Playing music in a band isn’t all about writing and playing songs live (at least not anymore). In 2018, you must be ahead of the curve and be proactive with your content. Social media, graphic design, video production, and even music production should all be fields you become familiar with.
The more content production you can keep “in-house” the better off your band will be. Music production, specifically, is a great skill to have if recording and technology are your strong-suites. In this article, I’ll explain why you should learn music production and recording to help further your band’s career.
So, what is music production exactly?
You will be playing the role of themusic producer
. Generally, this person sees over an album, contributing ideas to the song structure, composition, and melody, which also may include establishing a sonic character for a song(s). Music producers often create the music bed of a track for an artist to sing over. The music bed is essentially the “instrumental” version of a song. Now that role may be limited to pop music, but you should still consider becoming a producer even if you play in a metal band!
Your duties as a music producer
If you decide to take this role on, here’s what you’ll most likely be doing:
• Recording demos for your band
• Composing music beds for songs
• Writing toplines and harmonies over a music bed
• Proposing changes to arrangements to aid the songs
• Coaching other members of the band during sessions
• Mixing / Mastering your own music (potentially)
On the last bullet point I put potentially in parentheses because if you’re just starting out as an engineer and producer, it’s going to be hard to churn out material of a certain “industry standard,” but hey, maybe you have what it takes! On with the reasons why you should become a producer!
1) Recording demos gives you an advantage over other bands who cannot
The ability to hear what your music sounds like is huge these days. It’s hard to get a total vibe of a song with just a phone recording of your band playing in a basement. Recording demos gives your band a clearer picture of what your music will sound like after it’s recorded professionally in a studio. You’ll be able to weed out many ideas that would have wasted your money in long run during tracking in the studio.
As you hone your skills and reach the famed “10,000-hour rule”, you may be able to produce your own release with your band on your own. It’s a major asset to your band. We did this on our last release; we had a lot of fun in the process and total control of what we wanted to sound like.
2) With how affordable recording technology is these days, there’s almost no excuse
Setting up a home studio is extremely easy and affordable. You can buy an eight-channel interface along with a microphone package and you’ll be good to go. Most audio interfaces include a “lite” version of a digital audio workstation, as well. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve, but that’s why it’s important to begin learning as soon as possible.
You may be thinking that you need a degree in audio from a university to get started. Fortunately, there’s tons of resources available on the internet for young, budding producers and engineers.
3) Many artists are ditching the “traditional studio” and are recording at home
Today’s music world is much different from that of the past. There are basement demos become #1 radio hits. In 2012, a band from Australia, Atlas Genius, landed a spot on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation and had major radio success in the United States.
Lots of music is very “programmed” in the sense that it’s basically just a music producer with a singer. The entire music bed many times is all samples, so just a great sounding vocal recording is needed. Depending on the type of band you are, this will vary, but you really don’t need lots of fancy gear and an expensive recording studio to become successful. One or two great microphones is more than enough. In fact, if the music isn’t great, no amount of money or gear thrown at it will get you further.
4) Music production is a very valuable skill for now and the future
Whether your band becomes the next Imagine Dragons or just plays to fifty people for the next three years, learning music production can play a very valuable role in securing a side income for you while you build your band up. Let’s face it… playing in a band won’t always pay the bills. If you decide that you want to do the whole band thing and not keep a day job, doing music production on the side can be a very lucrative and fun opportunity.
5) Elimination of “pre-production” in the recording studio
Pre-production is essentially the process in the recording studio during the first few days when many critical choices are made:
• Song structure
• Determining tempos
• Scratch tracks for guidelines
If you’re doing all your own recording of your band at home, when you decide to go to the recording studio, you can essentially bring your pre-production with you. The engineer of the recording studio can use your recorded files as a template for your project. It keeps the studio engineers happy and makes their lives easier. I’ve done this on three different recording projects and have always received praise for doing so. Just make sure you’re always organized and specific with your files and file names (nothing like ‘audio_2_new.wav’).
There are many more reasons to pursue music production, such as writing music for TV/film or video games, but I imagine that you get the picture. You won’t be Rick Rubin overnight, but if you stick to it and are passionate, you’ll progress quickly. Take it slowly and encourage your bandmates to give you constructive feedback on any of your recordings or productions. If all of this seems like too much for you, maybe workingwith a music producer
is a better option.