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Author Topic: Production or 'Spec' Deals?  (Read 7699 times)

TheViking

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Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« on: August 19, 2005, 08:45:10 am »

I've always wondered about how these things really work or if they work at all.

I co-owned a small indie record label for a long time and I did a lot of my work for the label in my free or spare time.   I mean, it was my label so me making records for my bands always seemed to make the most sense since it didn't tie up budget money in the studio.   It allowed us to use that money on marketing, publicity and other fun expendatures.   I would invoice all my time and submit the invoices to the label in hopes that I could get paid from recoupment - I never got paid, and I eventually bowed out of the label owning business because of it.

So, here I am now...   I have a lot of friends and contacts at other bigger labels or in bands that are legit, hard working, touring and making great music.   Some of these people have approached me asking for 'production' or 'spec' deals.   Some I have taken on simply because of my enjoyment of the band, others I'm a little leary of.   I know that I need to be extremely picky and sparse about how many of these I do and who I work with on them.

Any advice, input or has anyone had similar experiences with this?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Fibes

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2005, 09:42:03 am »

TheViking wrote on Fri, 19 August 2005 08:45

Any advice, input or has anyone had similar experiences with this?

Thanks,
Kevin


Don't spec to get paid. If you look at it that it's gonna be artistically rewarding or like you would playing the lottery you'll be fine. I usually do one spec record a year that is for the art of it. I'm almost done this year and no spec work is done.
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Fibes
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j.hall

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2005, 10:07:40 am »

fibes is right, however, if you have a lot of existing label contacts, and you are specing out sellable records, you might not have such a hard time.

to me, the hardest part of a spec deal is actually getting labels to listen to it.  if it's really good, you'll sell it.....

if you have the contacts, i'd think you have the hardest part in the bag.
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Fig

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2005, 12:54:18 pm »

TheViking wrote on Fri, 19 August 2005 07:45



Any advice, input or has anyone had similar experiences with this?





Kevin,

I only work spec for acts or projects that I am 100% or more INTERESTED in doing, for the art of it or the cause or whathaveyou.

Sometimes all I ask for is a credit on the release.  Sometimes to be fed during those late hours mixing and assembling.  Usually both, though  Cool

The best way to improve your clientele is to charge what you are worth, though.  Don't erode your value by giving it away to those groups that do not move you or you do not enjoy being around/working with.  You'll despise it, I promise you.

Good luck,

Fig


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rankus

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2005, 11:58:04 am »

Fig wrote on Fri, 19 August 2005 09:54

TheViking wrote on Fri, 19 August 2005 07:45



Any advice, input or has anyone had similar experiences with this?






The best way to improve your clientele is to charge what you are worth,  




I may use this as my quote of the month!!!.... very true, and nicely worded.
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Jules

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2005, 06:07:44 pm »

I get the occaisional small cheque from the publishing side of my spec 'operations'.

I offer very selected bands record for publishing equity deals...

Less & less takers...

I blame it mostly on lawyers who would be embarrased to have agreed to such an arangement, even if the tracks CAN carry a band forward in the industry.. They would rather the band rot in their bottom drawer with a stale chewing gum, some staples and a few rubber bands...

But I had a good PR piece in Music Week (the UK's 'Bilboard') back when I started the publishing co. That was cool...Honestly, within the industry what I ask for is regarded as - 'fair enough'... But the lawyers...... Shocked

Dey DON like!

Evil or Very Mad

I was chasing The Strokes & The Darkness - pre deals - pre management.. with this kind of offer.. (both rejected)

Here is a thread about a project I had high hopes for.. but didn't come to much in the end..

   http://gearslutz.com/board/showthread.php3?t=2691&page=1 &pp=40

I will keep it up.. see where it leads...

The one project a year post above rings true...

There is an uber hip label in the UK  that launches ALL the cool gtr bands.. a junior A&R scout from it was at my studio earlier this year, we discussed a band we were BOTH interested in (I had offered them a spec deal) the hip lable were hoping to use that band to get MAJOR finance from a big label!!!.. So.......I am frequently "on target", I just gotta catch the right wave...

I STRONGLY belive in folks with studio equipment acting as and BEING the NEW A&R departments of the future.

Go find bands - bring em forward & make some damn money doing it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!








J.J. Blair

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2005, 07:06:37 pm »

Jules wrote on Sun, 21 August 2005 15:07

I offer very selected bands record for publishing equity deals...

Less & less takers...


I blame it mostly on lawyers who would be embarrased to have agreed to such an arangement...


Of course there are less takers.  Who in their right mind would give away their publishing?  I mean, if Madonna is going to record your song, she wants some publishing.  But she is going to make you more money than anybody else would, so she can have it.  But a production deal for publishing is highway robbery, IMO.  And I'm saying this as a former publisher.  I would advise any band away from doing that deal, even with a really big producer.

Of course an attorney would be embarassed.  It's a shit deal.  There are plenty of talented, scrupulous producers who would do a spec deal without trying to 'Phil Chess' somebody out of their publishing.  That's like taking candy from a retarded kid.  I mean, anybody who agrees to that is clearly being taken advantage of.  Let's just blame it on people not wanting to get fucked?

Here's how people with scruples get a piece of publishing: They either co-write the song or they buy it, like a publishing company would.  And publishing companies at least have a limit on how long they collect that percentage for.  Man, I hope your deal isn't open ended.  That would be even more uncool than it already is.

Jules wrote

I STRONGLY belive in folks with studio equipment acting as and BEING the NEW A&R departments of the future.
 
I wholeheartedly agree with that, but only if the terms are fair.  If you aren't co-writing the songs, I don't see getting an open ended publishing deal as fair for the band.
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Fibes

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2005, 09:32:31 am »

There are ways to put liens on publishing is lieu of perpetuity.

If the band agrees to pay you, paying you out of their publishing or piggy bank shouldn't make a difference. If you are truly creatin on your dime and really writing with them then a chunk of the songwriting should be forthcoming.

Didn't i read that Creed or Matchbox 20 had and insanely piss poor deal in that regard?
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Fibes
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2005, 10:47:01 am »

If you are writing with them, of course you should get publishing (as well as songwriters).  But publishing for production?  I dunno.  Feels slimy to me.
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

Fibes

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2005, 11:11:44 am »

J.J. Blair wrote on Mon, 22 August 2005 10:47

If you are writing with them, of course you should get publishing (as well as songwriters).  But publishing for production?  I dunno.  Feels slimy to me.


I agree JJ but the reason folks do this is to protect themselves from spec deals gone bad. The kind where they re-track the entire thing almost excatly the same (you can relate)and refuse to pay for the original masters. I've been pissed on and have pissed on people in that same way.

I think artists should own their songs but i also think production deals/spec deals that turn into something should be paid from whatever source.
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Fibes
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Fig

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2005, 02:14:21 pm »

rankus wrote on Sun, 21 August 2005 10:58




I may use this as my quote of the month!!!.... very true, and nicely worded.



OK, you can have it on spec.

But if it catches on, I want a percentage of the publishing, got it?!? Shocked

Just kidding, of course.

I've said it or similar in many a thread before.  I try very hard to practice it in everyday interaction with the musos and record labels.  Some artists know my soft spot, though Rolling Eyes

The sooner we stop working for free, the sooner the talent will be separated from the laptop toting wannabe's (no offense to those with laptops).

If that young lady that JJ laments about had wanted a demo of the quality JJ so aptly provided, she should have been willing to pay to get it.  Her or her "people".

Prior to computers in bedrooms and bus stops being able to adequately capture audio she would have had no other choice.

We have just been fed our own shoe, folks.

Osci-later,

Fig
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2005, 02:39:37 pm »

Fibes wrote on Mon, 22 August 2005 08:11

I agree JJ but the reason folks do this is to protect themselves from spec deals gone bad. The kind where they re-track the entire thing almost excatly the same (you can relate)and refuse to pay for the original masters. I've been pissed on and have pissed on people in that same way.

I think artists should own their songs but i also think production deals/spec deals that turn into something should be paid from whatever source.


Well, as I said in that other thread, where I was lamenting, had I good enough foresight, I could have contractually protected my arrangement.  But taking money from the writer for everytime that even somebody else records the song?  

I'm working with a band that just got released from a shitty EP deal.  They have a song that gets played regularly on 103.1 here and have a strong buzz.  I'm going to do this entire album on spec, and if/when they get signed, I'll get paid a fee per song, plus 2.5 points, with a buy out clause if the label wants to  retrack with another producer.  That is completely fair.  But ... I am getting publishing, too.  Why?  Because I am writing the choruses on some songs that didn't have choruses.  If I didn't write anything, I'm not getting publishing on that tune.

I've done other albums on spec.  The TV Eyes album, with Jason Falkner and Roger Manning, I did completely on spec.  Maybe one day it will even get released if the guys decide to stop doing other projects!  It's really a great record, with perhaps one of the best songs Jason has written.
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

j.hall

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2005, 03:09:45 pm »

i haven't worked for free in 4 years.  whether or not i actually see some of the money i sign my name next to is another story.

i've only done one spec deal ever.  so other then that, i've been paid.

i agree that we need to "unite" and start standing up for ourselves a bit more.

on the same token, i'm a firm believer in the frequency at which i work.

i think the more i work the better i get, the more work with my name on it gets out there, and that increases the amount of people that hear my work, thus increasing the amount of potential clients i might have.

my work IS my advertisment, there simply is no better tool for selling myself then the work i've done, PERIOD.

so if i chose to mix a record for free, i feel like i made that choice to get paid on the future projects this one will bring in.

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lord

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2005, 03:22:03 pm »

To pick up where Fibes left off:

I think that your time should be reimbursed from any and all monies the group sees regardless of its source. It could take 5 years for a record to recoup, but the band could pay you back with tour receipts if they have to. Why not?

The band entity that walked in the door has a liability now, not the songs.

If those songs don't earn money, then odds are it's the artist's problem not the studio's. The artist should assume that risk.

If you take a piece of the record's future, then there is absolutely no risk to the artist, only less reward. In my world, there should be a large risk for wasting my time.

This whole concept of songs walking around borrowing, earning and losing money is broken. I understand historically why we have it, but I still think it's broken, especially at the local level.

I could care less, cause I'm not in this game. But it sure seems like there is an oversupply of you engineers out there doing cream-puff spec deals.

As you were.
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2005, 03:58:53 pm »

I agree with Lord.  The advantage to doing a spec deal for a whole record though is to do an album without the interference of some A&R jackass, who would want to hire JJP anyway, not you.  However, and as I said in a thread in GS, there is a false studio economy, because people, who think they have the same tools that big boys use, think they can deliver the same product. or at least convince and artist they can.  And because they have never worked at this job full time, they have no idea what it is worth or what has gone into actually learning shit they don't know, so they do these "cream puff deals", as Lord puts it.  

Just because your rig says "Pro Tools", it doesn't make you a pro.
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham
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