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This is an excerpt from Business Basics for Musicians by Bobby Borg. It has been reprinted here with permission.
While the proliferation of home recording tools has enabled many talented artists/producers to record quality masters right out of their own bedrooms, there are still just as many talented songwriters/performers like you who need help from an experienced record producer.
Experienced record producers not only understand the technical and creative aspects of bringing a recording to life, they also understand – should you ever advance your career to signing with a record company – how to manage budgets, deal with union forms, and get guest permissions to use other artists. In short, they're expert project managers and know how to deliver a commercially viable record on time, on budget, and at the desired level of quality.
While the role of a record producer is typically understood by most artists, the business aspects are more confusing. A record producer's involvement in your career may begin at a number of different junctures and be handled in a number of different ways. The most common scenarios include: the barter system deal, the on-spec deal, the do-it-yourself deal, the production deal, and the record-label deal.