I entered the
world of record producing with my own Red Willow Band in 1976 at an
8 track studio in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We
recorded our second LP in Nashville with Grammy award
winner Barry "Byrd" Burton (r.i.p.) producing. I watched him
like a hawk and have been hooked on producing music ever since.
40+ years of
experience has led me to the role of mentor, maestro, coach,
teacher and producer. I usually engineer my
own projects at MoonHouse Studio on a ProTools HD system.
This gives me the ability to close the door and be
one-on-one with the artist I'm working with. I work in
an encouraging, sensitive manner, with the priorities being
the singer and the song.
Artists I've produced
include Jerry Jeff Walker, Tom Peterson, Richard Paul
Thomas, Todd Hoke, Jimmy Ruggiere, Ricky Sprague, Gringo
Barrio, The Flyin' A's, Scott George, Butch Morgan, 8 1/2 Souvenirs (co-produced with Jack Hazzard for
RCA Records) Bill Small, Jody Mills, Steve Brooks, Michael
Austin, Cowboy Johnson, Albert and Gage, Christine Albert,
Abi Tapia, Rio King, Sharon Bousquet, Lesli Wood, Lawrence J. Clark,
Boyd Bristow, Jimmie Dale Gilmore (2 songs) and Willie
Nelson (one duet with Jimmie Dale Gilmore).
Complete discography here.
Often heard in studios: "Hey producer,
how about producin' me some breakfast tacos!"
|Let's talk about your next recording
Do I need a
The record needs producing,
that's a fact. Either you trust a producer or
you trust yourself. Most artists enjoy having someone
to run the session and keep tabs on the 'big picture' so
that they're free to throw their souls into the performance.
What does the
producer oversees the recording, musically and financially.
A producer gets in sync with the artist to develop a sound,
and then the producer makes the final decisions on song
choices, arrangements, choice of musicians, scheduling,
studio, engineering, mastering and budget. More than
anything it's quality control. For a producer to put his
name on your record, he'll (or she'll) have to be satisfied
with the end result. A good producer will have
contacted you about getting charts and any available live
recordings in advance, so they can become familiar with your
music. Depending on the artist, once
you get into the studio the producer may just stay out of
the way and keep things organized or can greatly influence
the performance. You know how you want your music to
sound, but producers work in this environment all the time
and bring fresh sets of ears to the session. They will
likely have things to offer that you may not even think of.
does the engineer do?
The engineer is in charge of the
equipment, the actual recording process, and keeping track
of all the tapes and/or files that the session creates.
The engineer's job is to faithfully record the art that's
going down on the studio floor.
lot of producers engineer their own sessions?
More and more they do, especially
in the do-it-yourself world of hard disk recording.
I've been recording to various formats for 40 years, and
when I started producing, it was natural for me to engineer
the projects. I work with Pro Tools in my studio,
and it's more efficient to do it myself. The Pro Tools
workstation becomes another musical instrument for me,
because it's possible now to edit musical performances for
the better; tuning vocals, fixing missed notes, rearranging
sections of songs etc.
solo artists typically bring their own musicians to the
studio-- or hire players to fill in?
A producer would bring in professional players, as the
budget allows. If you're self-producing, then you would
choose the musicians yourself. Remember, not every good
musician is a good studio musician.
What is mastering?
Mastering is the final process where the separate mixes are
listened to as a whole and leveling, equalization and
compression is applied. The final song sequence is
decided, as well as the transitions between songs. A
master CD is then created which you will send to the
If you engineered the
recording would you master it too-- or does that happen
think it's a good idea to have a 3rd party master the
record. Fresh ears and all, but just as important, a
professional mastering studio has killer mastering
equipment, and spend all their time mastering. Expect to
spend at least $600.00
does it cost to make a CD these days?
Everyone wants a ballpark estimate. I tell artists
to save between $500 and $1000 per song. It's always variable, depending on
the speed of the recording musicians, the complexity of the
arrangements, the abilities of the vocalist etc. I
look at it this way...each song will take at least 8 hours
of work, from the basic tracks to the instrumental overdubs
to the vocals, sweetening and mixing. So, you've got 8
hours of studio time at the current rate, plus the costs of
each musician and the producer's fee. Then you move on
to mastering, photography, artwork design, manufacturing,
licensing (of cover songs), radio promotion and advertising. At
MoonHouse Studio, we'll sit down with the artist before the
sessions begin and help you work out a budget.