Pro Audio Files

How to Make It as a Producer, Engineer & Mixer

Transcript
Hi, it’s Warren Huart here. I hope you’re doing marvelously well.

I’d like to talk briefly about my journey and how I got into the music industry.

I get asked a lot by artists I work with, especially, obviously, independent artists, or freshly signed artists, who are trying to build a career. The way obviously the music industry has been changing so rapidly over the last ten to fifteen years, I think it’s important to talk about this stuff, because there’s a lot of opportunity still out there, and in many ways, there’s more opportunity than there ever was for independent artists.

So, I’ll give you a little brief description of my journey, and you know, hopefully that’ll help you on yours. Now, obviously, I grew up in England, and not the gold US of A, although I live here in Los Angeles. Sunny Los Angeles, I might add. Truly blessed to live here, considering it pours of rain in England on a relatively daily basis.

I grew up in England listening to classic rock, punk rock of the late seventies and early eighties, new wave, you know, my bands were Queen, and Zeppelin, and the Stones, and The Beatles, and then it became The Clash, and Crass, and then it moved into Joy Division, and of course New Order and Depeche Mode and the Cure, and a good splattering of progressive rock bands from the early 70’s. Love all of that stuff, and classical music.

I’m just a fan of music. To me, there’s only two types of music. Good, and bad. Now, that’s probably the first thing in a journey is what are you good at? What do you love? Because you could make a career just doing rock bands. Like, heavy rock bands. The way that modern rock has done this in this day and age, you can do heavy rock with a very simple kind of laptop setup.

You know, most of the heavy rock bands — the modern heavy rock bands that you see now are using drum programming more and more, and doing less live recording, because they’re doing very intricate drum parts, and you know, what drummers used to do is they used to record it, and then sit there and edit it really, really super tight, and I know a couple of modern rock bands now that are just having the drummer programming, and that’s quicker than playing it live, believe it or not.

I still love live drums, and if I have to edit, I will edit. Sometimes I edit manually and go in there and just move little bits and pieces around, and other times, I will sit there and edit really, really tight.

So if that’s your genre and you want to do heavy rock, modern rock, you know, all of the different subgenres of that, then you know, a very simple setup can work. You’ll just need good isolation for heavy guitars, but even then, a lot of heavy guitar stuff now is done with plugins.

You know, modern, modern rock is very loud, and very slamming, and uses a lot of compression, a lot of EQ, and a lot of limiting, but the more organic stuff which I have a tendency to favor, I still like rooms. Not necessarily massive rooms, but a room where you can let an organic instrument breath in and then just mic individually.

And you know, maybe you only go to a studio or a bigger room once in a blue moon, and you stay mainly in your bedroom setup. You know, it’s all about using your ears.

But anyway, the part of the journey I wanted to describe is the — what happened for me is like, I had my own studio setup in my own house, which was really minimal. Started with a four track, a cassette, moved to ADAT, and then from ADAT to Pro Tools, and other DAWs. That was my trajectory. It was cassette, tape recording, ADAT, Pro Tools.

And I think that these days, you can start right on the Pro Tools, or the Cubase, or Nuendo, or whatever DAW you use. Logic, etcetera. You can start right there quite easily.

But the secret for me is being willing to work and work hard, and understanding that as you’re learning, you may not make any or much money whatsoever. Even to this day, I work with artists with massive budgets or small budgets. I work anywhere in between, and I obviously put the right time and energy into all of the different projects, but I love recording music. So it doesn’t matter if it’s a guy or a girl with an acoustic guitar with a song idea, I will work with them if they’re great, and I will develop them, and help them become great, because I’m passionate about that.

Then of course, I’ll do the Aerosmiths, or The Frays, or the James Blunts, or the Ace Frehlys, or any of those kind of artists as well. I love those artists too.

I bring the same passion and the same belief to everybody I work with, and that is really important. Make sure that you are not treating people differently just because they are successful or unsuccessful. Finances are irrelevant. There are so many talented people out there that will never sell a record, because they haven’t had the opportunity to get in front of the right people, or they haven’t had their music licensed in a TV show, etcetera. All the different ways that you need.

So remember that. As a producer, engineer, mixer, songwriter… What we do on this side of the glass, treat everybody the same with the same respect. Bring the same passion to every project, and that will get you work. That is the most important thing. People work with people they love. They work with people they like. They don’t just work with people solely based on the credits. There are lots of people out there that are getting access to great, great musicians, because they have a demeanor and a way of getting performances, and making their artists feel comfortable. That is so much more important than just having a big credit list, and being an ass, for want of a better word.

You know, so be humble and remember that we are workers amongst workers, and if somebody comes to you to produce their music, they are hiring you. You’re not the boss. They’re the boss, the artist is ultimately more important than us. Very few people — there are a handful of people, but very few people buy records purely on the credit list.

I mean, I do. I’ll buy an album or listen to an album because someone I admire worked on it, but I’m not the general public. I’m just a small fraction. We as producers and engineers are just a little fraction of it. The rest of the 99.9% of people that buy albums buy it because of the artists.

So our job is to facilitate and create great music for these artists. So be humble, learn, and also remember that there’s no right way or wrong way. I’ve noticed when I post videos, I’ll get people telling me that you should do it this way or that way. It’s like, you know what? They’re probably right, and maybe for that situation, you know, you should record it like this, or you should record it like that, but innovation and great music does not come from having a set idea of how to do something.

You know, be willing to learn on a daily basis, and the artist that you work with will teach you so much. I work with lots of teenagers, and if I’m working with a 14 year old girl, and she and I are writing a song together, just remember, I’m not a 14 year old girl. I’m not going to know what her experiences at school are like, so she can write from that perspective so much better than I ever will, so my job is to help her come to that place where she can put down in words, and sing emotively, and be believed. It’s not my job to get in there and tell her what’s right or wrong. My job is to facilitate and get in there.

So, I think to summarize, be willing to work and humble yourself. Go to shows. If you love a band, go up to that band afterwards, and give them your number, and say, if you love that band and you want to be associated with them, then go there and record a song for them for free. Show them what you can do. Show them that you really believe in them, and that you can take their music to the next level. That will get you more work.

Be willing to humble yourself and work for free, and always be willing to learn. That was my journey, and it wasn’t an overnight success. It’s taken a long time of doing this, a very slow trajectory, but you know, I have a house, and I have a mortgage, and I have a family, and I pay those bills by doing music, because I work a lot. I work consistently, and I respect my artists, and that’s the important thing. Really, really important thing.

Anyway, please leave me some comments below. Please subscribe to the channel. If you go to producelikeapro.com, you can sign up for the email list, and you’ll get downloads of drum recordings that we’ve done here, guitars, bass, piano, all kinds of different stuff, and you’ll get the ability to go to our Vimeo channel, where we have exclusive videos, more expanded videos in recording drums, and piano, etcetera.

So please subscribe, please sign up for the email list, and thank you ever so much for watching.

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.
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