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What is a Record Producer and Do I Need One?

With CPU power growing and silicon prices dropping, more and more American musicians are turning their bedrooms and garages into "semi"- pro recording studios. With a few grand or a nice credit line at the local Guitar Center, a band or Hip-Hop group has a shot at making it big with their new gear. "With these killer beats and a Myspace page, I can conquer the world".

Well, not so fast. You have the songwriting talent, creativity and a pretty good feel for engineering but trying to write, arrange, perform, produce, track, edit, mix, and master all with the same set of ears and gear is damn near impossible. This is not how the major labels do it and neither should you.

So, how do we compete with the "big boys"? Well, you already have that slammin DAW loaded with the latest samples and synth library and you have a pretty decent signal chain - mic, pre, A/D converter. That walk in closet makes for a more than adequate vocal booth and the vocals you have recorded sound loud and clear. Music Production is almost finished. You work out an arrangement for your song complete with complex intros/outros and drum breaks. At this point you have a good sounding mix and the song structurally is complete. You can post the song on your favorite networking site and sound like a lot of independent artists out there - Kind of plain.

Bands and artists all over the world make the same mistakes when it comes to recording an album or a demo. They budget their money for the gear, they budget their time for rehearsals and gigs and hire a manager, which is all necessary but they forget to hire a record producer.

The producer is essential in the recording process. He is much like a movie director who coaches and guides the talent to great performances and captures them on media. Would you ever think of a movie being made without a director?

Handing over the reigns of controlling the recording, mixing and mastering process is a hard thing to do in most musicians' cases. But the decision to accept directions from an able producer can make or break an artist at any time.

No one knows the music better than you do. You are the creator with a vision of how your songs should sound. The artist should always stay in control of his creative work but the technical aspects of achieving that sound should be placed on the producer.

A good music producer knows all aspects of recording an album inside and out. He has worked with artists from many different genres and can communicate efficiently with musicians, engineers, studio executives and investors.

A record producer has many contacts in the music scene to get you the sound you want while keeping to your budget. Even if you do all your tracking and pre-production with your home recording gear, finalizing your mixing in a professional studio with an experienced producer gives you a much better shot at getting that special sound you are looking for.