There is one more factor in your choice of producer - the POLITICAL factor. Questions you may wish to explore: Can this person get your project heard by the industry? Who does this person know and are they willing to submit (pitch) your project to record labels? What is their track record of getting artists signed?
You may be surprised, but I suggest it's smarter to go with someone who will not promise to submit your project. The truth is, a producer that submits every project they do to the label powers-that-be will have a very poor reputation. This is because not every project is going to fit the business models of the people the producer knows. The wise producer knows to wait until the final mix is done before deciding when, where --or if -- to pitch it to their contacts.
There are, of course, producers who do pitch everything they produce. These are major producers with track records of commercial success which they want to keep building. They will only take certain projects on - because they know that they are gambling their reputations with the labels on every project they pitch. If they agree to work with you, their fees and negotiated points will be much more expensive. Actually, they usually only take on projects already signed with significant record labels.
Your project could end up being something YOU have to promote and sell -- or pitch to powers-that-be. You need to know and be willing to do that before you commit your time, heart, energy and money to a recording project. A producer may legitimately fully intend to pitch you to his or her contacts. But if someone promises that if you choose them to produce your project they will make you a big star, run the other way. And don't look back!
A creative, independent producer of the highest integrity with whom I work as vocal producer is Tom Paden. I asked him for his opinion as to what a new artist can typically expect to pay an honest producer who can get a great, possibly radio-ready project done on a limited budget. His thoughts confirmed my experience:
- A common range of producer fee is from $200 to $500 per side (song), according to time in the studio and type of project required (demo or master, backing vocals or not, is there a vocal producer on the team, how long to budget for lead vocals, tuning, mixing, etc). This usually brings the cost range of a "limited press" project to around $1000 - $1500 per side (song).
- An average fee for major producers (if you can get one) is $5,000 per side plus 2 to 6 "percentage points" of sales. Total costs per side can be from $10,000 per side upwards.
Hope this gives you some framework when you are speaking to prospective producers. Any more thoughts or questions? Comment! Thx!
PS... You have another opportunity to hear performance coach Diane Kimbrough and music business pro Vinny Ribas speak at Indie Connect this week: