3 Keys to Success for a First-Time Music Producer

It started back in high school — Grade 9 — when my teacher asked the class what we all envisioned as our future career. My answer was clear. I want to be a music producer.

In the spring of 2003, after playing and touring with my first band, I decided to take a music production course in Drummondville, Quebec. Now it was time for me to think of the future. I was close to my goal since working as a music producer was clearly always my dream.

By playing in the Christian music scene for years, I built a large network and friends, with one friend being an actual recording artist in the francophone Christian music scene. He was very supportive when I told him that I was going back to school to study music production.

In the summer of 2003 I got a call from my friend telling me that he wanted to “record a live album” and inquired if that was something that I was able to do. I answered pretty quickly, “That’s not a problem. I can do that for you for sure.” When I hung up the phone all I could ask myself was: Ok now how am I going to do this?

Here are key points that really guided me to successfully complete my first album production:

1. I accepted the challenge with confidence

What would usually deter me in those days was this kind of challenge. However, I knew it was an opportunity to achieve my goal of working as a music producer and I felt I had no choice but to jump into the unknown and make the best out of it. I didn’t feel I was ready to take over a project like that at first but soon enough I told myself that I was more than able to do this.

2. I surrounded myself with a good team

My first job as a producer was to choose strong musicians for the recording. All the players I hired had studio experience and were very good live musicians. With them on board, I knew that area was covered.

Since I was playing drums in the band, I had to hire a live tech and a recording engineer who ended up being my first mentor. I didn’t have a home studio back then so my mentor mixed the album in his studio. It was the opportunity I needed — to assist during the entire mix and it was an enormous learning experience for me.

3. I had a Plan B

I only had one shot to do this right because the artist had only one concert planned for the recording. So I decided to record the music set twice — once in front of a live audience and then perform the same music set the following day in front of an empty room. It was the wisest call I made for the project. Since all the songs were played with a click, it was fairly easy to edit. In the end I used a lot of material from the second recording, confirming that it was a good call.

Three weeks later, the album was released and it was a success. Until this day, it stands as a production I am very proud to put my name behind. Following the release, I began to get calls from other artists in the same market asking me to produce their albums. Twelve years later, I have worked on over 60 albums as a full time music producer and recording/mixing engineered in the francophone Christian music market for most of my work.

The moral of this short story is simple: sometimes you need to be willing to take risks and jump into the unknown. There is no guarantee it will work but if you don’t jump, you will never know.