A producer can help many artists make the leap from sounding good live to sounding great, and marketable, on record. A good producer will have an understanding of what the artist wants to achieve creatively as well as the technical aspects of recording. Many artists like to produce their own material, but it can be useful to have someone else’s perspective during the course of making a record to make sure that listeners will get as much from it as you do.
For electronic artists and DJs, they’ll also be able to assist with obtaining clearance for any samples used and taking care of administrative responsibilities like ensuring that all additional musicians have signed consent forms – all things that can lighten the load for artists, allowing them to concentrate on making music.
Producers tend to be well connected in the industry. Most work freelance with many different labels and are in a perfect position to give you a swift leg-up in your career. Better still, if a producer really believes in your ability they could agree to work for a reduced fee, or for free – agreeing to be paid in full once you get signed. This can be a golden opportunity for struggling artists, but be careful. Unless a contract states the contrary, the person who makes arrangements for the recording will own its copyright - meaning that the producer could get the vast majority of any royalties if you become successful.
If the recording process takes place at the producer’s own studio, you’ll also have to pay for their studio hire, tape costs and equipment hire - but their production experience could still make this good value for money. If they offer to work for cheap, they’ll either be looking for revenue from the record’s sales or will want to produce your future, bigger budget efforts. Often there will be a clause in the contract to say that the artist will repay the producer in full if they get signed within 18 months of making the recordings.
Importantly, if you’re not sure what you’re signing up for, don’t do it. Seeking legal advice could save you a fortune in the future and protect your rights to the music you've created. Find out more in the Your Money and Your Rights section.
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