This is a dilemma that comes to my attention every so often with recording and/or performing artists I know or hear talk about this issue. I also have a personal experience with this same dilemma, which I will share later, but first, the dilemma: you are asked to work with a “big name producer” who is “only going to charge you” cost for the production or at a “reduced rate” will record your album because they like your sound and think you “have something.” This money will come out of your pocket and will be paid directly to the producer for them making you sound phenomenal. I cringe every time I hear this story and I am, sadly beginning to hear it more often as of late. I have a reason for that which I will get to after the rant I am about to go on right…NOW!
This is a prime example of huckster, snake oil selling 21st century style. I am not doubting that there are producers out there looking for talent, as there have always been. But in times past producers found the talent, worked with them, and then turned around and got that talent a record deal on the value of the work they created together, no charge directly to the artist because they were there for a reason, to make great music which would be sold to a record label in the form of a record deal. With record labels, the old kind which now look like stage coach factories, shuttering up their doors this paradigm has been shifted out and many are waiting around for the next model and while they are waiting they are trying to keep the money rolling in any way they can, who can blame them.
But this blog is aimed at the aspiring recording or performing artist, not studio owners o producers. It is hear that I divulge some of the obvious information everyone should know before they get going or need to learn as they progress making their thing do what it do. Most of these deals end up being anywhere from $500 to $1,500 a track. I am not sure if this includes mastering as the finished disc that gets handed to them or not, but holy smokes. In this day and age, with the amount of quality studios available to the recording artist, forget the amount of home recording gear out there, there is no way an artist has to spend that kind of money.
The reason so many “top name producers” are all of a sudden “available” is because work is drying up or the traditional way of doing things has changed for so many and they have not adapted and have to shill the savings on to you, the unsuspecting artist. Am I saying that in every case these producers are ripping you off? No. You can check their track record quick enough and if it comes back that they have done great work then you can rely that they will do the job for you but also who is to say that you cannot get an equally sufficient product yourself on half or even a third of that budget, squeeze it tight enough and you might get it for a 10th of it. On the high end of what one producer offered I have recorded an entire album which managed to chart, receive airplay all over the globe, and helped me secure two tours to Europe. My 1,500 was well spent.
Join us next week for
To spend or not to spend and where to spend it (Part 2)
Suggestions on Alternatives to Hiring Big Joe Producer Guy