Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Recording Producer: The Politics and The Money

This is a follow-up post about choosing a recording producer. We'll also talk about costs.

There is one more factor in your choice of producer - the POLITICAL factor. Questions you may wish to explore: Can this person get your project heard by the industry? Who does this person know and are they willing to submit (pitch) your project to record labels? What is their track record of getting artists signed?

You may be surprised, but I suggest it's smarter to go with someone who will not promise to submit your project. The truth is, a producer that submits every project they do to the label powers-that-be will have a very poor reputation. This is because not every project is going to fit the business models of the people the producer knows. The wise producer knows to wait until the final mix is done before deciding when, where --or if -- to pitch it to their contacts.

There are, of course, producers who do pitch everything they produce. These are major producers with track records of commercial success which they want to keep building. They will only take certain projects on - because they know that they are gambling their reputations with the labels on every project they pitch. If they agree to work with you, their fees and negotiated points will be much more expensive. Actually, they usually only take on projects already signed with significant record labels.

Bottom line:

Your project could end up being something YOU have to promote and sell -- or pitch to powers-that-be. You need to know and be willing to do that before you commit your time, heart, energy and money to a recording project. A producer may legitimately fully intend to pitch you to his or her contacts. But if someone promises that if you choose them to produce your project they will make you a big star, run the other way. And don't look back!

A creative, independent producer of the highest integrity with whom I work as vocal producer is Tom Paden. I asked him for his opinion as to what a new artist can typically expect to pay an honest producer who can get a great, possibly radio-ready project done on a limited budget. His thoughts confirmed my experience:
  • A common range of producer fee is from $200 to $500 per side (song), according to time in the studio and type of project required (demo or master, backing vocals or not, is there a vocal producer on the team, how long to budget for lead vocals, tuning, mixing, etc). This usually brings the cost range of a "limited press" project to around $1000 - $1500 per side (song).
  • An average fee for major producers (if you can get one) is $5,000 per side plus 2 to 6 "percentage points" of sales. Total costs per side can be from $10,000 per side upwards.
The producer's fees of course are added to the budget along with the costs of musicians, studio, engineer, pre-production vocal lessons, etc. If you are doing a project for sale, remember to budget for photo shoots, graphics & duplication, etc.

Hope this gives you some framework when you are speaking to prospective producers. Any more thoughts or questions? Comment! Thx!

PS... You have another opportunity to hear performance coach Diane Kimbrough and music business pro Vinny Ribas speak at Indie Connect this week:

"Making Your Act As Commanding Visually As It Is Musically Is What Sells" with Diane Kimbrough
Monday, May 4th
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Corky's Ribs & BBQ
100 Franklin Road
Brentwood, TN
"Making Money Making Music" with Vinny Ribas
Monday, May 4th
6:00 PM - 7:45 PM
The Closing Bell Wall Street Pub
1524 Demonbreun St.
Nashville, TN

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  • At May 6, 2009 at 7:20 PM , Blogger PhilB said...

    That is very informative and great advice. I have heard many horror stories. Most of my questions revolve around finding a good publisher. I am getting ready to record some songs that I think are pitchable. I have no idea where to start searching. If you have any advice, I would appreciate it.



  • At May 7, 2009 at 11:08 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Thanks for the great question about finding a publisher, Phil...I will do a blog post on it probably first of next week. In the meantime, know that I think you may be asking the wrong question. Hint: Get a cut before you look for a publisher!

    I'll be talking about it soon... thanks again!

  • At May 12, 2010 at 6:02 PM , Anonymous Robert Anderson said...

    judy you hit the bulls eye again, next blog what's it cost to be a working "star"here's a quick run down publicity campain -media blitz $3500.00 weekly, road production $4500.00 weekly, tour bus $16,800 weekly ,hotels average 1200.00 nightly, band and road crew $7000.00, insurances $350.00 monthly, taxes 0>23%, if you use a truck to haul your production, $5000.00 per week, these figures are for a basic "club", small venue, tour, average pay to the artist..$7000.00 per show, merchandise base that as an annual costs start up $5000.00, misc expenses..650.00 weekly and on a an annual total....at 45 working weeks..$2,200,000.00 yearly..no mercedes or big houses for a while!!!

  • At May 12, 2010 at 6:03 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

    whew, Robert... that is mind-blowing! I bet this would be a little farther along the road for most- but it's a good heads up for major touring. The "rock star" rich artist is many times a perception that doesn't jive with reality:< But.. when it's the love of the music that drives us, we do what we must, eh? xoxo Judy


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