02-04-2013 11:57 AM
I'm a jazz pinist turned pop singer. As I was on my 'transition', I was doing accoustic singer/ songwriter in sort of pop-jazz style. Very recently (last fall) I started to write really commercial stuff and I love it. I was recording a single while working with a producer and it came out as a dance/pop song (not released yet). I finally feel I found myself musically/ stylistically etc. However, I have a couple of worries.
As I worked on my single I hired a producer and got a deal with him - 1000$ for the song (regular price 1500$). I went for it because I have absolutely zero experience in producing anything and quite honestly, right now I don't have time to learn it. So I wanted a radio sounding song and I got it. However, I wanna record an album. Or better said, I have to record, at least an EP or else there will be issues with reviews, radio stations or PR people (many don't even review or work with you unless you have a full album, EP is a must). Now, I am trying to figure out what to do about it all - because the price for even a 4 track EP when you add promo costs is gonna be around 10k. And on the long terms as soon as I put out that I must already prepare for the next release as nowadays one has to constantly release and tour.
So here is the question: how can I reduce the production costs? Below are some of my own thoughts.
I don't necessary want to produce anything myself as I have zero experience. That deal was awwesome - I wrote the song, gave the leadsheet, a crappy demo I managed to make (took me 1 month to figure a decent track and a week to put a beat together despite the fact I can play some drums,LOL), submitted a bunch of songs ranging from Maroon 5 to Lady Gaga, telling what I like in them and boom - I got back some sceletton beat/ bass/ guitar/ keys. So we just e-mailed and I said what I liked and then I went in studio sang lead vocals, background vocals and played a keyboard solo. Then mixed and masterd. Sounds awesome, major label level.
I have not found a decent songwriter to write with and won't write with just anybody because I always write what I mean.
I don't want to start a band at this point (I will pull one together when I finally manage to go on tour). The reason for this is that I don't necessary look for a 'live band' sound in studio and don't want to write songs with other people. I used to have jazz bands where I sang pop jazz and it always come to the point that they wanted to be co-writers and on every photo etc. I just don't see myself as a lead singer of a band or a part of a team. I find the idea of having a produced record, giving the record + sheets to musicians, 2-3 rehearsels and we're off on tour. And I'd rather have 2 dancers for small gigs that I do with a playback than a full band.
I'd appreciate if someone would have an idea, opinion or thoughts for me...
thank you and cheers!
P.S. I live in NYC, so I technically have all the industry people very near to me.
02-04-2013 03:21 PM
When a producer recognizes your talent and the commercial potential of your music, then he is a producer, and he will do the production it for a participation in the future profit, and even finances the production himself.
Forget producers who want to get payed upfront. If a producer does not see your talent and doesn't take the risk to waste a few days, he is not a producer.
02-04-2013 03:22 PM - edited 02-04-2013 03:25 PM
... and it is not true that an artist needs a full music album to start his career, a first single will do too in pop, a good song is a good song and can be distributed,as well also other well know artist do one song after another and immediately release one song when one is finished, and a few months later brings the full album out
02-04-2013 05:34 PM
I think you may have to compromise in one of a few ways to move forward in your career.
On the purely economic level, you get what you pay for - so if it cost $10,000 to record an EP at the level you want you might just have to pay it. Or you can spend a little less and get something different. That might mean you have have to be more creative in your approach - there are some sounds and arrangements that an inexperienced studio/producer/engineer can do better than others - live strings are probably off the table when you are trying to cut costs.
When it comes to songwriting and some of that stuff, it seems like there's a give and take. I personally end up doing a lot of work for free for things like that, but it's because I want the recognition, or I desire to participate in the experience. If you are looking for people to do great stuff and walk away, they typically will do that only for money. As a working guitarist, I'll play anything you want if you're paying me, but I'll work for a lot less if it's a project I enjoy, and if I get to have my say in it.
One possible strategy is if you can't afford the best, get the people who are going to be the best, i.e., young people/students. If there's any schools that offer a recording program nearby, you might be able to find some young people who need the experience and will be willing to work for free or cheap, but the quality is not guaranteed. Same goes for musicians - there's probably some great ones who want to cut their teeth on a great sounding recording, but at the very least, that means you are going to have to take on some of the legwork of being a producer, organizing people and places.
In the end, you might have to learn to step into some of these roles for yourself, or be willing to let other musicians have some creative control over your music.
Or win the lottery.
02-04-2013 06:49 PM - edited 02-04-2013 06:55 PM
that's true when ypu go to a recording studio and have the music recorded and mixed, but he said he did it with a producer, and a producer is interested to get his share in the future profit
when there is not future profit, then a producer doesn't do the work
02-13-2013 08:18 AM
Just to give you some perspective of where I’m coming from, making records has been my full time job for 13 years now. I produce and mix full-time and have worked with some very successful artists and on some very successful records. I have also managed an artist with a national footprint (ugh… will never do that again, you dno’t get to sleep). I’ve also run a couple record labels and one of them was under Universal (the biggest of the major labels). I’ve been around the block.
First, paying vs. not paying a producer. Generally speaking, you pay the producer. It’s virtually always in your best interests to pay the producer rather than trying to sign a development deal with a producer. For one, if you pay them, you own your masters, you have full creative control, and you have career control. If you sign with a producer, they own your masters and they essentially own you just like a record label would, except that you still don’t have a record deal. As well, a producer you sign with will never pay your promotion costs, ever. So if you can afford to hire producers, it is ALWAYS the best option. The other issue with signing with a producer is quite frankly that there is zero point in signing with a producer who doesn’t have some kind of imprint with a major – zero point, unless you are just broke. The main reason to sign with a producer is to get in a pipeline. Even then, the vast majority of artists who sign with producers get shelved. What happens is the producer will cut a few tunes and the label they are imprinted with typically gets first dibs on the artist. If they pass, then that producer can shop the artist to other labels, usually at not nearly as great terms, but the odds of success there are even slimmer. And like I said, through this process they own you and your masters. So if you can save up the money, you are ALWAYS better off going the normal rout of hiring producers.
If you are truly trying to get a major label sound, it is unlikely that you will find someone inexpensive. Honestly, if a producer gets you a major label sounding record for a grand, that’s a pretty sweet deal. That’s significantly less than what I charge an unsigned artist.
So my recommendation is to do what everyone else does. Save your money. I have worked with artists who have lived in crappy apartments, driven pieces of crap cars (or took the bus), at top ramen every day, never went to Starbucks or McDonalds, etc. just to cover their recording and promotion costs. Like anything in life, if you want it bad enough, you must be willing to cut out the luxuries in life in order to afford it. If you aren’t willing to cut out the luxuries in life, then you have no business trying to make it as an artist.
BTW – you are correct that it is relatively pointless to just promote one song without an EP ready to go. I see people do it all the time. If you procede without an EP finished, your BEST CASE scenario is that the single starts getting attention and then you lose all that attention while you scramble trying to get an EP recorded. Trust me, the money will NOT be rolling in off the single. If anything, you will incure more costs. A successful single means supporting that single. You will be spending money doing radio concerts (no, you won’t get paid. You will pay all your travel costs though). Flying here for a photo shoot for a magazine that is going to do a feature on you. Etc. etc. etc. I’ve been through all of it. It’s chaos. The more success you have, the more money you will shell out and it will take a while to get the return on that single so you will have an enormous cash flow problem. I see people make this mistake every day and it’s sad. So get your EP finished BEFORE you start promoting your single.
Best of luck.
02-13-2013 10:59 AM
When you make the production agreement with Chris Carter, add the paragraph:
The album must contain at least three international top 40 hits. If the "RODUCER" fails to reach this goal, then "PRODUCER" returns the full production fee to the artist.
02-13-2013 12:27 PM
02-13-2013 12:28 PM
3. Master Recordings
All Master Recordings produced according to this Agreement, from the inception of the
recording thereof, and all phonorecords and other reproductions made therefrom, together
with the performances embodied therein and all copyrights therein and thereto, and all
renewals and extensions thereof, shall be entirely Employer’s property, free of any claims
whatsoever by Producer or any other person or person engaged in the production of the
Master Recordings. (It being understood that for copyright purposes Producer and all persons
rendering services in connection with such Masters shall be Contractors for hire).
02-13-2013 12:29 PM - edited 02-13-2013 12:30 PM
4.1 The Producer is responsible for producing all Master Recordings hereunder according to the
recording and production plans which shall be prepared in consultation with the Employer and
mutually agreed by the parties before any such plan is commenced and the Producer shall
produce the Project in accordance with the production plan confirmed by both parties. The
Producer shall submit the production plan (including idea, process, amount, content and
melody of compositions, etc.) and two full versions of samples to the Employer within 15 days
after the signature of this Agreement. The Employer has rights to make comments regarding
the production plan and the Producer shall submit the revised production plan to the Employer
within ten (10) working days after the comments by the Employer. The Employer is entitled to
present amendments from time to time during the execution of the production plan and the
Producer shall make modifications according to the amendments of the Employer.
02-13-2013 12:33 PM - edited 02-13-2013 12:42 PM
... make everything in written form !!!
payment article, i.e.
(a) 30% of the Production Fee shall be payable within 30 days after receipt of the
approved production plan and two samples by the Producer and parties’ signing of the
(b) 40% of the Production Fee shall be payable within 30 days upon receipt and written
approval by the Employer of the Demos;
(c) 30% of the Production Fee shall be payable within 30 days upon receipt and written
approval by the Employer of all the qualified Master Recordings, which shall be
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