Everything you need to know, for sure, when it’s the right time to hire a music producer and what to expect once you have.

[This is the final entry of my Beginner’s Guide To Hiring A Music Producer. Read Part 1 here.]

Having read Part 1 of my Beginner’s Guide to Hiring A Music Producer, you likely have made up your mind about hiring a music producer, but aren’t sure when to do it. You may already have a few ideas about which producers or production companies you would want to work with. But you don’t want to seek out a relationship with a music producer too early and risk wasting the money and the opportunity to do so if it turns out that you’re not ready. So now what?

Moving forward, it’s your responsibility to decide at what point you feel ready to have a music producer involved with your music and your creative processes. Just because you contact a music producer, though, does not mean they will agree. A good music producer should tell you if your music, brand identity, or career are insufficiently developed, from their perspective, to justify forming a partnership.

Aside from meeting your preferred music producer’s standards for collaboration, no one condition makes it the “best time” to hire one.

Appropriate timing depends on what you have already accomplished and what you want to accomplish after hiring a music producer.

The best time to hire a music producer also depends on what they’re offering to do for you/your music and whether they offer any unique value additive services. In addition to their involvement with your music, music producers are also closely involved with your brand and business. There are standard production packages, skills, and tasks that you should always expect any music producer to offer you.

The right music producer for you may also provide other non-standard services that would benefit you where you are in your brand and career development.

How You’ll Know It’s The Right Time To Hire A Music Producer:

The question of when you should hire a music producer has no single, straightforward answer. Many artists hesitate to hire a music producer early in their careers, fearing that they will not retain enough control of their developing identity and/or cannot justify the expense. Others wait to consider hiring a music producer until the time is “right” and figure they will know when that is when they get there.

Though self-production at every stage of your career may sound appealing, when it comes to figuring out the number of responsibilities you should take upon yourself during the production process, less is more.

Delegating responsibility for processes outside your area of expertise is a time-tested and fully proven habit of successful artists in the music industry.

With the exception of artists who do every part of the writing, composition, recording, and mixing processes exceptionally well (think Dave Grohl), almost everyone can benefit from collaborating with a good music producer. If you have some combination of the following accomplishments and goals, you very likely will see significant benefits from hiring a music producer.

1. Goals You Have Already Accomplished:

  • You have a solid brand identity and have established some effective ways to communicate your identity to your audience; you have a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, and at least one other social media platform dedicated to promoting your music and targeting your fan base [1].
  • You have a website and maintain an email list with at least 500 subscribers [1].
  • You are regularly performing paying gigs at live venues and have developed a strong set list, have some consistent visual stage arrangements, and are able to effectively engage/involve/respond to the audience during the show [1]
  • You have already performed at least one (profitable) house show [1].
  • Your music demonstrably resonates with a large (and growing) number of listeners [2].
  • Your music is earning sufficient profits to offset the cost of working with your preferred music producer or production company [3].

2. Goals You Have For Working With A Music Producer:

  • You want to start recording demo tracks [4].
  • You are at the “expansion stage” of your career, where you want to move from a local/online presence and want to send your music farther afield [1]
  • You are prepared to record your first album [5].
  • You are in a position to license music internationally, want to enter into a sub-publishing deal with a foreign publisher, or are being offered a co-publishing deal by a third party publisher [3].
  • You have exhausted your opportunities to meet new collaborators on your own [2].
  • Your music is generating significant enough revenue that you need help collecting it [2].

What Will Happen When You Hire A Music Producer:

The standard service packages and offerings of a music producer or production company are designed to make your music as good for your listeners, by the standards of your genre, as possible. These are things you can and should fully expect your music producer — whether you work with me or otherwise — to do:

  • Listen to demos [6].
  • Set up the initial vibe/sound for the song/album [7].
  • Build a basic track [8].
  • Perform vocal tracking [9].
  • Perform vocal comping/tuning [10].
  • Add additional post-production (aka ear candy) [11].
  • Perform the mixing [12].
  • Complete the mastering process [13].

What Other Value-Additive Services Should You Ask For From A Music Producer:

In addition to the above-described services, some music producers offer supplemental brand, business, and professional development services. These can be immeasurably beneficial to both newer and more seasoned artists. The artists who benefit most from the availability of these kinds of extra services are whose music has not been significantly or sufficiently marketed, those who have not previously received (effective) customized branding and marketing support, and/or those who are looking for an all-inclusive production experience that supports more than just the sound of their music.

For example: here, I provide additional services to define a fan avatar (ideal fan), a niche audience, an authentic brand persona and design aesthetic, and a comprehensive fan-building strategy. I also offer sync licensing assistance and mindset coaching. Generally speaking, this package of additional available services refines and clarifies the marketing goals for both your music and your brand, establishing a strong link between the two and making sure that all musical decisions reinforce the success of the brand and all branding decisions reinforce the success of the music.

Where other music producers view brand identity and marketing as secondary to the literal production processes, I view it as a kind of feedback loop that has the potential to exponentially increase your success as an artist.

Your experience working with a standard music producer vs a standard-plus-extras music producer will be characterized by a fundamental difference in their attitude and philosophy about your success. A standard music producer will maintain a laser-like focus on your music and expect that your brand and business development will already be sufficient for success.

A standard-plus-extras music producer (like me), will aim to provide as much value-per-dollar to you as possible in order to maximize your project’s potential for success (if the latter experience sounds like a good fit for you, book a free consulting session through my contact page.

Did you find this post helpful? What other topics and kinds of content do you want to read more about? Let me know in the comments!

References:

  1. https://femusician.com/professional-musician/
  2. https://www.awal.com/blog/how-to-find-the-best-music-publisher-for-you
  3. https://lawyerdrummer.com/2017/09/musician-create-publishing-company/
  4. https://outerloop.group/do-you-need-to-hire-a-producer/
  5. https://www.dittomusic.com/blog/setting-up-a-home-recording-studio-when-to-hire-a-producer
  6. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-happens-to-a-demo-at-a-record-label-2460677
  7. https://blog.discmakers.com/2015/08/the-record-producer-and-pre-production/
  8. https://www.subaqueousmusic.com/building-a-track-from-an-empty-canvas/
  9. https://www.musicianonamission.com/recording-vocals-how-to-record-vocals/
  10. https://www.izotope.com/en/blog/music-production/55-essential-dos-and-donts-of-vocal-production.html
  11. https://www.lynda.com/Ableton-Live-tutorials/FX-ear-candy-automation/437174/463210-4.html
  12. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-difference-between-mixing-and-mastering-2460689
  13. https://www.justmastering.com/article-song-mastering-process.php