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How to produce?

Member for

21 years 2 months
A band asked me to produce their record and they want me to go to the reaharsals once or twice a week, to tell them where they need to work more, to give them ideas for the songs and this kind of stuff...
I don't know how I'll do this... I don't think reaharsals are the best situation to HEAR what they are doing... maybe record them live, listen to the tunes, make notes, meet and tell them what I think... I don't know yet... any ideas? How do you real producers work? How the big ones work? How should I charge? Per hour? A fixed price for each song, for the whole record?
Any ideas will be very welcome!


Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Thu, 03/07/2002 - 03:18
Put some earplugs in and go to rehearsals. It is a strange place for a recording engineer but the right place for a producer.. It's hard to hear well often.. Some tricks..

Move around, sit by each instrument to hear what it is doing..

Sometimes I sit in front of the kick drum... to hear it clearly.

Take a stopwatch, if recording a 'lead track' or 'single' make sure it's not to long or that the vocals start in under 20 seconds..

Help them cut out any boring parts..

Help them figure out a good ending (for a recording), live endings can be different and may not work in the studio!

It's a good time to hear & ask them about their equipment. Often you can discover that they hate their amp, their cymbals are cracked or cheap & nasty and see that the drum heads haven't been changed in years..

you can make a list of gear to rent or for them to go ask their friends - to borrow.

It's also an excellent time to discover the bands views on recording, what worked for them in the past and what they didn't enjoy about past recordings.

figure out how many songs to go for.. bands & managers can be 'greedy' and often whish to record more songs than they really have time for.. try dissuade them from taking on too much.

If you take a drum machine or electronic metronome you can make a note of song tempos, and your thoughts on them.. (is it too fast? Too slow) Do the tempos change? Is that a good thing?) Inexperienced bands often get confused with tempos in the studio and play too fast...

I wave my hands around a lot and get them to 'take it from the second verse" etc you don't always have to start the song from the beginning to hear the part you want to work on...

You can ask just bass & gtrs to play (to see what they are playing better) get the drummer to 'click his sticks' to keep them in time..

have a tape recorder or mini disc there and then you can record suggested changes and play them back for consideration..

Just a few ideas!


Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Thu, 03/07/2002 - 04:45
What Jules said... but I'll add that I generally like to add a couple of steps to the process...

Once we've worked out stuff that Jules mentioned in the rehearsal space, I usually will take the band into a cheap demo joint and 'demo' the songs... things often get a bit different when you have mics on them than they are in the rehearsal room. I like to make the last of the 'arrangement' tweezes during this part of the process (this can also include trying different tempos and fucking around with groove variations). I never (OK, almost never) engineer those sessions because I find I'll start to listen to the sounds more than I'll listen to the "music"... and that's what you're pretty much being hired to do as a producer, lend an 'outside' opinion vis a vis the music.

From there I try to get the band to book a couple of gigs so they can try the material in front of actual people. I do mix the band live when we do this, but that's because I tend to listen to the music more if I'm mixing live than if I'm sitting around with a beer watching the performance.

Depending on budget, if it's possible to go back into the demo joint for another couple of days then I try to do that... from there if "loops" need to be fabricated I'll have that fabrication done from the 'pre-production' sessions... that way when the project goes into actual production we'll be all set with most everything we need (on a musical level) for the basic sessions.

From there, I try to find some magic mistakes during the production (and exploit them to the best of my and the band's ability)... and I can focus on performance issues and sonic issues as opposed to writing and arranging issues.

As far as compensation, for me it can take a variety of forms... from the classic "spec deal", to 'cash up front'... either way I charge by the song... plus negotiated points/publishing, etc. .

If it's a "label" project, one thing I insist on is that my points [etc.] start at "Record One", and are not subject to the album 'recouping'. A very good friend of mine is getting screwed on a project he produced that has done more than 700,000 units (to date).

The label says the record has yet to recoup, so he's not getting paid his points until it does. Understand that (especially with majors) the video and promotion budgets are part of whether the album recoups or not...

I feel that I was hired to produce the music, and as such should be compensated for the production of the music... I don't feel that my money should be tied into the video and promotion budgets for the album, my money should be tied to the music, not the marketing of the product. It's very often a sticking point... make sure you have a damn good lawyer write your contract (and if possible, a damn good manager negotiate that contract).

Last, NEVER, EVER work without a contract. As Samuel Goldwyn once said "a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on".

Best of luck!!

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 03/07/2002 - 05:03
Julian and Fletcher... guys, I don't even know how to thank both of you for the fast and helpfull replies... damn...
It clarifies my mind a lot.
I have on question for Fletcher about the 'points' thing.
The band will make the record by it's own... no label, 100% independent, and I'll be the engineer too :) . We already discussed the price for engineering, but yesterday they asked me to produce too... what should I do?