Name: Kim Copeland
Title: Music Producer at Kim Copeland Productions and at Professional Artist Coaching.
Some artists I’ve worked with:
Rachel Williams (Universal/MoTown Records)
Sim Balkey (simbalkey.com)
Taylor Henry (taylorhenrymusic.com)
Top Ten Texas artist, Keith Norris
FEMMUSIC: How did you get started in studio production?
KC: A songwriter friend asked me to help her record her debut album. I had been critiquing songs for NSAI and helping her with her songwriting, arranging, vocal arrangements, etc and she liked my ideas. I didn’t really know what production involved, but I was excited to be in the studio, so I was involved in every aspect of it. I cast and booked musicians, studio, engineer, background vocalists, arranged songs, sang bgv’s, oversaw mixing and mastering. It was a great experience. I learned two things during that recording process. 1. What music production involved. 2. It was a perfect fit for my interests and talents. That project brought interest from another indie artist and that’s how I got started.
FEMMUSIC: Why did you want to start your own studio? What benefits & drawbacks does that have?
KC: I was working in other studios based on the projects I was doing. It came to a point where it made financial and create sense for me to have a home base; a room where I knew all the gremlins and had exactly the sound and equipment available to me any time I wanted to work. It has been a wonderful move for me! I cut my teeth on analog recording, so a lot of my equipment and approach is very vintage, focused on quality before tricks. I have a customized space now with the best of both worlds; Trident board, vintage Hammond B3, etc plus the latest ProTools and technology, so I can really create in every genre very authentically!
FEMMUSIC: What challenges do you see for women in studio production?
KC: There are a lot more men in production than women, no doubt. That is changing, but not quickly. You have to be able to communicate musical ideas and understand and speak music well to gain the respect of male musicians. I have been blessed to work with world-renowned musicians in many genres. I respect them and allow them to bring their creativity to the music. In turn, they learn to respect my ideas and guidance. Women have a slight advantage in temperament sometimes maybe; less ego- lol. If you create an environment where everyone is encouraged to bring their best to the project, music transcends personalities and egos. I also have a huge advantage being in Music City because we have top musicians from all over the world here, so I can work with amazing talent without being at the mercy of egos. It has to be a comfortable, nurturing, free, creative environment for the music to come alive. That may be a slight advantage for a woman producer; just understanding how to encourage and support excellence.
FEMMUSIC: What mentors did you have when learning?
KC: I did not intern with a producer. I learned by jumping in blindly. I did have a solid background as a performer, musician and vocalist, so I understood music and how to communicate with musicians. I had also spent quite a bit of time in the studio recording my own songs and artist projects and built my own small studio. I did have the opportunity to hang out in the studio with some hit songwriters and watch how that all went down so that gave me a lot of insight.
FEMMUSIC: Are women in studio production treated differently than men? How do you see this?
KC: Yes. But it’s getting better, I think. I am fortunate in that I have been in Nashville for over 30 years and have established myself. I have grown into the producer I am now. Initially, I may have faced a few condescending, ego driven situations, but my enthusiasm for what I was creating always outweighed any hurt feelings, so it never slowed me down. I learned that, as long as I was writing the checks, I could stand up for myself and for my ideas. I could control the energy in the room and the end product.
Really, men in the recording industry want the same thing I want; opportunities to create great music and work with great artists. If I bring them those opportunities and create an environment where we can all work together and have fun doing this, they respect me. My motto is, “Check your ego at the door. It’s all about the music!”
FEMMUSIC: What advice do you give to women wanting to go into studio work?
KC: Jump in. Learn what you can from studying, classes, etc. Don’t come in totally uneducated and expect pros to stop what they’re doing for a living to teach you. Once you have some basic understanding, find a studio that will let you be a fly on the wall. Sit quietly and learn. When you feel confident, offer to produce or co-produce a project for a friend on the cheap. Earn your experience. Be willing to take advice and criticism from more experienced people in every seat. The fastest way to a short career is not knowing how and when to listen.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
KC: I would like to see publishers and record labels spend more time and money on developing new talent, rather than relying on contests and individuals to do that. The industry is definitely a business and needs to make money, but I would like to see more long term careers being established and supported instead of so much focus on marketing the product as it comes through the door. So many talented songwriters and artists never make it because they don’t have a chance to develop into their potential. This costs them and the industry in the long run.