You need someone who knows your potential who can push you. You might be happy with the first take, but you need someone to say, “You can do better.”
An outside perspective helps. Maybe your voice sounds tired. Maybe you come across as sad during your happy, peppy song. Sometimes we need fresh ears to get the best take.
You need a signature sound. Unless your engineer is taking a lot of creative liberties, your record will be similar to his or her other projects. And while this is completely benign, it’s probably not what you’re going for. Think about the voices of Phil Collins, Adele, Florence and the Machine, etc. It’s not only their voices and stand out, but the treatment of their voices. This can be reverb, doubling, or another combination of effects. But it’s not just a matter of slapping on some flange and calling it good. The trick is finding the right treatment that brings out the uniqueness that is already there.
Arrangement is its own instrument. It’s possible that you are adept at writing string quartets and horn sections but most artists aren’t. In fact, for many, it might not be apparent that a song could use an extra something. A good producer can hear the gaps and know how to fill them without overflowing the song. The right instrumentation can bring a song--and its vocals--to life. (*Arrangement is a job in itself and includes notating the music, but with today’s technology, depending on the instrumentation, it is possible to skip that step.) Additionally, a producer will know which players to hire to get the best sound.
You need someone to believe in you. It sounds simple, but knowing there is someone else who loves your music and is willing to work to help make it happen can give you the energy and motivation you need to get it done. And in a discipline like music--its players so often riddled with doubt--that simple thing is invaluable.
There are other things that a producer might do for you. These are some I learned first-hand working with Cori Jacobs (Master Fader Music) on my second album. I had lucked out and found the perfect fit, creativity- and personality-wise. Without him, I couldn't have created the record I dreamed of making.
Now, to find the right producer…
(View the published article on Music Clout.)