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Advice to aspiring producers
Old 19th March 2013
Gear Nut

Advice to aspiring producers

Hi Michael,

I have spent a lot of time recently reading your blog and have been enjoying the Q&A very much. It's great to be able to speak to someone with such experience, and also refreshing to hear you speak so frankly but intelligently about the state of the music industry. I didn't want to make my question too specific to me, and I hope others can benefit from any answers given, but to give a bit of background to the question, I decided to explain briefly my situation.

I have spent the past two and a half years trying to hone my skills at a small studio in the UK, working tirelessly to achieve the best sounds possible out of a small setup, struggling to make ends meet at points, carefully spending what little money has been available on getting together a small number of high quality pieces of equipment in order to get the very best sound I can. Although I have been working mostly with unsigned local artists, I have been very fortunate to be able to record with a number of extremely talented people, working with them on a musical as well as a sonic level with them, and the standard of the productions has been getting better and better. I have also been doing what you might call 'artist development' for all the artists on a local management company.

So what I really wanted to ask you was: What advice can you offer to young aspiring producers at the moment (general or specific, artistic or career-wise)? I know the industry in the UK and the US is a little different, but from what I understand, everyone is facing broadly similar problems at the moment. I didn't want to make this another 'state of the music industry' thread as I know that is being well covered in other threads, but clearly this has a bearing on those coming through from the bottom at the moment. How do you make the leap to working with more established artists? Do you think any of the traditional career paths are still open, or are the rules out of the window and everyone has to make it work however they can these days? Are there any things you think an aspiring producer definitely should or should not be doing?


Old 20th March 2013
Michael Beinhorn
fexurbis's Avatar


I'm glad to interact like this- it is a pleasure to share with others.

Probably repeating myself, but my only advice to people who are aspiring to be record producers is to take nothing for granted, be prepared to work incredibly hard for little in return, make sure you are doing as much as you can out of love for the work (as opposed to a need to pay your bills) and, above all else, find whatever it is about you that makes you different and unique from other people who are trying to do the same work and play on those strengths.

The recording industry is generally in the same condition here as it is in the UK. As a result, there are no more traditional career paths in this business and everyone has to make their own way. In fairness, it was the same when I was starting out, the difference was, there was just a little more rope for people to hang themselves with.*

Generally, most people on the business side are unwilling to put themselves out because they don't believe in the music they represent or sell. Because everyone is so scared of making a mistake, no one will get behind you unless they see there are literally thousands of other people queuing up behind you or they can figure out how to profit from you.*

The only way I know of to make any kind of leap to a different level of prominence is by distinguishing yourself. There are no courses or seminars for this- you simply have to be incredibly talented and be willing to work incredibly hard. It also helps if you love the music you're working with- you will always do a better job and this will show. *

You can really only distinguish yourself in this way by creating records that turn people's heads and force them to notice you. When you have done a recording that is undeniably great, others are forced to take notice.

Once you have some recordings which you feel demonstrate your ability, it helps to let other people know what you've done. If you can get someone to pay attention to you, you will probably have one shot with them, so make it your best. Keep in mind that anyone who you want to notice you is besieged all day by other people who also want to be noticed for the same reasons as you. Because of this, anyone who you want to notice your work will only dispense with favors if they can benefit by doing so.

Keep in mind, this process can take some time. If you are dedicated- even prepared for some serious rejection, none of that will matter. It sounds like you are on the right path at the moment.*I hope this helps.
Old 23rd March 2013
Gear Nut


Thanks for the thoughtful response. And for the moral support! Can I ask as a follow up, what were the points in your career that stand out as landmark moments, those where you felt at the time that you were really getting somewhere with record-making, or those you look back on now and think 'that was an important moment', even if you didn't realise it at the time?

Old 24th March 2013
Michael Beinhorn
fexurbis's Avatar

Hahaha- there have been so many of those, it would take days to recount them all. It's very easy to experience transcendental moments when you are doing something remarkable, or working on a big budget recording with a famous artist you just know will be huge. At the same time, it's also a bit ego-inflating.

The moments which have mattered more in the longterm have been those where I wasn't working under ideal circumstances in great studios, or even, with fully developed artists. Those were projects where I had to try much harder to get great results. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were a bunch of great musicians with a lot of energy, baggage and no direction when we first met. It took a lot of effort to make those records and sometimes, it felt like it was us against the entire world (if not EMI records).

When I figured out that the experience of making records could be a continuous learning process, nearly every day since has felt like a breakthrough.
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