If you want to make sure you are effective as a music producer, then there are some good habits you can get into to make sure you are on top of your game, here are our top 5.
Spend time with any producer who has a full diary and you’ll find that, even though they are busy, they know that they still have stuff to learn; new gear to check out and new technologies to understand. Making your first album doesn’t mean you’ve arrived, it means you’ve just started on the road of production. You know all those workarounds or 'how do you really do that?' moments you have that slow down your production process, well set aside time to learn how to do them properly then you will reduce the technical road blocks in your production process.
If you’re going to spend money on anything, then make sure music is on the list. New, old, different, recommendations from other friends and stuff you wouldn’t expect to be seen dead listening to. It’s highly likely you might find ideas you never dreamed of. I spent part of last week hanging around with other producers, during lunch we shared album and songs we had listened to and made lists of 'must check this out.' Don't limit your musical tastes you may find yourself inspired by the most unlikely things.
Build a great team
Making music to deadline and to budget means making sure you have talent around you that can deliver. Good producers have their go-to engineers and musicians, make sure you know who your go-to people are. Yesterday I had two different requirements for tracks and I knew exactly who could deliver. Within two hours of sending a track I had six tracks of guitar and bass delivered and in the track - great musicians have the ability to come up with things you would never I ever dream of. I often listen to a part and think 'I wish I had thought of that!' but as they are playing on the track I'm producing I'm glad they did!
Have a sound, not a cliche
Top producers can be known for a certain style or sound, for example Brian Eno or T-Bone Burnett. This is great most of the time, however they also have the wisdom to take on different projects that stretch them and their sound. There’s nothing more exciting than being surprised to learn a great album is from a producer you know who has taken a new path and succeeded. You may not yet be top rung, but it is still easy to fall into the same guitar sounds, same loops, same song structure, same vocal arrangements. Try and produce a track without all your favourite stuff, it's hard, especially when you are against the track, not to reach for that stuff but give it a go.
Producing great music is a creative pursuit and creativity can be hindered by stress, tiredness and burn out. All my effective producer friends don’t spend all their time locked in the studio. They travel, eat great food, drink some great booze, watch great movies and of course, get some sleep.
In fact we spend as much time talking about holidays, books, movies, food, babies and dogs as we do gear.
Producing music can be mean having an isolated life and that’s why groups like the Music Producers Guild are an invaluable life-line. Find out more about them here.
Russ is also setting up an MPG group in Northern Ireland. Check this out if you are interested.