Do These 5 Steps Before You Hire a Producer - Music Made Pro

· By Will Harken

Do These 5 Steps Before You Hire a Producer

Hiring a producer is meant to take work off your plate. But hiring the wrong producer can ruin your song. So do these 5 steps before you get started!


Want my help making a song? Get started here. No music experience required... Like seriously you can just skip reading this article and I will take care of it for you.


1) Finalize the songwriting 🎵

Get the songwriting as close to perfect as you can! This includes the lyrics, the melody, the chords, and the form. This can reduce the cost of having other people do it for you.


Some producers may tweak what you have, but that’s faster than starting from scratch.


Songwriting issues can dramatically extend production timelines. If a crazy bridge + melody gets added after everything’s already been arranged and recorded, there’s a good chance you might have to spend more time and money on the song.


2) Have a reference track or two 💽

Pick one or two songs you want your final track to sound like. A lot of artists will say “But I want my song to be unique.” Trust me, the song will still be unique. Even with a reference track.


A reference track helps reduce the number of decisions that have to be made in production. There are thousands of micro decisions happening along the way. And if you can cut out a few hundred of those by knowing what type of samples/effects to use out of the gate? You WILL save time.


For example you could tell your producers you want your drums to sound like Aerosmith’s drums. And your guitar to sound like Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. Just an example.


Also, reference tracks will REALLY help your producer estimate the final cost of the song. So there will be less “surprise” costs that come up. Like having to hire a guitarist who can play like Jimi Hendrix.


👉 If there isn’t a “guiding light,” the producer will have a harder time making you happy. That means more revisions and more money.


3) Figure Out Your Budget 💸

If you’re planning to hire production help, your budget could be anywhere from $200 to $20,000 for a song.


Whether you crowdfund with a platform like Kickstarter, or you fund the project with your own money, you need to find a budget within your means as an artist.


I might be alone in saying this, but I think trying to crowdfund music when you don’t already have a fanbase is tough. So in many cases, it might be worth biting the bullet, and self-funding your first album or song to get the ball rolling.


When you tell your producer your budget for the song, they can use their expertise to cut costs in the ideal places. So maybe instead of hiring a session drummer, the producer can use realistic midi drums. This is a common example.


👉 Remember: If you want to work with a big name producer, you will need a big name budget.


4) Research Producers 🤔

A film director directs films, right? Well, a music producer directs music production. That’s what they do.


These days, you can find awesome producers at a reasonable price. So put in the time to research several producers. As I covered in this article, higher price doesn’t always mean higher quality!


The most important thing you can do is listen to their previous work.


So far I’d say that SoundBetter is one of the better places to find and hire audio professionals like producers. They have an impressive range of genre and price points. If you want to work together, let me know!


5) Get Clear On Roles ✔️

Before you start the contract, make sure everyone is clear on responsibilities. Is the producer responsible for hiring studio musicians? Is he/she responsible for mixing? Discuss the steps from beginning to end before you put money on the line.


That might look something like this (from the producer’s perspective):



  1. You send me your lyrics and your most recent recording of you singing

  2. I help as a songwriter and make minor adjustments to the melody, tempo, chords + song form

  3. After we agree on the melody/chords, I make the new arrangement and backing track

  4. You record the vocals in the studio

  5. I mix and master and deliver the final audio


Basically: just lay out what needs to happen and who needs to make those things happen.


What Now?

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