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Producer, entertainment lawyer

Member for

20 years 2 months
Ok i'm in a bit of a situation...I'm just finishing tracking with a band and got the call today from their manager that a couple big A&R guys are coming down tomorrow to hear the progress. Totally out of the blue, I mean I haven't even really knocked off rough mixes with some effects and compression going on. (guess who's staying up real late tonight?) So now I have to smarten up real quick and broaden my knowledge of the 'business' in Music Business.

This is only the 4th album-project I've worked on, and I've done all of them before in exchange for gear/cash/work-never worrying about being a business or anything like that. All of the albums have been friends projects, and since they were my first few albums it didn't seem fair as it was more a chance for me to experiment/learn than charge for 'expertise'

Anyways-what happens if the label is interested? The way I see it is there are two distinct options: 1)they sign the band and the album is re-recorded at a bigname studio for lotsabucks -or- 2)I do a good enough job on the mixing(the tracking is going great) and they take the album i've mixed.

I guess in option #1 I lose out. But if option number 2 comes around will I have a chance to barter for pay/royalties? I hear all the time about the 3 points producers get, will I be able to negotiate on this? What kind of say do I have if we haven't signed anything at all? Does that compromise my position to make any cash off this?

Is there a point in the process when I should get a good music biz/entertainment lawyer? I'd like to hold that off unless absolutely necessary-

Nothing has been signed. Nothing at all. Their manager has picked up the tab for all rentals and paid me weekly installments of cash towards a price we settled on for the recording and mixing of the whole project. We had just started looking around at mastering houses and duplication places a couple days ago.

So I'd love any help you guys can dish out. I've been in the sound/recording business for just over a decade, starting off with a MIDI studio and doing everything from cartoon voice-overs to Foley effects...but pretty well everything on contract or for cash.

Eric

Comments

Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Fri, 04/12/2002 - 02:32
Everything can get a bit weird when A&R folks come down to the studio. If its visiting an unsigned act, know one thing for sure.. They want to be liked by the act, that's their job.. like Moony cult recruiters, their job is to get (usually young) musicians to want to be on their label.

This situation has you as producer & engineer. low down the list of people to make an effort to be friendly with.

While everyone else is acting all weird, you can stand out as a cool individual by doing the following.

Nothing.

Practically IGNORE them,

Shake their hand over quickly (let go quicker than them - that is their trick)
be 'uninterested' in meeting them.
Look like the whole 'nerves from the band & manager thing' - IS REDICULOUS....
Yawn, act like you would rather get back to overdubbing.
EXPECT to be ignored
COUNT on the band calling you their 'engineer' when the whole week prior they have been calling you 'producer'.

My point

you KNOW it sounds good
you KNOW you are the man for the job
you KNOW the band need you

ALL THE REST IS BULLSHIT

YOU DEMONSTRATE STABILITY by not 'freaking out' in front of the A&R guys.

If it's a head of A&R he / she might be pleasant, anyone lower (like a Vice President kid in his 20's that looks like one of the Chili Peppers) will try to show the band all he cares about is them, and that includes 'getting them a proper producer'.

Count on the band to demonstrate shocking lack of solidarity, it's only naked ambition..

Last words,

you are the stable guy that is ideally suited to the job, you are bored with the circus, you want to get back to work.

Tip - set the DAT rolling check that the volume is ok for everyone and LEAVE, for a piss! Dont sit there crapping yourself like all the others!

YOU ARE THE MAN! You can get to do the big record by being the only one present NOT freaking out! You represent -a stable 'best bet'.

They wont ask you ANYTHING to do with legal matters, DONT start talking legal shit to the manager all of a sudden, (you then turn into a freaking out fool, instead of the super cool relaxed producer you REALLY ARE :)

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 04/12/2002 - 06:54
I thought Julian was right-on with his reply. One comment though..."2 big-time A&R Guys"?? This is key..how big time can they be if it takes two? This isn't rocket science. My experience with A&R people (Assholes & reptiles) is that they are impotent used car salesmen that are afraid to make any decisions on their own. Trust me, if they are showing up in pairs they wouldn't know a producer, engineer or artist if it hit them in the face. Remember, these are the idiots that are in the music business so they can sit in the good seats at concerts with Barbie. I've had too much Starbucks, sorry.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 04/12/2002 - 08:33
If there is nothing in writing with the band I'm not sure that you have a leg to stand on. This is why things should be put in writing before people start sniffing around "your" band blowing smoke up their orifi.

It sounds like you have nothing to depend on besides the good will of the band and their manager.

In situations like this, bands tend to have incredibly short memories as to who got them where they are now. Since you have been getting paid all along, they will probably feel that they don't owe you anything, even if you only been getting "token" money.

If the manager doesn't have a contract he/she could be on thin ice also.

Hope I'm wrong for your sake.

Good luck,

Jeff Roberts

Been there, been screwed.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Fri, 04/12/2002 - 15:57
Jeeze! Im DYING to know how the day turned out!

What I didn't mention was part of the hypnosis was that if the key words 'tour support' get mentioned by anyone, Eric will automaticaly jump up and start doing an "I'm a little teapot and here's my spout" dance in front of everybody!

:D

Member for

20 years 2 months

Tungstengruvsten Sat, 04/13/2002 - 08:14
Hey guys;

I posted late last night but apparently didn't 'post reply' or something as it's not here today....hehe ooops

Anyways Julian, They came, I hit play, set the levels and even got a trip to the john in! :cool:

I didn't really say much, some small talk, that's it...played 6 of the 12 songs, soloed a couple with just drums and bass together...The guy seemed to like what he heard, then he went out for dinner with a couple guys from the band and their manager..... :confused:

So I went out and got drunk

Member for

21 years 2 months

Guest Sat, 04/13/2002 - 18:57
It was just posted on another topic!
:)
Here is your post Eric!

Eric Warren
posted April 12, 2002 01:28 PM                      
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ok I'm back, it's over, and even though I really didn't have to go, I still managed to hit play and take a trip to the john....
sooo.... it went very well, didn't really talk much, the A&R guy(it was just one and a hanger-on buddy with him) is also an artist/producer, his connection to the band is through a buddy of the bass player so they took off and talked awhile then went with him and the manager to grab a bite... I found out that he had courted the band to record/sign with him before but wanted to replace the drummer etc....the band decided he didn't have the same goals as them and decided to turn it down and record with me instead. Which adds another weird little pressure-I mean I'm honoured but holy christ am I up to bat now!!
I guess my real question is how to know when to have a written agreement regarding sales and royalties-I'm not looking to capitalize on the band and I'm an honourable person so I will not hold product above their head or anything....but if another band approaches me to record and their intention is Thanks all-
Eric

Member for

20 years 2 months

Tungstengruvsten Sat, 04/13/2002 - 20:37
Thank god you found it Julian...I thought I had dreamt it! :roll:

I explained to the manager what I had learned so far about royalties being paid and we are going to work on something in case more than a certain amount of units (10,000?? any ideas?) gets sold I will get royalties/percentage on that stuff. I'm just finishing the sound design for an entertainment lawyer's website(the dayjob) so I guess I should speak up and see if we can't work something out.

I'd love to hear about what a contract should include-even some sample contracts if anyone has one...

thanks,
Eric

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 04/13/2002 - 22:12
The typical producer's agreements that I've signed allows for my royalties to be paid retroactively on all units sold once the costs of production have been recouped by the label. Of course you should be paid a negociated advance against those future royalties as a salary for your work on the project. (I always negociate my advance keeping in mind that it's most likely gonna be the ONLY money I'm EVER gonna see from them...) :(

Hope that helps... good luck with them weasels! :eek: :w:

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