Rates & Services FAQ

What is a producer? What is the difference between producing and engeged engineering?


When I am engineering your project, I am responsible for the audio quality of the final product. You can read above about how engaged engineering might include a lot more than just turning knobs to fullfil that responsibility, but in the end, that's the scope of my role. For some bands or artists with a clear vision, this is the extent of what they want and need from an audio professional. Many other bands and artists need someone to be more deeply involved in the musical side of their recording project, and this is where a producer comes in. As a producer, my responsibility now expands to encompass the quality of the project as a whole, music and sonics. A producer will be as involved and as invested in the process as any band member - or for a solo artist, as a partner - and in turn will expect to exercise creative control on a more equal footing as well. On a given project, a producer might - help determine the artistic goals for the project & allocate the budget - help select the songs to record (and occasionally guide rewrites) - work with song structure and arrange parts - write charts - guide pre-production rehearsals - hire additional musicians - schedule sessions - coach performances in the studio - direct other audio professionals involved in the making of the record




What is "engaged engineering?"


Traditionally, the recording engineer's role was to select, place, wire, and operate the equipment in a studio. Today, however, engineering original music involves so much more than that. "Engaged engineering" is the name I give to what my contemporaries and I actually do in the studio - participate as musical technicians or technical musicians in the production of recorded music. It means when I'm working with you in the studio I'm going to make available a lot of musical, technical, and creative skills that might make the record better.

What does this mean in practice? It means I'll probably tune your drum kit (I tune almost every kit I record). It means I'll help you pick which guitar and which amp for which part. It means I'm going to do everything you'll let me to make sure we get the best sound from the source before I even put a mic up. It means I can offer opinions on which take is the best, or if you should do it again, and why. It means I can give the singer feedback after every take so they don't feel alone in the booth. It means I might play a tambourine or sing a backup vocal.
When you find you're turning to me more often for questions about what should happen musically, we might need to reclassify me as your producer.




What will it cost to produce/track/mix/master my project?


You can check out my rates below, but if you want to accurately budget a recording project please reach out to me with my quote request form or via email. I will need a lot of information about your project to help you come up with a realistic budget that will match your needs and desires.




What are your rates?


If you’re not sure if you can afford to have me produce, mix, or engineer your project, please contact me – we can discuss your budget and I can listen to your material and see if I can do the material justice within your means. Album Production: I charge a flat producer’s fee that varies with the scope and the needs of the project, plus producer points. Please contact me for more information. Mixing: $500 per song (3 songs or more)
$650 per song (fewer than 3 songs) Studio Engineering only (does not include studio fees): $35 per hour Studio Consultation & Education: $50 per hour Location & Live Recording: $450 per day. Includes “basic equipment.”* Partial day rates available when appropriate.
*For remote recording sessions, I include the “basic equipment” necessary to record one or two musicians at a high level of quality. For more complex sessions, the rental of additional equipment will be necessary.




Can you engineer my session at famous Studio X, local Studio Y, or my friend's Studio Z?


Yes! I have worked in professional commercial studios, project studios, and home studios all over Northern California. I know how to quickly make myself comfortable in any room with any equipment. Though I am flexible, not all rooms are created equal, so if you need help choosing a great studio to record in please let me know. I regularly work with a number of studios around the SF Bay Area and I may be able to get you in for a discounted rate.




I want to record my album in a non-studio location. Can you help me?


Definitely! I have a lot of experience with location recording of live performances and recording studio-style albums in non-studio spaces. Drop me a line and tell me what you've got in mind...




I'm setting up my own studio. Do you offer consultation?


Absolutely. I've helped lots of clients make their studios into friendlier, more productive, and of course better sounding work environments.




Can you teach me how to mix?


I can certainly help guide you along the path. I offer one-on-one mixing lessons at your studio, mine, or on Skype. I can help you focus your practice and your inquiries in productive directions and help you understand the approaches and philosophy that helped me learn to hear with a mixer's ear.




I feel like no one can mix my album the right way but me. How can I be sure you can get MY sound?


You are not alone in feeling this way! I myself was once a DIYer - and then I realized I was better at producing, arranging and mixing than I was writing songs, so I decided to focus on my strengths. Aside from those special and rare artists who do in fact mix their music better than anyone else could, the rest of us come to this conclusion for one of three reasons: 1) we underestimate how difficult mixing is 2) we overestimate how hard it will be to communicate our vision to another mixing engineer (or we've had a bad experience with a mix engineer who didn't communicate well)
3) it's easier to quantify the concrete expense of hiring someone to mix than it is the abstract costs of learning to mix and taking time & energy away from the rest of your work as a musician/artist
So to answer the first two points: yes, learning to mix well is as serious a commitment as learning an instrument - you won't learn to do it well over the course of one album or one year (and no one should spend a year mixing an album!). And no, it's not too difficult to communicate your vision to a professional mix engineer - I have lots of practice with this kind of communication and I know how to learn an artist's vision. As for the 3rd question, only you can answer what trade-offs you are willing to make. I wouldn't tell anyone they can't learn to mix - you can! But what will it cost your progress as an artist to focus your energy away from writing, rehearsing, booking, promoting, and performing and on learning to mix instead? What will it cost if you have to delay the release of your album while you learn to mix? What will it cost if you release subpar work?




What is "big record sound?"


Big record sound is about sonic impact - but it's not about sounds that are big just for their own purposes. It's about sounds that have musical and emotional meanings. Big record sound delivers your music in a way that's integral to the musical experience - you'll know it when you hear it!





© 2018 by Matt Wright

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