It used to be the case that the record label hired a producer and the artist simply worked with them on their album, with no further dealings. It was also the case that one producer would work on the whole album. Everything was simple and straightforward and records were banged out in a couple of weeks. And then everything changed, albums started see more than one producer having a hand in the creation, and as albums began to feature multiple producers labels realised this was causing them a lot of extra work. So, now, the responsibility for the producer is down to the artist, you.
So, you get to hire your own producer, which means you get to choose who you want to work with. You want a certain sound and you know exactly who can achieve it for you. You no longer have to work with whoever the label puts you with. Not only this, but in essence the producer is now working for you, not the label, so you can have discussions with them about how you want this album to evolve and you can guide them creatively. You’re the boss. This is your record and you are at the helm. It’s also up to you whether you work with one producer or many. This is personal choice. One producer will create a unified sound consistently throughout the album, however that’s not always a good thing. Some artists prefer multiple producers because it brings different sounds and makes the album more interesting. A single producer can be brilliant, but get it wrong and it cam ruin the album.
Since the producer is now working for you, you hire them and you are also responsible for paying them. That’s right, you pay your own producer, which means you have to figure their costs into your budget. This can be problematic and you need to calculate carefully. If a producer is typically paid 10% of sales or simply an advance it might sound fine at first, but if you are responsible for paying them, you have other things to consider. Remember, your advance is paid after recording costs have come out of the fund and now you also have to pay your producer, meaning you could come away with very little, or nothing at all. If you can’t pay, the label may step in and pay him for you, but don’t think they are doing this out of kindness. If the label pays this cost they are recouping it right back from you, from your royalties. So, once again, you could be looking at earning very little for some time.
Once again, this may sound harsh or unfair, but let’s not underestimate the importance of a good producer. This guy can make or break your record and having someone on board who is respected and admired will bring the right kind of attention to your work, not to mention you’ll come away with a far superior record than you started with. It’s up to you to make sure it works out.
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