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Pre-Production Explained

Pre-production is probably a term you’ve heard thrown around from time to time. If you’re like a lot of artists, it’s something you might have a vague idea about and know that it’s important, but perhaps don’t really know for sure what it is or why it’s important.

Let me add a little context about what my pre-production process is like as a producer and why I think it’s critical to the success of many records.

I think of pre-production in a few phases:

Phase 01:

Basic songwriting demo sharing. This is where you as an artist share your material with me, usually and preferably in a pretty stripped down way. I like hearing songs at their very basic core. Lyrics, melody, and chords. The quality of recording doesn’t matter. In fact, you can record with any modern mobile device and that will be fine. But sharing those recordings with me gives me the ability to start forming opinions about the material and begin shaping arrangements in my mind.

Phase 02:

Songwriting discussion. This is where you as the artist and I as your producer begin an earnest dialog about your material. You could hear from me that you’re the greatest writer since Bob Dylan and we have a wealth of material to choose from that I think will be excellent for your record. You could hear from me that I don’t hear any album-worthy material yet and you really need to keep writing or find someone to collaborate with before we can get started. Chances are it will be somewhere in between. But it’s in this phase that we begin to game out what your record’s going to look like from a material perspective. I may recommend rewriting or reworking certain aspects of some songs, and it’s in this discussion that we’ll put a song list together that we can hit the studio with (ideally, we’ll hit the studio with more songs than we’re planning to record).

Phase 03:

Full band pre-production. This phase varies pretty wildly based on project type and budget. There are projects with full bands that have plenty of funding where we might spend days routining the material. I have worked with bands to improve timing, togetherness, perfecting “the lean” of the song, working on modularization of patterns, sorting out song sections that aren’t gluing together correctly, optimization of fills and lead lines, vocal performance issues, and a whole host of other things too numerous to mention. There are also projects tight on budget and utilizing mostly studio musicians who are basically ready at the drop of a hat to deliver a studio-quality performance where pre-production on a tune is done right before we hit record! EMG doesn’t provide a one-size-fits-all set of solutions. We work with each artist to customize a production plan that will work for them and their budget.

Phase 04:

The pre-production demo. This is mostly for full bands that are working on long EP’s or full-length albums. When and where we’ve done exhaustive pre-production sessions, it is often helpful to record a pre-production demo at the end of the process. Chances are, we’ll have made some substantial changes to the material throughout our time in pre-production, and we’ll want to document those changes. Best bet is that everyone then takes a week or two listening to those demos over and over leading right up to the time we hit the studio. By then, the changes will have crystallized in everyone’s minds, and everyone will be ready to go when the red light goes on!

Regardless of the artist, fundamental aspects of pre-production are very important to the success of the vast majority of recording projects. It’s also a time when a lot of artists and musicians really take a huge step forward with the quality of their musicianship.

If you’d like to explore a project together that utilizes this kind of process, simply Contact Us and let’s see what we can do!

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