Attack of the Zombie Producers
Ok first of all I am a huge admirer of record producers. I have albums which I worship for their beauty and am quite sure, from reading and listening to them over and over, that the producer had a large part to do with the sonic beauty I was experiencing. I do not want hate mail from producers who think I am throwing flak their way.
What I am addressing are the producers who prey on artists who are at the entry level or worse have gained a bit of notoriety and hunger for a bit more and think a producer is their gateway to that notoriety.
What saddens me is the fact that some of these artists, some I have known or admired, are not shrinking daisies by any feat of the imagination and have been independent musicians working the grind since they decided to explore music. Not someone who sits at home, watches Idol and thinks, “if I could just get discovered”, but people who, at some point said, in some fashion, “I am good at this. I don’t have to wait around for someone to do it for me I can do this on my own.” I am guessing that some producers have the “talk” down these days now that things are hard or have gotten harder and are able to shake the reality and common sense out of these self driven motivated people who have, to this point, made it on talent, drive, and get with it-Ness.
Here is the big crux and I first have to break it down to the business side of the matter, because at the end that is what this all really is about. When they say “the devil’s biggest trick was convincing the world that he didn’t exist” it could also be said that his next trick was convincing some people its “all about the music.” So often artists get so wrapped up in getting “their sound” or furthering themselves they forget the simple pen to paper that even a child on the corner selling lemonade does not forget. At the end of the day you have to come out with a profit or at least break even. Let’s use the $15,000 example.
Artist A records CD with 10 tracks for $15,000 and it does sound great. So they have a great sounding CD and let us assume that it has been mastered so it is radio ready. Now let’s get busy with hiring a promotion team.
Oh yeah right we just spent $15,000 on a CD. Oops! No money left to promote the CD. Now granted if it sounds great people will buy it and if the artist plays out religiously they can probably recoup their recording costs after they move a thousand discs.
Here is the crux: even record companies do not make much money anymore and when they do it is because they have an army of media manipulators at their service. A small boutique label may make a profit but it is not done for anywhere near $500 to (sic) $1,500 a track.