Step 5 - Producing
Shocking, as this may be for some of you, producing a record is an
art that begins after the performance has happened. The producer
listens to the performance, taking note of the following...
How many performers are there?
If you have an entire orchestra then producing the record at home
may be out of the question. Also, the producer should determine the
number of channels of audio that will have to be recorded
simultaneously. One way to save money in the recording process is to
limit the amount of audio channels to what is needed to complete your
project. This is one of the reasons you were not supposed to buy gear
at the beginning. Investing in quality components, instead of quantity
of audio channels, helps the later steps to flow more smoothly. Having
a big impressive looking mixing console is not the key the better
If the performance is a duet, you may not even need to mix.
Remember; at this point a performer is any musician, acoustic
instrument, synthesizer, drum machine or sampler that produces
sound and must be captured. So if the performance is a rapper and a
drum machine, there would be only two performers, and only one
would have to be recorded at a time. The producer finds out the
number of performers to determine where you can track and what
sort of equipment and space is needed.
What instruments are being used?
Electronic instruments do not require a microphone, but will require a
DI (or direct input). The number of microphones and the types of
microphones needed all depends on the acoustic instrumentation.
What is your genre/What is your perceived genre?
Remember, the musician’s understanding of genre is based on rhythm,
tempo and chords; the consumer’s understanding is based on
instrumentation. Always clarify that with clients so that there is no
confusion about our intended “sound”.
If you do not choose to hire a professional record producer, you should give this title to whomever has the most experience
recording in general. The producer should also be familiar with the discipline of execution. Besides the location of tracking, the
producer must decide whether the performance is sufficient, to create the desired result. Your group may need to practice more,
and you should be well rehearsed before you start spending money on gear or studio time. Let the producer decide when the group
has rehearsed enough.
The Record Producer E-Book discusses a production concept called “circular thinking”. It
begins here, because we think about the end record at the beginning of the recording
process. Just as the songs began in the mind of the composer, the recordings of those
songs will begin in the mind of the producer. So at this point, the producer makes
decisions that lead to the sound in their mind. Once a producer has worked in many
recording studios around the world, he/she realizes that your record only sounds as good
as the performer and room.
Use multiple rooms and you will create new acoustical phenomena and possibilities.
Suppose you are working with a group that contains a drummer, keyboardist, guitarist and
singer, and you want the drummer to sound like he is on stage at Carnegie Hall. The best
way to achieve that sound is to record the drums at Carnegie Hall. If Carnegie Hall ends up
being too expensive, consider substitutes for Carnegie Hall (e.g. Other concert halls,
schools, churches, etc). Get the acoustic sound of drums as close as possible to the sound
in your mind, listening to it with your naked ear. Then, replace your ear with a microphone.
What is your budget/What is your deadline?
Producing a record is similar to project management. Some big producers hire project managers as assistants. The project scope
outline referenced earlier, is a document that shows the objectives of the project and the projected expenses over a time line. If you
read the next six steps (which are shown on the top of this page) you can use them to develop a project scope outline. You would
start by writing down how long the tracking phase will take, and how much of your budget will be spent on that step.