Why everyone needs a Nigel Godrich in their life

The Beatles had George Martin. ACDC had Ted Albert and Vander and Young. Beck and Radiohead had Nigel Godrich. Who have you got helping you?

Think about your favourite album. Of all time.

Think about your favourite album. One that you love to listen to all the way through.

More than likely the production plays a big role in why you like it. Or why you liked it initially.

Maybe you would have liked the artist or the album in its raw form without a producer.

But more likely the song or album wouldn’t have grabbed your attention or stuck with you in the way that it has.

Production matters. With a sprinkle of magic, clever use of compression, reverb, limiters, and delays, these songs are packaged in a way that gets your attention and leaves you wanting to listen again and again.

And if a hook was missing, or the music was becoming stale, the producer would push the artists to get creative to come up with those hooks and parts that make those songs timeless. They don’t make the music, but by holding a mirror up, contributing ideas and adding some magic in the mix great things happen. They’re called “hit makers” for a reason.

Great hit or cutting room floor?

I’ve been listening to a lot of old demos lately from famous and favourite bands. These are the tracks before the producers got involved.

In most cases they don’t hold my attention. They don’t resonate.

The hooks and the great sounds that I know and love aren’t there. They hardly resonate at all. I can only think of one where the track was more interesting than the final version and I don’t think I made it through any of them to the end. And this is on my favourite tracks of all time.

Maybe the artists would disagree in some cases. But they’re not the target market. It’s the audience’s opinion that matters. They know what they like.

Producers get this.

If Nirvana had not met Andy Wallace and he hadn’t double tracked Kurt Cobain’s vocals, would Nevermind have been the spark that lit 90’s grunge?

Or would it have gone the same way as their previous release Bleach? Remember that one?

No. Neither do I. It never got the airplay or critical acclaim. Andy wasn’t there for that one.

I love Gossip by Paul Kelly and everything that he’s done since. But I can’t make myself listen to his previous album Post even though I really like some of those songs. The right band and Sydney production made it all come together for his big break. It’s still a great listen. Again, production.

How many great albums were made that never received the attention they deserved because production let them down? And then the artists never progressed?

Many. Probably most. More likely 99.5%+ consigned to the dust bin of history. Never heard, never appreciated or loved by more than close friends, family and a close few who were in the know. CD sales topping out at 200, or filling their mom’s garage and friends cupboards. Drink coasters anyone?

And without production maybe there’d be no Nirvana Nevermind. And consequently no Dave Grohl, no Foo Fighters or everything that came after. What a loss.

Would we have Rickrolling or Kylie Minogue without Stock Aitken and Waterman?


I’m showing my age here.

I’ll get to the point.

The album I’m talking about is you and your work product.

A producer for you?

If you’re producing work by yourself and with feedback from your team it’s probably / hopefully good. The secret is honest but supportive feedback from someone who knows what good looks like and is embedded in your learning and improvement loops. This is how we all learn, which is why having good people around you to learn from and push you is so important. As the old saying goes – choose your team and boss wisely.

But if you want cut through, or if your learning loops have plateued, maybe you need help.

Not getting cut through on your reports with your board? You need a producer.

People’s eyes glazing over? You need a producer.

Not getting promoted? You need a producer.

Feeling stale or stagnant? You need a producer.

In music the producer’s role is to help you get airplay. Put another way, they help to be heard in a way that people want to hear and resonates with them.

The role of the producer in the workplace is to achieve the same thing with your audience. To add sizzle to the steak. Getting and holding your audience’s attention in a way that keeps them coming back for more.

The tools of trade are different but the effect is the same.

I’ll end the tortured metaphors here. But you get the drift.

How we can help

To get more cut through, engagement and resonance maybe you could use some help.

In risk and assurance this is what we do through coaching conversations, reviewing and providing feedback and ideas on work product, your focus, your risk reporting and on your board and executive interactions.

If you’d like to explore any of this, get in touch to see how we can help.

In the mean time keep creating. Your best hits are still to come.

Thanks for all you do.


Postscipt – Maybe more interesting

A standard album is around 45 minutes, which is an ideal length of time for a focused flow block. Vinyl is the same with a stretch break baked in just when you need it. It’s a great hack for a bit of Flow State. You can read more from us on flow in the workplace in the February edition of the Davies Report – Flowstate February.

This article was written while doing a slow read of the new Global Internal Audit Standards and listening to A Different Ship by Here We Go Magic for the first time. I’m not sure how it got into my collection, but it’s produced by Nigel Godrich. It a great album and makes the Standards that much more readable. Got any great albums we should be listening to? Let us know.