To produce your music yourself or not?
Lately, I have realized that there are two kinds of people - ones who urge you to produce your music yourself and others who would always tell you to hire a pro no matter what. There is actually no right or wrong answer to this question so here are some pros and cons of producing your songs yourself:
1. You would learn a lot: You would probably end up learning a lot about your DAW and mixing in order to get the right sound. This could potentially add a skill to your CV.
2. You can work towards achieving the exact sound you want: When you are working alone, you do not have time constraint, you are not paying someone by the hour.. you have the absolute freedom to get creative
3. You can re-record and play around with it: If you have a home studio, then you can record many takes, you can change the arrangement.. hell you can even do several versions of the same song. The world is your oyster.
4. You have all the stems and resources to yourself: A lo of times working with a producer, they would refuse to give you the stems. It is actually essential to have a copy of the stems - you might want to sell them, you might want to get a remix of your song done and you might get a publishing deal requiring you to give a part from your stems.
5. Do not have to worry about somebody else: I think this is the biggest pro when producing yourself. If you are working with other people, sometimes you have to go the way they want to go even if it is your song. Music business is an egoistic business, sometimes you have to suck it up and let other people use their better judgement even if it kills you. You might not like how your voice sounds or the bridge section but hey! if he's a pro he would know better right? Probably not. Music is an art eventually and everyone has a different taste.. almost similar to the fact that I like butter pop-corn but you like caramel.. & we are both right, right? So if it is your music, go the way you wanna go and pursue your vision.
6. You save money: Well you are saving the money you would probably pay to a producer but then you might want to put this money aside to buy new equipment.
1. Self doubt: The biggest con of doing something yourself is doubting yourself over and over again. You must get people you trust to listen to whatever it is you are working on and ask them for their opinion.
2. Time consuming: Production is the back-bone of pop music, your song might be legendary but in today's world production is an essential creative process that can make or break a song. You would have to spend hours and hours editing, mixing and balancing the sound of your song. Some people prefer concentrating on writing the songs, rather than getting into the nitty gritty of producing them while for some, production is an integral part of their creative process.
3. Involves a lot of technology and equipment: Now you might not have any apt equipment at all. You do need a decent powerful computer which can take a lot of work load and you would also need a Digital Audio Workstation (Eg. Logic X, Pro-Tools), a nice pair of headphones and if possible some decent monitors. these are just the bare essentials.. and not to forget some books or tutorials that you might or might not want to invest in. If you are not the most tech savvy person then you might want to take things slow and give your money to someone to do the job for you.
4. Might not have a deadline: When you are working within a team, everyone is dedicating a certain amount of time to the project and therefore, usually, depending on how efficient everyone is the project has a deadline. When you are working alone, it is easy to get drifted away.
5. Not a big list in credits: A big list of credit ensures a larger number of potential audience as everyone on the project might decide to share it with their social circle. This is one major reason why people like working with other people.
6. Monotonous: Let's just say chopping and cleaning audio is not always fun
7. Blunders: You might have a very unbalanced mix and you don't realise it because you have obsessed over it too much and now your ears have given up on you.
Did you know singer/songwriter Tori Kelly wrote, produced and mixed her debut album herself? And pop star FEMME is an independent DIY artist. If they can do it, then so can you. If you really want to produce yourself, then go right ahead - your first song probably won't be perfect but you would get better with time. If you do hire a producer, make sure it is somebody you want to work with and learn from them and take notes of how they go about turning your music into a record.
You will come across a lot of blogs that will just say a big NO to producing music yourself but let's face it - someone does it, someone who started out as a musician or an artist too. If you don't try, you wouldn't know. Would you? Besides not everybody is the same. Everyone has different abilities and if you are able to then just do it!
Being a DIY artist myself and after speaking to several of my colleagues in other bands, it is very common that they produce the music themselves. Nobody else will be as passionate about your music as much as you are and you have to remember that only you can make things happen.