Producer - Freelance
A good starting point is to have a look at who produced the records that are on your iPod or turntable. Best to follow the trail and check out other records that producer has done to see how wide their palette of sounds is. Once you have a shortlist, get in touch and see how interested and responsive the producer is. It’s good if the producer feels as passionately about the music as you, the artist, does.
Email is always better than a cold call. Most producers are contactable these days either directly through their website/blog or through management. A short, to the point email stating your interest in working together and a link to 2-3 tracks will get the most immediate response. Busy producers spend most of their time in studios on sessions and have little time for ploughing through long emails with many attachments. The key is to keep your initial approach concise and to the point.
It’s a good idea to present the producer with a few more songs than you intend to record so that you can decide together which tracks are going to be cut in the studio.
Most producers will want to do some form of pre-production, whether it be attending a couple of rehearsals or doing some work on arrangements over email. This will also include a discussion on how the producer will want to approach the recording - all live together or cutting rhythm tracks first then overdubbing. There are infinite options but the producer should have a clear methodology to share with you before the session so you know what to expect.
The most important thing in the studio is to remain as open to new ideas as possible. Great things happen when musicians let go of their inhibition and trust their fellow musicians, engineer and producer to guide them in the journey towards making each track as amazing as it can be. Most of the time it’s a lot quicker to try an idea presented in the studio, than to have a conversation about such an idea. Ultimately all artistic decisions are subjective so there is no right and wrong. In any case, you'll never get to point B if you don't depart from point A, so be prepared to try new things. Even if you discard them along the way, you'll usually end up in a place you could never have conceived if you hadn't taken that initial creative step.
Producers usually will work for a fee - either per day, per track or per project - plus a number of percentage points on the profit made once the record's cost has been recouped. How much and how many points depends on the band and the producer. Either way you have to see the cost as an investment as the record will be your calling card for a long period after its completed and could help establish your career. You do want this in the best hands possible.