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Where do we draw the line? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 4th September 2011
  #1
Where do we draw the line?

All too many times have I found myself being not only the Producer, but the Engineer(mix and master), Manager, Motivator, Contract Drawer, and Promoter. It seems that as a Producer your success relies on the success of the artists you produce but is spending all of your time playing all these different roles really beneficial?
Old 4th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
I think its important to talk to your clients about the distribution of work, especially if youre cooperating more than 'just' working for hire. Clearly you have an interest in your client or artist and that they do well, but if you do more than just production you should communicate to them that you also need some sort of compensation for the time and effort you put into their project..

It boils down to a point of negotiation.. who needs the work done, how bad do they need it and what are they looking to gain from it. Because if you do 70% of the total workload but don't get added benefits like recognition of name etc., you shouldn't have to settle for less profits than them.

Keep in mind I work from a small European country, the business probably looks a lot different here in comparison to the states.

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Old 4th September 2011
  #3
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I know how you feel. Early on in my career, before it was really a career, I got screwed for an assssssload of money. It made me really learn the business, and I'm a nerd so I actually enjoyed learning the business side. Like you, I realized that I needed to be more involved in the careers of the artists I produced in order to help ensure the success of the work I did. The reality is that you are kind of beholden to the work other folks do to bring you success.

But it can be a never ending string of add-ons. It starting with giving advice, to project managing, to marketing. Next thing you know I'm managing artists and running indie record labels. I will admit to a certain extent it did pay off because I was instrumental in helping some of these projects become successful and earning me accolades for my musical contributions. And to a certain extent some of it was actually financially rewarding. And some of it just felt good. One of my labels was picked up by Universal. Through managing an artist I earned a lot of respect from club promoters and magazines and stuff. And some of the money from this significantly padded my income (no day job).

But at a certain point I came to the realization that, aside from totally exhausting me, I was putting efforts into building a career path that I wasn't all that interested in pursuing. I didn't want to manage artists. I didn't want to run record labels. I wanted to make records. So when I felt like I could, I just quit that stuff cold turky. I will do little consulting sessions if people ask nicely, but these are a few hours in person or on the phone and done. I decided that while for a while doing all these other roles was HELPING me build myself as a record maker, eventually it got to the point where it was HURTING because I didn't have enough time to work on actually making records. It's one thing to be managing artists, running labels, designing and executing marketing campaigns on a local level - it's a whole different ball of sweat and aches and pains doing in on a NATIONAL level. It can litterally consume you.

So my advice would be to do it if you feel that these projects will help your records become more successful, thus providing some kudos for your production career to build upon. But when it gets to the point where the amount of time you are taking from producing to work these things is hurting your producing more than the resultant accolades, then you need to stop. Unless of course you enjoy it - then keep doing it.

One thing I will mention quickly is that all that label/management crap has really helped me as a mix engineer. I think JJP talked about this on Pensado's Place. I've been in those meetings. I've been in those meetings about the record and how to market it and how to promote it and how to budget it and how to turn a profit on it, and drawing up budgets line item by line item, and break even points, and all that blah blah blah. When you've been on that side of the desk, you have a VERY different perspective and that has helped me tremendously both as a producer and a mixer - but especially as a mixer as that's most of the work I do now. There are lots of guys/gals that can mix a good sounding record. But when you understand intimately what everyone has to do with that record once you turn it in, it's almost like a secret weapon. Because then you are not just making a record that sounds good to the consumer, but gives the people that have to work the record to the consumer what they need in order to do their job. In other words, it's not just about making a record that people will like, but also making a record that can actually get to the people in order for them to like it. Not sure if that makes sense or not, but there is definitely a subtltely that goes into making a record when you have experience actually working those records. I've had clients tell me stuff like "man, I was a little unsure of that thing you did in the mix there, but now that we've been working the record for a month, I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND why you did that!" Anyway, my point is that in addition to doing all this stuff to keep the record you worked on from dying an early death, you can learn a lot of stuff that will help you make better records as well.
Old 4th September 2011
  #4
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Realziment's Avatar
 

I find too often these days the artists are soo effen lazy its unbelievable and it does not help our case. they expect us to be supermen!
Old 4th September 2011
  #5
Gear Nut
 
BCFoolin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Realziment View Post
I find too often these days the artists are soo effen lazy its unbelievable and it does not help our case. they expect us to be supermen!
True words
Old 4th September 2011
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
I know how you feel. Early on in my career, before it was really a career, I got screwed for an assssssload of money. It made me really learn the business, and I'm a nerd so I actually enjoyed learning the business side. Like you, I realized that I needed to be more involved in the careers of the artists I produced in order to help ensure the success of the work I did. The reality is that you are kind of beholden to the work other folks do to bring you success.

But it can be a never ending string of add-ons. It starting with giving advice, to project managing, to marketing. Next thing you know I'm managing artists and running indie record labels. I will admit to a certain extent it did pay off because I was instrumental in helping some of these projects become successful and earning me accolades for my musical contributions. And to a certain extent some of it was actually financially rewarding. And some of it just felt good. One of my labels was picked up by Universal. Through managing an artist I earned a lot of respect from club promoters and magazines and stuff. And some of the money from this significantly padded my income (no day job).

But at a certain point I came to the realization that, aside from totally exhausting me, I was putting efforts into building a career path that I wasn't all that interested in pursuing. I didn't want to manage artists. I didn't want to run record labels. I wanted to make records. So when I felt like I could, I just quit that stuff cold turky. I will do little consulting sessions if people ask nicely, but these are a few hours in person or on the phone and done. I decided that while for a while doing all these other roles was HELPING me build myself as a record maker, eventually it got to the point where it was HURTING because I didn't have enough time to work on actually making records. It's one thing to be managing artists, running labels, designing and executing marketing campaigns on a local level - it's a whole different ball of sweat and aches and pains doing in on a NATIONAL level. It can litterally consume you.

So my advice would be to do it if you feel that these projects will help your records become more successful, thus providing some kudos for your production career to build upon. But when it gets to the point where the amount of time you are taking from producing to work these things is hurting your producing more than the resultant accolades, then you need to stop. Unless of course you enjoy it - then keep doing it.......
Hey, Thanks for the insight/advice. I feel that this way of work could help me in the long run but the only thing that gets me is when I end up doing more work than the artist. I mean It helps me get my product out there but there is only so much I can do if the artist doesn't want to help themselves. Sometimes I wish I could Just skip the whole artist thing and make a CD of Mixed beats and get them distributed.heh
Old 4th September 2011
  #7
Lives for gear
 

it's tough when you care...

nice post Chris...
Old 4th September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Itsgrandzbaby View Post
All too many times have I found myself being not only the Producer, but the Engineer(mix and master), Manager, Motivator, Contract Drawer, and Promoter. It seems that as a Producer your success relies on the success of the artists you produce but is spending all of your time playing all these different roles really beneficial?
until you get big enough to be able to pay for specialists to do those jobs you will have to diy.
Old 5th September 2011
  #9
Gear Head
 

Its hard work, but you gotta do what you have to do to realize your dream. Until you are who you wanna be and can make decisions on how much involvement you have with an artist, I assume its all on you to produce the music.
Old 5th September 2011
  #10
Gear Addict
 
Raj Smoove's Avatar
The people who care most about a project do 90% of the work. If it takes that to get where you wanna be then do what you have to do. I've had to be manager, producer, engineer, pr, marketer, label head, a&r, mentor, and a whole other list of roles but I got my artist signed and Im stronger than I ever was in the game so hey, it was well worth it. Now i have a vast amount of knowledge to lend to my future projects.

I find that people who complain about doing stuff they shouldn't have to do end up not doing the stuff they should and don't get anywhere. My mantra is "I make it happen."
Old 6th September 2011
  #11
I've been on both ends of the situation, helping some one and needing help.

If the project is something you believe in and the artist legitimately is pushing as hard as they can, then do what you can.

A great artist may not be hungry enough to put your time into no matter how good the music, and the opposite applies too! Some of the worst hip-hop tracks were hits because the artist pushed to exhaustion. Got to respect that. Solja Boy, Wiz Khalifa, Sean Kingston ect . . . .

People who dont want to push hard, but expect you to, cancel that, unless somehow this is hands down the best song you've ever been a part of, and we all know that "ground breaking" isnt found in every track you produce.

Also teaching people how to fish is better than doing the work for them. It will free you up to do your job as a producer and helps them build their career as well. On top of it, they will appreciate you for "schooling" them in the areas they needed help in.
Old 9th September 2011
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Major labels are looking for Artists who are "self starters", who have developed a following on their own, self-promote, etc.

^ I feel that we as Producers need to have the same mentality when it comes to choosing artists to work with on a full-time basis. If not, you may end up doing all the work and not getting rewarded in the end.
Old 9th September 2011
  #13
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FossilTooth's Avatar
 

Part of a producer's job is bringing talented people together and letting each of them do what they do best for the sake of the project.

^ If you find yourself doing all the jobs yourself, refer to the sentence above ^
Old 16th September 2011
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by FossilTooth View Post
Part of a producer's job is bringing talented people together and letting each of them do what they do best for the sake of the project.

^ If you find yourself doing all the jobs yourself, refer to the sentence above ^
Yes I agree but the artist has a manager (her mother). You can see how this can pose problems when trying to replace her with someone who can do a better job. I have realized since I started this post that this singer is not yet ready to be an artist because being an artist takes more than raw talent. It takes work ethic also.
Old 16th September 2011
  #15
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Solar's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Realziment View Post
I find too often these days the artists are soo effen lazy its unbelievable and it does not help our case. they expect us to be supermen!
So Daaaaaaamn True! Nowadays the artist (ok not ALL but many of them) wants ALL in a Golden Platter & think they are Everything. And most of All, they come and think they Know Everything, How things works.. and the amazing answer is " Yes I know I need to do this and that, feed my youtube account, twitter account etc... "... but they ain't doing it.. start a bit and dies etc.. etc..

They are expecting that INSTANT Success.

One word: There is more work to be done then they think.

Today, speaking for myself, ain't working for any artist that is NOT FULLY, and I mean Fully Investing On Him or Herself in every aspect of their career.

P.S Again Not putting them All in the same plate but So many as we know are unfotunately.
Old 16th September 2011
  #16
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

I will be using both music and business terminology here but I find myself in the following roles too often:

Beat maker, producer, tracking engineer, project manager, personal manager, copy editor, limo driver, web instructor, (faux) paralegal, marketing director, marketing coordinator, web developer, general motivationalizer (I made that word up), (faux) psychologist, to weed and beverage coordinator. On a small amount of projects I also do the budget, time lines, and am possibly an investor.


This is the thing, in some cases, some of the extra stuff is necessary to complete a project. I don't mind putting in some of the extra work when I am working as a team with an artist. However, often times I don't mind the initial responsibilities I take on but they become problematic later on. Sometimes you deal with people who understand, sometimes people figure you have been doing something so if you don't continue, they loose sight of the goal.

For me, I make the decision of the minimal amount of work I need to do to be able to move on. This may be substantial, it may be as simple as moving on.



When I am not working closely with somebody, I am usually not willing to do as much for them. That doesn't mean I don't make the mistake of helping somebody too much and them feeling it has become my responsibility. Once they feel it's a responsibility, it's hard to get out of it.


First things first, most of the people who will put this responsibility on you either don't care about your side of of things, or they are just unaware. This means that finding a compromise is usually going to fall way more to their side, assuming you want to maintain the relationship. I have found thus far that it has been more beneficial do maintain the relationship than to hold my ground. It just depends on how bad it gets. If I can handle the extra, I tend to just do it, knowing things have to change on the next project. Once the project is over, it's a much better time to talk things over and reevaluate the situation.

Secondly, learn as you go. Take note of what you did take on these roles, or why people perceived that you willing to. I do not offer transportation to my spot anymore, for example, because on ride easily becomes the norm. If I am working with someone who does not drive, I make sure they understand they need to reimburse me, either up front, or it is paid back as an expense after the album drops, before they get paid (obviously only do this when working as a team with people).

Anything else applies. I understand "regular" marketing as I studied and have worked in that industry. I don't offer advice. If there is a benefit, I may but I make sure to keep it brief. If they want more, I offer my services as an independent contractor at the same rate as I make as an independent contractor for non music businesses. Same with Office or Web stuff, I offer cheap lessons. The goal isn't to make money, per say, it is to try to make them understand these things have value in the outside world and I know exactly how much other people pay me to do this. Rarely do they actually pay, but they get off my back pretty quickly. If they pay, cool.

Some things I just refuse to do. I will not supply beverages except for celebratory things. I will not be somebodies sole motivator for accomplishing their goal. I cut off conversations that are too personal and do my best to stay away from giving non musical advice, or say, "things will get better."


Now, you would think by reading my post that the newer/less developed someone is, the less likely they would put you in these situations. I am not going to say it's the opposite, but I get these things more often from people who are fairly established more than the kid down the way. One of my manager friends is held almost as accountable to be a drinking buddy on a Tuesday night or friend to talk to when his artist is bored as he is for booking shows, arranging meetings, and organizing features.


Sorry, longest post in GS history lol
Old 16th September 2011
  #17
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I think I'm a somewhat of a strange case, but I'm sure a lot of you can relate. i started off wanting to be a rocker, playing guitar in bands and stuff when I was like...12. Then I wanted to be a rapper, around like 14, then I learned how to make beats, which kinda combined the first two. Then I learned to engineer. I ran with engineering for a long while, but always worked with the intention of being a better producer and musician simultaneously. I also went to business school. I've worked a bunch of records as an assistant, a tracking engineer, and a mixing engineer, under a lot of SUPER dope (and legendary) producers and engineers. The more I do the more I realize that it actually helps to do as much as possible, as long as I'm comfortable with the roles I'm taking on. As a tracking engineer I've learned if I didn't add my input (which is production--which has a business aspect to it to--what are people going to want to buy? and a musical aspect to it--why doesn't that sound right? is it in key? in time?) it made it harder for the mix engineer who would let me know. As i mixed records I learned from the artists, producer, mastering engineer, and fan base what I was doing right or wrong, which a lot of the time was a result of me not saying whats what way back at the tracking or songwriting phase (a lot of artists I work with write in the studio--plus as tracking engineer you have the ability to interject songwriting ideas--it also helps that I've worked with some extremely successful songwriters).

Basically what I'm trying to say is that I've learned that for me, in this day and age, in the majority of sessions I work it makes sense for me to take as much control as they'll let me, and at the very least interject my opinion on things based on my experience as a engineer, producer, musician, songwriter, former retail sales associate, and (most importantly i think) fan. This also obviously depends on who you're working with--if you're working with an AWESOME producer, you probably don't need to say much about production gripes. Same with a better mix engineer, etc.

I've met a lot of guys who are like "the artist is asking me if the take is good, I'm NOT PRODUCING THE RECORD"....I just don't subscribe to that theory. Anything that has MY NAME on it, regardless of the capacity has to be up to MY standards 100%, or I at least have to have tried, and I'll do whatever I can to make it as successful as possible.

At the same time, you have to learn to not wear yourself out, which battles to fight, which projects or roles to allocate your energy to, otherwise you can end up doing you and your clients a disservice. That's why it also is handy to have a team around you. If you look at all the greats they do.
Old 17th September 2011
  #18
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KevWest's Avatar
 

I wouldn't deal with an artist who doesn't have the drive to promote their own music. I've never met one that doesn't try to mix and master but most of them suck at it and want me to do it. I do for an extra fee.
Old 17th September 2011
  #19
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Storyville's Avatar
I'm on the opposite side of the coin. I wish I was more involved more frequently. Most of the time it's - mix this. I've had a couple of clients recently who have allowed me to be more hands on and I think the overall project benefited greatly.

But recently I've been turning down a number of gigs, because I didn't feel enough was being truly valued upstream.

I'm trying to step away from myself as a "service" and step more into the light of being part of the team.

Not that I want to be on the management or marketing chair, I'm not really skilled in those areas and my abilities are best focused in the production world.
Old 17th September 2011
  #20
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
I'm trying to step away from myself as a "service" and step more into the light of being part of the team.
I know we are in different worlds in what we do but I recommend it. Something as trivial as being involved in the tracking process tells you so much about someone. Tracking someone, even better, if you are working that close. I only mix to learn and I know that is your strength, but that is me alone.

I know I put up a lot of complaints in my post but certain artists you want to be involved. Others, you want to make a quick deal and hope something happens.

If you want to truly produce, you have to be there. I just worked with an artist who didn't have a lot to give me but is dope. He hooked me up with a lot of clientele and opportunities. Sometimes, that is more valuable than just a sum of money.

Find a cat you have faith in and run with it. Just make sure everything is said upfront and avoid some pitfalls we are all speaking about.
Old 17th September 2011
  #21
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302efi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
I

I'm trying to step away from myself as a "service" and step more into the light of being part of the team.
IMO that the worst thing a producer, engineer can do. Once you "befriend" an artist, they automatically think everything is free or deeply discounted. You are now the internet music manger of them and custom live show mix cds at 20 min before a gig ect....

**** being part of their team, just do you job and call it a day !
Old 17th September 2011
  #22
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godphaser's Avatar
 

There is a difference between between being a friend and being a team mate or a work partner.

If people just see you as a mixing machine, that quite sucks, you lose all the human interaction which can spark a lot of good things.
Old 19th September 2011
  #23
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I guess it depends on what you're doing. An artist to me is just a client. I record them and mix them and what they do (or don't do) when those things aren't happening is really none of my business. It's not really my job to motivate them to work harder for success, or to "produce" their music, not even to offer unsolicited opinions on anything unless it directly affects sound quality.

In most cases we are talking about adults who (should) have control over their own fates and/or have a musical vision in mind.

But yeah, if you're a music producer like some here, that's a different thing. If you're just an engineer / studio owner... most clients these days seem to be "producing" themselves so if they aren't fully engaged with the things necessary to forward their own careers ... I actually don't care all that much beyond wanting to see some of the nicer clients succeed because they're nice people.

My job ends when the invoice is closed out.

Anyway, in the project studio business part of the problem is that (almost) every engineer wants to be a producer... even if the client hasn't specifically hired him or her to do that. My take is ...

"Make whatever noise you want to make and my only job is to capture it and mix it exactly like you hear it."
Old 19th September 2011
  #24
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by godphaser View Post
There is a difference between between being a friend and being a team mate or a work partner.

If people just see you as a mixing machine, that quite sucks, you lose all the human interaction which can spark a lot of good things.
Exactly. It's kind of like women, you never want to end up in the "friend zone". I actually work with legitimate friends as well but I make sure that we do music when we are working. If we are just chilling, we don't go to my spot or any other studio (unless we are just sitting in). That always creates a grey area. I feel bad but I often limit my face time with artists I work with as well, just so they don't get too used to me being easily available. I didn't at first and people wanted too much of me. Certain artists will always go to voice mail first before I call them back because I know if I answer, they need something I didn't even commit to done yesterday, etc.

It's all how you play things. And it can be a big learning experience to get to the point where you really are just another part of the team.
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