Producer Perils

14 Dec

I’m in the middle of producing a young singer/songwriter’s first record.

I don’t claim to know everything, and honestly I’m making it up as I go a lot of the time, however, I have done this a couple of times. And before I started producing for other people, I spent about 7 years living off my music, making my own records, and getting them out there and selling them to people. I don’t know everything, but I am way farther down the road than a lot of people.

The other thing is that I am a good guy. I’m not trying to screw anybody. I’m a singer/songwriter first and a producer 2nd and I’m THE LAST person that is going to try to screw another artist. I know! I’ve been there. I had to figure it all out on my own! And the other thing, is that I LIKE to help other, younger artists figure out some of the stuff that I had to figure out on my own. I’ve done just that everytime I’ve produced for somebody else.

This artist is pretty talented and we’ve done a lot of pre-production; more than I’ve ever had the opportunity to do on any other record. We went through almost 40 songs and re-wrote and wrote additional verses and ended up with a pretty good batch of songs for this first project.

The thing is, every time I turn around, artist treats me like I’m trying to screw (him/her) over.

For Instance:

The artist wanted us to draw up a contract. This was a great idea, and one that I usually neglect. So, I scouted around, talked to a number of friends who are producers, got ideas, talked to my lawyer, found out what the artist wanted and drew up what I thought was an incredibly soft, simple, lenient contract. I wasn’t trying to bind the artist to anything unreasonable. I wasn’t making promises that I don’t know if I can keep. I simply drew up a contract that put my needs and protection and the artist’s needs and protection in black and white, so that hopefully we could both be on the same page. No good. I’m the only person the artist knows to get this kind of information, so anything the I put in the contract, no matter how soft, reasonable or lenient, that protects my interests, then it pretty much had to go. And yet, I had to add in all kinds of things for the artist, no matter how much I tried to explain that they were beyond the scope of this kind of contract. What we finally ended up with is not completely without its use to me. It’s very balanced in the artist’s favor, and I’m pretty ok with that, it’s just that the few things that were left in my favor are really important to me.

What this artist doesn’t realize is that this whole deal is overwhelmingly lopsided in his/her favor and yet I am still scrutinized as if I’m trying to stick to him/her. What this artist doesn’t realize, is that all of the time we put in for pre-production and re-writing will end up being donated by me. What this artist doesn’t realize is that I should be getting co-writing credit on a number of those songs that are ending up on the CD. There’s no way I’m going to ask for it or even mention it because the artist would FREAK OUT! And yet, I’m not so concerned with any of that stuff if the artist would simply believe me and trust that I have his/her best interests as my primary goal. I only bring up all of these things that I’ve just let go trying to make that fact clear.

Obviously, I’ve gone to great pains to be discrete about the artist’s identity. I don’t know if the artist would ever happen to visit this blog.

If so, my only hope is that you’d begin to understand how much I’ve given to this project without any promise or hope of return. My compensation for what I have and will put into this is so negligible, it’s almost funny. There are studios right in this area that my compensation wouldn’t pay for 5 days of recording time, and that doesn’t even include the musicians, songwriting help, arranging or production.

I know. Everybody else is thinking I’m being pretty self-righteous and whiny baby. If the deal was/is so bad, why’d I agree to it? Honestly, I like the artist and I like the music and I never thought that this far into it, I’d still be fighting for the artist’s trust.

And if I am being too self-righteous and whiny baby about all this, it’s my bloggy and I’ll write what I want to.

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Posted by on December 14, 2004 in Uncategorized


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