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Author Topic: Production or 'Spec' Deals?  (Read 7698 times)

CCC

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2005, 04:31:47 pm »

J.J. Blair wrote on Mon, 22 August 2005 20:58

I agree with Lord.  


Yep.

Although it's obvious, I would add the following; half of nothin' is still nothin'. So getting a chunk of a band's royalties, publishing, tour proceeds, or first-born children is only of value if....it's actually a production that has some reasonable level of success.

And....

For every story of some band signing an improvident deal with a crook we can all cite a dozen (two dozen, three dozen) stories of a producer/engineer getting hosed cause their spec deal don't pay or whatever.

So 'yeah' if a band wants to strike an improvident deal then all this means is that the person who is facilitating them (the producer/engineer/studio owner/brains-behind-the-operation) has a chance, tho' a small chance, to score more money than he deserves FOR ONCE. That not-really-deserved money can then go back into buying gear etc. for the future use of more up-and-coming musicians who suck up studio time in the course of making recordings that don't go anywhere. And the cycle of life continues, anew.
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Fibes

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2005, 05:38:20 pm »

Two real world scenarios:

1. Totally awesome talent, not much big time potential but a fair amount of Jazz/experimental international appeal. The artist was formerly on one of the big jazz labels and the new direction didn't suit the label. I did it on spec. It was picked up and the artist agreed that any monies that came in publishing, sales etc were mine until recoup and 3 points retail after that. The artist just did another record at his home studio andnever asked me to help since they hadn't paid for the first one. I would have done it again simply for the talent/art factor. All proceeds of that are coming my way too... Hmmm.

2. The one i'm currently doing is a live remote production for an upstart label with many heavyweight talents playing in unusual combos. It's a pretty rewarding and quick process and i'm contracted at a set rate for recoupment and 3 points retail for all records sold through a distro and six points direct. If i recoup i'll be happy, if not, getting to hang with the players involved is reward enough.

The bottom line is the money is the cherry on top, these are scenarios that make all the high paying shit jobs worth having the room.

My delusions of riches and fame went out with the first two inches of hair at the front of my brain. One day i'll have a soloar sex panel the size of Houston, until then I'll stick to the satanic combover.
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Fibes
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Jules

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2005, 06:07:55 pm »

The equity of a band is in the publishing these days IMHO..

Film soundtracks

Advertising music

Folks at record co's KNOW that to only earn from CD sales nowadays, is to be grabing the shitty end of the stick... They are starting to feel like MUGS for funding records that are downloaded for free and earn the artists a pantload by being in a movie...

A trip up any music biz skyscraper can reveal loooong faces in the A&R departments, the "poor miserable me, I got the $2.4 Million Dollar blues" (spent that each on Some 41 / Wheatus and STILL aint making a profit...boo hoo)

In China where there is RAMPANT piracy - Record co's become the acts LIVE AGENT as well as record & publishing co... its the ONLY way they can earn. That's not henious - its just practical...

It will get to the stage soon (I think it's there already) where the phrase'I will give you points' on CD sales will be like saying "f**k you".

Either - pay me + points

or

If I have to f**k around wth paying a lawyer agreeing terms with your lawyer on how to record you for free - give me a small publishing slice or f**k off.

My deal is the same as if the singer gave the non writing drummer a slice, I ask 20%- 25%

In the satanic non guitar band world of POP / R&B - a producer (or artist) during the final stages of a lead vocal session can mess with a single WORD and HALT THE WHOLE SESSION while their (artist or producer) manager BULLYS the songwriter to agree to the change and a LARGE split of the publishing.... That is wholesale corruption, and a total GUN TO THE HEAD and goes on ALL the time...

(unlike my offer which is a trade, no gun...)

With bands in control of their OWN releases - thats different.. If they own 100% of it.. you can forget 2 points ..Screw that! lets talk 20%...

Exciting times...









J.J. Blair

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2005, 08:14:19 pm »

Hey, if you can have that attitude and look yourself in the mirror, then go for it.  Your reasoning wreaks of greed, to me.  "Hey, if all these other cats are getting fucked, I want to be one of the fuckers, not one of the fuckees." Being a former publisher and knowing what it is worth, I see taking publishing for producing as larceny, unless I can guarantee that with me, they will see money that they would never have seen otherwise with any other producer.

The karma train stops at every station.  'Karma', unlike 'bukakke', means motion.  The concept of karma isn't that we are punished for our sins, but rather that we are punished by our sins.  We set a series of events into motion, and then we eventually run into the consequences.  

If you want to swim with the sharks, you will likely get bitten.  If you behave in a manner than is borderline unethical, you will attract more unethical people to you.  If you behave in a way that is fair and not greedy, good people will seek you out.  If you are working with some band that is sketchy and you afraid that you have to get over on them before they do the same to you, what the fuck are you doing working with somebody like that in the first place for?  

Will you become the biggest and richest producer by being ethical?  Probably not.  But do you think the biggest and richest producers are content with themselves?  (Hint: You can tell if they are by how they treat other people, especially underlings.)  I know lots of people who do sly stuff like that, and I don't want what any of those people have.

Scruples, principles, fairness ... this is what defines a person and allows somebody to be OK with themselves.  If you don't have that, the success is meaningless, because you won't be happy when you get it.  And if you are some how happy without having those qualities?  They have a term for that: sociopath.
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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

Curve Dominant

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2005, 08:43:46 pm »

J.J. Blair wrote on Tue, 23 August 2005 01:14

Hey, if you can have that attitude and look yourself in the mirror, then go for it.  Your reasoning wreaks of greed, to me.  "Hey, if all these other cats are getting fucked, I want to be one of the fuckers, not one of the fuckees." Being a former publisher and knowing what it is worth, I see taking publishing for producing as larceny, unless I can guarantee that with me, they will see money that they would never have seen otherwise with any other producer.

The karma train stops at every station.  'Karma', unlike 'bukakke', means motion.  The concept of karma isn't that we are punished for our sins, but rather that we are punished by our sins.  We set a series of events into motion, and then we eventually run into the consequences.  

If you want to swim with the sharks, you will likely get bitten.  If you behave in a manner than is borderline unethical, you will attract more unethical people to you.  If you behave in a way that is fair and not greedy, good people will seek you out.  If you are working with some band that is sketchy and you afraid that you have to get over on them before they do the same to you, what the fuck are you doing working with somebody like that in the first place for?  

Will you become the biggest and richest producer by being ethical?  Probably not.  But do you think the biggest and richest producers are content with themselves?  (Hint: You can tell if they are by how they treat other people, especially underlings.)  I know lots of people who do sly stuff like that, and I don't want what any of those people have.

Scruples, principles, fairness ... this is what defines a person and allows somebody to be OK with themselves.  If you don't have that, the success is meaningless, because you won't be happy when you get it.  And if you are some how happy without having those qualities?  They have a term for that: sociopath.


JEEZUZ FOOKING CHRISTMAS, JJ!!!

Can we PLEEZ stick to discussing the subject??? Not hijacking threads with accusations and high-handed judgemental poses???

There are newbies like me here who are trying to learn from these forums, for fooks sake. It's the music business, not a NUNNERY!

ARGHH!!!

Curve Dominant

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2005, 09:30:58 pm »

About Spec Deals...

I'm currently producing two full length CDs entirely on spec. Hopefully they will both be released regionally this fall.

This is the way I see it:

I'm a nobody, a newbie, a wannabe, whatever. In Philadelphia, mind you. Not many "big pro" studios here, and I'm a tad too late in the lifegame to do the intern thing then rise to second assistant etc. nevermind the fact those jobs are dwindling anyway.

But I want to work with music, make money, be happy living an exciting life and hopefully see my name printed in the NY Times at least once before I go south to the next life.

So I decided, wisely or otherwise, to write my own game plan: Find exciting young energetic stars in the making, produce their recordings - not demos! But really make them sound like superstars, with balls-to-the-wall production the likes of what I've learned from you folks and the guest mods on Jules forum, plus listening to hit recordings and doing my own experimenting.

My ultimate goal: Help make a superstar out of one or more of these amazingly talented kids, which will hopefully get me noticed and lead to - who knows? SOMETHING. Something is always better than nothing.

It is a total friggin' gamble, I know that. That's a big part of the fun. My artists and I, and their associates and mine, we all feel a little bit like Ocean's Eleven most of the time, laying our collective asses on the line to pull off the impossible heist.

Yes, we have contracts. The "nuns" amongst us most likely would be offended by them, but my artists and their lawyers are not. I'm doing a boatload of work and gambling my time away, and my artists and their lawyers all agree I should be handsomely compensated should my gamble pay off.

This life is not for everyone. I don't encourage anybody to follow my example. Especially if you have wives and kids at home waiting for bills to be paid and food put on the table. I don't. I sleep in a futon on the floor in the corner of my studio, and the rest of the crib is gear and gear and more gear, and a kitchen where I cook meals for myself and my artists. My mom tells me we're just like the Beatniks in the '50s in the East Village, and she's actually kinda proud of me. We have a scene here and I'm the "producer" in the crowd and we're all dirt poor, working outside "the system," not knowing what the hell is ever going to come of it.

Sorry for writing a whole article, but I wanted to show how "spec" can be a way of life, not just some contract agreement, or something to sniff down upon.

J.J. Blair

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2005, 10:17:10 pm »

Eric, this is on the subject.  What kind of deal do you want to make?  It's entirely relevant, especially if you are looking for a 'way of life.'  That's exactly what I'm talking about.
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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 #22 on: August 22, 2005, 10:27:28 pm »

Sure there is a bit of a rift behind the scenes here between JJ and Jules but in J.'s forum where the indy hang I'm gonna say that JJ is walking the line I would walk. In fact I have. Up and comers need to know that publishing is the reward for their intellectual property in (for the most part) perpetuity. So many artists of bygone eras don't own their own songs and i think it's a shame.

Jules is right that the publishing is where the money is today but that doesn't mean everyone involved should partake in that slice in perpetuity. Hell, i'm getting money from an artists publishing at the moment but i do not own any rights to it other than it is part of my recoupment agreement. Once i'm paid for the recording costs it reverts to them and i get straight points. Roughly 3 percent of a handful.

It's a matter of principle and I think in this den of indy giving up ones publishing (except for in Europe where it's a different ballgame) is a choice the artist should avoid.

There, i just opened a can of worms. You wanna know why? Because in the EU publishing companies have different job descriptions than here. Although these differences exist I don't think they apply to this particular debate.

I gotta go figure out how to get 20% of a BJ now.
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Fibes
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The Studio

  http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewArtist ?id=155759887
http://cdbaby.com/cd/superhorse
http://cdbaby.com/cd/superhorse2

Curve Dominant

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2005, 11:32:16 pm »

J.J. Blair wrote on Tue, 23 August 2005 03:17

Eric, this is on the subject.  What kind of deal do you want to make?  It's entirely relevant, especially if you are looking for a 'way of life.'


I'm not "looking for a 'way of life." This IS my life. It has nothing to do with "deals." The deals are there but that's not what's relevant.

What's relevant is leaving a positive history. Being a part of something positive. "Spec" deals are all about doing what you believe in, to me anyway.

The artists I'm working with are doing what THEY believe in, and I'm working with them because I believe in THEM and what they're doing.

This is Philly, JJ. It's not like LA. It's a totally different culture here, and in London where Jules works as well. You cannot implant your LA mindset on what we're doing, it doesn't work. You cannot understand it from your LA mindset, until you get out of LA and get involved with a grass roots music scene. Really involved, where you put yourself completely out on a limb for artists who strike you at your soul.

Jules

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2005, 04:37:44 am »

I can offer two contractual senarios.

1) My company as publisher

2) Myself receiving an assigned share of the publishing.

In the 2nd scenario I have no veto on what happens with the song. I waive any rights - if the band want it in a movie - they can do what the hell they want without referring to me - they just need to make sure I get paid my share.

In the first scenario I have recognised that any band lawyer will say - 'who is this publisher?' can they be trusted? So I organised an 'Admin deal" for my publishing co with a very well respected LARGE publisher that has offices world-wide. I opted for them to pay my artists DIRECTLY. So statements are sent out directly to the artists by this LARGE publishing company. They also issue cheques to the artist and to me. - I organised this so that I don't get sued for forgetting a payment, I lose some of the money as the admin co takes a small cut. But this is worth it as the established company validates my operations somewhat and gives artists some sense of security that they aren't dealing with some fly by night company...Statements arrive on time & so do royalty cheques.

The 2nd scenario is for bands that negotiate out of the first scenario, it has less control, less ownership. My lawyers & publishing admin co encourage me to use the first deal.. They like the 2nd deal less...

Here is the "producer as publisher" agreement.

Bear in mind this is for UK Law and I am not advocating that anyone issues or signs a contract without first consulting music industry specialist legal advice.


Jules

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2005, 05:00:20 am »

Here is the assigment I use for senario 2...



Bear in mind this is for UK Law and I am not advocating that anyone issues or signs a contract without first consulting music industry specialist legal advice.

Jules

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2005, 05:08:37 am »

So for spec deals - I require bands to sign one of those two agreement above (they are often negoatiated with lawyers and hammered into shape, costing me about $700 in legal fees)

And also to sign one of these (attached below)... to deal with CD sales...or 'points'

Note: I am NOT insisting that I 'do the album' or get bought out...

BTW my PAID production agreements look pretty similar..

Bear in mind this is for UK Law and I am not advocating that anyone issues or signs a contract without first consulting music industry specialist legal advice.


 

Jules

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2005, 05:12:12 am »

Fibes wrote on Tue, 23 August 2005 03:27



Jules is right that the publishing is where the money is today but that doesn't mean everyone involved should partake in that slice in perpetuity.


There are time limits on my agreements, negotiations on these details are very common in fact. We (band & their lawyer, me and mine) settle on a "middle ground"

--------

In my mind...

The production contract is for the act of producing it.

The publishing contract is for all the "no payment" studio time.

BTW - under such an agreement I allow a HUGE amount of studio time to be put to the artists project. The likes of which they would never get if they paid me out of their own pockets... the money would run out after a few days...

I post these agreement up in good spirit towards my fellow engineers, producers & studio owners.

My intention is to secure firm footing with speculative projects in a perilous industry - and  proceed with confidence that the vast amounts of studio time I allocate to these projects may perhaps reap rewards.

I believe studios can & SHOULD be used unpaid to intensively develop hand picked acts.

AFTER recording, because of my interest in the project, I then move on to help bands make connections in the industry, hook them up with managers so they might find one they like, hook them up with record co's and publishers (cause I have only got rights to a few songs, usually 3)I set up and run showcases - there is a lot of ancillary work done that is NOT studio orientated. We become a cost only CD duplication plant for the bands...And if further recording is paid for by a record or publisher, I am more than happy to hop over to NON SPEC and continue as a paid studio / procucer for the work...

Be your own A&R department / move bands forward / get rewarded.











lord

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2005, 07:32:22 am »

There's a lot of interesting approaches in here, most of them tangential to the reductionist view that I espoused earlier. Some of them even make sense.

The only part I can't understand is: bands are paying lawyers to badger studios into recording them for free?

What kind of pouty, prep-school, barristers-in-training are starting bands in London these days? Do they save up for "legal time"? Or are they giving the lawyers 10% of their publishing as well?

I know attorneys are a necessary cog in the industry, but this sounds silly.
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Jules

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Re: Production or 'Spec' Deals?
« Reply #29 on: August 23, 2005, 07:52:01 am »

lord wrote on Tue, 23 August 2005 12:32



The only part I can't understand is: bands are paying lawyers to badger studios into recording them for free?

What kind of pouty, prep-school, barristers-in-training are starting bands in London these days? Do they save up for "legal time"? Or are they giving the lawyers 10% of their publishing as well?

I know attorneys are a necessary cog in the industry, but this sounds silly.


In my situation, to get say, $7,000 worth of studio time from me - the bands DO need to consult a lawyer. And usually pay them, say $800-$900 to negotiate the paperwork.

It is illegal for a lawyer to take a percentage of an artists earning here in the UK. That is VERY different from the situation in the USA. In the UK lawyers may only charge a 'fee' for hourly billed services. On this topic a celebrated case a while back was of a famous UK indie band's lawyer who was representing them during a 'no manager' period of theirs. So he figured it would be 'reasonable' (ahem!) if his fee was...say, oh.... 20% of what they earned during this period... He got his ass TOTALLY KICKED for that - it was TOTALLY illegal.

UK lawyers will not

a) work on 'contingency'
B) a percentage of the deal / earnings.

Also in the USA - you leave law school & pass the bar exam you are allowed to practice law.

In the UK - you need to go to college, pass exams AND THEN train by working at a law firm for 2 years before you are allowed to practice law.

For all the above reasons in the UK there are FAR less lawyers running around trying to hook up deals. That is an American phenomenon.

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