#14: Why You Need A “Producer” (even if you’re producing yourself)

You need a "producer" (that can be yourself) because getting a decent sounding recording is not enough.

It's not enough to record clean signals, avoid hum and noise and make it technically flawless. Not at all. The last thing the world needs are more perfect but boring records. Making something really impactful requires bold moves, committing to stuff early on in the process and - a producer. Because the most important hing is:

A clear vision of the thing you want to create.

And this is especially hard to do if you record your own music. Because you have to be aware of the fact that you are the artist, the engineer AND the producer in one person (or as a group of people, your band).

The differences between a producer and engineer are the following:

The producer is the one who has the creative vision, who guides everyone involved through the project. He/she never loses sight of the goal and he/she's always looking at the bigger picture, the 10000 foot view on the project. Think of this role as the role a movie director has. He/she doesn't operate the camera, but is in charge of the creative decisions and knows exactly how everything will work together in the end. In a traditional recording studio situation there was this producer and then there was one or more engineers. The engineers are the people who actually turn the knobs and set up the microphones. They know exactly how to bring this vision to life, how to capture the sound that the producer and artist are going for. 

If you have to combine all of this in one person, it's VERY difficult to stay objective and to not get lost in the details, but instead focus on the big picture.

That's why you need a "producer", someone in your band who can take on that role and who is responsible for the big picture, the songs and the vision (creatively and sonically). Ideally, that person or group of people is also responsible for the project management, timeline and making sure everyone is working towards that common goal. So that the engineer can focus on the details and making sure that everything is captured perfectly. And so that the musicians can perform freely and can completely be in the zone while doing so.

Listen to the episode and learn more about why this is so important, how to go about it and how to actually avoid the common mistakes we've seen so many self-recording bands make.


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Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 014 - Why you need a “producer” (even if you’re producing yourself)

[00:00:00] Malcom: [00:00:00] It's really just that they didn't have like the project management side of things going on and it just never materialized. And then they got frustrated and they're like, okay, well why don't we just pay somebody to make this happen? And then that's when a producer came 

Benedikt: [00:00:14] in. Just the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are.

DIY style.

Hello. Come to the self recording band podcast. I am your host Benedict tine, and with me is my now multiple podcast podcast host or cohost Malcolm flood. How are you today, my friend? 

Malcom: [00:00:42] Oh, I'm great, man. That was great. The intro. Thank you. I want it 

Benedikt: [00:00:46] to tell them right away because that was really exciting.

You started, uh, another podcast actually, so you're now, you have to. Um, yeah. What's that about? 

Malcom: [00:00:56] Uh, so the, the podcast is called your band [00:01:00] sucks at business. Um, and it's pretty much what it sounds like. It's a podcast about business, but, uh, for bands, so bands and musicians trying to navigate the music industry and make sense of how managers work.

And. Booking agents and how, like, even like down to how to register as a legal business and deal with taxes and stuff like that. We're going to kind of cover all of the business side of things, um, and not talk about music at all, really. It's that brand and stuff like that. 

Benedikt: [00:01:29] Awesome. I mean, that's something that many people, really, many bands really could use, I think.

Um, because the truth is that a lot of them suck at business. So, um. Yeah, there's definitely a need. Um, but I'm curious if just if you say it's also about legal stuff and, uh, and all that, that sort of things. Is it only, um, like applicable for Canadian people or, no, like 

Malcom: [00:01:55] we're, we're purposely going to be really sparsed on that kind of information.

I think it's going to come [00:02:00] up just because, uh, me and my cohost are Canadian, so we know that there's going to be people asking us about like Canadian grants and stuff like that, and we're, we want to answer that stuff. But, uh, I don't think they'll ever be entire episodes just based on that kind of stuff.

It'll kind of be like, answer questions. At the end of episodes or whatever kind of thing. Um, so yeah, we got to figure it out, but we just launched it, uh, two days ago and, uh, it started trending on the Apple podcast music category. So we're, we're all excited. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:02:26] It's, congrats on that. I mean, I saw, I saw that and it's, it's pretty, pretty wild actually, to be on the front page of Apple podcasts.

Um, so, yeah. 

Malcom: [00:02:36] Yeah, it was exciting for sure. And then even more exciting news. I got a kitten earlier this week as well. Things are great over here, 

Benedikt: [00:02:45] man. I love, are you a like a dark person or cat person? 

Malcom: [00:02:49] I'm told they're a dog person, but I don't have like a big enough place for a dog and I'm not home enough.

Um, they, well, I guess I'm home all the time during this covert thing, but, uh. [00:03:00] Normally I'm traveling all over the place every, every month. So, uh, having a dog just wouldn't make sense right now. Okay. 

Benedikt: [00:03:06] Okay. So, but you obviously like cats as well. I mean, I've always three cats, so I love them. 

Malcom: [00:03:12] Awesome. Yeah.

Yeah, this is a, this cat's definitely got me wrapped around his finger. 

Benedikt: [00:03:19] Cool. That's exciting. I'm stoked. All right. Today we are going to talk about why you need. To get a producer, even if you're producing yourself. That sounds weird. I know, but it's true. And what we mean by that is that there's a difference between a producer and engineer.

I'm a musician, a songwriter, and all those roles that somebody needs to, yeah. That all those things that somebody needs to do during the process of making a record and. Since you are a self recording [00:04:00] band, when you're listening to this probably or a self recording artist, chances are you are all of those people in one person and that is kind of tricky.

So yeah, we are going to talk about the challenges and why it's, it's good to get a producer or have a producer, even if that means you yourself or the producer. And we're going to explain what we mean by that. Right. 

Malcom: [00:04:24] Yes. Yeah. It's somebody has to fill those shoes. Um, it's not just like an option airy thing where you could just like, okay, decide.

We're not going to use a producer. That just means that one of one of you has to be the producer now. Um, and you have to, well, I think what we want to do is help people understand what that actually means, what that role, um, really implies. Cause it's, it's a pretty vague term, especially nowadays with, um, there's, there's a kind of multiple meanings of the word producer.

So we want to kind of clarify what it really means and what it means. Um, especially [00:05:00] in a DIY situation where you are becoming the producer. 

Benedikt: [00:05:04] Sure. So what is the actual definition of a producer? I think it's kind of hard to, to answer that, but like there's a traditional way of looking at it. And I would like to start with that.

So back in the day when, um, like recording budgets were big and record labels were doing really well and big recording studios where, um, the only way to make a record there were like. Dedicated people for every single job, basically. So into my, at least the way I understand it, is that back in the day you would have a producer who was kind of having the big picture, like the big, um, like the who was kind of in charge of the vision, the creative decisions.

And then you would have the engineers, one or more engineers who were the people actually turning the knobs [00:06:00] and capturing and bringing that vision to life, capturing the performance. And then you would have the songwriters and then you would have the artists who would perform it. Maybe you have studio musicians, ciliate all these different people.

Everyone's doing one specific job, and the producer was not actually someone like behind the desk doing like turning the knobs, but someone. Um, yeah, having the creative vision and the big picture in mind, and like the producer would be responsible also for the whole process. So they would assign roles.

They would, um, have, uh, the schedule in mind and all that, and they would make sure that everything goes smoothly so that at least that's, that's how I understand it. And you, and welcome, you have worked in. Um, bigger studios more than I have. Or you, you probably were in a situation where there was a producer at one point, right?

So is that what, like similar to what you experienced? 

Malcom: [00:06:55] Yeah. I'm just thinking back to the last album. My band made [00:07:00] a, we hired a producer named Eric rats on the project, and he actually brought his own engineer to the studio with him. And then the studio, we were using this big studio called the warehouse.

It's owned by Brian Adams. If anybody knows any Canadian legends, um, with NASA studio, what, like one of the biggest in the country, um, if not world for that matter. It's just a beautiful place. And, uh, so they have their own house engineer there as well. Um, and then there was like a runner and stuff, so that was like the.

The kind of most like old school set up, I'd been where there, there was like a, an obvious chain of command, you know, um, it wasn't just everybody there is doing everything at once. It was like, okay, Eric has the producer hat on, he's prioritized about the song and the performances and stuff like that. Um, and then his engineer.

Ryan was really the one sitting at the desk, running the computer and the board, and just hunkering down and telling me to tune my guitar and stuff. Um, and [00:08:00] then, and then Zach, uh, Blackstone, the house engineer at the warehouse. He was really like managing, uh, the, like the kind of behind the scenes gear stuff.

Like he was patching the hardware in and stuff like that. So, you know, the Ryan engineer who had traveled to the studio, it didn't have to learn the patching of the studio. He just had that to say he wanted it into something. Um. Particularly in edit and it happened. And then he was, uh, Zach was also, I didn't notice this for a long time, but he was always filling out paperwork.

And then I realized he was making recall sheets for everything we did. So if we went back there and wanted to re cut a guitar, probably even still today, he's probably got our settings and what amps we use and what speakers were in. All of that filed away, which is pretty incredible. Um, and then there was Annie, our runner, who was just like making our lives a dream.

She was just getting us coffee and lunch and just being an absolute doll. Um, so that was like the very structured, uh, experience of like, okay, everybody's. [00:09:00] Got their job. And as you know, that was pretty traditional as far as how things used to be, but that's not the majority, uh, of experiences nowadays.

And it's not how I usually work either. Um, like w when I been hired to produce a band, I'm normally also the engineer, um, as well. I'm sure that's how it was for you as well, Benny. 

Benedikt: [00:09:22] Yeah. Um, most of the time I had some productions where I was. Um, the, I, I've actually never had one where I was just the producer, but I had a couple of productions where a producer, where a band would come to my studio, we would, or we would meet at some studio and I would engineer the record and the band would bring their producer with them.

But then sometimes those are people who are not really like tech savvy, but they are just great artists and have a vision and the band trust them. And they are just with the band and they, yeah, they, they have to, they can the band trust them and they, um, work on the actual art, the [00:10:00] songs and division. And I was there to capture and translate that into what was coming out of the speakers.

And. So I had this situation where I was the engineer and the producer was there. So it was not my job in these situations to um, do a lot of creative stuff. Sometimes the bands would allow me or even want me to chime in and make suggestions, and other times they clearly didn't. So they just had a producer.

They were in charge of that. And my job was just to understand what they were going for and then translate it and capture it. And I had those at my studio as well, where a band was coming in with a producer. But most of the time I'm producer and engineer in one person. That's the, or when I was recording more than I am now, I'm mixing a lot, but that was, that was the majority of projects.

And now I'm in a weird position, actually where I am kind of, and I had just recently realized that I'm kind of a producer and mixer now and not an engineer anymore. So. I'm only mixing [00:11:00] Mo most of the time, at least 90% of the time, but with many of those projects, I'm in touch with the band long before they record and I get demos and pre production.

I go through the lyrics with them. I listened to the songs that make suggestions on the arrangements and we really work on the songs before they start recording. And then during the recording process, I'm in touch with them often. They sent me rough mixes. I get back to them with suggestions and I'm really involved without being there really.

And then I get the tracks to mix. So right now I'm kind of a remote producer and mixer, and that's kind of a, I think a new role that a lot of people have taken in the last couple of years. And it's pretty exciting because it's creative and it's also the mixing. I obviously love mixing so, but all of that, like no matter how you do it, all of that just chose that in whatever scenario you are in.

Someone has to make the creative decisions and someone has to have like the bigger picture and someone [00:12:00] has to keep like the goals in mind and the vision and. It just, you just have to have someone do that. And if you are that in one person, then either the band is really the producer. That's often the case that they are the producer and you're the engineer.

If they want you to be part of the crazy creative process, then you're basically co-producing with the band. And if you are doing it all yourself, you are producer and engineer in one person or in one band. And that's where it gets interesting at least, because I think you need to find a way to separate the two roles, even if you're doing it yourself.

And the analogy I'd like to use for that is I like to think of  producers as movie directors, sort of. So just imagine if you are. Operating the camera and you're looking through the camera all the time and you see the what's going on in this frame and you don't see what's outside of that. You just see what you are currently working on.

You will [00:13:00] never be able to see the whole movie like and everything around it and all the, the opportunities and options and what. Like what other shots you could take that would maybe work better for that scene or whatever. You just see whatever's going on in your frame and that's kind of how I feel when I'm engineering and really focusing on a drum tone or a guitar tone or a certain part.

Whereas as a producer where I can sit back, listen to the whole song, look at my notes, um, think about the pre-pro and demos reference stuff, I can make completely different decisions and think completely different about the project that that's the way I kind of think about it. So the movie director versus w versus the person operating the camera.

Do you agree with that? 

Malcom: [00:13:41] Oh, told. Totally. Yeah. Yeah, that's, it's spot on. Um, I was making me think, well, it was like, first I was like, Oh yeah, I remember film sets,

but no, you're, you're spot on. And I was gonna say like, uh, back on episode 10, which [00:14:00] was, we talked about mastering, I kind of said that mastering was like looking at it. I mixed from kind of a forest from the trees analogy, and that's, that's the same kind of thing you're talking about where, uh, the producer has to be able to see the big picture, um, rather than just honed in on whatever you happen to be working on at that moment.

Um. Do you mind if I read this blurb from your, uh, your article on your website? 

Benedikt: [00:14:22] No, of course. Go ahead. I 

Malcom: [00:14:24] feel like this, this really sums it up. Uh, so Benny wrote, the producer is the one who has to create a vision, who guides everyone involved through the project. He slash she never loses sight of the goal and they are always looking at the bigger picture, the 10,000 foot view of the project.

Think of this role as the role of a movie director has E slashy doesn't operate the camera, but is in charge of the creative decisions and knows exactly how everything will work together in the end. So it's pretty much what you just said, but it's really clear, I think. I thought that was awesome and it like puts a, [00:15:00] an outline on what they're actually meant to be prioritizing.

As a producer, a clearer than, I think a lot of people can verbalize that on their own. 

Benedikt: [00:15:10] Thank you very much. So, yeah, that's pretty flattering. I mean, I'm not a native English speaker, so having used, like you saying, that means a lot. 

Malcom: [00:15:19] That was great. Um. A couple of things to add onto that, um, that people don't think about a lot as the producer also is in charge of getting the job done.

Um, so like when I'm producing the project, I consider it my responsibility to make sure sessions are getting booked and the musicians are going to be there and know their parts and are prepared and it's all, they're a project manager as well. Um, so it's not all creative. Um, it's, it's very like a result driven as well.

Benedikt: [00:15:49] Absolutely. Um, that's totally true. And if you are wondering what article Malcolm is referring to, if you go to the website, the self recording [00:16:00] band.com/producer go, go there, um, you will be redirected to that article. And um, it's all about, yeah, the biggest problem with the hour recording, and I think that biggest problem is that separation or lack thereof between those roles.

And. Oftentimes people, especially when they have a lot of time on their hands and they are in their practice room, in their CHAM space and they are free to do whatever they want and they are free to jam and experiment and try all the different sounds and experiment with plugins or whatever. Um, they focus on all those small details and it might be fun.

Then you might try, I don't know, all the rework pedals in the world or, I dunno. But it's so easy without a person in charge of schedule and. Everything and goals and vision. It's so easy to completely get off track, basically, and, and just waste a bunch of time. And [00:17:00] so I think you usually either have one person.

Be the producer and just clearly assigned that role to someone, or you just have to find a way to separate that in your head basically, and like switch between those mindsets because it's really dangerous otherwise. And I've been in these situations a lot where, yeah, especially if you're with friends and there's no pressure, which is cool.

Uh, it's pretty dangerous to lose sight of, of the whole goal and why you're actually doing this. 

Malcom: [00:17:32] Yeah. Uh, when I was doing more producing, it was very common for the bands that would eventually hire me to have originally planned to make a record on their own. Like when I first met them or whatever, they were already working on something, but it just never comes out because they never.

They finish it because they just never managed to like sketch. It's really just that they didn't have like the project management side of things going on and it just never materialized. And then they got frustrated and they're like, okay, [00:18:00] well why don't we just pay somebody to make this happen? And then that's when our producer came in.

But. Uh, hopefully if we can do a good job with this episode, we can stop that from happening. Well, not stop that from happening. I mean, if you want a higher producer, it's, it can be a great idea. Um, but I think a lot of times if people just kind of looked at this a little differently, they could pull it off.

Benedikt: [00:18:22] Sure. Absolutely. And if you look up this article, like self recording band.com/producer there is a list of. Ways of things you can do to overcome this problem. So like actionable is, the list is pretty long. So we won't go through all of it in this episode, but I think it might be worth to talk about some of these things.

Um, just to help you understand better what we mean and what you can actually do to solve that problem and why, and to understand better why this is so important. So I think the first important step here [00:19:00] is you need to have a plan and a clear vision of what you want to create and achieve, and someone should be responsible to make sure that actually everyone sticks to that plan basically.

So I think as Malcolm said, you could hire a producer, but you can just assign that to someone in the band and just say, you are responsible now. Just make sure we keep. We, we are, we keep doing the right things and just make sure we are still working towards our goal. And um, yeah. So the first step will be to define that and then make sure you actually working towards it.


Malcom: [00:19:38] Definitely. 

Benedikt: [00:19:39] Then, um, another big one here for me is get the gear out of the way. That's something you will hear us say a lot in this podcast probably because we're really not focused on, on gear for a reason. And in this, uh, on this topic, it's, this is also especially important because the gear is often what distracts us from [00:20:00] what's actually important, and that is the art and the vision and all that.

So. Just think of the gear as tools to capture what's really important and essential. And you should be, I dunno, you should be quick and intuitive and like operating that gear, but only the stuff that really matters. And you should really focus on the art and the big picture. And. Again, if you are more than one person in the band, you could have one of you just making sure that the gain staging is right and that the levels of monitoring everything's correct.

All the technical stuff and another one not worrying about that at all, and just making sure that the performances are great, that the songs work, the arrangements work, that the tones you're getting a grade. And if that's not the same person, there's so much. It's again, so much easier. But if you are the one operating the gear and you have to think about those other things, you kind of switch between those roles permanently.

And, um, it's kinda, it's kinda hard. And the gear is kind of, [00:21:00] yeah. Keeping you from making the real important decisions. 

Malcom: [00:21:05] Yeah, I wanted to say, um, I've been having people that are listening to the podcast reaching out to me over the last couple of weeks, and that's been super awesome. Please continue to reach out.

I love meeting and talking to you guys, but like 75% of the questions I've been getting are gear related and I'm like, Oh, it's not important. That's the whole point. No, I'm joking. Like the, there's definitely reasons and it's confusing, so I get why there's questions there kind of thing. Um, but there's a reason we keep saying that it's kind of low on the list of priorities for us.

Um, so yeah, driving that home. 

Benedikt: [00:21:40] Yeah, sure. Um, absolutely. And I think that as weird as it sounds like you can be inspiring also. Of course, I know that and we all love it. And especially instruments and amps and that stuff, or. Even with, I mean an interface, maybe not so much, but everything that has a tone to it or that is kind of creative, that's also inspiring and [00:22:00] can be part of the creative process, of course.

But the more you like it, the more you enjoy it. Turning the knobs and doing this stuff, the more likely you are. Yeah. Kind of. Get distracted. And that's, that's the danger here. So just to have someone, um, keeping the schedule in mind and the vision and the goal, that's why we're telling you to get to get the gear out of the way.

Now, what I'm curious about, Malcolm, is how, what do you do, uh, if you are producing to actually stay objective and to. To be able to have that view and not get like lost in all the details and lose objectivity. 

Malcom: [00:22:42] First off, I'm a total hypocrite because I not only bought a new microphone yesterday, I also bought new monitors for my studio from a mastering room.

I was such a hypocrite, but I'm so excited. I got the slate, uh, , which is like [00:23:00] this kind of a. Modeling microphone that I'm pretty excited to try it. I'm a huge camper fan, um, if any guitar heads, but Noah Kemper is, uh, so it's like the Kemper version of microphones. And then I got the  three tens, um, come in for speakers.

So the, the big three way, uh. Yeah, they're awesome. I love those things. So I'm stoked to have them in my own room, which will be great. But wow. Just nobody trusts me anymore.

That's funny. So, but getting objective, um, there's, there's kind of little simple things I like to do, like in, in, cause you can get lost in the gear and mixing and mastering as well. Um, when you just are obsessing about individual tracks or individual plugins. So I'll bounce a file out and then just listen to it in my finder window, right on my Mac with the ProTool session closed and something about, and just not being able to see all the tracks in front of me totally changes how I hear stuff.

It's, it's so weird. It's like so different to me that it almost like, makes me think that it sounds different [00:24:00] coming down to find her that it does out of pro tools. Um, but that is, that always works for me. Get out of the chair. Um, like the, the main desk chair is another one. Like, just get up, listen at the back of the room, sit on the couch or whatever.

If you have somebody else in the room that can run the computer. That also helps, like seeing somebody in the desk for me kind of alleviates me thinking about like what needs to be happening in that position. So it's just like another little quick thing I just get out of out of the workstation. Cause as soon as I'm sitting down, I'm like honed in on whatever I need to be hyperfocused on.

So just. Get out of that space. Um, and then fresh ears would be one more kind of similar later thing. Um, nothing beats time. And I know that's on your list. Somewhere here is take breaks. Um, if you can go have a cup of coffee or a chat about something totally unrelated and then come back and have a listen to the song.

It's, it's quite a change. Um, [00:25:00] do your mind is, it's almost like you're hearing it for the first time. Um, and again, getting that bird's eye view, that 10,000 foot view of the song is really how everybody hears it. That's not involved in making it is going to hear it. So that's the perspective you want to be keeping.

Benedikt: [00:25:15] Yeah, totally. And I think I need, maybe I need to explain once more why I think that this is the biggest problem with the AOI recordings, because that's kind of a statement. But. I think it really is because most of the hour recordings that I get, they don't lack the technical aspects. I mean, sometimes of course, but they are oftentimes technically fine and there's, there's a lot you could do with those recordings, but sometimes the arrangement, the whole, like how the song works, how it makes you feel, all that stuff.

We were talking all the time and all those episodes. It's just not there. And oftentimes it's due to a lack of that producer person, basically, because everyone's focused on their guitar tone, their bass tone, their drum [00:26:00] tone, uh, and, um, they're probably doing two long sessions without taking breaks, as you just said, they are not doing anything to, uh, get that objectivity.

And then you get something that sounds technically fine, but it's just not like, it's not inspiring. And it's. It's just something like that can never, or will rarely be successful. That's just the truth. It can sound as good as as you want, but it's like that's not what music and art is all about, so you kind of need that, um, that perspective.

That's why I think it's the, actually the biggest problem with why recordings and also someone in a producer role. I can experience producer in the studio. Has the experience and knows what the important things are, and that's just much more difficult to do as a band, never having produced other bands.

And, uh, it's, it's, it's just, it's a challenge. So that's, that's why it's really important. And the things, the things you've just mentioned really help a lot alone. Like this [00:27:00] taking breaks. And I'm just listening and not looking at the screen is also really a big one, so I think that's great advice. There was actually, I don't know if you know that there was a plugin by Massey, which is called the list of plugin.

Do you know that. I don't know if it's still there. I think you can, maybe you can find it somewhere on the internet. It's not on their website anymore. It was a plugin that if you open, if you click the plugin, it just opened a full screen where it says, listen, and nothing else so that you couldn't see your door anymore.

That was the whole function of that plugin basically. And 

Malcom: [00:27:33] yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:27:34] so, um, that was exactly for that, for that reason. Um. And I sometimes just turn off the monitor and then, yeah, as you said, just don't look at it and you're right, it kinda, it almost kind of sounds different if you do that. 

Malcom: [00:27:50] It does. Yeah. There's, um, there's something to be said about this is getting like really meta, but, uh, like stimulation, like having a bunch of lights in front of you.

Like if you [00:28:00] close your eyes, you just hear things differently. Um, it changes how you listen. Um, so that's been like a new practice in mastering for me is. Do my initial like pass and then close my eyes on Apple. Listen. Um, that's a dyno that seems to be working. 

Benedikt: [00:28:15] Yeah, totally. Totally. I do that all the time when I do, um, quality control or when I do like the final listen through the whole thing, or when I export, um, a mix or a rough mix or whatever, I sometimes do it in real time on purpose.

I could do an offline balance, but I do it real time on purpose just because. I like, I do what you just said. I sit back in my chair. I just take different positions and just do something different to the normal listening position that I'm in. Sometimes I put headphones on and I just sit back, close my eyes and listen to it, and I just listened to it differently for some reason.

And that's, that's something I really like to do. And also you, you were talking about how people hear it outside of the studio [00:29:00] and this is what we all I'm working towards, right? So that. It's only, it's only music if it, if someone listens to it, right? If it comes out of speakers somewhere and people listening to your music, they only listen to it really objectively.

They only listen to it once and then they know it. So this, it has to work the first time. And, um, you can't Hartley. Yeah. Simulate that in the studio because you already know the song. So that moment when someone listens to a song for the first time and doesn't know what's happening, that's hard to recreate.

So it's even more important to get as much distance to your own work as possible in between. And also, I think you need some sort of feedback. Mechanism or feedback system or loop built in. So I think you absolutely should try and recreate that situation of a stranger listening to your song by just during the recording process.

Like as soon as you have something that you can listen to, just [00:30:00] print that, show it to someone. Could be your partner, could be your parents, your, I don't know, friend or whatever, and just watch them. Watch how they react. Watch how they look. What they obviously listen to what they say, but just observe and yeah, see what your music does to people because they don't care about how it sounds.

They don't care if it's a rough mix or if it's the finished product yet. They just want to know if it's a good song or not. That's all they care about. And that's so valuable because you are probably not able to tell that objectively anymore during the process. 

Malcom: [00:30:34] Definitely. Wise words don't really have anything to add to that.

You just nailed it. Okay. 

Benedikt: [00:30:40] Yeah. Cool. There's so get feedback, make the feedback loop as short as possible, so yeah. 

Malcom: [00:30:45] Maybe I'll mention that I think a lot of musicians, especially the type of people that want to do an album on their own, um, like, cause not all of the listeners of this podcast, I know already are bands.

Some of them are just individuals, right? [00:31:00] Um, and a lot of people choose to make music on their own because they're kind of private people. Um, and it's kind of uncomfortable for them to have other people involved in the process. So that this is like an especially hard point for, for people like that. Um, and I would really suggest you try it.

Um, and these, these don't even have to be people that are like, it doesn't have to be in person. You know, like most of the people I send. Mix mixes and masters do for crits are people like Benny here who lives in a different country. You know, like he's not going to actually be at my house judging my mixes are just gonna send it off to him.

And then when he has time, he'll listen to it. Um, so find a circle of people that you trust and that can give good feedback, you know? Um. You want, you want people that are going to understand how to be constructive. Um, but it's, it's really worth it. So kind of resist the fear to just keep it private, I think.

And, uh, you'll benefit 

Benedikt: [00:31:59] for that purpose [00:32:00] alone. It will be worth training. The self Korean bank community on Facebook because yes. Um, you could always post rough mixes there or, um, the progress of your, of your project if you're recording and get feedback there from other musicians. That's a very good idea actually.

And there are a lot of online communities out there and ours is one of them. And if you go to the surf recording band.com/community you can join that Facebook group and whenever you need feedback or whenever you feel stuck or not objective anymore. Just post your progress there. Ask questions, ask people for feedback.

And I think another advice here, a great advice you would be to not only like don't be afraid of that, of course, but also don't give people too much information when you ask for feedback. So don't post. A rough mix and give them all sorts of information to that because then they are already not as objective anymore as well.

So just post it, let them know that you want to like [00:33:00] what do you think of that song or that arrangement or that I don't know. And then just wait what they say because you don't have to, you want to have the chance to explain your music to your listeners later. So it just has to work right away. That's another word of advice because I see a lot of people do exactly that.

They post. A rough mix or a mix or an arrangement, whatever, a song, and they will post it along with a block of text explaining why it sounds like this or that, and that already makes it difficult to give objective feedback. So 

Malcom: [00:33:29] it does. Yeah. Yeah. If you say, I can't make the drums sound good, and everybody's just going to.

Focus on the drums as they listen and tell you the same stuff you just wrote down. You know? So I think that's a very, very smart advice. Also, great call on the Facebook group. That's the perfect place to go because it's a bunch of people that are doing exactly what you're doing. If you're listening to this recording your own music is, yeah, that's the perfect place.

Benedikt: [00:33:51] Sure. And um, yeah. And then finally I want to talk about one thing that I, I don't know, and I want to hear your opinion on that, Malcolm, [00:34:00] because I mean. There's really not so much we can, we can talk about, um, in addition to what we already did on this topic, because it all comes down to knowing that you need a producer knowing that you can be the producer, but you have to separate the role.

So all the things we just talked about, there's not, there's really not much more to it, but it's very important. That's why we made an a dedicated episode for that. But there's one aspect to that that I, I'm curious to hear your opinion, Malcolm, and that is. When we say a producer is the one responsible for the creative decisions and responsible for, um, you know, the vision and how, how things come together and make the song and the production work in the end.

I tend to, or I'm pretty heavy on that actually. I like to make bold decisions and I encourage people to make bold decisions. I'm not, I don't like playing it safe and I'm, I know that a lot of. Engineers and producers [00:35:00] tell, especially DIY musicians, DOI engineers, to record safe signals that you have all the options in the mix and that you don't make mistakes and stuff like that.

Whereas. I don't like that. I don't know. I don't know why that is. I just think that it's art and like, great art is really safe for me. So, or like from safe decisions and from being afraid, that rarely comes like exciting art, at least in my opinion or experience. So. I don't know what your opinion on that is, but I like to encourage people.

If you think something sounds great and it is what you are going for and you want that sort of vibe, and even if it's something unusual, just record it. Just record it and send it to mixing. Um, don't be afraid. I mean, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to redo something. Um, but I, I don't know.

I think some great ideas could be prevented from [00:36:00] ever like happening or being captured if you are afraid and just record safe signals. 

Malcom: [00:36:07] Yeah. I'm with you. There's a, I mean, a couple amendments is that, like, I, I always recommend people do record a clean Dai. Um. That's a really safe and smart idea, but that other signal should be, you should send me the DEI, but also have whatever ridiculous amp tone that you thought was the right decision.

Don't just because you have a DIB, like it doesn't matter what the acetone is, it's just going to get replaced. Don't go in that without mindset. Try and capture the tone in your head. Absolutely. Um, you know, if it's meant to be this big fat, fuzzy thing, make it that. And if you get it right, yeah. Like the mixture is going to want to use it.

Um, but having that DNA is handy and it's so easy, you know? Yeah. We've talked about the eyes. There's a lot of reasons to do them. Um, but that goes with everything. Um, you know, like if you want a roomy drum sound, make sure you've got room mikes up on your drum kit, that they kind of capture [00:37:00] what you're imagining, make those decisions.

That's, that's the producer's job, I think. Right, 

Benedikt: [00:37:05] absolutely. And I think if you think of any really great record. Um, most of them are unique in a way, and oftentimes people made decisions that were maybe. A little, yeah, unconventional or like new or they, they tried new things, they tried exciting things and of course you can totally, that can totally fail.

Like everything. Um, like there's a risk to it of course. But that's what makes it exciting, I think. And I think part of the role of a producer is also to be that visionary and to be that person willing to take risks. With the potentially awesome result in the end. And that's just part of creating art in my opinion, and to, to explore things.

So it's hard to describe, but I just think you need to have that person. You [00:38:00] should not just try to capture whatever you were practicing and then just throw microphones in front of it and capture it. But you should try to create something. You should have a goal in mind, a vision. And then go after that, whatever it takes, and you could fail, but you could end up making the best record ever.


Malcom: [00:38:18] yeah, it, it was honestly like the realization of this, um, when I was coming up as a producer that made it all click and really took me to the next level was realizing that every decision I make affects the decision that comes after it. Um, and in my mind, it's kind of impossible to make something magical.

If you're not making decisions along the way, like your guitar sounds not going to be, if you don't get the drum sound that's in your head, what's your guitar sound going to be based on? You know, and if, if that guitar sound is not built around what's in your head, it's just a random, you've just got all these random things that don't live together.

Um, and are just, you know, you might get lucky, but that's [00:39:00] very unlikely, I 

Benedikt: [00:39:00] think. 

Malcom: [00:39:01] Um, and I, I don't know a single. Producer, that's, that's really on top of their game, that doesn't have this mindset. Um, with the exception of Sam Pura. I don't understand how he does it, but

for those that don't know, apparently you don't even get to record with an app at all. You just play, you're like the DIY signal as you record with him. It just boggles my brain. Um, 

Benedikt: [00:39:27] but in a weird way. Um, he also says it's just, it's a little weird and hard to understand in his case, I think, and I didn't, I don't fully understand it as well, I think, but when you hear him talk, just talking about Sempra real quick here, when you listen to interviews with him, he such an emotional and, um, it's just such a guy who's focusing on focusing on the arts so much, and he gets really emotional when he talks about art.

And so the art and how it works and what it, what it does to people is really the most important thing to him, I think. And it really matters [00:40:00] his way too. Captured that and bringing it to life. It's just a little different than that of many other people. So as you said, he likes to track only the eyes with not even an amp on that you'll listen to.

So he likes us, the eyes to sound as if they were programmed basically. So he likes perfection for sure, but sonically, and also arrangement and songs and melodies, that stuff is very, very important to him. So 

Malcom: [00:40:26] he really cares a lot. And the reason is. Not having an app is it? It's just because he cares so much that every note is perfect.

Um, where he's not gonna let distortion hide that from him. Um, which, yeah, I don't know. I couldn't make a record that way, but, but, uh, you had to know his results. 

Benedikt: [00:40:43] Yeah. But what, what all of those people have in common in common, um, is that the art really matters most and that they do all of what they do in order to achieve.

That great result. In the end, they just, they don't just throw microphones in [00:41:00] front of a guitar and capture whatever's coming out, but they all, they do it with a reason, with a purpose, with a why behind it. And that's the hard, the hard part. And that's what you somehow have to figure out how to do as, as a band.

And I think the only way is what we were talking about today that. I'm trying to stay objective, trying to stay, to make breaks, get feedback, do all of these things, assign roles within the band, and finally just be bold. Try things and be willing to fail. That's the only way you will ever create a great piece of art that will inspire people, I think.

Malcom: [00:41:36] Yeah. Uh, it's, it's gotta be human and purposeful. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:41:42] Sure. So, um, to sum it up, I think that's, that's really it with this episode. So, um, next time you meet with your band, if you're a band, next time you meet, try to figure out who. In the band is the creative, visionary type, maybe who likes to [00:42:00] be the producer, who has the vision, who is maybe the song writer or has had the vision from like from the beginning.

Cause oftentimes there is one person in the band who has this clear picture from the beginning. And then sometimes there is a person in the band who is the, the tech guy or girl. And, um. Just, yeah, figure that out. Talk about that, and then assign those roles and then come up with a schedule, a workflow, a way of like working towards these goals without being distracted too much.

And within that, I think give yourself the freedom to try things and be bold and commit to things. And that's a great place to start and to organize things. I think. 

Malcom: [00:42:46] Yeah, that's great. That'll get you so far ahead. Uh, I just want to throw in there, um, if you're not already make a studio board, so most people just have like a whiteboard around or whatever, and you just make like a little chart of each instrument, um, [00:43:00] going across in columns and then each song I went down and rows or vice versa.

And, uh, whenever something gets completed, you cross it off. I guess. Dan's still like draw something in the box. So if the drummer finishes the track, he goes and draws whatever he wants in the box for that song under drums. Um, keeps it fun and you end up with this really hilarious collage of normally disgusting things, but you really gotta look at the, the.

The personalities of the band at the end, but, uh, but like having a visual reference that you can always just glance at and see where you stand with the completion of your album is super great and keeps people focused and, um, kind of gives you like this visual big picture of the project as a whole.


Benedikt: [00:43:44] Absolutely. Yeah. The classic whiteboard thing. Yeah, totally. Um. I think we should continue this conversation, uh, and get a little more specific on some things that you need to take. You need to pay attention to [00:44:00] you when you produce and record and some of the things that a producer actually does.

Then, so in the next episodes we're going to talk about preproduction, because that's, that's just part of this, this conversation, and this is a. Um, yeah, uh, step of the part of the process that's not too technical where it is not about getting the perfect signals and the perfect takes yet, but it's about the big picture.

So we're gonna talk about that in the next episode, and then we're going to just walk our way through the process a little bit and talk about the order of recording things and also mindset things. So, um. Yeah. Let's just continue this conversation and explore the actual process of making a record a bit, because that's really what the real interesting part is.

I mean, putting a microphone in front of a guitar cap is the easy part, right. That is what really is important. 

Malcom: [00:44:55] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. This will be a great little series of episodes. 

Benedikt: [00:44:59] Sure. [00:45:00] So if you haven't yet talking about the process, um. You can download my 10 step guide to successful DIY recording. You'll find it.

If you go to the self recording band.com/ten step guide and it's like a guide that walks you through all of that, the, the whole process. Um, it's kind of a step by step system that you can follow so you don't forget anything important. And, um, yeah, check that out. And I think if you follow all these steps, if you check all these boxes.

Uh, there's not much that can go wrong actually. So go to the set recording band.com/ten step guide, uh, check out by comes new podcasts, join the Facebook community and check out the article we mentioned. And this, this is a lot of call to actions, but it all makes sense. You can, uh, yeah, it's worth checking all of this stuff out.

And. Yeah. Anything to add to that, Malcolm? 

Malcom: [00:45:58] No, no, that's, [00:46:00] that sounds great. Um, I don't know if we mentioned on the last one, but we recently passed a thousand. Actually, we're past 1100 downloads right now. Um, so thank you for listening. This is awesome, guys. It's growing quick. 

Benedikt: [00:46:10] Oh, yeah. Thank you. Thanks a lot.

Sure. Okay, then, um, see you next episode. Yes. Bye guys. Thank you. .

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