I think the answer to this question is really pretty simple. Most bands that I know want to be taken seriously and want to act in a professional manner, so what's the best way to do that? Do what professional artists do.
Q: What's the first thing a pro act does before they enter the recording studio to begin recording their album?
A: Hire a producer.
They know that it's essential if they want to produce a product that has commercial success potential. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but if you plan on being one of the exceptions, just know that you're making an already difficult task pretty near impossible.
Look at the liner notes of the CDs in your collection. Ninety-nine percent of these albums have no doubt been produced by a producer outside of the band. There are many reasons for this and here are a few:
1. A producer will help you organize your ideas into a cohesive collection of songs with each song being a succinct and impactful weapon to hit your listeners with. Bands will usually have a lot of great ideas kicking around whether it's a full song or just a cool verse or a catchy chorus hook and it's a producer's job to come in with a fresh and impartial perspective and bring all the good stuff to the surface.
Producers also keep everyone involved focused on the taks at hand. Sometimes the musicians can be too caught up in their own individual part whereas the producer is looking at the bigger picture. He/she will have a strong vision for what the overall vibe and energy for the track is supposed to be.
2. A producer can be a great person to help resolve conflicts among band members. Many times the forward movement of a project can be seriously stifled when two or more members don't see eye to eye on a particular point. The musicians in the band are usually too attached to the music to be objective and do what's truly best for the song and the album as a whole. The producer can more easily see what needs to be done to move forward.
This is where the whole 'Dr. Sean' thing comes in. Years ago, one of my recording clients started calling me Dr. Gregory and it made sense to me. Quite often I'd find myself in the role of a therapist--helping musicians sort through issues relating to their personal lives as well as their music. Not to mention the 'surgery' I was performing on their audio files.
3. Good producers will have way more experience producing recordings than the members of the band. Even if it's not the bands first time producing an album on their own, you can likely count on one hand the number of times they have.
Making a record can be broken down into many different parts; songwriting, arranging, producing, engineering, performing, editing, mixing, mastering, teching, etc. and they're all very different and important jobs. The more responsibilities one person takes on, the more divided their attention will be and that's never a good thing as people are designed to focus on one task at a time.
Once again, look at the number of people listed in the credits on a major album. It's never just a few people putting together a hit record.
I love reading Seth Godin's blogs. I find them to be very thought provoking and powerful. I really can't remember where I read this particular clip--whether it was in a blog or one of his books--but he was talking about how it's unfortunate that there's so much emphasis on being independent and going it alone nowadays because it's so important now more than ever to be dependent. I totally agree with his point here. He says:
Self sufficiency appears to be a worthy goal, but it's now impossible if you want to actually get anything done.
All our productivity, leverage and insight comes from being part of a community, not apart from it.
The goal, I think, is to figure out how to become more dependent, not less.
Frasier Has Left The Building
So there you have a few solid reasons why it's important to hire a producer to record your music. I'm sure I've left out many other points, so please feel free to add on to it or even to challenge what's there. When it comes to music, nothing is ever 'right' or 'wrong,' it's all just a matter of perspective.