The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Producing/Writing Tracks for Artists - No Up Front Fee?
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Nut

Producing/Writing Tracks for Artists - No Up Front Fee?

Hi everyone,

I've got a fairly simple issue here.

I'm working for a management company producing and writing songs for their artists. They are saying that other Producers work with no up front fees as they have faith in their artists.

I've not come across any Producers who work with payment only on the back end. I simply don't know how to weigh up how realistic it is that the artists will be successful as I don't know how connected the management is.

Any advice?
Old 14th September 2011
narcoman's Avatar

Unfortunately it IS becoming one way of doing business. I don't do it - but Im not involved in pop. I have a friend who does do it. Tough call. I'd say don't play ball but you might miss an opportunity or two.
Old 14th September 2011
To get anywhere in the music business you generally have to make a gamble at some point. The more educated your gamble the better of course.
This arrangement is something I would consider, but I would want to know the business contract side is water tight. I don't want to be negotiating fees and percentages once the track is moving up the charts, although I'd be ok waiting to be paid at that point.
Old 14th September 2011
Lives for gear

I always take a 50% deposit. DO NOT deliver the masters until you are paid in full.

A "famous person" has ripped me off before, released the song, made money and still never paid their bill. After that I just treat everyone the same, no exceptions.
Old 14th September 2011
Lives for gear
dangoudie's Avatar

So in this case, if they haven't paid anything, then surely they have no claim to the track(s). If they haven't paid a production fee then it is up to the producer how the track is used and could end up with 10 different artists?

So where would everyone stand if the client wanted the instrumentals for rehearsal/performance but hasn't paid anything for them?
Old 15th September 2011
Gear Nut

I appreciate the input, the trouble is with this project, the gamble is on multiple artists, all artists for a management company in fact, and there will be lots of work involved over a long period of time.

Any thoughts on Dan's questions? We work together
Old 15th September 2011
narcoman's Avatar

I get asked to mix on spec all the time. I've missed a couple of huge hits that way. I always turn it down BUT I speak from a position of already having the career I like. SOOOOO only you can answer whether you might want to take the risk or not.
Old 15th September 2011
Gear Maniac

I've done few deals like that and walked away from many more !!!

You should be able to judge if it is worth doing it (especially as they hinted that there will be lots of work coming your way !)

Who are the artists? Are they ANY good? Can they sing? (at all), Are they good looking (very important), they look like pop stars? Would you buy any of their music ? etc... If you've been in the business for a while, you should be able to make a correct judgement!

If you can be bothered to do it after all, I would also insist on co-writing credits. That way, you are covered in case something happens a producer only, if they get a new producer down the are out !

Managements are known to have lots of people on the books and that they generally don't like paying anything for any services.

Also, put everything in writing. If there is "back end only" ask that there are producers fees deducted and paid to you from ANY advances given to artist in question (on signing a record deal)

I've done speck mixes which landed a deal (and Top 10 single) to the band, after being hammered on radio...and got a lot of work from that. But it's up to you to decide,,,
Old 16th September 2011
Lives for gear
3rd Degree's Avatar

I worked for free for someone I had a lot of faith in and he ended up helping me out. Not really the same but I respect him 10X more for that.

My first piece of advice is the "gut feeling" test. Do you feel like you are being taking advantage off, or will be? If yes, skip it. If maybe, think more on it. If no (which you probably wouldn't be asking), consider it. In these situations, usually the answer you choose amazingly comes true.

Other things to consider:

If you were not paid at all, would your producer credit be worth something to you? That assumes you know the artist you are working for obviously and how it will be released.

Are you willing to submit material that doesn't have much monetary value to you to justify the risk? It may or may not be received well but something you have done in the past probably isn't something you would actively push so if it doesn't pan out, you didn't loose much.

Why does this opportunity appeal to you? Is it something to potentially push you further in your career? Do you lack opportunity elsewhere? Anything else? You are obviously drawn to it, what are you willing to risk?

At the end of the day, the more you are in the dark and the less is on the table (being paid on the back end doesn't mean their is less money on the table, it just means they are not willing to invest in your services over other things), the more questionable things are. Some of your most important questions should be asked to who you are working with/through.

I have only felt taken advantage of when I was left in the dark and did not think to ask questions. Whenever I am put in a situation that I am unsure, I make sure I understand the details and evaluate the risk vs. reward if it seems like a gamble. The more you know, the better your odds. If you never gamble, you may regret it.

I obviously have no clue where you are at career wise so hopefully I am not putting you down. I am assuming you are not as established as you would like, thus having some interest in something like this.
Old 16th September 2011
Lives for gear
janjaal's Avatar
i personally don't wanna get paid at the end.
whoever comes to me, knows me, and knows my abilities.
so i ask for the full fees at front..
sorry but that's me..
Old 3rd October 2011
Lives for gear
AcoosticZoo's Avatar
Yea, lots of startup labels or smaller labels (hungry for success) are asking producers, mixing engineer to work for no money upfront . and the back end is not that great either. Why? cos music success is a risk. It cost money to buy radio time and make videos print cds, web marketing etc. So yea, if you're established - like have a number smasher under your belt, you can have more clout to neg a better deal.

If you do music for the money you'll end up being neg'd out bro. The word "greedy" gets used quite a lot. hey, its a business, if you personally mind being "used"/"screwed" then say no to the deal:- then chances are some other hungry producer/mixing engineer will come along and do it for free just to get in the game.

Slim pickings for those starting out no matter how talented you are. Unless you come from a wealthy background and mummy or daddy has paper to blow.

Josef Horhay
Mixing Engineer
Old 5th October 2011
Here for the gear

That's why you see guys out there that will go for it every time, no matter what. I was in a session yesterday, and ran into a pretty well known producer who is still doing that, or just takes front end with no back end and he is cool with that. The business is pretty saturated, and if you won't do it, the next young up start will.

Just me 2 cents!
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump