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"Hey Engineer...we can't pay you now but we'll pay you when we get signed"
Old 16th November 2009
  #1
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ryst's Avatar
 

"Hey Engineer...we can't pay you now but we'll pay you when we get signed"

Anyone ever get this promise? It seems to happen mostly in the hip hop/r&b world from my experience. I get a lot of producers and artist "teams" calling me or emailing me looking for an engineer to be a part of there "team". No money up front but when they get a deal or sell some tracks them everyone gets a percentage.

Today I talked to a guy who claims that they just did a track with a (not going to say his name) a big name rapper. The budget was $10k and everyone got paid a percentage.

This just doesn't make sense to me. I know and have met a ton of engineers and never once have I heard of any of them being successful or getting paid from this type of agreement. I've never heard of this being a good deal for a recording/mixing engineer. I can't imagine why anyone would do such a thing.

Am I wrong? Any "success" (I use that term loosely) stories out there?
Old 16th November 2009
  #2
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I don't mind doing a spec deal with a bit of cash/advance to cover overheads. Sometimes it's the only way to get to work with promising bands that you're actually in to.

In my experience at least...
Old 16th November 2009
  #3
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china jam's Avatar
 

As a producer. Sorry...I need to start reading threads thoroughly before posting.
Old 16th November 2009
  #4
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ryst's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by china jam View Post
As a producer. Sorry...I need to start reading threads thoroughly before posting.
Yeah, this is the opposite. This is where the producer/artist team tries to give a spec deal to the engineer because the producer/artist team doesn't have the up front money to pay the engineer for his time.
Old 16th November 2009
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
Yeah, this is the opposite. This is where the producer/artist team tries to give a spec deal to the engineer because the producer/artist team doesn't have the up front money to pay the engineer for his time.
Understood, and I agree that it doesn't really make sense. Engineering is more like a bread and butter day job to me, I could not survive on a promise.
Old 16th November 2009
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by china jam View Post
Understood, and I agree that it doesn't really make sense. Engineering is more like a bread and butter day job to me, I could not survive on a promise.
Right. If you were in a game of Gauntlet, you might say: "Engineer needs food . . . badly." Don't let anyone talk you into a spec deal; that's your card to throw out when you really want something.

- Chris
Old 16th November 2009
  #7
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Protools Guy's Avatar
 

I don't play that game unless there's absolutely NOTHING else going on in my career and I REALLY believe in the artist/producer.
Old 16th November 2009
  #8
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Player1

Sounds like a deal as long as they pay your bills!
Old 16th November 2009
  #9
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matt2525's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Protools Guy View Post
I don't play that game unless there's absolutely NOTHING else going on in my career and I REALLY believe in the artist/producer.

Is that Gauntlet or the working for no money game ??.... just kidding

I'm starting a couple of weeks work tomorrow with a guy who has just come to the end of the road with his engineer/producer - who amazingly OFFERED to work for nothing up front, just a share of royalties (and the engineer is no amateur). Anyway, it seems he realised it wasn;t happening, and he and the artist agreed amicably that he should finish off the project elsewhere.

Anyway I'm not complaining, - I get two weeks work out of it!!
Old 16th November 2009
  #10
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IMO the only time that a deal like that is at all worth it is if you really need the experience engineering. If you're new in the game, or fresh out of recording school, or workin' and learning stuff in your basement studio, etc etc, then maybe it makes at least a small bit of sense to take on a project that will (probably) never turn into profits for you. You get the experience, the steady work, and at least the slight chance that your "team" will actually produce a hit, or at least have some success getting a small-time record deal. It's definitely pretty important if one is going to do something like this to make sure that you have a contract that will hold up legally...

Now, on the other hand, if you are an established engineer with experience and paying clients, then no, that is absolutely silly, unless you have some serious gut feeling that this artist/producer team actually does have the skills and talent to produce music that people will want to hear.

In my experience though, its pretty rare for something like this to come along and actually pay off. Usually, the guys with talent are already educated in the ways of the recording world, and understand that they need to have money up front to get to where they want to go. And it's the guys with no hope of making it that want it all for free.

Just my two cents...
Old 16th November 2009
  #11
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...not to mention that talent, gut feeling, great music, or anything else you want to name are no guarantee of getting anywhere. Lot of great recordings are a-molderin' in the graveyard.
Old 16th November 2009
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
Anyone ever get this promise? It seems to happen mostly in the hip hop/r&b world from my experience. I get a lot of producers and artist "teams" calling me or emailing me looking for an engineer to be a part of there "team". No money up front but when they get a deal or sell some tracks them everyone gets a percentage.

Today I talked to a guy who claims that they just did a track with a (not going to say his name) a big name rapper. The budget was $10k and everyone got paid a percentage.

This just doesn't make sense to me. I know and have met a ton of engineers and never once have I heard of any of them being successful or getting paid from this type of agreement. I've never heard of this being a good deal for a recording/mixing engineer. I can't imagine why anyone would do such a thing.

Am I wrong? Any "success" (I use that term loosely) stories out there?
you're not wrong at all. you need to inform them that that is not the way it works. find out what else they are spending money on. i always find this amusing. there is quite often money set aside for promo/duplication/etc but they want you to get a percentage after.
Old 16th November 2009
  #13
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staudio's Avatar
 

"Hey artist, go save up some money!!!"
Old 16th November 2009
  #14
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Bah, it's scam, and it will always be a scam, by & large. Not saying that the artist doesn't truly believe in themselves, and has no malicious intent at heart, but look, let's face it... how many artists are there out there that ALL believe their stuff is the shizzznit, and can "take you to the top" with them?

This is totally different from the artist that KNOWS they have a niche product, and is asking you if you're interested in doing something for them on spec, assuming what you do is in the same niche-kinda realm that they are working in - THAT can work from time to time, methinks.

If you've got nothing better going on at the moment, and you really do think the artist in question can help serve to bolster your resume', then why not, assuming you have the time to do it? Otherwise, take a pass.
Old 16th November 2009
  #15
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Old 16th November 2009
  #16
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JoaT's Avatar
"Hey Artist... I can't engineer you now but I'll engineer you when you get signed"
Old 16th November 2009
  #17
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rty5150's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoaT View Post
"Hey Artist... I can't engineer you now but I'll engineer you when you get signed"
lol

that was some serious pwn'age!
Old 16th November 2009
  #18
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Igotsoul4u's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
I know and have met a ton of engineers and never once have I heard of any of them being successful or getting paid from this type of agreement. I've never heard of this being a good deal for a recording/mixing engineer. I can't imagine why anyone would do such a thing.

Am I wrong? Any "success" (I use that term loosely) stories out there?

I just recently stopped doing deals like that. Letting people spend money on everything except you is setting a bad precedent and it leads to more people asking for more free work. You always need to get paid no matter what or else you literally won't have any value. Find a reasonable floor price and never go below. If you don't do any kind of paper work or even some sort of email agreement, don't be mad when you don't get paid. So far none of my "we will pay you later" things has worked out.

I don't think its always a No situation. You need to really know who you are doing dealing with. Are they a legit A&R or just an assistant to an A&R? Was their last major record over 5 years ago? Are they willing to sign something?? My biggest thing is talent and vibe. If I like the music and the management and the agreements I might do it but its gotta be damn near perfect.
Old 16th November 2009
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Player1 View Post
Sounds like a deal as long as they pay your bills!
i have actually used this line!!!
Old 16th November 2009
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
No money up front but when they get a deal or sell some tracks them everyone gets a percentage.
Well if you say yes to that deal, I know a million other artists who'll make you the same offer!

Tell them to ask you again after they've got a mastering facility and a duplication house to agree to the same terms - (don't hold your breath for that phone call).
Old 16th November 2009
  #21
As I said in the other (one of the other anyway) similar thread, by any means necessary. It doesn't hurt to ask.

The thing I see with this is, if you do take that risk, and give someone a leg up that couldn't otherwise get it, what kind of music would you most likely do it for? The stuff that really speaks to your heart but you know has an ice cube's chance in hell of paying off, or the most commercial, soundalike stuff that has the most potential to pay off because you know it will likely appeal to a label bean counter?

I'm sure some folks would do the former, knowing it's not likely to pay off, but they just love the music. But generally, it seems it would be yet another brick in the wall against creating less unique and challenging music, overall anyway, despite the process having been pushed down as far from the large type money counters as possible.
Old 16th November 2009
  #22
If someone asks me that - and it happens really a lot here in Rio and i have some different answers:

"Sorry, i have regular bills to pay. I can't do that." (polite)

"Sorry, if i can't finance my band, i can't finance yours" (kind agressive)

"I need a 24/7 sexual slave. Is your blood test up to date?" (barbarian mode)

"I need a 24/7 sexual slave. Is your mom's blood test up to date?" (barbarian ogre mode)
Old 16th November 2009
  #23
If you really want to see a look of dumbfounded innocence, respond by saying:

"What does that mean, exactly, 'get signed'? What does it actually mean?"
Old 16th November 2009
  #24
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
Today I talked to a guy who claims that they just did a track with a (not going to say his name) a big name rapper. The budget was $10k and everyone got paid a percentage.
I don't get it.

if the guy was a 'big name rapper' wouldn't he be already signed?

and in that case isn't it the label's responsibility to front the money??


I believe you have to stay open to possibilities, new ideas, and fresh blood. You have to Network Down as well as Network Up. You have to give lightning at least the chance to strike.

That being said, I would NEVER do this as an engineer. tutt

I have done this as a producer, and I am not so jaded that I wouldn't do it again if the right project came along. The difference is not just in the concept of a percentage but in the concept of control. If I am putting in my time, I want to use my knowledge and skills to make sure they don't do stupid things that ruin the chances of the project succeeding.

And that I am the one that gets to say when we are 'finished'.


Once I had a band make a "Pay You Later Engineer" offer. I liked the band, so I countered with a Producer model, but they didn't want to give me a percentage. Their counter-counter offer was to pay me DOUBLE my hours after they Made It. heh heh Whoo Hoo!

I explained that it was not enough that a spec deal pay me for its own session if it succeeded, it also has to pay me for all the other spec deals that did not pan out!

These guys were so full of themselves they did not even consider it truly a 'spec' deal, because they were 'certain' to be signed. None of you will be surprised to hear that they did not get signed and broke up a year later.

I bet if they let me produce them, however..
Old 16th November 2009
  #25
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Soundawg
Old 16th November 2009
  #26
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

I take a slight loss on every gig, but I make up for it with volume.

-R
Old 16th November 2009
  #27
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bobsandifer's Avatar
 

Funny...
I just got this offer again today. It seems to be pretty common in the rap industry........to actually ask this of someone. In the past 3 decades I dont think I have ever heard this in any other genre. I dont mind working with an artist as long as I see something in the end. Rarely does anything happen in the end.

If the members of the "team" would put the money up they spend on weed, eating out and general partying they could buy the studio time they need. Now that I have said this I guess I have to admit I am doing a spec session tomorrow at 6pm for an hour to see if I want to work with the young lady.....LOL
Old 16th November 2009
  #28
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DivineMusic's Avatar
 

ryst dont you just love atlanta LOL
everyone acts like they have money but they dont
i did a song with this person or that person but cant pay $250 for a mix LMAO
i've done deals like your stating in the past and end the end im burned... but i also have the artist sign a contract stating that if im not paid in full i own the masters... so hey.. try to go make some money off the songs if you want to....
Old 16th November 2009
  #29
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doorknocker's Avatar
Ask the band whether the also get:

-Free gas from a gas station for commuting to your studio based on the same deal that they pay after they 'get signed'.

-Free meals at Mc Donalds or Burger King based on the same deal.

- Free instruments and wardrobe.

Chances are that they DID pay for those things, so they might as well pay for the studio time, period.

Old 16th November 2009
  #30
This a conversation I had with a band once.
Me: A couple days in the studio, that will be $1000.
Band: We can pay you a $1000. Or, we can give you half of everything we make from our record.
Me: I'll take the $1000.
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