Producing music for indie artists can be a rewarding way to make an income. And the two ways to do that are 1) remote producing and 2) in-person producing. But which should you pursue? Maybe both? Let’s talk about it…
Most of my production work is remote. And here’s basically what it looks like: an artist contacts me, we talk about what they need, and I listen to their demo. And if we both feel we’re a good fit, we move forward.
From there, I ask them for a reference track(s) – a song they want theirs to sound similar to – and I get to work. I like to share an early draft to make sure I’m headed in the right direction. Then the artist gives me notes and feedback on what they like, what they don’t like, and anything else they want to add. And then I go back to work.
This usually happens a couple of times before we nail down the final production, at which point they need to be able to record vocals on their own.
This back-and-forth definitely makes the process take longer than if we produced and mixed the song in person. It’s not necessary, but you may want to invest in software that lets you share high-quality, low-latency audio live with the artist. This will allow you to do virtual sessions, both during production and mixing. The most well-known options are Audiomovers and SonoBus.
But don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great things about producing remotely.
Benefits of remote producing
The biggest benefits of remote production work are 1) you have a bigger network of available artists and 2) you can work from anywhere.
Thanks to the ability to work remotely, I’ve produced songs for artists from all over the world. This allows me to have a steady stream of work (and income).
And because your production sessions don’t involve meeting up with the artist in your studio, you can take your studio wherever you want. Whether you’re traveling or just want to work at a local coffee shop, you can take your laptop and MIDI controller wherever and do some producing.
I’ve also worked with a few artists in person. Oftentimes, it ends up being a combination of in-person sessions and communicating over email/text. But the majority of the work gets done when we meet up.
It’s a similar process to remote producing in that I ask for a reference track and the artist’s demo. But then we get to spend a few hours recording the bulk of the song at my home studio setup.
In-person production work is definitely not as common as remote work because you’re limited to just the artists in your area (unless they fly to you or you take a remote setup to them). But working in person with an artist can go faster and be more fun.
Benefits of in-person producing
The biggest benefits of producing artists in person are 1) you can work a lot faster and 2) it can be more inspiring and more fun.
The reason you can get more done in less time is that the artist can tell you in the moment whether or not they like a production element. You don’t have to send what you’ve recorded to the artist, wait for their feedback, and then go back and make more changes. You can just say, “Hey do you like this synth sound?” and they can tell you.
In-person producing, in my experience, tends to be more fun and inspiring. Working with another human in the same room is exciting, especially when you both want to make something you’re proud of.
How To Get Production Clients (Remote and In-Person)
I suggest offering both in-person and remote production services. Why not? You’ll have more chance of getting a steady flow of work. This is what I do, and here’s how I get production clients…
I get most of my work from SoundBetter. It’s a place that connects producers, engineers, musicians, and songwriters so they can hire each other. It mainly caters to remote producers, but artists from my area have found me on this site by searching “music producers near me,” and we ended up working together in person.
To learn more about setting up your SoundBetter profile, check out this post.
Release original music
In addition to producing other artists, I’m also an artist myself. And because I’m regularly releasing music that I’ve produced and mixed, other artists who like my music have hit me up about producing for them.
Several artists have told me the thing that sealed the deal and prompted them to work with me was my original music. They’ve told me, “You’re doing it for yourself, so I figure you could do it for me.”
This is why, as a producer, you need to release your own music. It will only help you get more production clients.
Create a “music production” page on your website
When artists find you on social media or Spotify, you need to have a page on your website where they can see everything you offer, the work you’ve done, and what other artists have said about working with you. This way, you can send all potential new clients to one place that can answer all their questions.
If you want to get in-person production clients, you’ve got to get out and meet people. This is how I inadvertently have connected with artists who end up hiring me as their producer.
Here are some places you can meet people in your local music community:
- Open mics (perform or attend)
- Songwriter nights/showcases
- Local artist concerts
- Find musician groups on the Meetup app
- Join local musician Facebook groups and attend their events
Producing music for an artist is an honor and should be treated as such. They are inviting you into their process and asking you to give their song life. Don’t take that for granted. Build real relationships with artists and make art you both are proud of.