TAKE any musical artist or band, match them with a top-notch producer — and you are almost certain to have a hit record or single.

Although the musicians may be talented, the producer is the key person behind the scenes — or console — who makes them sound good.

This is what Mr Roland Lim, 29, does for a living.

The music producer’s role is a multi-faceted one, he says.

“It entails establishing the right vision, production style and concept with the band or artist. You also have to find the right studio and music gear.

“You also have to coax the best performance out of every musician,” he adds.

The nitty gritty involves overseeing instrument and vocal recordings, music arrangement, composing, sound design, editing and mixing.

Locally, artists Mr Lim has worked with include Tay Kewei, Joi Chua and the singer-songwriter, Joel Tan, better known as Gentle Bones.

Mr Lim’s talent speaks for itself. Gentle Bones’ three singles released last year, Elusive, Until We Die and Save Me, have all hit the top spot on the local iTunes chart.

Taking off

A former musician, Mr Lim got his first taste of music production when he and his band stepped into a recording studio to record their first demo in 2003.

“I really loved being in that environment,” he says.

Then, as he was studying for his degree in marketing and media at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, he encountered Adam Rock, a prominent music producer for the Perth alternative-rock band, Birds of Tokyo.

“I bugged him to let me be his assistant and things took off from there,” says Mr Lim, who spent the next three years picking up recording basics. He also learnt how to direct and produce musical artists.

In 2007, after doing his national service, Mr Lim decided to plunge into the music business full time.

But he did not start producing immediately.

For the next few years, he wrote jingles for various companies such as Canon, Julie’s and Minute Maid.

Many producers, he explains, start out as, say, sound engineers, a job that requires a fair amount of mixing techniques and skills.

Big break

Mr Lim got his break at 26, when he produced his first major album for Warner Music, Neverbloom, by Australian rock band Make them Suffer.

“The success of the album brought more clients and, with that, the money I needed to set up my own production house,” says Mr Lim, who started Sync Studios with two partners in
2012.

One of his career highlights was the chance to work with renowned producer Steve Lillywhite in 2013, on local band The Sam Willows’ single, Glasshouse. He was one of three local producers selected by The Music Society to be mentored by the five-time Grammy award-winning producer.

The Music Society is a local non-profit body that supports talent in the local music industry.

Asked what he loves about his job, Mr Lim says: “Working with people from all walks of life and communicating with them through our common love, music. I also get to share and trade cool and crazy stories about being in the music business,” says the self-taught bassist and guitarist.

“You need to put in a lot of hard work and dedication to constantly improve your skills. You need to be brutally honest about your flaws,” he adds.

He pointed out that a producer should have a good ear for sound frequencies, understand music trends and possess in-depth knowledge of equipment and recording software.

A basic understanding of human psychology and knowing how to manoeuvre around “music business politics” are also useful when it comes to the business side of music production.

“You need to be able to demonstrate the value you can bring to the project,” says Mr Lim.

Even above the love for music, hard work counts. “This is a career you’re building, not just a job. Be prepared to work so hard you can’t tell the days from the nights,” he adds.