HOW TO HIRE AN INDIE POP PRODUCER: THE ULTIMATE CHECKLIST / by Mark Eckert

Hire an indie pop producer before and they were lacking something musically, or professionally?

Feeling like you just can’t make THAT connection to a producer who can turn your artist vision into reality?

Just plain ol’ SICK AND TIRED of dealing with fuck-bois?

WELL DO I HAVE THE BLOGPOST FOR YOU.

Here is a guide to making sure you have a successful production process, come out with killin’ tracks, don’t argue over royalties, have zero confusion with payments, and make sure everyone is respected, understood, and happy as hell throughout the production process. COOL RIGHT? I KNOW.

This post is intended for people who want to find and hire an indie pop producer, whether or not that dude is me, or someone on the other side of the planet. It’s truly just a topic that needs to be openly discussed, because like any other facet of the music industry, there seems to be a lot of “guessing” way too often. So let’s cut some of that out! What should you expect from someone you are thinking of hiring.

I just wanna help you keep in mind, you are searching for someone valuable, and respectable. I think too often the music industry is put in this “grey area” when it comes to being a professional. But let’s be honest, when you devote yourself to making good music with someone who is qualified to do so, you are investing time, emotion, and usually a good sum of money.

Admit it to yourself, you ARE looking for a professional. In fact, you’re looking for an expert. Need a definition of that? CLICK HERE.

HAVING SAID ALL THAT, a majority of the producers that I am close with are incredible, and respectable men & women. However, just like all people in every industry… I have heard bad experiences. I’ve personally heard HORROR stories from artists I’ve worked with, in the US and all over the globe with past producers, or producers they’ve just discussed projects with. If I could help even 1 artist not experience a bad time in the studio and production process in general… well then, this blog post was worth it.

So without further adieu, while you are shopping around for the right producer, here are:

5 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN YOU HIRE AN INDIE POP PRODUCER.

1. They do it full-time OR are actively pursuing full-time production.

Why? If you want something to be done well, you don’t go to a hobbyist. Simply put. You go to an expert. Someone who really knows what’s up. If my toilet is broken. I’m calling a plumber. I’m not asking my neighbor. Why is that? Because what I do on my toilet is a personal thing to me (just like your song is to you) and (just like your song) I want someone to realize how important it is in ‘getting right’ when they help me out (or you) with improving the situation. I want to know, by the end of this, my toilet (or your song) will reach it’s full potential.

You want someone who says “Hey. I do this. I fix the hell out of toilets.” or “Hey. I do this. I produce the hell outta songs.

Side-hustle producing is very hard to do with a 9 to 5. I know some very talented people who produce and have day jobs… the problem a lot of time is time. A lot of times producers are in the studio 12 hours a day… the last few hours fixing small transients in the backup vocals… because producers are ‘details’ people. Producers are as much of artists as artists are. It’s a passion, and not a back-up job if something else doesn’t work out. It’s just as difficult to pursue as any other artistic path.

So do you want someone really going for it, trying to be the best they can be, who is going to put in the extra time to make it THAT much better, if for no other reason THEIR name is going on it too? Or do you want someone who thinks something is “good enough.”

2. They specialize and are actually into what you do.

 

Okay! We’re taking on requests. What was that? You want something you can Twerk to? Oh. We don’t do that. But we’ll play Shamalama Ding Dong really really well again! Hit it, Louise!

Whether they specialize in a genre, in helping a type of artist, in how they run their business, or something else… you want to know that they are also passionate about your art. It’s worth shopping around and seeing who is your best fit and who you can connect with, rather than investing a large sum of money into someone who is just itching to get your record finished.

For instance, I work with indie pop artists both local and anywhere in the world – so anyone can have the opportunity to work with a specialist that does exactly this! I don’t accept work from anybody unless it’s an indie pop project – or something close. I was offered to produce a country record last year that would have paid my bills for 5 months straight. I said no. Why? Because I am not passionate about it, they needed someone who was passionate about it. Someone who would do it right.

If they were to hire me for a country record… you’d see Juno-106’s and Sampled high pitch girl vocals where the fucking fiddle should have been. Although that could be totally dope (in only my opinion, ha)… they needed someone who would give them the best possible experience and would respect the hell out of the project. That guy was simply not me.

So, I sent them right off to my friend who produces the shit outta country. They had a blast. And it ended up sounding light years more authentic than what I would have done had I accepted the role of producer for a country record.

(PS. YO. IF YOU TRYNNA PUT A JUNO & HIGH PITCH GIRL VOCALS OVER YOUR COUNTRY RECORD, HIT CHUR’ BOI UP.)

3. They have a clear payment process put in place. Money is openly talked about.

OY VEY. This is in my opinion, the most common issue that causes a project to go south. Payment not discussed before starting the project. This whole heartedly ends up with everyone mad, rumors, and people getting claimed of “being fucked over in the music industry.” When really, they were just not responsible when hiring someone / accepting a project.

Before I start a project with ANY artist, company, etc, I write out a written proposal. This proposal can take me up to 2 hours each (I should really automate this now that I’m saying this out loud, haha.)

This proposal covers everything, what money goes where in the project, what my rate is and why it is that rate. When they are expected to pay the rate. What is included in the project, what is not. EVERYTHING that you could EVER imagine is laid out so there is not even the possibility that their is a misunderstanding. 

I would much rather have a potential client read this proposal and tell me their concerns (/ or even back out!), vs not discussing things and disagreeing along the way, causing someone to be upset with the project – and me. Reputation goes far in this industry. So being a nice person, with open communication is vital.

Nobody intentionally fucks people over (I haven’t experienced that at least.) People just don’t say upfront what they expect in return their service. And THAT is what causes problems. Misunderstandings. Or… no understandings, if you don’t lay everything out!

4. Royalties are openly talked about and agreed upon.

Who has rights to the songs? Percentages? This can be a touchy thing if you approach it insecurely, or with the wrong intent. And believe me, people can tell. Making sure your producer is honest in what they believe they deserve in the song (or just claiming before they get started, in return for service) is extremely important. Again, you don’t want any misunderstandings, or surprises.

It always depends on the project for me, but no matter what, I am ALWAYS 100% upfront about it. And as always, I will much rather take less credit, if it turns out that I am not stepping on someones toes. Yeah, I may make some money off of the song in the long run if I fight for more rights, but someone talking negatively about me for years? That also effects me in the long run. Mentally AND monetarily.

I always remind myself why I’m in music… and when I do that, the appropriate response comes easier.

5. They don’t hit on you: i.e. NOT A FUCKBOI.

I thought I would throw in some Merrian-Webster shade for you in regards to this mysterious term; “fuckboi”:

*fuckboi – More than not, a teenage or young adult male who manages to fuck up his life and/or future prospects despite having every intellectual, social, parental, and economic advantage for success in his favor. Most likely will be interested in: “chilling”, bragging about how much he can “hold his liquor,” and mooching off others. The natural habitat of a fuckboi is usually a couch in someones basement.

“We’d love to finish our single, but we can’t because our 19 y/o fuckboi producer won’t get back in touch with us. Wait, where’s Amy? Oh my god. Are they? THEY’RE ON A CRUISE TOGETHER?” 

ALRIGHT. Aside from wondering where he got the money to bring “Amy” on the cruise, and you have envisioned the fuckboi that you personally know… We can wrap this all up.

This is directed more towards girls, but you need a professional who truly cares about what you’re doing, and what you are trying to accomplish. I work with a lot of girl singers. And I’ve even been told “I’m so happy you’ve been so professional during this whole process.” WHAT THE FUCK? WHY SHOULDN’T YOU EXPECT THAT, LADIES?

HAVE YOU LISTENED TO R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

No matter how naughty people try to make the music industry seem… a majority of the times, being hit on, or hitting on someone in the studio is not cool.

It is not normal if someone you have hired is trying to get in your pants. Having someone professional who treats your art as an investment from you, and treats his (or hers) own career, as a career, is essential into finishing your single, record, or whatever you need to create in a timely manner, with an incredible product you can showcase to the world. 

So, If you’re thinking of hiring someone to produce you… more specifically, if you want to hire an indie pop producer, you have a pretty good guideline of what ‘redflags’ to avoid.

Cheers, and enjoy your day!

– Mark