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The transition to producer?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by anonymous, Jan 26, 2002.

  1. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    For me, it was a path full of 'revolution' 'going on strike' threats, aggravation, upset many fallings out - annoyed studio owners / artist managers & occasionally (regrettably) pissed off bands.. ll in all, a 'fight for the right'.
    I am a lose cannon or maverick, I am not 'one of the boys' in the Biz (all smiles from the secretaries at record Co's etc) . I believe record co's and artist managers would rip me off in a New York minute, if I let them. A fair amount of my time is dedicated to preventing this. I have found the music biz to be a battle.

    My career path
    GTR in bands 1 album 1 x single (two separate bands) 1 x UK tour
    Tape Op (gofer) in 3 studio complex (*)
    AST Eng.*
    House Eng.*
    Wannabe producer*
    Freelance Eng.
    Freelance producer / engineer for hire
    Only working as Producer

    In 1986 I attended the New Music Seminar (now CMJ NYC) there was a panel of famous engineers & producers discussing this very topic. Phil Ramone and Niles Rogers were the producers I don't remember the engineers. Phill said basically - I want my engineer to keep his mouth firmly shut while I make records.. All the engineers nodded, only Nile Rogers had a funny tale to tell about a studio cleaning woman 'not liking' some live (and expensive!) strings on a recording and to everybody's horror announcing her opinion to a packed control room, Niles made me laugh as he described his first "how dare she" reaction turn to a 'dammit the woman is right! The strings ARE crappy!" All in all this WHOLE panel was a TOTAL FLOP and was of NO USE whatsoever - I was furious! It disintegrated into tedious descriptions on how everyone 'knew their place' and inter session protocol & (my point) no word AT ALL on how the move forward was to be achieved by an engineer... The producers came across as tyrants the engineers as pussys.

    Now with the advent of the DAW the potential is more 'wide open' than ever. My 'rise to power' war storys relate only to the commercial recording studio world and perhaps have little bearing on the project studio revolution many of us are involved in right now!

    So lets have chatter & advice on how to become a sessions producer - whatever the recording environment! With some "music biz" advice / suggestions thrown in to the pot for good measure..

    :)
     
  2. droog

    droog Active Member

    for someone like me, outside the traditional studio model, these terms are nebulous in the extreme, although i'm well familiar with the various industry definitions

    i call myself artist-producer, and engineering is a big part of what i do (albeit one i'm happy to give someone with more engineering credentials)

    however, just like with a director/cameraperson interaction, although the latter can have a huge impact on the look/sound of the finished project, it is the former that has total artistic control (inc choice of engineer)

    having tasted the freedom, i think i would find it difficult to give away producer's reins

    ultimately, in a true marxist sense of the word, the producer is the one who owns the product, 'coz he/she's the one with the dough

    ... and i want to be that guy
     
  3. drumsound

    drumsound Active Member

    I run a small room in a small town. My bands pay their own bills and I only answer to them. I generally act as producer/engineer (and vice versa). Sometimes I do a lot of "Production" while at other times I don't do much more than suggesting another take. I don't know what I'd do in the 'Big-Time' (I'm willing to try). I tend to have a big mouth and an opinion to match. I'm flexible and like to part of the creative process. I think I'd prefer to produce than to engineer. Hopefully I'll get the chance on some bigger projects someday. ;)
     
  4. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member

    Now with the advent of the DAW the potential is more 'wide open' than ever. My 'rise to power' war storys relate only to the commercial recording studio world and perhaps have little bearing on the project studio revolution many of us are involved in right now!

    Exactly! Great topic, Jules. Let's discuss this. I'll start by giving some of my own contextual background...

    My career path:
    • roadie, then lights, then FOH for local band
    • bassist (for the above mentioned band when the bassist quit)
    • songwriter/gutiarist/bandleader of my own bands
    • producer of demos for those bands, and one full-blown album for one of them
    • public relations work for those bands, resulting in what is now a small magazine-sized presskit
    • some acting (stage and screen) and voice-over (TV and radio) work
    • producer of multi-media arts installations
    • composer/producer of soundtracks for theater/film/video
    • more PR for those latter projects

    • next-->> session producer/songwriter for major and developing acts...preferably female singers, since my style leans towards the romantic and danceable.

    How will I pull it off? I've got...
    • songs, and songwriting ability
    • arranging and producing ability
    • some rudimentory engineering skills (thanks in large part to participation on forums such as this one)
    • a hot rod of a home DAW for developing ideas and demos, conveniently located in downtown Philadelphia (a hot place for music right now, plus proximity to NYC)
    • a killer mastering studio run by friends who charge me redic lo rates
    • a positively scorching female singer/partner in crime
    • the aforementioned monster presskit
    • a do-or-die attitude, and persistence for blood
    • a growing knowledge of the legal/business issues (again, thanks to these forums, and especially to Julian)
    • connections
    • confirmed child-free bachelorhood
    • a washboard stomach
    • a sunny disposition, with a dash of ruthlessness
    • a stylish, yet casual and comfortable wardrobe
    • close association with urban club DJs (IOW: an ear to the ground)

    Am I missing anything?

    Eric :)
     
  5. bluemt

    bluemt Guest

    It all sounds good except for "positively scorching female singer/partner in crime"

    - Beware!
     
  6. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    So what is in your sights that you need help with?

    Are you dating the girl you are producing?
    :eek:
    Folks wont trust much about what you say about her qualities if you are!
    :eek:
     
  7. Irene

    Irene Guest

    Jules- why do you believe it is this way?
    (Genuine q BTW!!!!)

    Renie
     
  8. Curve Dominant

    Curve Dominant Active Member

    NO! NO! NO!

    We are NOT sleeping with each other. I made that mistake once in the past - NEVER AGAIN! Let me clarify...

    1. When I said "positively scorching," I meant her singing (although she is hot).

    2. When I said "partners in crime," I meant we have become friends and collaborators, and sometimes after a session, we'll go out on the town and make the scene together.

    3. She already has a girlfriend. No, that was not a typo. She has a girlfriend. And I have a girlfriend, and, NO, the singer and I DO NOT sleep with each other's girlfriends, not together, nor seperately, so purge those pornographic fantasies from your heads, you perverts!

    Funny you should ask, Julian, since it was you who critiqued (utterly trashed, actually) my demo, which sent me back to the drawing board to wipe the slate clean and completely re-approach everything exactly as you suggested (and thanks, that was a free consultation, right?), which has led to the present happy state of affairs: a truly scorching demo (I love that word "scorching" - a buddy of mine from Birmingham uses it all the time and it's rubbed off on me).

    These are some of the options we have in our sights:
    1. A major label or production team loves my production/writing skills, and hires me to join their team.
    2. A major label or production team loves the singer, and signs her (buying me out in the process, because we have a contract stating that they must if they want her, but not me).
    3. A major label/production team team signs us both, to keep doing what we are doing together.
    4. A major artist (Britney, Christine A, etc.) buys one or more of our songs for her next CD.
    5. Some unpredictable hybrid situation of any or all of the above, as long as there are $$$ attached.

    Oh, by the way: since am writing the music and the lyrics for all of the songs...but, not wanting to leave the singer out if scenarios #1 or #4 occur: I'm giving her 10% commission on whatever I make, because by singing on the demos, she is helping me "sell" the songs, as well as my production skills. Generous, perhaps, but she is a scorching singer, from my hometown, and I like her (even if she does have a girlfriend already). I see it as giving her incentive to work hard, and she does. She shows up on time, nails her parts with minimal or no fuss, and the stuff sounds killer.

    Now, Julian, I realize all of this is moot until you hear the product. So, since this is all your fault, I will mail you the first CD after mastering, which should be within a week or so. Listen to it; tell me bluntly if I've honored your guidance faithfully, and let me know if we have a chance in hell. If not, you have my permission to publicly trash the results on this thread, as you know by now that I am a glutton for punishment.

    Thanks!
    Eric:)
     
  9. adamfrick

    adamfrick Guest

    hello all.

    thanks jules for a great topic - nice to be here and not the DUC so we can stretch our legs a bit, eh?

    a few thoughts and q's before i fall asleep:

    i've made a roughly similar if less professionally oriented path as others here. i was always just one of the guys in the band, but always the one who (thanks to classical training) could come up the most interesting parts to add or changes to make, lending myself to somewhat of a more producer-oriented role.

    then i went to school for engineering and french horn and jazz guitar, allowing me to gain connections across the board and get my chops down.

    now i engineer for kids films and videos - great gig but little room right now for producing or any rock and roll or anything like that.

    so, now i'm in the position where i happened to meet a production assistant in the visual development department who is a GREAT singer songwriter, and i offered to produce him and so off we go! i'm doing the whole quincy-jones-producer thing -- "do we need another verse there?" "what about half time on the bridge" all the way to writing string charts and playing my horn. PLUS i'll be engineering since this is just using the company facilities on the weekend, nobody's paying nobody.

    anyhow, i lucked into it and we'll see how it goes. i'm having a good time writing music on paper again - its been awhile!

    so that's my background, which probably doesn't really provide answers to anyone.

    and my question is, can anyone give me a good idea of a contract i could draw up? i don't want to screw this guy, but i don't want to end up screwed either. basically, since i'm donating my time on this, i'd love to get at least a little money if he makes profit off of selling CDs at shows. plus, of course, i want to be covered if he gets picked up by a label of any kind.

    that's all for now as i'm falling asleep here.

    thanks everybody.

    -a-
     
  10. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Curve wrote goals 1/2/3/4

    1. A major label or production team loves my production/writing skills, and hires me to join their team.

    ** Major labels - dont HAVE production teams (they are all independent) and a team built up over years is unlikely to welcome in a newbie. - Dream ambition only.

    2. A major label or production team loves the singer, and signs her (buying me out in the process, because we have a contract stating that they must if they want her, but not me).

    ** Solid ambition to have. Good!

    3. A major label/production team team signs us both, to keep doing what we are doing together.

    ** at your stage in production, they are unlikely to entrust you to make a record on you own, more likely they would stick you with an experienced producer. - Dream ambition, half right only. Delusional, naive and not open minded to experienced production..

    4. A major artist (Brittany, Christine A, etc.) buys one or more of our songs for her next CD.

    ** Buy out is rare, they usually only try that with folks that are very green but you do hear of it in that superstar context I grant you. "Use" is a better word & goal to aim for. You want publishing cheques coming through the door dont you? - Slap on the wrists because you didn't mention getting cuts on ANY upcoming artists album, so tendency to dream, makes you seem...like an unrealistic dreamer.

    5. Some unpredictable hybrid situation of any or all of the above, as long as there are $$$ attached.

    Hmm you should have more plans than that. In your situation, you should have a revolving door on your studio and be "wheeling them in and wheeling them out". VOLUME is key. Work with AS MANY folks as you can, fit in 2 writing sessions a day. Drop in to see ASACAP & BMI and see if they can hook you up with folks to write with. Get more "foothills goals" rather than "the whole mountain or nothing" targets. Any sort of cut on ANY album is a good thing...

    I advise you revise you plans to be a lot more realistic.

    :)
     
  11. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Adam Frick wrote - "my question is, can anyone give me a good idea of a contract i could draw up? i don't want to screw this guy, but i don't want to end up screwed either. basically, since i'm donating my time on this, i'd love to get at least a little money if he makes profit off of selling CDs at shows. plus, of course, i want to be covered if he gets picked up by a label of any kind."

    Earning off the CD's at shows... hmmm hard to enfocrce isn't it, unless you go into business together printing the CD's as a joint venture..

    Is the guy in his teens? Early twenties? Do you really think he has a chance getting signed up?

    Suggest you get 3 points if your tracks are released 1 point if the songs are re recorded by another producer, and pick a per day fee to be paid upon signing. Favorite is to ask to written down as co writer for your arangement contribution. but his can be problematic to ask for (I find it a bit bogus myself and never do it)
    But give it a try!

    :)
     
  12. adamfrick

    adamfrick Guest

    thanks jules -

    by "a per-day fee to be paid upon signing" do you mean per days that we spent BEFORE being signed (now) on making the album? essentially billing him only if he ends up with the $$$?

    this guys is in his mid-20s, and i think if nothing else he could do very well selling his songs in nashville or someplace for other people to do. but of course with my production on this little record, i'm sure the band will get signed! ;)

    -a-
     
  13. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    "do you mean per days that we spent BEFORE being signed (now) on making the album? essentially billing him only if he ends up with the $$$?"

    Correct!

    You speculate with your time, in the belife that he has potential to get signed & you to get your engineering fee's paid. The royalties are for the production you did.

    Thats the theory anyway..

    :)
     
  14. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    I'd like to support Julian's clear thinking about the facts of life of the music biz.

    The single biggest misunderstanding I run into is the idea that somebody can create a recording or write a song that somehow proves they are "good enough" and will open the door to their success. What it is all about is being in the right place at the right time with the right song and/or the right artist.

    You need to think entirely in terms of how you can improve your chances over pure luck. Here are a few ideas:

    1. Be prolific. Don't waste time on anything you KNOW isn't good enough but there is no question that twice as many songs doubles your chances.

    2. Collaborate. Seek out as many writing and producing partnerships as you can. Some will be very productive, most will be bad news. The productive ones are well worth the hassle of finding them because they will increase your output dramatically. I've seen people move from writing four or five really good songs a year by themselves to three or four a month as part of a partnership. You will also gain the benefit of everybody's collective contacts keeping you visible in a lot more places at the same time.

    3. Personally pitch your songs. The relationships are far more important than just getting "cuts." This is not easy but opportunities arise and should be pursued. Don't hesitate to pitch others' songs if they seem like an obvious "fit." The idea is to get the message across that talking to you is never going to be a waste of time.

    4. Take as much work as possible to studios that serve major labels. This is where you stand the greatest chance of making useful contacts and creating important relationships. If you are really good at what you do, the word will spread fastest from people who have actually seen you work. Any intern has a far greater opportunity than somebody who has an SSL at home.

    4. Personal referral is the source of most work. It's almost unheard of to hire somebody based strictly on the quality or success of their past work. People hire the people who their friends say they enjoy working with.

    Obviously all of these points won't fit everybody but they are common denominators I've observed about the most successful producers and writers I've run into.
     
  15. gseibert

    gseibert Active Member

    Bob,
    Thanks for the suggestions! I actually find some of these points incredibly timely to my own situation.
     

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