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Record Producers - What Do They Do?:

A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job it is to oversee and manage the recording (i.e. "production") of an artist's music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, selecting songs and/or musicians, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through mixing and mastering. Producers also often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules, and negotiations.

Independent Record Producers:

An independent producer will be employed by a band, or the label on the band's behalf, in order to gain a particular sound or in order to gain from the producer's reputation. The producer and the band will then go into a studio to record. The producer's fees will be separate from the studio rental fees. The producer will usually oversee the recording sessions as well as the mixing and the mastering of the recordings, but make sure this is made clear before the work starts, and that the overall fee is agreed.

In House Record Producers:

An in-house producer works in a particular studio, and his fees will usually be included in the cost of renting the studio, although they may also receive "points." Studios can often be keen to retain in demand producers as they can provide a major reasons for artists to come to the studio. Some producers, such as grunge pioneer Steve Albini in Chicago and lo-fi producer Kramer own their own studios. When booking a studio if you want to work with a particular in house producer, make sure that they are available and booked in for your session.

How Do Record Producers Get Paid?:

Most producer will be paid a flat fee/advance for their work. Some will also receive points - a percentage of the dealer price of a record and/or a share of the profits made from the recordings. It's common for producers to receive both. A producer may work for a reduced up front fee in exchange for some points, or may secure a fee plus points, if they feel their production will be important to the record's success. Initially some producers may work for free to build up work but top producer can be very well paid. If you're involved in the songwriting process, you can expect royalties on top of your production fees.

How Do I Become a Producer?:

Traditionally producers begin work as engineers in studios, or sometime as session musicians, gained experience in the studio environment. Then they begin working as an in-house producer until they gain a reputation. As Danger Mouse's story shows these days a producer can start working from their bedroom, however studio experience is very valuable to a producer. As a producer you'll probably be working with a studio engineer, but you'll be expected to know your way round a mixing desk. Working at your production skills in the bedroom is a good way to start, and try and gain work experience at a local recording studio.

Record Producer Contracts:

As with all aspects of the music industry, contracts are important, not least because they let everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them. An engineer may feel that they're 'producing' the session - the band may not. A band may expect the producer to oversee recording, mixing and mastering but the producer may be only be expecting to work on the recordings. These issues, along with fees and point are more easily discussed before recording begins, and a contract can clear up any misunderstandings.

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