It’s all about presenting great songs, honestly and with passion.
I am available as a producer, arranger, musician and mixer. I have extensive experience crafting sound and style for a variety of projects. I work mostly from my private project studio and other premiere studios that are hand selected based on the project. As soon as the pandemic clears, I will travel, gladly! I have decades of professional experience writing, arranging, playing, recording, mixing and producing music.
Send me an email through 'Contact' button above and I'll get back to you asap.
3 ReviewsEndorse Rich Rankin
Rich Rankin has great ears, wizard-like skills and a super-charged sense of curiosity. He has been an integral part of our musical journey over the last 10-plus years as producer to our band Curious Grace & Black Rabbit and his creative input never gets stale. In 2020 he helped us craft a new sonic vision for our EP Wonderland 2020 and Rich did what he does best. He listened. And he helped us craft something better than what we started with.
Rich is an amazingly talented producer, mixer and multi-instrumentalist whose commitment to excellence is second to none. His multifaceted skills range from creative conceptualization to final mix. He's worked on dozens of songs in my Striking Note Records catalog and I keep going back for more due to his impeccable work ethic, keen musical sensibilities, and ability to deliver beautiful arrangements. On top of all that, he's very easy to work with, providing the optimal amount of guidance through a balanced creative process of give and take. Do yourself a favor and get in touch with Rich!
There is absolutely no question that we made the right choice by having Rich produce our album. He started by listening to our ideas and understanding the vision for our project. His talent, knowledge, eye for detail, and good humor brought out the best in us both individually and as an ensemble. He is thoughtful, meticulous, kind and humble. The album we made together shines largely due to his talent and expertise.
Rich Rankin is an excellent producer who loves what he does and it shows in his work. I recommend him highly.
Interview with Rich Rankin
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Early on I was self-taught on guitar, bass, keys and drums, (played in obligatory basement bands in High School) and later attended Northern Illinois University to study psychology and then finally Elmhurst College in Illinois to earn a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in Music Business. Studies there included music history, theory, orchestration, classical guitar and percussion. There I was also co-founder of a student-run recording studio. After working as an engineer and writer at an ad music company out of college I then started my own production company. I perform occasionally with many of the bands I produce as an extra hand. I've been at it for a couple decades.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: A full service production with me might include song selection advice for an album, touch-up suggestions to the writing, arranging (especially for string, brass, woodwinds and percussion) Sometimes I’m asked to record the band tracks (or assemble studio musicians) but I’m regularly brought on-board to guide recording sessions, edit and mix. Or it could simply be "add bass to this track" or "create and send me written string chart arrangements so I can record them here". Every single project is unique.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a personal project studio where I am able to edit, track individual instrument overdubs and mix. My arsenal of on-hand instruments includes: Fender Jazz bass, Fender Strat, Weber mandolin, Taylor, Gibson and Fender acoustic guitars, Cellini accordion, glockenspiel, loads of hand percussion, djembe, bongos and lots of other oddities. For full band work I will hire a studio that is hand-selected for the scope of the project, and then usually bring the tracks back to my studio to add additional instruments as desired and mix.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Well I just found out about this service so I still need to poke around. But I have worked with a killer sax player who’s here on SoundBetter named Nick Bisesi. Great wealth of skill, beautiful tone, pitch and a joy to work with.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: A number of years back I had the great privilege to record, mix, arrange and produce a beautiful record for an indie 3 vocalist group called Charming Axe. It was a joy to help them find their stride in the studio and to help them get out of their heads about what they were creating. Much of my role on a end-to-end project like this is that of a facilitator, a counselor (I did after all study psychology for a bit in college!) and a trusted leader. To this day when a track of theirs randomly pops up on a playlist of mine, I’m delighted to hear it and proud of what we all made together.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Revisiting production on some singer songwriter recordings made a while ago, to re-imagine them in a more contemporary setting. As I type this I’m uploading stems so that if the label gets any TV or film placements, they’ll have all the tracks ready for post-production. It’s all about being prepared!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital, because it sounds great, it so easy to manipulate. Plus analog can be simulated very well. I can make precise updates and versions to mixes with confidence that everything will be right.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will dedicate decades of listening, skill, intuition and continuing education, to help bring your cherished ideas into the world.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Bringing ideas into reality. I'm kind of addicted to the feeling of terror that a “blank page” causes and then when it evolves into the joy of birth when things start to come out of the blue while the muse is in the room.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: It’s always “what have you done” and “how much will it cost”? Good questions, I even use those when I hire a plumber! So I send my best samples of work to them and make the costs very clear upfront so there is no fear that worrying about the price will get in the way making great work.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That I’m a magician and simply a great mix is going to make a song a hit with an audience. It has to start with a powerful song and a great voice. If I have a client with those two elements then anything is possible; we could make a record with the singer and banging two sticks together. Also some people are way over fixated with gear; as if a certain mic will guarantee a Grammy. There is no such mic.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: I’m big on establishing project “mission” statements, where goals and wishes are actually written out to form a plan to inspire and measure progress. The mission isn't set in stone, but it has always served as a great touchstone for a project. Lots of sharing of ideas goes on before even the first session or work is begun. I’ll sometimes ask for a list of adjectives from an artist I'm working with to refer to from time to time, to keep things on track.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Man this really feels like a dating app now, right?! But I’d say you should be really looking for a partner who can support, contribute to, and get behind your work but who also can challenge it to make it stronger. That’s what I do best.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Desert island.. well no need to record anything then, just sit around drink tropical cocktails and play music. Then it would have to be my vintage Gibson acoustic guitar, mandolin, accordion, bass and a homemade wooden egg shaker.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I’m very zen in my life (meditation and self exploration) so I hope that I bring that to my work. I’m open to all ideas, I love accidental ideas (mistakes) and I thrive on the magic that happens when minds come together to create anything.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Respecting the sonic space between notes and sounds is one of the most important aspects of making a clear and powerful recording. Deciding when NOT to play takes things to a higher level.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I am best working on music that has rootsy acoustic elements, and or where acoustic instruments meld with electronic textures.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Communication is my strongest skill. It enables me to get inside the heads of my collaborators and to allow them to understand what I’m hearing, feeling and thinking.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Beyond having listened to and studied much music, I'm a dedicated and nurturing advocate for my artists. I’m an objective outside collaborator who helps guide the process to inception to completion. I’m big on establishing project “mission” statements, where goals and wishes come together and form a plan to inspire and measure progress.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I help artists realize their music from start to finish, or in specific ways as needed.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Caroline Spence is a great example because her songs and voice absolutely slay me. Making an album with her like her recent "Mint Condition" would be an absolute joy because it has all of the elements that I strive for in my production.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm entirely inspired by modern producers such as Finneas while at the same time bowing to classic trailblazers like Sir George Martin. My music taste is all over the place. Some highlights include: Lucius, Tom Petty, Lera Lynn, Rolling Stones, Madison Cunningham, David Bowie, Chris Thile, Sarah Jarosz, Dan Auerbach, Molly Tuttle, Finneas, Caroline Spence, Sierra Hull, Nicole Atkins