Tips from the Independent Producer: No, Your Record Doesn’t Have to Sound Like Your Live Show

Jamie Hill - Pyragraph

Jamie Hill is Pyragraph’s Independent Producer, and boy oh boy does he have some insider tips for you. Photo by Vendela Photography.

Today I’m going to go on a mini-rant for a moment.

More times than I can remember, I’ve been talking with an aspiring artist about the process of recording, and they’ll assert that their vision and priority for their record is that, “It has to sound like my live show.”

I just want to take a moment to say: That’s totally not true. Who said that? There isn’t a rule anywhere about that. Especially because your live show is probably just you and an acoustic guitar. And that would be a boring-ass record.

A recording is an opportunity to write your feelings on a large screen.

Second most boring: you and your acoustic guitar at the front and center of a minimal guitar-bass-drums arrangement. I’m sure you know great players. But everyone’s heard that record about a thousand times. And we don’t need to hear it yet again.

Unless you’re making a live record, “I want my record to sound like my live show” is an apples-to-oranges comparison. A recording is an opportunity to write your feelings on a large screen. It’s a chance to use a much bigger and more ambitious sonic palette than you would have access to in a typical live situation (see also my previous post on differentiating yourself in the marketplace via sonic adventuresomeness). And, most importantly, it’s a chance to make a statement.

And, really, do you want that statement to be, “I have such a low opinion of my audience that I want to make sure they can connect the dots between my live performance and my recorded output in the most reductive, literal, obvious way possible?” Geez, I hope not.

Give your audience a little credit. And give them a treat when they take your record home. Take them on an adventure. Give them something special to form a bond with, not a reconstruction of what they just heard you do on stage. Take the conversation to the next level.

Rant over. If you have a recording you’ve made recently that has adventurous leanings, share it with us in the comments!

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About Jamie Hill

Jamie Hill is a record producer and music engineer, currently living and working in Los Angeles. He was nominated for Best Producer in the 2014 Independent Music Awards, and is married to singer-songwriter and house concert pioneer Shannon Curtis.

Jamie can produce or mix your record. Contact him at


  1. mesmi on January 13, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Halloo Jamie, Interesting to hear! I’ve actually been hearing the opposite (my live show and record are vastly different, I definitely run with the blank canvas in the studio kind of feeling) from people concerned with the differences between my live and my record, so it’s refreshing to hear this other take.

  2. […] originally published at Pyragraph […]

  3. […] and amplifiers. Sometimes the ones you use live are not the best for recording purposes. In fact, most of the time they suck. Swapping out a guitar or snare drum can be the “fix” that is needed in many […]

  4. […] originally published at Pyragraph […]

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