On Why You Should Self-Produce

All that’s required to be a full-fledged “producer” is the gall it takes to claim to be one.

– Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, Jesus Lizard)

We have all recently seen small “recording studios” pop up around the Orange County/Los Angeles area like a bad rash.  These are basically damp rooms containing a laptop and a microphone that are dirt cheap... 

This is the future of recording and I think it’s B E A U T I F U L. 

The days of waiting to get signed as a band, losing creative control in a dead-end contract, getting an advance to produce a record and then ending up in debt after its all said and done - are dying.  Of course, the high-end studios have their place, but it’s no longer at the expense of the little guy who can’t get the kind of capital to spend more than a few hours in a professional studio – Oxbow, a small but legendary band from California have started a GoFundMe to help cover their $40,000 debt accrued during the recording of their most recent album, Thin Black Duke.  It sounds fantastic… but sleeping at night without a $40,000 abyss staring back at you is nice too.

Now, you don’t have to have a recording studio, indulge in self-righteous snobbery, or know: Which equalizer has the least phase shift in neighbor bands? Which console has more head-room? Which mastering deck has the cleanest output electronics? or what any of that even means… All you need is a laptop and a microphone; three chords and the truth…

So, learn how to produce, there are plenty of resources online, and you can get a very solid recording setup for a few hundred dollars - or 3 hours in a professional studio...

To conclude my call to action, I have compiled a short list of GREAT albums that sound like sh*t to prove that thousands of dollars of debt are NOT what’s standing in the way between you and making a great record:

  • Black Flag – Jealous Again

  • The Velvet Underground & Nico

  • Arthur Russell – World of Echo

  • Skinny Puppy – Remission

  • Dead Kennedy’s – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

So to save Steve Albini the headache - don’t call yourself a producer… you’re probably not; you’re an artist on a budget and the job has to get done. Just because you take out the garbage doesn’t make you the garbage man - but just because you’re not the garbage man doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take out the trash.

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Grant Loughran1 Comment