6 Steps To Finding A Producer For Your First Song Release - One That Actually Cares!

When I started out and was looking for my first producer, I was just 13 years old. This could have gone one of two ways! One, they saw parents with money, and they would squeeze us for every penny, or two, they would see a 13-year-old girl who spent her entire school holiday periods busking to make money to record her first EP and treat her well!

Thank the lord it was the latter of the two! But we aren't all that lucky. I learnt early in my career that people were almost always only going to help if something was there for them. In saying that, I understand that there should be give and take and of course, in business, people need to make money. But! That doesn't mean they should be able to squeeze you for everything you have and not have any interest in what you're doing. 

Have you felt like that? Gone to see producers who just don't seem to care as much as they should? Or you haven't really thought about how important the connection between you and your producer is? Let me put it this way, the producer I use now is my husband! I trust him, and well.. he has to do a good job because he is pretty heavily invested in the project! 

You must do six things when choosing a producer if you want the process to be smooth, enjoyable and easy and if you want to end up with an excellent quality recording to release.

1. Research producers: Whenever you build a business, you need to research. You research your brand, logo, and what you represent, and depending on the industry, you may need to order stock, hire a warehouse or build a website. A lot goes into planning and running a successful business, and releasing your song is no different. If you care about the money you spend and the quality of the product you receive, then you will need to do your research. 

First, think about how far you're willing to travel to work with a producer. For example, I travelled from Australia to Nashville to work with a Grammy-winning producer, now, you don't need to do that, but I wanted to experience that in my career, and I was signed with a record label, so the album needed to be bloody good!

So how do you research? Listen to artists who are releasing in the same genre and preferably in the same country as you! They don't have to be massive stars. You are looking for producers with experience producing a similar sound to what you will record. 

If the artist has a relatively small audience, reach out to them and ask them who worked on their release. I have done this a few times now! If they are a more well-known artist, then you can search allmusic.com. Bear in mind the bigger the artist, the bigger the producer's price tag!

2. Get a list of the top 4: Now that you have done some research, choose the top 4 songs/albums you like. When you listen to the music, listen to the quality of the overall song or album, listen to the mix, do you like how it sounds? Is the genre close to yours? And do you think the producers on the list could help you get your ideas out of your head and into the speakers!

Now it's time to contact the top 4! If you have completed step one, you should have their contact details. 

3. Connect with an email followed by a meeting (call or face to face): This part of the step is essential. You have to make the producer interested in what you do! So be polite, don't tell them you're gonna be a star, and they should want to work with you. When you approach them by email, just keep it casual. Let them know that you're interested in recording a song, that you have listened to their work, and you feel like they would be the right fit to produce your music. 

Ask them if they currently have enough time to consider taking your project on and if they would be willing to set up a face to face meeting (if possible, this is best) or zoom call to discuss the project. 

Give them two weeks to respond. Usually, I will scrap them from the list if I don't receive a response within two weeks. This is ample time for them to get back to you. Remember, how quickly they reply is a good indicator of how good their communication and time management skills are, both of which are crucial to your project's success.

4. Ask them these questions: There are a few questions that you need to ask them, and please.. pay attention to their answers. The right producer won't get frustrated or mad or short with you. Don't feel like you're wasting their time. You're likely going to be spending a bit of money with them, so it's important that they give you their full attention.

Here are the questions to ask:

1. My kind of music is similar to (artist). I've heard your work on (your researched artist) album/song, and I really liked it. Have you done much of that style?

2. I will be starting from scratch. Do you have a package that will cover your time, the session musicians, mixing and mastering? And if so, can I get a quote for it. (This will give you an idea of cost and if they will do a package deal for you)

3. Will you keep me informed on any changes in the budget?

4. Is it ok to discuss alternative options if I am unhappy with anything?

5. Will there be a contract in place, and what does it allow me to keep? I am looking to retain ownership of everything created in the studio.

5. Listen to their response - do they care? If they seem blasé and don't give you their full attention when answering the questions, or if they seem like they are making the answers up, they aren't the right producer for you. It's ok for them not to have the answers, but their response needs to focus on you and getting you the answers. One of the most crucial elements of choosing the right producer is 1; they have the skill to do the job, and 2, they care. If they can't do either, then run for the hills.

6. After your meeting, ask yourself and answer these questions:

1. Can they do the job? Have they shown me their work, and am I satisfied?

2. Can they do it within my budget?

3. Can they cover everything I need in a package?

4. Do they genuinely care about my project?

5. Do I feel like there was a good connection between us?

6. Do they respond to communication promptly?

If your answer is no to any of these questions, move on! They are not the right producer for you!

It is a scary thing picking the right producer! They can make or break your project. They can make it fun, or they can make it hell! 

Take the time to complete these six steps. Take the time to research thoroughly. Two weeks ago, I talked about how I wasted 40k trying to work out the process of releasing my first album. I don't want you to do the same! It hurts! That was money that could have been spent on my family, and although I have moved on, and it was ten years ago, it still stings. 

Releasing your first song can be scary, but you'll smash it out of the park with enough preparation! 

Leave me a comment below and let me know if you are looking for a producer right now!

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