals of the composition in an appealing way. In the case of live mixing for concerts, the goal is absolutely the same, but without the controlled environments and only one chance to get the sound right!
Mastering Engineer – I prepare the mixed songs for distribution via compact disc, streaming, broadcast and film. In regards to singles, this involves preparing the song to be competitive sonically for the market the artist is trying to penetrate. In regards to full albums, the competitiveness goal remains. But a secondary goal is to make all the songs on the album work well together, taking into account dynamics, frequency distribution and sequencing to help create a complete musical statement.
Editor / Forensic Audio Engineer – Sometimes recorded tracks need to be repaired or edited in various ways to be used. Sometimes there are random noises in recorded tracks that need to be cut out. Sometimes there are musical mistakes and I need to combine two separate performances to make one musically accurate take. I’m often hired to clean up radio recordings where interviews were conducted via telephone, thus compromising the sound quality . I can help bring clarity to the final broadcasts. Also, there are times when clients are trying to find minute, almost hidden details within a recording for archival or legal purposes. With my tools, I am able to bring out these details and present them in a clear manner that can help in court cases, scientific studies and historical archives.
I also enjoy teaching the art of audio production. While I have degrees in how to do all of this stuff, technology has advanced enough that most anyone with a computer and a mic can make compelling recordings these days. The challenge lies in the expertise and best-practice knowledge to make your recordings go from good to great. This is not magic, and I’m not stingy with what I know. Many of the projects I work on these days combine my engineering and musical skills with detailed explanations about why I’m doing what I’m doing – so that next time the artist may venture out and try to record some of the parts himself. I’m not worried about teaching my way out of a job – there will always be varying levels of engineers (just like musicians). I’m just happy to see so many artists making music without having to fork out thousands of dollars to do it.
In the past few years I’ve been given the opportunity to teach both private and college-level courses in France, Estonia, Russia and the USA.
You can check out my resume / CV here. I also have a production reel with samples of my work available upon request.
If you have any questions about production, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, If you’re interested in learning more about any of these skills, I’ll be glad to pass on my knowledge.
Send me your tracks if you’re interested in collaborating!