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What does a producer do?

reggie miles 25 Dec 03 - 04:54 AM
Bernard 25 Dec 03 - 09:19 AM
wysiwyg 25 Dec 03 - 09:37 AM
sed 25 Dec 03 - 10:01 AM
Deckman 25 Dec 03 - 10:40 AM
reggie miles 25 Dec 03 - 11:04 AM
Big Mick 25 Dec 03 - 11:22 AM
mg 25 Dec 03 - 01:19 PM
open mike 25 Dec 03 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Frank 26 Dec 03 - 10:38 AM
Big Mick 26 Dec 03 - 10:40 AM
Bernard 26 Dec 03 - 02:01 PM
reggie miles 27 Dec 03 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,Frank 28 Dec 03 - 12:27 PM
Jim McLean 28 Dec 03 - 01:39 PM
M.Ted 30 Dec 03 - 12:00 PM
open mike 12 Jan 04 - 05:15 PM
open mike 12 Jan 04 - 05:20 PM
Deckman 12 Jan 04 - 10:19 PM
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Subject: What does a producer do?
From: reggie miles
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 04:54 AM

I'm not sure this is the right thread to rehash but here goes. I poked through the results after typing the word "publishers' in the filter and didn't have a week to sift through what was offered.

As I was busking the other day in our local outdoor market a fellow approached with several friends. He said he was from Italy and was here for the holidaze. He began to ask about my guitar and told me he was also a player who enjoyed working, as I do, with open tunings. I played him some of my original songs and afterward we spoke for a long time. He asked how long I had been playing and how old I was. He liked my songs both the silly stuff and the more serious messages that I sang for him. These were songs that I have not recorded yet. I told him that I'd like to bring them to a larger audience and would like to take that next step but money was, as it always is, a factor in being able to do so. Then he told me that he had been a producer of some music in Nashville but did not himself enjoy that sort of music. He told me that he enjoyed the style of music that I performed and that he thought both my writing and my melodies were strong enough but could perhaps use some embellishment with other instrumentation. I mentioned that over the years I had hired others to help back what I do at various performances. He asked if my songs were copyrighted and if I was with BMI or ASCAP.

He hinted that he might be willing to produce me but needed to take a more careful listen to my songs and lyrics. He said his understanding of English was not very strong and that he'd like me to send him a demo of my songs and the lyrics so he could take more time listening to them. I suppose he may also need time to consider what he might be able to offer if anything. I guess I wasn't certain just exactly what a producer does or what he had in mind to offer and if it would be a wise move on my part to send off the songs and lyrics to someone I just met on the street. I have to add that he seemed very sincere and before he left he took my card and said that he would have someone locally contact me and then he tipped me $100.

Is this a dream come true or something I should be wary of?

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 09:19 AM

It's always difficult to know what somebody means in such a situation as this... be very wary!!

Technically, a record producer is usually the 'owner of the label', and the person who decides what is to be published. The engineer, on the other hand, is the person who is responsible for making the actual recording. Often they are one and the same person.

Some people use the term 'producer' when they really mean 'director' - a person who works in a more advisory capacity, and may well have no financial 'clout' or technical expertise - an 'ideas' person. There are a lot of these people around, and many of them are unscrupulous - they pinch one person's ideas and pass them off as someone else's, often as their own.

Please understand that I'm offering this as an opinion to provoke discussion - the recording industry is far more vague in its definition of the terminology than the film industry, whose terminology it borrows! Others may have had experiences which are somewhat different from mine!

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 09:37 AM

Doesn't a producer also line up music and production personnel, front the money for production, generallly make connections between all parties and broker the best deals, as well as sort of determine the general tone the recording will aim for? Maintain the vision and bring it about?

I could hook you up for a chat with the fella who produced the Issac Freeman solo CD a coupla years back; he could tell you what he did to make that project go. He might be able to suggest some questions it would be appropriate for you to discuss with your new Angel. PM me if you like and I will dig up an email addy for him.


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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: sed
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 10:01 AM

A producer is whatever he says he is and more, or even less. 'Producer' is a word that is defined many, ways and there's often not a whole lot of agreement between definitions. Generally it means that the person is willing to make a significant investment, often, but not always involving cash, sometimes in essential expertise, technical skill, organizing or promotional ability. A producer produces something that was not there before he came along. But he can also produce something that nobody wants. The question to ask him and yourself: can he produce what you want?

Why not ask him what kinds of producing he has done in the past and what he envisions in his future productions?

Check him out on the web and elsewhere. Ask others about him. Maybe you'll get some useful information, but then maybe not. I don't know about you, but in 43 years of performing I've never gotten a $100. tip. That would sure get my attention. Was he drunk?

Once your music is ready you will get some attention, or so the fairy godmother tried to tell me. But enjoy your music and find sustenance in it for you and for your audience. If you can then sing for God. He's the greatest producer of all and the most resourceful. He created the dust from which he created mankind and not so kind.

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: Deckman
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 10:40 AM

Hmmm? Let's see Reggie. It was close to Christmas. He tipped you $100. How was he dressed? Did he have a big white, untrimmed beard? Did he have a weight problem. Was he wearing red? CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: reggie miles
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 11:04 AM

sed, nope, neither he nor anyone in his party of three, two women and another gentleman, as far as I could tell, were drinking. He seemed very sober in his questions and was in close enough proximity that I believe I would have able to catch a whiff of anything of that nature. If I had noticed that I would have been suspect.

They were all middle-aged adults. The other fellow was a bit older and seemed to be with a younger woman. She looked a little like Sophia Loren. When they spoke to each other they all spoke what sounded like Italian and had accents when they tried to speak to me in English. It seemed to me that they had a little trouble understanding me completely.

It's the first time I've ever been tipped that much as well. He told me, "This is for Christmas." So, I think the spirit of the season was behind the gesture. As much as I'd like to hope that he was that impressed with my talent I don't think my musical ability actually was the motivation behind his gift.

I have, however, on one other occasion, while backing a fellow busker and singer songwriter with pre-cussion on my washboard, harmonica and vocal harmonies on some of his songs, received a similar tip from some listeners. I believe that the tip we received that day was expressly aimed at my friend's writing ability. The folks that day were in town with a convention of people who support positive values. Many of my friend's songs are written from that perspective.

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 11:22 AM

Reggie, if all is as you describe, then it is worth maybe investing a bit more into this. But, be smart and protect the work that you send him as a demo. Take the appropriate steps to copyright and protect. That is the part of the story that raises my radar, perhaps I am taking it out of context. But by asking you if you were with BMI or ASCAP, I would be just a bit cautious. Maybe all is legit, maybe not. But just protect your work.

All the best,

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: mg
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 01:19 PM

protect your work but also your virtue, although it sounds OK. But if you were a young woman (or older) and a man/woman/whatever made you such a kind offer you would have to ask what his intentions

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: open mike
Date: 25 Dec 03 - 02:50 PM

what outfit in nashville has he been connected with?
hope you can prove that this is for real...that would
be a good break for you, reggie! your music does deserve to
be heard by many!!
(be wary when someone says it sounds good but needs
this or that..) I have heard of some artists who were
signed with legit redord labels, but did not get good
Margaret Christl found that Water Bug was sending a
lot of her c.d[s (at HER expense) to places in asia
and other places that she did not think were potential
listener base for her material....
so beware that you don't get hooked into some scheme
where you are paying for each "album" and that some
band gets hired to play with you and THEY get paid...
before you do! yes make sure to copyright your material
BEFORE sending it might be better off just
renting studio time and doing your own c.d. and marketing
it on your own...

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 10:38 AM

A producer finances a performer or has money to do so. What
they do is 1. Make sure that the performance has a market.
2. Control the session but the best bring out the performance
by listening to what the artist intends. 3. Arranges the orchestrations if there are any, hires the studio, the engineer,
and oversees the session. He's the captain of the ship. 4. Has contacts with industry people who can buy his wares. 5. Negotiate a contract with the artist so that a percentage of the royalties
are accrued to the producer as well as the artist. 6. Can negotiate a good royalty rate with a record company. 7. Is in on the mastering of a record session to make sure it's quality is
salable. 8. In exchange, the producer may want the publishing rights to the song. Be careful here. If he is a top-flight producer, the trade-off might work but not usually.

Be sure that the producer:
1. Has a track record. Find out what he's produced and how successful it is.
2. Can fund the session properly.
3.   Knows people that can help you.
4. If he wants publishing rights, is he a successful song
publisher? Some producers are.
5. How many years does he want to tie you up for? (Some producers have a contract that stipulates that if they don't sell your
product in a certain amount of time, all rights revert to you and all bets are off. This is desirable in the contract.

These are some things. But here's something very important.
Before you sign any contract with a music industry person,
get a music lawyer to go over it with you.

Frank Hamilton

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 10:40 AM

And Reggie, when it comes to this stuff, Frank is the ultimate authority. Thanks for that information, Frank.

All the best,


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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: Bernard
Date: 26 Dec 03 - 02:01 PM

Frank - I couldn't agree more! Well said!

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: reggie miles
Date: 27 Dec 03 - 10:25 PM

Thanks all for the advice.

With the response I've been getting locally to my writing I'm very encouraged. I certainly don't wish to lose anything due to my inexperience by making a hasty or uninformed decision in any of this.

Perhaps I'm putting the cart before the horse, in that he only hinted that he might wish to do this and seemed to hinge his offer on my being willing or able to provide him with the demo and lyrics for his further perusal and contemplation.

Here's an unusual perspective. A friend, who happens to be a very fine singer songwriter and has numerous recordings to his credit, told me yesterday that he's sent his songs and lyrics off many times without actually copyrighting them. He said the copyright is implied and as long as there are folks who have heard the songs performed by the writer that there wasn't anything to be concerned about. He said that he's just typed the little copyright symbol onto them and has never been ripped off. He thought that the stories about such thieveries were exaggerations to frighten more folks to send off their money to the copyright office.

Another friend recounted a tale to me about how his group acquired a lawyer to look over their music contract and found out too late that the lawyer they hired wasn't the right one for the job. They signed the contract after their lawyer's recommendation and ended up in an awful situation. They were held to a seven album deal and the company did not distribute any of their recordings properly. So, they received no proper promotion and therefore no sales for their porducts. Ultimately my friend went to court to contest the contract. He feigned that being involved with the situation drove him to an alcoholic end. It worked, and he was released from his obligation, but the court costs were hefty. Last I heard, he was surviving happily as a bartender at a local joint.

So, if I do get something in hand to sign, and I should stress that I don't even have an offer of this man's help for certain yet, the first task seems to be being able to find a music lawyer, and not just any music lawyer, but someone you can trust to do the right job and not inadvertently or deliberately lead you into a bad situation. So, how do you know which lawyer is the right one? Or is it all just a gamble, where you play the game and take your chances? Surely there's an alternative to avoid the above scenario? I know that rolling with the punches and making the best of what results may befall you is all a part of life on the planet. I'm simply trying to look before I have to leap anywhere.

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 28 Dec 03 - 12:27 PM


Being in the "biz" requires doing the homework. You have to check into the background of all these people. Sometimes a music attorney can blow a deal out of the water by asking too much. Usually, these kind of attorneys are high powered working for top flight acts.
A background check on the attorney, who he works for and his track record is in order. Find out what they know, where they studied and who they've worked for. It sounds like the lawyer your friend hired had a deal going with the Company that didn't release the product.

Sending a song off to perspective buyers without a copyright is a foolish idea. There have been historical instances of songwriters being ripped off when the song became a hit. Notably, Eben Ahbez who wrote a song called "Nature Boy" received practically nothing when it was done by Nat King Cole. I think that very few songs get to hit status, relatively, which means your friend has been both lucky and unlucky. If a song he wrote should become popular and he has no copyright, he really could be kicking himself.

Songs get ripped off all the time. Court cases ensue and often the unprotected songwriter can't compete with record company retained lawyers. Some notable cases have to do with songs like Sam Cooke's "She's So Fine"/"My Sweet Lord", and Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In". Sometimes it goes the other way when Frank Profitt receives royalties from the Kingston Trio but as I understand it, Profitt didn't write the song. It was traditional. It may have been his version of the song that was in question, however.

It's simple to register a song and it does offer some protection.


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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 28 Dec 03 - 01:39 PM

I havw produced many tracks over a period of 15 to 20 years and I reckon Frank has clarified pretty well the role of a produced. He missed out one important factor ... always bar any singer or musician from the mixing of their recording session! The singer will want to hear more voice, the bass player will expect to hear more bass etcetera.! I'm almost only joking. On a more serious side, I would agree you should copyright your songs by publishing them yourself before letting them 'roam' free as you seem to have done. If the songs are any good and a publisher/producer wants them then you can always do a deal or give them the publishing rights. I've had to fight for a few of my own songs from some unscrupulous artists/publishers who shall be nameless for the moment. Beware and good luck.

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Dec 03 - 12:00 PM

Lots of good advice here--something important to remember is that, even when the best talent and the most legitimate of folks are involved, a recording project is a business venture--and a very high risk one--success is not guaranteed--

A big mistake that people make in new business ventures, musical and other, to simply let the key person or key people take the lead and make all the decisions, this tends to result in unpleasant surprises at the end of the line, succeed or fail--

you always need to know what your own interests in any venture project, and you have to actively and vigorously protect them--even if you hire a good lawyer, you can't just dump papers on his desk and expect him(or her) to take care of everything. You must understand what that lawyer is doing, and why--

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: open mike
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 05:15 PM

Reggie--let us know how it comes out and what you decide!
Hey--i just noticed you are on the newest recording by Tom Lewis,
360 degrees, all points of ther compass.
It credits you for but please explain this: you played Kitchen implements and hand tools?? Were you on cut # 5, Christmas at Sea,
or are you listed as picture number 5? Which of the songs best
features your talents??!!

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: open mike
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 05:20 PM

ok upon further inspedction i see you played cross cut saw on
"Port of Call" and percussion on Lyle Lovett's "If I Had A Boat"
is there any significant difference in playing a cross cut saw
compared to the rip saw?? Laurel

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Subject: RE: What does a producer do?
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 10:19 PM

Open Mike ... You can really get your teeth into a rip saw! CHEERS, Bob

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