Production

Hire me to Produce or Mix your Record

I will offer my services to help you Produce (or otherwise realize) your music.

Please let me define what I can offer and how I generally work. Firstly I use the term Producer in the old (and proper) sense of being the person who oversees the project and will dip into any and every aspect of the song or record with the aim of making it as good as it can be. Good may be as ‘pure art’ or a ‘commercial success’, that is your call. If you want me to write music for you then for that you need a Composer. I’m happy to do that but check my style first.

As the Producer, it is my role to help your record flow so well that people who hear it want to be involved in your story. They want to hear and feel it again, come to shows and wear the t-shirt next time they leave the house.

I can work in several ways:

  • Remote: you send me the files and I poke them till they sound right swapping mp3’s till we agree.
  • In-Person: you come to me, or bring me to you, and we take each bit as it comes.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Face to face can be good in that discussion is easy and I can show you exactly what I am doing and why; downside is it can waste a lot of time on trivialities and travel. Remote works really well if both of us communicate clearly over email and or Skype; downside is a lack of immediacy so things do need to be understood.

Fees

This will cost you something. Money is usually the best exchange mechanism as it is universal. PayPal is easy. Unless I make the offer I don’t work for free so please don’t ask or expect. Generally there are rates set by the industry and officially I work for those. I am flexible however so if you want to work with me but are not sure if you can afford me then get in contact and make your offer (don’t ask me or I’ll go high – if you can’t write $xxx on a piece of paper then you won’t go far). I would far rather make three records with you as you grow than one and never see you again.

I will expect at least a decent initial payment before the project begins. Sad but not all projects complete (for various reasons) so it is not fair to leave me out of pocket for work performed. Much of the most important work in a project occurs at the start.

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Contact Me so we can discuss if we are suited to escalate your project

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FAQ

What Styles will you work in?: Anything. These days there are a bazillion sub-genres but I don’t care. They are distraction. What I prefer to do is work on things that have passion and a good story. If your music has a story to tell and you can tell me that story then I’m in. If I don’t feel I can add anything then I will decline.

What will you do for me?: Producing a record is a bit nebulous but expect me to make suggestions about arrangement, instrumentation, performance and even off into ways to get your record into the public eye. A producer is always looking at the big picture and how to make the flow that gets your musical (and lyrical) ideas across to your audience. Yes, Strategy. It is all about creating a flow so that your music seems natural.

How many songs do I need for an album?: If you are making a whole record then about 1 hour of material. That is generally at least 10 songs. Now best to allow some flex there so present 12-15 songs so we can choose the best 10. You can choose to use the unused tracks for b-sides, bonus material or use what you learn to re-write for a later project. If you aren’t up to a whole album then it is an EP which can be from 2-6 songs (max 30 mins).

How long will it take?: Hard to answer this but best to assume about 3 months for an album. That gives us time to assess the material, perform any re-writes and practice before you hit the studio. Once the material is all recorded it will probably take about a day per track to mix and then the same to handle changes. If you are working a day job too then be prepared to add more time (or work late at night).

When should I hire you?: Early. The last thing anyone wants is a record that is plagued with problems that cause stress and missed deadlines. Far better to engage your Producer really early in the process than find your songs need changes to make them work and you don’t have any time left. Unless I have worked with you before and/or know your style, it is probably best for you to at least have your songs completed with rough demos so I can hear what we are working with.

Do you Master my tracks?: Do you want me to master your tracks? Generally if you are going to press Vinyl or CD then I would suggest a professional mastering house but be aware that a mastering process won’t make shoddy performances sound good, only louder. If you are releasing to a digital format like CD Baby (for iTunes), Bandcamp, or even a CD then I can definitely Finalize your mixes so they sound good. Tell me all of these things up front. If you are using a Mastering service then best to be in contact with them early so we know what they want.

You write Space Music and your mixes are generally clean. Can you cope with my Gore-Step?: See above, yes. By the way I didn’t always or only write Space Music. I also made some Metal and EBM Industrial so I am not frightened of distortion or rough stuff. My only concern will be that any effect or trick you want is helping the story. If not then I will discourage. Ultimately though you are the final decider so if you want to do it then we will do it.

What if I don’t like the mixes?: Sadly this happens. There are several reasons but let’s first look at what mixes you will probably get:

  • First Mix: will simply be a clear mix of everything that is there. I don’t know your song like you do (especially if you made it at home in your DAW) so first I need to get everything up and clear so I know what is there, what works and what doesn’t. This first mix can be a shock, especially if it is the first time you have heard someone else work on your music. The first mix shows exactly what the song sounds like, as presented.
  • Second Mix: seeks to solve obvious technical problems the first mix has uncovered. This can be things like drums that were over-compressed at tracking. This still tries to present the song as it was given to me but better.
  • Third Mix: is my first attempt to get creative and interesting with the material and may show us something we didn’t consider before.

The first mix is normally the problem area as this is your song exactly as it is, warts and all. I’m not trying to hurt, I will make this mix as clear and “radio friendly” as possible based on what is in front of me. If someone added a string melody it will be there. If the solo is uninspired it will be there. Hearing this mix can be a challenge as often the composer has been working with an idea that maybe he didn’t really get onto tape. He listens to the demo and hears what he expects in his head. When the first mix comes back from someone else’s hands the spell is broken and for the first time exactly what is on tape is heard. If the artist was thinking this was a Trip Hop song but the song, as presented, is really Country then this first mix will show that and the artist may be in for an ego challenge.

Good pre-Production will help alleviate some of this challenge as I am likely to have said; geez, that sounds like a Country song. If I say that, take that on-board. If it challenges your sense of cool then we need to discuss either abandoning that song or playing to that very thing. After all Kiss (and many other bands) had their greatest hits as they crossed genres that they initially weren’t cool about (“Beth” & “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”) and they are great songs.

If you just got a mix and it doesn’t gel with what you expected, or want, then talk to me. I know your ego may be feeling dented but please be sure not to go denting mine. I don’t expect to be told you love it but if you expect me to stay creative and do my best after you dumped on me then we will be on different pages. Help me to know what you want. Ask “can we try..?”

We want to use some synth sounds but aren’t any good at knobs?: I’m glad you asked. I love programming synths. Either get me to make the sounds for you early-on or use adequate preset sounds and supply me with the MIDI so I can build sounds in the mix.

What DAW do you use?: Who cares? I mean seriously. One environment is essentially the same as any other, they all sound like what you put into them. If you use Cake Base or Fruity Tools then that is just fine with me, we agree on the performances via mp3 and you send me Stems/MIDI to mix.

Will you record our band?: I’m not set up for recording. It is best that you find a Studio and an Engineer you like and do your tracking there. If you want me in the session then I will come along. Be sure you get good performances and they deliver you Audio Stems.

My Bass player says the guy at the local Studio will Produce & Mix our record for the same price as the recording?: Ok, great, do that then. Oh hang on, just before you do that, have you noticed that every professional record out there has a Producer credit on the back that is separate from the Engineer credit? Wonder why. I’m sure he is a great bloke and means well but an Engineer is an Engineer (sure some become great Producers) and he is there to record your performances. If he isn’t checking your work before a single note is put on tape (well hard drive really) and having strategy discussions then he is not producing anything. Recording is only part of the process of creating a record.

Why should we choose you?: I have sold cars. Why should you choose a Honda over a Mazda? No idea. You need to work that bit out. I figure that if you are reading this then there is something about me and my work that attracts you and makes you feel like we may work well together. Talk to me openly and I will be open with you – if I don’t think I can help I will decline or at least explain my concerns to let you decide.

Will you make me famous?: N.O. Not at all. What I can do is help present what it is you are trying to say. After that it is entirely up to you; tour, give sexual favors to the President (and leak to the press), go on Idol… Actually make sure you at least go on YouTube. If your musical idea is well presented then you are a lot of the way there. Generally speaking a record company won’t sign an act unless they have proved they are a draw-card. The sooner you start that hard work the sooner you can get real fans.

My drummer doesn’t like you?: Who said I like your drummer. Grow up, this is business, I have a job to do, as do you and your drummer. The record is what counts. If you or any of your band mates are only here to “have a laff” then time to re-assess. If you don’t agree with, or understand, something then have an open conversation with me so I can explain why I request this thing and we find can the right solution.

What if I don’t want to change or do something?: In theory anything is allowable in music but there are certain conventions and traditions that help things to work. If you present me a Pop song with a 28 minute guitar solo using micro-tones then I will suggest that you revise this. If you are a Prog band and present me with a 10 second solo using only chord tones then I will suggest you swap guitarists with that Pop band. Your call. As a Producer it is my job to make suggestions to help your project shine and be as accessible as possible to an audience. Never forget, I want your record to succeed for my own ego and bragging rights. Either way this will be hard work. Talk it through with me. If we understand each other then one of us might just change our minds or both find a workable solution. If you don’t want to change anything ever (and your name doesn’t end in Bowie) then maybe best you consider getting out of the music business.

Will you Side-Chain my track?: Who knows. If you are asking me this I worry for two reasons 1) you don’t really trust me (or maybe yourself), 2) you are more concerned over tricks than the story. Trust we can work out by talking clearly, especially at the start of the project so I know what you want to achieve. Techniques are not any more than that. If you have made something that wouldn’t work without the trick (like cabinet distortion on a guitar) then print that to the audio that you send me. If it is just a mix decision then best to leave that till when it counts – which is the mix.

Why do I have to do so many vocal takes?: Believe me when I say I’d rather you did one. The vocal is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of your song. If you have prepared and practiced really well then I won’t need too many takes from you. Mostly I will need a lead vocal (which I will prefer you recorded in one take like it was live) and some backing vocals. If you can provide some harmonies then all the better.

What if I don’t want to sing my song?: I’ll do it for you. Just take care though as I am a truly terrible singer with a vocal range of about a semitone (even then out of tune and with a wandering tone). No really, why are you coming to me if you don’t have anything complete? If you have the music recorded then either sing it yourself as a guide vocal or hire a singer.

I have a Lyric, will you write music and record my song?: As above I am not a tracking studio. Also I am probably not the kind of composer you are after. Check the trades or other want ads and find a songwriter to do the musical bits. You can hire me in as part of that process but if you are trying to write your first song then it would be a bit early for me.

I want to see if you will work with me. How do I present myself?: Wonderful, thanks. I’m excited. Like anything in life your pitch will have an impact on the answer you get. Use the form on my Contact page. Send me a message explaining a bit about your project and what you are offering (if not scale, explain why I should take you on and what you can offer). Link me to at least 3 tracks from the project you want me to work on so I can hear where you are going. If you don’t want those tracks in public then you can use Private Tracks on Soundcloud. I prefer not to have to download tracks from odd places if I don’t already know you. Please make sure those tracks represent your sound – no point giving me your 5 y.o. sister squeaking over your Mum’s Casio piano if you are wanting to make a Deathcore record. I’m not judging the quality of the recording but the quality of the art and artists. Of course if you happen to be called Judas Priest and Chris T is a bit too busy right now then I can be a lot more flexible.

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