156: What is a Music Producer?


Do you know what music producers like Rick Rubin actually do and get paid for? 


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CBS News just released a 60 minutes piece, featuring Rick Rubin, which caused some pretty wild discussions on the internet.

Rubin explained his role and said things like:

  • "I don't know anything about music"
  • "I can barely play a few instruments"
  • "I don't know how to operate a mixing desk"

Let's discuss this.

On this episode we're answering questions like:

  • What do we think about the statements Rick Rubin made there?
  • Is he just being modest?
  • What does he get paid for if he doesn't know any of these things?
  • Aren't those things exactly what a producer typically does or needs to know?
  • And if you really don't have to know any of these things to be a legendary producer, what is it that a producer actually does?

Let's go!


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

TSRB 156 - Automatic Episode Transcript - Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy

Benedikt: As soon as people were able to have their own home studio or project studio, that's where it kind of changed. So it's partly a budget thing, but it's also just the fact that you can just set up a studio, bring bands in and make a record, and automatically you are the producer and the engineer and everybody else.

Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast. I'm your host, Benedictine, and if you are new to the show, welcome. Thank you for joining us. Thanks for hanging out with us. If you are already a listener, welcome back. Glad to have you again. Today we're gonna talk about a piece, a 60 minute piece that CBS News just released. It's featuring Rick Rubin, legendary producer and this 60 minute piece. This video interview caused some pretty wild discussions on the internet. My Facebook feed was full of it. Rick Rubin explained his role and said on this interview, he explained his role and said things like, I don't know anything about music. I can barely play a few instruments. I don't know how to operate a mixing desk. I have no technical ability, et cetera. And people were asking like, why is he called a producer then? Like, what is a producer? If he can't do any of those things, why is he a producer and why has he made all of these hit records and what is he actually getting paid for? So let's discuss this. As always, I'm here with my friend and co-host Malcolm Owen Flat. Of course. How are you?

Malcom: Hey man, I'm very good. How are you, sir?

Benedikt: I'm grade two. Thank you so much. I got a, an interesting thing to share before we dive into this. Before I forget again, because I forgot in the last episode, uh, I got an email from a listener and at first it was like just a. Normal email or reply to some, uh, to a newsletter that I sent out. But then as I read it, it was fascinating because the email came from a gentleman called Rudy Torress, I think is the way to pronounce it. Uh, Rudy Torress, and he is 93 years old and he's listening to our podcast and, uh, Yeah, and

Malcom: That's so cool.

Benedikt: and he, a couple of years ago, he, I think was second or third, I, I sorry, Ru Rudy, if I get that wrong. Uh, in a, like a singing contest, like a professional contest. And there is a video of him online that has like, I don't know, a couple of thousand or tens of thousand views actually, where. Um, let me just look that up. Yeah, it's an a a R p, um, contest thing. He was in the finals of that, of that, and he went, he take, took second, I think in 2015. Was that and. And it's amazing. He's a phenomenal singer and I looked that up and like he apparently like people know him and, and, uh, yeah, he's still on stage. He's enjoying it. He's loving it. He's recording himself. Apparently he's listening to our show and I just found that to be super fascinating. So, Rudy Yu Rock, thank you so much for listening to the show and thank you for reaching out.

Malcom: Yeah. . Thank you. Thank you. That, that's awesome. I love when people reach out. Like another, uh, email we got, Benny was from Adam J. Um, he just reached out to connect and say that he loves the podcast and stuff, and then he casually mentioned that he was in a band called One Bad Son, which like had phenomenal success, um, in, in Canada especially. I'm like, oh, giant rock pants. Great. . I'm like, how cool is that? , like

Benedikt: was that, the one you you sent over to me?

Malcom: I, I forwarded to you? Yeah, yeah. Totally.

Benedikt: idea about the band. Uh, I

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. One that sounds a really cool band and. They, they were huge inspiration for, for my band. You know, like just like a, a, a Canadian rock band killing it. Um, doing big, big shows kind of thing. And, uh, so yeah. Very cool. I, I know, um, Adam had, has like left the band in like 20, I think he said 2018 or something in, in that email. I can't remember. Maybe it was earlier. But, um, I know the drummer Kurt Doll that I've had him on, uh, my, my other podcast here at Band Soxa Business cuz he's an entertainment lawyer. It's just like, kind of like the. Probably the leading music en entertainment lawyer in Canada. Um, I'd say he's a phenomenal wealth of knowledge kind of thing. And, and he's also a drummer and one bad son, so I was just like the coolest guy you could ever meet. . Um, but yeah, and, and then, uh, I had no idea that Adam was a, a listener as well.

So. Cool.

Benedikt: So, so cool to hear that sort of stuff. Great.

Malcom: Yeah. Keep reaching out to us people. We, we really get a kick out of no one who's out there.

Benedikt: Absolutely. And I, I, I hope so much that I will be recording and making music when I'm 93. Like,

Malcom: Yeah, it's so awesome.

Benedikt: Yeah. Awesome. So let's go to today's show. So on this episode, we are answering, as I said, questions like, how does Rick even mean all of this? Rick Rubin? Is he just being modest? You know, what does he get paid for all these things? Aren't those the things exactly what that a producer typically does or needs to know? Uh, maybe it doesn't even matter as much as people think and what is it that the producer actually does, and what does he, what does those people get paid for? So what are your thoughts initially, Malcolm? I know you haven't seen the piece, I think I've watched it, but in like, just from that whole topic, what do you think about it?

Malcom: Yeah, I mean, I'm not surprising that, uh, there was like a reaction of people, probably people that do modern day production and engineering that were like, wait, like then how is he a producer? He's, he's not doing all these jobs I've come to do or expect. Producers to do like, like the engineering of the entire session. Um, so I totally get that. And I think personally, I think maybe they're right in that the modern producer needs to have all those skills, but ultimately with Rick Rubin, the proof is in the pudding. The guy's got the most insane track record of hugely successful songs ever, and I think instead, everybody that had that reaction needs to completely. Reverse it and have a 180 and look at how can I be more like Rick Rubin and what would that look like? Um, because what he's doing is getting those results , not the other way around. So some people are gonna be totally the aware of this, but I think for some of our listeners that they'll have no idea. But the producer and the engineer used to be told the. Isolated and separate jobs where the producer was not required to have any engineering skills, cuz that is not their job. Where the engineer didn't have to have any creative, necessarily songwriting skills because they're just in charge of capturing it. Recording engineers u literally used to wear lab coats, , like they were scientists more so than musicians, which is just insane to think. Right. Obviously the world has changed a huge amount since then. Uh, and I'm, I'm sure we can dig into why that is, um, and why those jobs are so fused today. Because I think the modern producer, uh, like when I would've called myself a producer, I was more so an engineer than a producer, but I had to do both.

I, I, it's fascinating. Uh, what, what, what are your initial thoughts, Benny?

Benedikt: I think that I, I completely agree. First of all, yeah, I think there's, there's. So personally I agree that he's the, yeah, his credits speak for themselves and what he's done and, and I think that the traditional role of a producer is, has nothing to do with technical ability. It's about building a team. It's about having a vision, about having taste, about knowing whether or not something. Resonates or, or works. And, and Rick is, Rick Rubin is one of those people who says you can't predict the future. Uh, you can't predict how people are gonna react. You can't predict what people are gonna like, but you can make. Um, you can, you can have an opinion, you can have a taste, and you can tell the engineer and the artist and the label if you like it or not, and you can only hope that this is also true for an audience. But he just has a feel for, I don't know how the music connects and translates and if the emotion and the sonics and all that, if that goes together. Well, he just has a feeling for that. And he has a strong vision and strong taste. He's not afraid to make bolt moves too, so some of his. That he's been involved with have pretty controversial sounds on them and, and, and things that initially people hated, but still they got wildly popular . So there, there's the traditional role of a producer, but I also think that in. That today. The challenge is to be able to do all of that and to also know the engineering side of it, because you have to do all of it yourself. And even professional producers or engineers are oftentimes both. Uh, when I was still recording a lot, I was both a producer and engineer. Now when I'm mixing for people, I'm almost like a, a remote producer because I give feedback on their stuff and I, and I, I'm involved creatively for sure. So I think. Today what's considered a producer is, is someone who knows. Some of the engineering, at least two. And oftentimes people say producer, but they mean engineer with additional production jobs or like skills and, and so, but, but I, I think that first and foremost, it's, it's really important to understand that there is this. Role that is completely separate from the technical side of it, and that you can absolutely be an outstanding producer and be worth a lot to those artists and labels, and also get paid a lot and also have a big impact on these records without knowing. A mixing desk and without being able to play an instrument, even as long as you were like, what, what, what? He does very well, and we've never, we've both never worked with him, but from what we know and the interviews that people gave and he gave and stuff, and the, the books and podcasts and everything that's out there, I did a lot of research on him because I found him fascinating. Always. So, What he does really well is he, first of all, builds an amazing team. He knows what, who's the right mixing engineer, the right recording engineer, the right session musicians and all of that for that project. So he brings in all these geniuses, which obviously helps, and then he makes sure. That he doesn't, and that's sometimes some something that people get wrong too. He makes sure that he doesn't spend too much time in the room with the music. And sometimes people say like he's coming in, he's sitting there for an hour and then he's leaving and he gets paid a lot of money. And part of I think why he's so good is that he has a a different perspective. He's as objective as possible. He doesn't have to listen to it for 10 hours. It's enough for him to listen to. A couple of times and then make a decision and move on. And then he lets the other people do what they are best and then he comes back in and gives feedback again. And so what's really valuable is this perspective, this, um, creative genius that he has, like the vision, the taste, and the ability to get people in the room who can execute that vision basically. And that's what he's been being paid for and it definitely works

Malcom: Now what's fascinating is that it's impossible to have that perspective if you're also engineering the record

Benedikt: mm,

Malcom: because you have to be stuck there focusing on transient response of the pick your guitar players using like, like those stupid things, right? Which do add up to a great result. But the, any moment you're thinking about the engineering is ultimately what that comes down to. You are no longer thinking about that big picture producer stuff. Like most, again, most, most modern producers are also engineers and probably more so engineers than producers. But there, I mean, you are doing both. I don't even think I'm saying that you shouldn't do both, but I'm saying that you should, in your head, you should consider them different jobs to make yourself more aware of the production elements so that you're actually spending more time focusing on those If.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, I, I agree. And I think that we touched on that on some other episodes too, where we. Is the biggest challenge that DIY musicians have. Basically DIY engineers that you have to wear all these hats and if you're the, the artist, the writer, and the performer at the same time too, then it gets even more difficult.

You gotta write a good song, uh, then you gotta be the judge if that's actually a good song. And then you gotta arrange it and you gotta record it and engineer it and play it, perform it, mix it, master it, all of that. It's super difficult to do that, to do all of that well, to make sure that there's some separation and some shift in perspective and and stuff.

It's like very, very hard to.

Malcom: It's so challenging. The line of what is production gets blurred as well. Like for me, I think deciding what the guitar tone should sound like is a producer's role, like that's a sonic decision that's gonna affect. How the song feels to me, but then achieving that sound is the engineer's job. So it's like it's a really close line.

Benedikt: Yeah. Now why? Why is it that people are confused about this? Like what do people think, or is a producer is, or what, what is the word producer being used for these days? Oftentimes.

Malcom: I think for engineering, really our producers setting up the drum mics and, and again, kind of it is right, cause they're deciding like how that's gonna sound. It's at the expense of talking about the song probably. Um, or, or the performance like, ah, it's so tricky. I almost think we should maybe first talk about why that's happened and like, and why one person is doing both jobs, which really ultimately just boils down to budgets.

I think

Benedikt: Yes, I think so. I think so too. Budgets and the ability that at some point you didn't have to have a commercial big studio facility anymore that has staff and a team and like labels with producers and all that. Who would rent that out? Like I think as soon as people were able to have their own home studio, project studio and do it on their own, that's where it kind of changed. So it's partly a budget thing, but it's also just the fact that you can just set up a studio, bring bands in and make a record, and automatically you are the producer and the engineer and everybody else if you don't bring in other people. So people just assumed that when they can build a studio and get some gear, they can be the producer and the engineer and they didn't wanna pay to bring in an extra producer. Right. Or an extra engineer. So, Because they thought they could, when back in the day, the producer was hired by the label. Most of the time the label wanted to put out a product and they needed a writer and an artist, and session musicians and a producer. And oftentimes they hired a producer and his job was to make that product a reality. And then he or she brought the people to. So that this could happen. So this was how it was done often, and then later it was more like a band picked a studio and the person operating the studio is the engineer and the producer and all of that.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah, totally. It's interesting to think that you can make a record without a producer, but you can't make an en like a record without an engineer, but you can't make a good record without a producer,

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, that's right.

Malcom: It's very fascinating.

Benedikt: And these days the, you gotta be aware of the fact that the band, even if you work as a band, you work with mixing engineers or recording engineers, even in most cases, the band is actually the producer. Um, so you should have a conversation about this with your engineer or the producer you hired. There should be an agreement that clearly says like, Are we hiring this person for engineering and mixing, or are we hiring a producer? Because that will determine how much that person will bring to the record creatively. So when I'm hired, I always have a conversation about this and I'm, I'm like, do you just want me to capture this and mix it and you make the creative decisions, or are you happy with me giving feedback or even adding parts or rearranging things or. Different for different people in, in projects. But you have a con, you have to have a conversation about this because if you tell me that I am producing, I will be producing. And if you tell me that you d don't want that, and it's your songs, and they should stay the same. I don't consider myself a producer, I'm then just an engineer, which is fine too, but that has to be talked about. And it can be easily confused when people say they want a producer, but they don't talk about this stuff and then the producer thinks he or she's a producer. Uh, but the band actually wanted an engineer.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Now let's flipped this on his head. Uh, interesting little idea I'm having right now is that I think, uh, people don't necessarily understand what a producer's. Responsible for, um, as well. So a band, a musician in a band might be like, well, I'm the producer, but it's important to know then what, what's on the line there and, and what your job is to accomplish. Because ultimately, the end product, the quality of that is entirely your, your job. Um, So, so like, if it sounds like a dated, you know, like say you're making a big rock song and you end up with like a mono guitar, mono bass and, uh, like a , a very, like a John Bonham micd, uh, drum kit. And, and one vocal, like as sparse as sparse could be for a rock production, but it's meant to sound like a, a big new metal.

That's your fault,

Benedikt: Yes,

Malcom: Yeah. You know, like, and you might think, no, that's engineer's fault. They just, they're the one making the sounds. It was like, no, no. Your job is to convey how it's meant to sound and they're meant to achieve it. It's your job to know, okay, well we need a big wall of guitars. We need huge, tight, modern drums. You know, like, like that's all the producer's job. The product, the end thing that gets released is produced from the producer.

Benedikt: Exactly. And so that also means you gotta make decisions and you gotta commit if you're a producer. So if you're telling me you're producing and you only need a mixer and you produce it, an engineer, It and all of that. Then I assume that the takes you're sending me are approved and you like what you did there and you've chosen tones and you don't send 13 guitar mics and di and the di and the mics don't even like line up and it's like different things and all of that. That shouldn't happen if you're producing because you have, there's. Your stamp of approval should, um, should be on that. You should have listened to that stuff and made, make, made a decision. And that's a producer's job. And if you can't do that because you're lacking the experience or you don't know what you want, actually, then somebody else should produce or at least co-produce and guide you

Malcom: Yeah, totally. And, and, yeah. Yeah. If one of the musicians can't play the parts, well, you, they're, you're the producer. You technically hired them to do this job. You, I mean, it's up to you who you choose.

Benedikt: Totally.

Malcom: interesting thought, right?

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Classic example is when a band says the song is done, we just need a mix. And then all they have are midi drums and they haven't even picked the samples. And I'm like, which drums song do you want? Like, what did you listen to when you were recording? And they like, we don't care. Just pick something. That sounds great. And I'm like, that. You know, you, somebody has to make a decision there. You gotta have a vision or something. You know, it's some like, whose record is this . And so, uh, and I, and I understand though that it can be very hard and I understand where you're coming from and why that is hard to do for you because a lot of people will then tell me, well, we don't know what a good snare sound is in that context, and we are afraid we're making the wrong decision. And that's totally fine. But then you definitely need input. You definitely need a producer and you some, you should be talking about that stuff because otherwise it's, You can't be lucky and the mixer is picking the right stuff, but it can also be completely the wrong direction. And I just think, um, you have to be aware of that and just get some, get some help while you're producing it. Because what you hear while you tracking also determines, you know, all everything else. So if you start with, without any sort of drum sound that you've picked intentionally, then how are you gonna make good decisions about the other tones? And, you know, so I think it's important to get that feedback not only after it's tracked, but like while you are tracking. And even during pre-production, actually, ideally, there should be a producer that is helping you, who is guiding you, who's giving you feedback, uh, and helping you with these decisions. That's the producer's job really. He doesn't have to turn the knobs, but he or she has to have the vision and the big picture in mind and, and guide you towards that.

Malcom: Yeah, totally. Uh, and that, like, I think Benny, you and I both consider ourselves to still be involved in production when even when we're mixing, like we're, we're not in the studio with the band at all, we're still making production decisions in the mix. Like the, the, this producer role has been dispersed amongst everyone. It's fascinating. So when I was engineering, I was also a producer. When you. The band recording, you're now part of the, like, the production team as well. And like the, the job's been kind of like dispersed because nobody's just doing that anymore. Um, which is, which is a shame, but a reality as well. Uh, I mean, if you, you have the budget and you can hire an isolated producer, fantastic. But you know, we're called self recording band, so chances are if you're listening to this, that's you. And I guess what we're trying to say is own that more. Like just really own it and think, okay, like what do I want to accomplish here? Not like, the job isn't just capture the songs that we've written. It's make a product, produce a song.

Benedikt: Yes. Yes, absolutely. All right, so there is one more definition of a producer I think that sometimes people have in mind, and that is totally genre dependent. I think if people are more into like, electronic music, hip hop and that sort of stuff, I think a producer is often considered someone who's like making beats or something, you know? Um, I often hear people talk about a producer and they mean someone who's making the, the, the beats, the, the music that somebody else then lays, um, like tracks, vocals to, you know,

Malcom: Yep. Yep. Which is, uh,

Benedikt: yeah, and I don't even say that's wrong. I think that's just what, what people call it,

Malcom: It's almost more right?

Benedikt: Yeah.

Malcom: Um, yeah. And, and when you think about it, they're doing the same thing. They're just doing it all on their own before it reaches the person that's gonna sing on it. Right. You know how they're building that beat is entirely up to their decisions. So they're producing start to finish really now. Uh, yeah. Yeah. Tricky. Tricky because I, I, that does exist in other genres too. Songwriters, you know, um, at that, that produce a recording for somebody to then sing on. Uh, not as common, um, as it is in like the beat making world, but it is kind of the same thing when you really break it down. But you wouldn't hire a beat maker to necessarily, to come produce your rock band, I guess.

Benedikt: No, I mean, no

Malcom: You could but

Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. No. So yeah, bottom line, I think. I would love to work with Rick Rubin, and I, he wouldn't have to, he wouldn't have to touch any kn. Like I would be just fine with him at the, on the couch there giving me his opinion. Uh, I think he has something that is just, I think this is a case of you can't really learn that stuff, at least not to get to this level. I mean, to get to this level, you have to have some sort of, I don't know, creative genius. He has some, something that we don't have. I think part of it, parts of it can be learned, but I'm sure like. Yeah, he's got something, I don't know.

Malcom: Well see, I, I, I think it can totally be learned. I just think that most of us don't develop those skills. Right. Um,

Benedikt: yeah, that's the proper way to put it.

Malcom: cuz he, he, like, all the time we spent learning engineering, he didn't, right.

Benedikt: Yes, exactly.

Malcom: his time has been spent developing skills that most people are, are keeping. Just having like a minimum level of, you know, it's like, all right, I gotta. At least be able to produce at this level. But really I'm into engineering and making sick tones and sick mixes and stuff like that. And that's fine, that's valuable skills as well. Um, but if you wanna be a Rick Rubin, you're, you shouldn't be worrying about those things. You should be worrying about the Rick Rubin things.

Benedikt: Exactly, and yeah, totally. And so if you, if you listen to that interview and you hear him talk about creativity and about creating songs and making music and the way he thinks about this, part of his is like being super mindful and present. So he, he meditates, he does all kinds of things to stay healthy, to be totally in the moment. He doesn't want. Any distractions. So he's very, very present and mindful. He limits the amount of time that he spends on the project intentionally, not because he wants to get paid more per hour, but I, and I truly believe that this is not his intention. His intention is really to be efficient and not get distracted, because after a while he will be distracted. That mindfulness present part is fascinating to me and it, it's fascinating how he does it. So in this interview, the. Interviewer asks him why there are no like platinum records and gold records on the walls and all these plaques that he got over the years. None of that is at his studio, at his place. And he was like, I find those things to be a distraction and at some point I just sent them to my mom and I honestly don't even know where they are at the moment. I don't care. Like he doesn't care about about it and he just think it's a distraction because if they are on the walls, he says, if I see those things, I will subconsciously try and aim for those things and I will try and, and beat that or be as successful as that other record or whatever. And I don't wanna even see. Targets, I just wanna see blank white walls and not be distracted by anything. And I'm just gonna listen to what comes out of the speakers. And that's all I want in that moment, which I think is totally fascinating.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. It, it is fascinating. Yeah. You don't, he's deciding what the goal is and that, that's pretty clever, I think.

Benedikt: Yeah. And the other question that was great was in his answer was, uh, he says the audience comes last. So he talks about that all that matters is how the songs connect. And of course it's for an audience, and of course the goal is to be commercially successful in all of that. But still, he says the audience comes last. And when the reporter asks why that is, he says, because the audience doesn't know. What they want. Yet the audience only knows things that are already out there. They only know things that already exist, and I wanna make something that doesn't already exist. So I can't pay attention to the audience because David will tell me things that already exist and that's not what I wanna make. that, that's pretty, pretty clever too. So he's, he cares about whether or not people like it, but he can't ask the audience basically what they want because they don't know what they want and he, he needs to approach it differently.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. That's a fascinating thought too.

Benedikt: Yeah.

Malcom: uh, uh, like if you're Yeah, there's, there's so much wisdom in that that guy, like, and again, his, the proof is in the pudding. Like the work he's put out is crazy, crazy successful across. Multiple genres. Like he's put out some of my favorite music, but he's also worked with like, like all of these crazy pop stars that I've never even listened to. Like like it, it's so, so wild. Um, so there's, there's something there. Uh, if you're not aware, it sounds like he put out a book, um, and that's kind of why he's appearing in the media. Um, I'm gonna pick that up for sure, just to get a glimpse into this guy's brain.

Benedikt: Me too. It's a book on creativity that is, I don't know if it's already out or if it's coming up, but it's like, yeah, he's promoting it right now. Uh, yeah. And yeah, as you said, all the different genres. That's, that's fascinating too. He has a, a hiphop, hiphop background, I think. And then that's where he comes from. And, you know, he's being modest to, to a degree, we have to say that because he started out using, like samplers, putting beads together and working. So he, he.

Malcom: some technical skills.

Benedikt: hand on, on, on music gear at some point. There is foot video footage of him sitting at consoles balancing things, but it's not that he knows these things in and out. Of course, he can move a fader and he has a feel for that. And, but he's, that's not where, where, where he spends his time. But he has a hip hop background and then he, but he went on to work with Metallica or,

Malcom: System of a down red, hot chili, peppers, um, slip, knot, uh, yeah. All over.

Benedikt: Cash.

Malcom: Like what?

Benedikt: yeah. Um, some other like, like pop stars too, like hip hop, all, all of it.

Really, all of it. It's crazy.

Malcom: So crazy. Maybe something to end this on a cool conversation I would like to know is, uh, have you ever worked in that kind of situation where the, there is just a producer?

Benedikt: Yes, I have. Um, yes, I absolutely have. I have worked on multiple projects where there was a producer, but I was kind of co-producing those. So I had to say two in the whole thing, and we did it together. But then there was one project where it was really, it was a label project and it was, Fun, but also kind of complicated because there was a manager, the manager got the band a label deal and then the manager and the label picked the team to produce the record for the band. The band made suggestions and they, uh, so they ended up hiring a producer, and that producer wanted me to be mixing and engineering and like tracking and engineering. And so it was this mix of. The label and the manager wanted somebody completely different. The band wanted to work with that producer because they knew the producer. The producer wanted to work with me because he knew me. And in the end it was super complicated because the guys who were paying for it didn't really fully trust me because they, they would've hired someone else. And it was this weird situation of like all these different people who had no idea of what they're talking

Malcom: A power dynamic

Benedikt: exactly. But everybody, you know, you know these situations where people. Um, comment on something so they, they can comment. They, they have, there's no substance behind it. They just feel

Malcom: That's my job. Yep. Yeah.

Benedikt: it's their job. Yeah. That, that was one of these projects. It turned out well, fine, and it was fun, but it was also not easy to handle because so many people were, were having opinions and, and having demands and,

Malcom: Oh man, that is such a secret little nugget of wisdom to offer up and coming bands that are building their way through the, the, the biz right now is, uh, as you grow, you're gonna build a team, get a manager, maybe a couple managers. Cause often they work with a team, uh, a publicist, uh, a booking agent. Um, You know, the, the list goes on. Not all of those people deserve a seat at the music table. Um, in fact, arguably none of them do because you are the musician. Um, and they're all gonna want to, well, I mean, not all of them, you know, my agent never tried to to give me feedback on our music, but yeah, it's crazy how people think they've earned that. And, and that's the whole thing that you got there from is your music. So keep that in mind.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, totally. I remember the final, the final listening session when we wrapped up the mix and the producer. No, no, that, that the producer, the manager was sitting at the back of my studio on the couch there and I told him multiple times to be sitting in the sweet spot here and having a listen here. And like, I, I told him to like rotate and everyone, everybody gets a seat and, you know, listen to the music as it's supposed to sound like, because back there it sounds nothing like it

Malcom: Yep.

Benedikt: here. And you know, I tell him that. But he refused to and he was just on the couch and he kept commenting and like, The low end is crazy and that kick drum is way too big. Or like, but in this, in this, you know, song, that bass part is not loud enough or whatever, like these things. And I was like, please come and have a seat here in the, in sweet spot. It's like very different. But he refused to, and he was like, no. Uh, I'm sitting here and I'm listening from here because imagine like the consumer doesn't sit in the sweet spot either. And I'm like, yeah, that's not really a good argument. Like, you don't understand how this works,

Malcom: yeah, yeah. You just gotta sit in a random spot and that's like, yeah.

Benedikt: Ah, this was so, so terrible. Uh,

Malcom: that's too bad. Um, my experiences with working with producers was awesome. Like, yeah. Uh, so my band did a, a record with Eric Ratz, big producer, and, and he also can engineer like the best of 'em, but he did.

Benedikt: I have to say though, just so people don't get it wrong, I have to say though, the producer was awesome. It

Malcom: Oh, sweet. Yeah.

Benedikt: who was sitting in there at the, he shouldn't even ha he said he shouldn't even have been at the listening session. Honestly, the

Malcom: No. No.

Benedikt: the band and myself would've been enough, but the manager was the problem. And I'm not afraid to say that even if he ends up listening to this episode, but the, uh, The producer was amazing and that collaboration went super well and I was very glad to be so that I could be able to, to focus on the engineering. And I had a producer with a Cleo Vision and he communicated with the band, and that was all awesome.

It was just the manager at the label, they were the problem. So

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. , I can see that. Yeah. My, we, we allowed, one of my managers was very actively involved in the, the music and, and we were fine with, like, I, I think that was a good relationship that you have to make that decision. Make it actively, no, don't just assume because they want to give input that they deserve to be there. But yeah, we, so I gotta make a record with Eric Ratz and, uh, he was our producer. He did do some engineering, but for, for the most part, Just wanted to keep the, the production hat on. So we had his assistant engineer, uh, Ryan Jones Engineering, plus the studio staff at The Warehouse, which is like insane engineers there too. Um, so it was like really, like the coolest. I, I actually got to try the old way, you know, of just being a musician there, um, and being worried about the songs and my plane, essentially, right. And the band. And that was awesome. Super awesome and, and cool hearing how ideas came up instead of from an engineer. Standpoint, you know, not being like, ah, like the guitars need to be vig, he is just like, oh, we need more energy in this part of the song. Like, that's a, just to, that, that language is defining in itself. It doesn't say like, we need more guitar because we happen to be working on guitars. It's just we need more energy. What a, what equals energy in this part. Right. Um, and, and all sorts of ideas came up from that. Um, you know, like guitar ideas came up, percussion ideas came up, and keys ideas came up and we, I think we ended up using all three of them to fill that void. So, Really great experience for on that side for sure. I loved it. Um, and then as an engineer, I did a record only a couple years ago, I think. Um, we, we just did like three country songs with my Rudy, Chris Erickson, and he produced, I Engineered and I thought it turned out great. Um, he was just so pre-production and, and songwriting focused and it paid off huge, I think. And he also hired an incredible band as a result, I think too. Yeah. Home.

Benedikt: Awesome. That sounds, that sounds like fun. Yeah. These are ideal scenarios, so I definitely think that. If you're able to work with a great producer and a great team, this, this is always, if you can do that, if you can afford that, any record will benefit, benefit from that. I think there's almost never a bad idea. It's just a bad idea when not the producer is the problem. But when, when people have opinions who don't know anything about the whole thing, , which is often the case in the music industry too. So I only care about the people who, who are making the music, the, the artists and their producers and those people. That's who I care about when I'm engineering, um, or mix. And you gotta listen to the other people too. But honestly, they're, to me, they're not as important because it's about the art

Malcom: Yeah.

Benedikt: So yeah. But producers, uh, yeah, good producer is, uh, very cool to work with, with people like that. And just being able to, to focus on the big picture and as you said on the, the, that language that you use there, that really is it, where it's not about, I want more two point 5K like stuff, but

Malcom: yeah. Yeah. And cuz when you're engineering and producing, you're, you can't help but try and solve the problem with the tool that's in your hand at that moment, you know? So it's like, all right, we're on guitars. How do we make this sound big with guitars? But you're gonna figure out a way to do that. But maybe that's the wrong, like, it would've ended up totally different if you were on keys when that idea came to you. Right. So tricky thing. It's hard because most bands can't afford to hire somebody just to do that job anymore. So that's kind of why this landscape has developed into this hybrid, um, of engineer producers and now musician, engineer, producer,

Benedikt: Yeah, totally.

Malcom: Um, but I think the more that you think of it as its own job, the the better result you're gonna have.

Benedikt: Yes, totally, totally You, and maybe you can sort of assign roles within the band. That's something I teach a lot in our coaching program too, where if you are a band, maybe there's one person who has no technical ability, but they are. They're very creative and have the vision. They're the, the band leader or the, um, the main songwriter or, you know, maybe they can be the producer and, and then, then another person might be the tech savvy person who likes to really nerd out about all these things and like tweak and turn knobs. And then you can, um, create a team where you have sort of your own specialists inside the band. That could work very well too. And having these, these sort of roles and boundaries can sometimes help because then it's a, a matter of like mutual, mutual trust and, and everybody being able to focus on what they're best at, and that can lead to great results. So maybe there's that, because I've seen it often where there's this one person in the band who is. The producer or the engineer, like almost every band has one person with a doll and with technical ability these days. But that doesn't mean that this person also has to be the producer. Maybe they need to trust somebody else in the band and be like, Hey, I might, I am willing to, to track this and mix this and engineer this, or whatever. But, uh, could you be like, the, the outside perspective and the sort of, you know, producer and the guide and if they, if they can trust someone else in the band, that could be very beneficial.

Malcom: Yeah. I think that would be a, a great idea, um, because it does tend to go that way where the person with the dah ends up doing all of it, and it's just not very effective.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. All right. So as always, let us know if you have any follow up questions, um, on that topic or, and, uh, yeah, feel free to start a discussion in the Facebook community. Of course, when we post the episode, I will absolutely get this book and maybe we can, we get to talk about some of the things in the book, uh, after we've read it both.

Malcom: Goldy, I'm sure so many good ideas will come up as we go through it.

Benedikt: Yeah, I think so too. All right. Thank you for listening. As always, if you got value out of this episode, please share it with your friends. Make a screenshot posted on your social posted on Instagram. Tag us at Benedictine, Malcolm own flood at the Surf Recording Band. Uh, we appreciate that. We share it, we comment, we do whatever. Uh, if send us a message, we'll definitely reply or even make an episode out of it depends on the, on the question. So definitely reach out to. And share it with your friends and help us reach more people like you.

Malcom: Yeah. And I got one more thing here. Uh, if this is like a teaser without a teaser, uh, if Benny and I were to end up in the same country at some time, what would you want us to do? , as, as a, a self recording band consumer? What would you like to see from us if we actually ended up in the same place? Would you like us to? Do like some in-person video podcasts. Would you like us to try and make our course together? Uh, would you like us to make some drum samples or guitar, irs, or something like that? What, what is your dream collaboration from? Uh, Benny and I actually existing in the same place for once.

Benedikt: Maybe

Malcom: not saying.

Benedikt: wildlife photography and the

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah.

You you wanna see a non-music related stuff? We'll do some pub crawls and wildlife photography and

Benedikt: Exactly. Totally. Yeah. Let us know. Let us know. Curious to hear. I w I don't know why you would wanna know that and I'll come, but maybe

Malcom: Yeah. The chances of us actually getting into the same place, I, I'm still convinced that's just totally mythical and never gonna happen, but, but maybe it will.

Benedikt: maybe you will. Who knows? All right. Thank you for listening. Talk to you next week.

Malcom: See ya. Bye.

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