Frequently Asked Questions
How expensive is it to have David produce my music?
There seem to be two main approaches in the music industry that producers use to
calculate their fees. One is the “all in” approach, where a producer charges a flat fee for all the recording
needs, including studio cost, musicians, and his or her own rate. The other is the normal, hourly rate
approach. There are good reasons for each approach and also some drawbacks. Most of the drawbacks really come
down to trust. Elite producers, those with laundry lists of famous clients can charge an “all in” fee of
$10,000 per song. Depending on how long they spend getting the song recorded at $100 per hour minimums for
top studios with engineers, and $75-100 per hour rates for studio musicians, hours of time mixing after the
song tracking is completed, and having the final mix sent out to a mastering studio for mastering, that may
or may not be a fair price. Remember there are studios that charge $250-400 per hour for really famous
studios and some studio musicians have three-hour minimums to come out for a session, so the pricing accounts
for all of that. If the producer really hustles the project through, they can end up getting a
disproportionately high hourly rate using that method.
The hourly rate can be comforting, but there are several things
to remember. There is an hourly rate for the studio, the engineer, each of the musicians (drums, bass,
keyboards, guitar), arranger, mixing engineer, and mastering engineer. Part of the producer’s job is to work
with you on constructing a budget and sticking to it. If you are doing multiple songs or even a whole CD,
there are discounts to be had for booking the studio in blocks of time. This discount should go to you, not
the producer. If you are tracking multiple songs, the three-hour minimums that musicians ask for will not be
and issue. I happen to believe that the hourly method is the most transparent.
It is like an itemized price list where you know exactly where your money went. As long as
you trust your producer to stay on budget and not create cost overruns and waste
time, you’ll always know just what you’re paying and what you’re paying for.
A big advantage with me is that I’m a great guitarist, an experienced arranger, and I
communicate well with musicians, so I get to the heart of the song right away. When I produce, I charge a
flat $75 per hour for my time no matter what task I’m performing. How that saves you money, is that you don’t
have to pay for a producer and a guitarist, or a producer and an arranger. I can usually get a whole CD
recorded at a great studio, with some of the best musicians in town for $20-25,000, and that can include top
What if my songs aren’t good enough to record?
The most important thing is that I will never push a project through just for the
money. It’s a total waste of money to record music that is not polished and ready to record. I am an
academically trained composer with decades of experience writing and teaching songwriting skills. In those
situations, I recommend taking some classes with me to learn a set of skills that will improve your writing
for the rest of your life, and it will certainly upgrade your songs to record ready status. And yes, if I
make substantive additions to the song, I take a writer’s credit on the song. However, if you want to keep
the songs as all your own, I will share with you what needs to be done and show you the skills of how to do
it and the songs stay as your baby.
Can I pay you out of the money I will make on the sale of my CD?
When I produce, I am hired by you to do a particular job and I do it well. I am not
your partner from the standpoint of participating in speculation on how successful the CD sales may or may
not be. While I do share slightly in the sales via some producer points, I will expect to be paid for my