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Let's talk about record producers (Page 2 of 3)
(c) 2002 Myles Wakeham

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So what happens if you get approached by a producer? Well if you are lucky enough to entice a known producer to want to work with you, its probably because they feel that there is a high degree of likelihood that your art will sell records. This is an important factor because producers usually work on a percentage of profits on record sales. So their decision to work with an artist is motivated by their willingness to take a risk on the artist, based on their understanding of the record labels that they work with. Its very possible that a producer may choose an artist and make a mistake, only to find out that the record labels that they work with are not interested in that artist. This happens quite often. But if a producer is going to be able to survive financially, either this happens on rare occasions, or they have a number of record labels that they work with. Labels don't typically like producers who float from one label to another and often will refuse to work with them, but it does happen.

The relationship between producer and record label is in the interest of the producer, but as the producer is motivated by record sales, their motivation is perfectly in parallel to the motivation of the artist to sell records and build their career. Its just that the producer's job is done when the recording has been made and given to the record label. The artist continues throughout their career.

The cost of a producer varies. It depends upon the deal that is made between the artist and the producer, or the deal between the record label and the producer. It can vary from as low as 3 percentage points to up to 15 depending upon the risks that the producer is going to bear on the project. Producers often attempt to secure a percentage of both mechanical royalties (actual sales of records) and performance royalties (monies made from the airing of music paid to the copyright owner). Often some producers may also work on the basis of obtaining an advance from a record label, and if they own their own recording facility or can secure inexpensive and yet high quality recording facilities, may keep the difference between the advance for recording costs and the actual costs of recording. These sorts of deals are usually unique between the producer, record label and artist. There may be a trade off between keeping recording budget profits and points on unit sales in the producers contract.

Production contracts usually are for a fixed period of time. Typically this is between 12 and 24 months. The longer the contract, the more favorable it is for the producer. The shorter, the more favorable for the artist. Basically if the producer is unable to make a product and secure a recording deal with a record label within the contract period, contract finishes and the artist is free to move on to another producer. Depending upon the contract, the rights to recordings may remain with the artist or may remain with the producer. These are all factors of the contract between producer and artist.

Things to watch out for

Producers can provide a very valuable service to the artist. But when it comes down to entering into a production agreement with a producer, apart from the typical legal aspects of checking the deal over with an entertainment attorney, you should consider the role of the producer and how this fits into your overall career objectives.

 

 

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