I've been producing music for 11 years, and I've had the privilege of working and collaborating with some successful artists.
I've been in a couple of bands, which have taught me how to work harmoniously with others to achieve one common goal. I've also learned a lot about the industry's business side regarding communication, processes, and transactions.
Throughout the years, I've learned a lot about 'what not to do,' and I want to share that list with you in hopes that it will help you make the right decision when hiring a music producer that aligns with your project. Because if you don't… it could cost you a ton of time, energy, and money.
So… if you're an artist looking for a music producer, this one is for you.
Here are the 6 red flags to look for when hiring a music producer:
1. No website or no evidence of their work
2. Not able to answer business-related questions about the process of working with you
3. Not clear on what exactly you'll get for your money
4. Doesn't have paperwork and works solely on 'hand-shakes'
5. Doesn't have good people skills
6. Has sketchy payment methods
No Website or Evidence of Their Work
In today's society, we run on 'social proof.' When you go to buy a new microphone, what do you do? Straight to the gram', Youtube, or Amazon reviews. You want to make sure what you're about to invest in is legit.
Not only do you want to make sure your money is spent wisely, but you want to make sure the music producer takes him/herself seriously.
If they have no website, no SoundCloud, no Youtube, NO WORK ANYWHERE....then how in the world are you going to know if they fit your style?
Here are some questions to ask a music producer before working with them:
1. Can I see 3 samples of your latest [insert genre of music] beats?
2. Where can I find out more about you? (if they don't have a website or a different digital platform like Youtube, they possibly have a bio somewhere else on the internet)
Full disclosure: I am a music producer that is open to working with serious artists, so I'd like to take this time and link my beat store, business website, Soundcloud, and Spotify. (shameless plug!)
Why do I have two different websites?
Glad you asked.
For multiple reasons, but for the sake of the conversation, I like to know WHO I'm buying from before I type in my card information online, and so should you.
That's why I have my business website, which includes more about me. And I have my separate beat store, exclusively to showcase, you guessed it!- my beats.
I see a LOT of music producers that only have their beats, but nothing about who they are as a person and what makes them unique.
If I don't even know what you look like, chances are I'm not going to buy from you.
Not Able to Answer Business- Related Questions
Earlier this year, 'The Game' approached me. He was looking to feature unsigned artists in his mix-tape.
So, I slid into his DM's, told him I was interested, and linked a couple of my latest tracks. He got back with me but was unclear about the process and what exactly I'd be getting for my money.
So I responded with:
And he replied:
You can read more about what happened next here.
He was not-willing and unable to answer simple questions to make me feel comfortable about working with him.
Working with most music producers should be upfront and smooth. For example, my process goes something like this:
1. Inquiry about services
2. Hop on 20-minute discovery call/video chat
3. I price out what you need and send you an invoice
4. You approve it, and I work my magic
5. I deliver the song to you within 1-3 days
6. I follow up to see how you feel about it and if you believe it needs any revisions
Done! Easy as pie.
*Side note- this process is for when a specific sound is needed. On the flip side, if there's a beat you like on my store, it's as easy as clicking the purchase button and watching that beat pop into your inbox.
A harmonious producer- artist relationship shouldn't be complicated, so if your gut is telling you something- listen to it.
Not Clear on Exactly What You'll Get for Your Money
When you go to the grocery store, you pick up a loaf of bread, you know you're getting a loaf of bread for $2.25, and that's that.
It should be the same as any other business transaction. A music producer should have laid out exactly what you'll get for package A, B, C, and D.
For example, my mixing and mastering services layout what's included:
Pretty straightforward. But when it's not easy to understand and confusing, you'll probably be unlikely to move forward with the services. To clarify and make sure you're on the same page as the music producer, you can ask questions like:
To make sure for ___ amount of money, I'll get _____.
(sometimes having it in writing is an excellent way to clear things up)
It says on your website _____, can you explain that a little more?
Doesn't Have Paperwork and Works Solely on 'Hand-Shakes'
When you buy a car, you fill out paperwork, right?
Case in point, REAL businesses ensure your buyer protection and theirs with contracts.
It's a standard procedure, and if anyone you're considering working with seems squeamish with the word 'contract,' chances are they aren't the right fit for you.
Doesn't Have Good People Skills
You know that one person that never pulled their weight during a group project? Or that one coworker who couldn't get with the program? We all have dealt with people in our lives who aren't harmonious with the goal.
I don't know about you, but I'd prefer not to work with those types of people. For one, they slow you down. And most importantly, communication for a musical vision is imperative, so if the music producer isn't able to fully listen and understand what you want to be done, then it's just not going to work out.
Especially if you'll be recording in a studio for a reasonable amount of time, you'll want to enjoy working with your music producer; you want to vibe with him/her!
Sketchy Payment Methods
Services like Paypal and Transferwise offer buyer protection, so if a transaction goes south, they'll be able to refund your money. However, if a music producer asks you to Venmo you or pay you through some other unheard of service, you should proceed with caution.
Finding the right music producer can be the difference between having a mediocre album or having a magical one.
You put a TON of time, emotion, and heart into your music, and you want that to be heard, right?
Whether you pick me or someone else, I sincerely hope this list helps guide your final decision when hiring a music producer.