As an Artist Manager, I find myself more involved in artist development and the production side of the business than ever before. Something I have learned to value is the art of finding the right producer for an artist. Producers come in all shapes, sizes and flavors but “one size fits all” is definitely a bad formula to follow. Just because a producer has experienced success with another artist doesn’t make him/her the right fit for you. If a producer is more concerned about letting you know their accolades than they are about giving you a recording that you are happy with then I would encourage you to keep looking. I found myself dealing with a “rock star producer” this past year and every conversation started with “I produced the #2 song of the decade.” The sad reality is that decade is over and all I wanted was a great recording for my artist.
Great communication is an extremely valuable characteristic of a producer. I am currently working on a artist project with Chris Stevens, one of the top producers in Nashville (Tobymac, Mandisa, Carrie Underwood, Jamie Grace, Blake Shelton), and his communication is spectacular. Not once has he mentioned his accolades (and he has a lot of them) and he returns emails/phone calls within a couple of hours. The experience has been on a level so much greater than others I have dealt with. His communication plays a big role in his success.
5 key elements for Picking the Right Producer
1) Has the producer recorded music with a similar sound/direction that you are looking for?
2) Is the producer more concerned about his deal points than he is about making great music? If so, keep looking.
3) Is the producer willing to do what it takes to make you happy no matter how much time it takes?
4) Is the producer willing to commit to an “all in” price that fits your budget? This will save you a large surprise bill at the end.
5) Is the producer willing to commit to a deadline?
And lastly, I am a firm believer that producers should get paid a fair price for their work. You may not be able to afford the top producers but there are plenty of young talented producers looking to make their mark and willing to work within your budget. A word of caution though, NEVER pay a producer the full amount until he/her has delivered the final product. Paying them 50% up front and 50% upon delivery is an industry standard. Producers need incentive to deliver so keep the incentive in your favor.
Who are some of the great producers you have worked with?