April 17, 2024

Ep #14: A Guide To Self-Producing

As a performer, you might decide it’s time to self-produce. Self-producing is something that many performers are afraid of doing and not sure where to start, so I’m sharing all my thoughts on self-producing and really breaking the topic down, so you can decide what’s best for you and your future as a performer.

Whether you want to release an EP to share your originals with the world and see how people receive them, or you want to put together an album with a whole band, this episode is here to help you think about some aspects of self-producing that you may never have considered before.

Tune in this week for some practical tips to ensure that self-producing creates the results you want. I discuss where people tend to go wrong in conceiving their self-produced projects, I share how to decide on the external help you need to get your project off the ground, and you’ll learn about all the areas of self-producing you probably haven’t thought about up until now.

If you enjoyed today's show and don't want to worry about missing an episode, be sure to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts. Click here for step-by-step instructions to leave a rating and review, and don't forget to share with other people who might benefit!

What You will discover:

  • The importance of knowing your capacity for what you want to do.
  • How self-producing allows you to start gaging your audience and your skill level.
  • The model I use with anybody who wants to self-produce anything.
  • What people tend to misunderstand about self-producing.
  • My recommendations for any performer who wants to start a self-produced project.

Listen to the full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:


Welcome to The Confident Performer, the only podcast that guides ambitious, driven performers and entrepreneurs to show up authentically and confidently both on and off stage. If you are ready to make an impact in your life and community and start living your most amazing, empowered life, you are in the right place. You already have what it takes to make it, you just need to see it. And I’m here to show you how. You ready? Let’s go.

Hello my amazing performers, and welcome to episode 14 of The Confident Performer. Today we are talking about self-producing. I got to coach on this topic this week. I have an artist who’s been with me for a while and she is in the Christian music scene and a wonderful artist, so talented, such a good soul simultaneously and an incredible writer. And she’s getting ready to do some projects and have really kind of been collecting and building and working. And so I really thought, you know what? I’m going to share this with our listeners, this process of self-producing.

And now, self-producing is something that some people are really afraid of doing. Some people are not really sure where to start, what to do. And so I just kind of want to give a few tidbits and then kind of break some things down and then you decide what’s best for you. First and foremost, you have to know your capacity for what you actually want to do. So if you want to release an EP. So say you want to do just a four song, five song EP and you want to get it out there just to put yourself out there and get your music out there and get some of your originals out there. And kind of just start seeing how the world receives your music.

One of the best things to do is see where your skill level is. I work with amazing musicians, amazing engineers. And so I’m surrounded by really talented people. So any time I connect the dots of what I’m doing, I always think of my who. I do that in life. That’s actually why I started a company that I have. I have a company called Performance Partnerships that partners people within the community for maximum performance of the community and beyond. And what that is, is it really is kind of this overall, almost kind of a matchmaker project building business.

And anything that you want done and want done well at a professional high functioning level, I partner you with a person who’s able to do that. So being a producer on these projects is a very, very easy job for me, for someone like me who does this all the time. Now, if you do not have that same skill set, obviously then you would hire someone like me. You would hire someone who is able and capable and who has the connections that you want. So you could be sitting at home saying, “Hey, I want to create my own album.”

We did a beautiful album for a young artist I was working with and it went up. And then it went down when she started putting out some other music and kind of changing her progressive state of what she was doing with her image and different people she was working with. But the first project we did ended up being just a gorgeous project and one that I’m actually very proud of. And any time I think about the players on that and I think of the work on that, I’m always very, very grateful to be or have been a part of that project.

And with that project, I really kind of use that same model with anybody who wants to self-produce anything. They can come to me and say, “Hey, I have these four songs. I want to put them out by next year.” And I always ask them, “What do you want to do with it? So you want to put this out. What do you want to put it out for? Do you want to put it out for yourself? Do you want to put it out for your grandma who lives in Texas and can’t hear your music all the time? What are you doing with this project?”

Because you will invest time, energy, money, resources into something and producing something. But if you don’t have an idea of what it is meant to be used for, or what it’s even going to do once you finish it, that’s the challenge. So, so many people have this idea that once they produce something, they can put it out there. And they’re going to be a star or the next Justin Bieber or the next Taylor Swift or something that’s just going to take the world by storm. That is such an unrealistic way to look at it.

Don’t get me wrong, there have absolutely been people, and especially with the way that our social media composition has transformed over the years since I’ve started in the industry. It has progressively gotten so much easier to just dominate in ways that are non-traditional ways because of social media, because of TikTok, because of all the access that’s out there, to the exposure and to the attention market. So I do not want you to be discouraged but I want you to be realistic.

First and foremost, if you think I’m actually really, really good at producing, I’m actually really good at the engineering part. And I write my own music and I have my own studio. Great. You are a key candidate to do a lot of the work yourself. However, there is that final, final. And it’s when you bring in the people you’re bringing in, you bring in the artists you want to work with. If they’re all professionals, great. You’re going to have a much easier time. If they are friends and it’s something that you’re doing for fun, it’s going to be a very different time, obviously.

I have a lot of friends, there are some friends I would never ever invite to be on an album with me, period. My professional friends, that’s what we do. We can do that. Now, if you think to yourself, I’m actually at the place where I do none of it. I just sing. And just singing sometimes as singers, sometimes it feels like, man, I don’t do enough or I should be doing more and I should learn how to do this and this and this. All of that is, I feel, kind of true. As a singer first I did feel a lot of that kind of, man, I don’t play guitar. I don’t play piano. And so then I just started learning, so I took guitar lessons, started teaching myself piano, started doing all this stuff.

And you can absolutely do it that way and just continue to think, I don’t know this so I’m going to learn it. And that’s typically what I do. I don’t know how to start, so I’m just going to learn how to start. And then now that I’m where I am and I have all of this kind of collected information, I do a lot of things, obviously, try them. That’s interesting. Oh man, I learned a really hard lesson that way. And that’s what I really try to pass on to people. So if you are genuinely just ground zero, don’t know what to do, don’t know where to start, don’t know where to go.

One of the things I’m going to recommend you do is hire someone like me. Hire someone who can help you connect all the dots you need connected. Because you’re going to want to figure out what your genre is as far as what you are going to put out? What do you want to do? Are these songs just for yourself? It’s this song because you want to start your band and you’re really trying to get out there and be seen? Are these bedtime stories for your children? What’s going on here? What are we doing?

So really kind of find that niche so you can niche down and figure out what you want to do. And then you’ll want to have a meeting with people who are going to be on your project. So if it is someone where you say, “I’m just a singer. I don’t have access to a guitarist or a piano or whatever, and I don’t have access to these other artists.” I am going to help provide that same connective access. So with this artist that we worked with previously, I knew her style and I knew and I had worked with artists that work in her style, in her vein. And I thought, okay, we’re going to contact them.

And I’m just going to see if he’d be willing to take on this project. So the best starting point is once you have your producer, someone like me, is to find your musical director. And then you find that musical director who is highly skilled, highly professional and ideally highly talented and has access to an amazing studio. I reached out to a person that I’ve known and worked on a lot of projects with, he actually did my album, my self-produced album. His name is Jesse Siebenberg, wonderful, wonderful artist, brilliant talent. Plays literally every single instrument that there is.

It’s so funny because we’ll be in the studio with him at his place and he will hop off and play keys and then hop off and play the guitar and then hop off and do a little lap steel and do some strings. It’s amazing, and plus vocals and writing and composition and it’s just incredible. His ear is incredible. So I hired him to be the musical director on this project. Then I basically said, “Okay, we want x, y, z players. So we want keys, we want bass, we want drums.” And then we kind of go through what we want.

And then he really connects the dots as far as, hey, I can get this player. This player is available. And a lot of times, again, I’ve referenced that the industry is so small. It’s so funny, when I was on American Idol, I worked with this amazing drummer, his name is Nate Morton and he was on our Idol tour. And when I actually started doing my album, man, I can’t even think, it was almost 10 years later, Jesse was the guy who hired Nate to play drums on my album.

And it’s so funny because that just again, nearly 10 years later, the industry is so small. And I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t think about pulling in Nate. I didn’t think, nothing. And so just the magic of that ends up happening. And that happens so often. You get on projects and you’re like, “Oh my goodness, so good to see you again.” Because that circle is so small. Now, mind you, I mean simultaneously, he’s playing for Idol, playing for The Voice and doing all these different rounds, going on tour, coming off tour, playing for other artists.

And so when you get an incredible drummer or you get an incredible bass player, whatever it is to play on your album, it’s really exciting, also very fun. It’s funny because my daughter actually just recently heard my album. And she listens to it every now and again. And I say, “Hey, do you know the person who plays strings on that is the same person who plays on some Olivia Rodriguez things?” And she just thought, that was just the coolest thing in the world.

And so anybody in the industry that is out there right now working, people know Paul Cartwright and he’s from my hometown. And when you have strings and you’re looking to do some great, beautiful work on it, he’s the guy. And it’s just so funny, again, like I said, that industry, that pool being so small. So you want to hire someone and work with people who have access to those people in the industry.

Do not get me wrong, if you want to self-produce and you want this to be a homegrown garage band type feel and you guys have been a band and you’ve grown up together and done your things. That’s totally fine to just do it your organic way. There are other bands who have been very successful doing that kind of thing. But if you do need help and like I said, I don’t want to say just a singer but as a singer first if you know, I do not know how to do that, I need some help. I need some guidance. So that is most important when I say hire a professional and not someone who does this as a hobby. Don’t cut corners.

If you think to yourself I’m going to do this major project. Again, it’s going to be time, resources. And any time you start the ball rolling on other people’s time and other people’s resources and other people’s smarts and brains and expertise and connections, that is going to cost money. Now, when I did this other project like I referenced, I was very proud of it. It was one of those where we were very fortunate. And I referenced to her dad at the time that it’s so much easier to hire somebody who can do this very, very well. So we do not have to cut corners and redo stuff.

A lot of times when you hire people who are doing this because it’s fun for them or it’s relatively new, you end up having to do things over again. And that is not worth it in my opinion when you can pay just a little bit more and get someone who is a highly skilled professional to do the job far better than you could even have hoped for. And that is where I truly say, do not cut corners. Create what you want in your mind then transfer that into that vision. Break that down with your hired producer. And then break that down altogether with your musical director. And then you can create something magical that you had no idea how to do.

Simultaneously you end up gaining the knowledge and the understanding of the process along the way. So that if you wanted to do it in the future and you thought to yourself, you know what, we did hire someone to do this. And we did hire someone to do that. But we can actually do that part of it ourselves. We do have our own studio. We can do this. That’s fine, too. Now, when you are bringing it in, you are putting it and laying it down and whether that’s original work or you’re doing an EP of someone else’s covers, which is totally fine too.

I want you to ask yourself as you’re going through the process, what is it that you’re going to do with this project? And then decide what you should do as soon as you’re done. Most importantly, when you are finished recording and you have this kind of beautiful work in hand that you had no idea would come to life, I want you to get it professionally mastered. Now, if you have a musical director, he will typically see that through. If you don’t, sometimes you can think, well, my friend, he’s done some things and mastered it before.

But if that’s not what they do, it’s a very trained, specific ear from your engineers. And that is one of those things that you definitely, again, do not want to cut corners on. Hire a professional master. Once the product is in hand and you can have a party or you can have a celebration, have a release date of what’s going to happen. That is, in my opinion, I think that’s the magical part, but in truth that’s also the part where the snowball is at the top of the hill. And so we want to gain that momentum. And once that snowball begins to kind of roll down the hill, we want that action and that traction.

And that’s where you have that kind of window of opportunity. And I look at that especially with the people who go on reality TV shows, you have a window of opportunity. Some people, again don’t get me wrong, some people 20 years later will look at me and be like, “Oh, you were on American Idol”, in my hometown. Now, I go anywhere else, people don’t know. And I referenced in my previous episode when people tell me all the time that Amy Adams is a famous name. I know, I was born with it, and I’ve had it for a long time.

And I kind of just get that chuckle. What is happening after they leave a show? And what is happening, what are they going to do with their, some people call it their 15 minutes of fame? But I look at it really, truly as that window of opportunity. What are you going to do to maximize that window of opportunity? And once you have this created asset and something that you’ve really worked hard for. And you can do it as quickly as you want. You can do it as slowly as you want.

Obviously, when you have professionals, you have a shorter commitment because they’re not trying to live on a project obviously, unless they’re being financially compensated simultaneously. But you’ll pay them for that pocket of time. It can happen rather quickly, depending on how many tunes you guys are going to lay down. And then figure out in that timeframe too, if you don’t have a plan before for marketing and promotion of what you’re going to do with your project, simultaneously plan that. And again, in that same realm, hire a professional.

So when we had one whole team doing the album, we then hired and partnered with a whole other team doing marketing and promotion. And that is what I recommend for you to do. So find those people, align with those people, that is what they do, that is their job and pay them for their services. You are going to get action and productivity when you pay someone for their services, that is what they professionally do.

So many times people can say, “Well, I have a friend who does that. I have an uncle who does that.” Guess what? Unless you are paying them you are not top priority especially if that is what they do. They go and they operate with their paid clients first, no matter what. And typically anybody in any industry will operate with their paid clients first. So keep that in mind. All in all, I want this information to be encouraging. I want it to be inspiring and almost kind of break it down in a sense where it is not that difficult.

So if your brain says, “I want to do this and I just don’t know where to start.” I want you to just email me. Go onto amyadamscoaching.com, email me and say, “Hey, Amy, I want to do this. Can you help me? Where can I get started?” And typically if you’re like, hey, if this is something, hey, I do have a budget to hire a producer or I do have a budget to hire a full team to do this and I’ve just been kind of sitting on the idea and I’m ready to make it happen. Great. That is going to happen so much faster for you.

And then you have this again, like I said, this asset, this piece of work that has only been an idea and then has created this kind of fire inside of you just by hearing this information. And really kind of pushed you toward the edge of it’s not that hard. And again, like I say all the time, your dreams are absolutely worth living. Why wait? Why not start today? Why not just say, “You know what? I’m going to take one step and it’s going to be asking a question. Where do I start? How much is it going to be and when can we begin?”

So I hope that is helpful. All of this truly, this comes from this place of, I want every single person to really truly connect to following their dreams. And I just think our world will be an absolute better place, the more confident, the more happy, just focused on creating good things for our world that we are. So thank you so much. Thank you so much my beautiful performers. Take care and be well. 

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Thank you for listening to today’s episode of The Confident Performer. If you want to learn more about living your truth and showing up as your most authentic, beautiful self, visit www.amyadamscoaching.com. See you next week!

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