In the last month I’ve gotten to work with some incredible producers (David Zaffiro and Charles Meserole topping the list) and I’ve learned a lot from the brilliance that they bring to every project they do. Here are 5 things that great producers do:
1. They listen.
Great producers actually listen to everything being played by every musician. I thought I listened before I worked with these people, but I’m realizing that there’s another level of listening that few musicians master. Great producers hear not just the individual notes but the emotional quality of a performance. Balancing the ability to hear both the technical and the emotional aspects of a performance is what sets apart great producers from good producers.
2. Rhythm is everything.
The more advanced the producer, the more they focus on being exactly dead-on the rhythm. When I was working with David, he stopped me several times during tracking and had me correct rhythm errors that were easily less than 15 milliseconds. I still don’t know how he heard them in the mix!
3. They let musicians correct themselves.
Even though great producers have a great ear for detail, they also let musicians correct problems on their own. It’s rare that a great producer stops a musician and breaks down the section to the rudiments unless a musician is having a really hard time.
4. They hire the best people they can.
Great producers know the secret to being great: hire top flight talent, and let them do there thing. Like all great managers, the producers I worked with in the last month trust a very few musicians and hire them for all their sessions, because they know if they start with a great musician, the results will be equally great.
5. They’re humble.
I have yet to work with a great producer who wasn’t also a humble, wonderful person. This seems to go hand in hand for every producer who works well with artists.
What’s the best producer you’ve worked with? Leave a comment below and share your story!