A producer is a person who takes control of the recording stage of your project. That control can be almost total, as with most rock and pop recordings, or limited and collaborative, as with classical ones. In any case, finding a producer who really gets what you’re about is crucial to getting your name and your music out there.
You’ll notice that seasoned, experienced musicians in the pop world will sometimes produce their own albums. But I really don’t recommend it for most. Most musicians are too close to their own music to be objective, and a good producer will (should!) have the objectivity of knowing what your songs need to hit your target audience.
A producer will generally act as a recording manager, pulling all aspects of the project together in much the same way a foreman might do on a construction site. Good producers need to be fully versed in the genre of music you represent, because they really need to know and understand the target audience. They are good communicators, and no matter how much control they assume, they need to be collaborative.
They often take responsibility for the financial aspect, but their musical ear and intuition is, in my opinion, more important than their financial skills. No financial know-how will replace getting a good recording out there. So they can and should have a say in features of your final recording such as: the final playlist, the instrumentation, vocals, tempos, and other creative aspects.
Some producers will perform on the recording, and may take charge of musical arranging. So in short, the producer is someone you completely trust to help represent your musical mind to the world.
The best way to find a producer is to do your research, and find someone who best represents your mindset. It needs to be someone you feel comfortable with, and someone who is genuinely excited about you and your music.
Be careful to choose someone who you can work with, and then, no matter how frustrating the process becomes, be ready to listen. A good producer can take you beyond your small circle of listeners, and can open up the world to you. It can be scary to allow someone to have that kind of say in your recording, but if you are patient, and let that person do their job, they may represent that final step to fame!
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