Si llega el momento de la verdad en USA...


Articulo muy interesante sobre los pasos que se siguen si colocas un beat para un lp en USA (papeleo o paperwork), al igual como el estado de la industria en relación a los productores en este momento.

La entrevista es a uno de los A&R de Bad Boy, Conrad Dimanche.

Al final del articulo os dejo ahi un pequeño resumen y mis impresiones del mismo!

Ok let's get right into it. Once the track is confirmed to be on the artist album what happens next?

Well first we have to go into negotiation and come to an agreement on how much the track or the song is going to cost. How much the label is going to pay for the track depends on who the producer is and what caliber of producer he/she is. When I say caliber I'm not referring to how dope they are but their track record as far as singles hitting the charts. You have some producers that have been in the game for over ten years but they've always had album cuts only. It doesn't mean too much, just because you've been in the game for 10 years and have been on 20 albums doesn't mean you automatically have the right to charge $40,000 a track. You have producers that have been in the game for 15 years and are still getting $12k-15k a track because they can always give you that dope album cut but it's the singles that really make your price rate jump up.

Understood, so after the price is agreed on what's the next step?

So lets say the cost is $5k and everybody is good with that, the producer then submits an invoice for $5,000 and before they get paid they have to sign what is called a 'producer declaration' which is also called a 'work for hire' or in some cases the producer will sign a deal memo. Before they get paid the producer is agreeing that they're not going to sell that particular track to anyone else. The whole point of the producer signing the producer declaration is to get the first half payment. The agreement is simple, usually one sheet and within 30 days of signing the producer should receive the front end which in this case would be $2,500.

At this point has the producer turned over the music files to the label?

Yes after you get your front end payment is when the producer delivers the files in most cases, which is called the 'multi-track', the Pro Tools session, the wave files with all the tracks separated so when its time to mix the label has it in their possession. You're basically turning over your masters that the company just paid you half of your bread for.

So when does the producer get the remaining back end?

The back end can get a little tricky. After the producer gets his first half there is a 'producer agreement' which covers the selling of the master recording for X amount of money, how much royalty points the producer should receive, how much of the song in terms of publishing rights does the producer own and other terms included. The agreement is usually at least 10 pages long and its common practice for the producer to have their attorney look it over to make sure there isn't any bullshit involved. After you sign the agreement the artist or the production company representing the artist also has to sign the agreement and that's where things can get tricky because the process can become lengthy.

Why is that?

For one the record label is never that focused on paying you the back end that quick because you already signed the contract so they can hold on to that money and focus on other things related to that project or other projects for that matter. As I said earlier the process can become lengthy because first you have to get the agreement and the timing depends on how much of a rush the label is in to get the album released. That's IF the artist is coming out anytime soon...sometimes you can work on an artist project and they're not on the label's release schedule even though they may have an open recording budget. In that case you could be really waiting a long time for your back end because even if you sign off on the producer agreement if the album is not going to come out why am I (record label) going to pay you the back end at that moment

Without exposing anybody in specific give us the longest time you've witnessed a producer having to wait to get their back end fee from the label?

Lets clarify when I say 'back end' I'm referring to the producer fee not producer royalties. Shit, like I said before, for albums that may not come out some producers never see their back end. If the album drops and you never received your back end that can be a breach of contract because the agreement you signed says you're suppose to get paid $5,000 in advance and you only received half of it. Technically speaking you can sue the record label at that point.

If you have the 'cojones' to do that!

Yea if you have the 'cojones' to go against the forces lol. But back to your original question as far as an album that has come out how long did a producer have to wait for their back end I would say a year to a year and a half. A lot of that can be based on the attorney for the artist; in fact I've seen the process held up because of a disagreement between the artist and their own attorney. The artist may owe his attorney money so the attorney will hold up the paper work on purpose because he's saying 'why am I doing more work for you looking over these contracts if your not going to pay me the money you owe me from last year'. In that case the producer suffers because the check doesn't get cut to him until the artist signs off.

How about the quickest turnaround you've witnessed? I'm sure the A-level producers can get their back end pretty quickly correct?

Some of them might get all of their money up front. If I as a A&R have a close deadline to turn in the album and I absolutely have to get that hit record from him, with the producer's schedule being so hectic they would say 'well in order for me to change my schedule around you need to pay me all of my money up front'. Then you have some producers due to all the potential bullshit that comes with getting the front end and back end agree to take no advance at all until the producer agreement is done. The producer might already be in a good financial space and it's not worth the headache at that moment so they may decide to take that option.

Of course the business has changed in recent years so talk about how that has affected the way a producer gets paid to work with the label artists.

With the birth of Pro Tools it made it much easier to 'two-track' a beat meaning ok I got this beat on a CD, throw it into the computer and edit it how I want to and keep it moving. Back in the days when the 2 inch reel was the standard you could still could two-track a beat but the quality was poor and it was harder to edit the beat the way you wanted to without the producer being present at the studio session with the files. It's all about the files because the producer would have to come in with the tape to transfer the files to the 2 inch and usually they wouldn't do that without getting their upfront money.

Nowadays an artist can record 50 songs for their album and wait until the last moment before the album is released to pay any of the producers. It became a luxury for the label to not have to spend too much money up front which was good for them, not so good for the producers. As a producer you may have ten different situations pending but you have to wait for the check to be cut. Also with Pro Tools you can record your songs much faster because you don't have to worry about constantly rewinding the tape so the technology has increased the music quantity output in the business.

Some argue the current trend of the producer not being present during the recording of the song has had a negative impact as far as the creative output. Do you agree?

As a producer your artistic side says 'yea I want to be in the studio session and get creative with the artist' because traditionally that's what the producer did, he sat there and produced the artist. But again with the advance in technology it became so easy for someone to make a beat but even if you can make a dope beat doesn't mean you're a producer. A lot of producers especially in Hip Hop are not experienced as far as making songs so at Bad Boy the A&R's were also the producers because we were very hands-on in the studio micro-managing how the records came out so we didn't need the producer to be present in many cases. And even if the producer was there they wouldn't have added much value to the session, as far as the newer producers are concerned.

They could always make food runs...

Nah it's not that bad but I would say the majority, not all of them are more beatmakers than they are producers and it's a big difference.

In those situations where you as the A&R had to handle 'producer duties' so to speak did you get executive producer credit and royalties on the project?

It depends on your caliber as a A&R but I would say for me it took years being at the label before getting half a point or things like that was even an option and even then I had to take a stand and demand it in order to get it.

Ok so let's fast forward the tape and get to the royalties a producer can earn based off of the amount of units sold. When and how much does a producer gets paid?

In most cases the producer will not see any producer royalties but they can usually see some publishing royalties but it may not be much unless the album is a huge seller. Generally speaking your not going to see any producer royalties if the artist didn't go Gold but even when the artist goes Platinum the producer may not receive any royalties if the artist did not recoup. Even with the publishing royalties a lot of producers are 'controlled' so they will only get 75% instead of the full rate of 100%, so that 9.1 cents per unit rate is really less than that in some cases.

And that's assuming you're the only writer correct?

Yes if there is a total of 4 writers on the song then the publishing gets split up four ways. Then you also have to add into the equation the person that shopped your track that you agreed to give them 20% of your publishing as well which would further cut into the pie.

As an A&R was the way the publishing pie was chopped up any concern of yours?

Not really but I would be aware of it to some degree. You can tell when you see the invoice and instead of it coming directly from the producer it comes from their management or another bigger producer. A B-Level producer wouldn't even tell me, they would say 'yea I did the track' but when its time to put the credits in they're telling me a next name has to be added in as well. I've had plenty of instances where I didn't even know there was somebody else involved in the record, the record came out I would meet someone in the club and they're like 'I was the one that did that song or beat'. It's common especially with B-Level producers because while they're shopping their music if they hear some dope shit from another producer its like 'alright I'll shop the record for you but of course I'm going to take a piece of your ass if it gets the green light'.

Everybody has the right to diversify their hustle but where is the fine line drawn when it comes to the A&R also receiving a percentage of what a producer makes from the project?

Well first and foremost the A&R is a business person and they're trying to make as much money like everybody else is and of course some have very little morals and scruples when it comes to how they go about it compared to others. Naturally if you bump into a producer and your working on different projects and you believe their sound may work for several artists or future projects it only makes sense to snatch that producer up under management or something. You can take those songs to other labels also on behalf of the producer in hopes of securing some placements. On the other hand you may have a newer producer and the A&R ask for a piece of anything they place through you which could be 15-20% (of the advance) or 5-10% of the publishing. Then you have producers that would offer that to the A&R because it's just that hard nowadays when it comes to securing paychecks for producers.

When does it get ugly?

I believe it becomes a problem when the A&R allows the producers they manage to monopolize the projects regardless of whether the music they bring works for the artist on a creative level so you have A&R's trying to force records onto the artist. Then you have other producers that have better material not getting the work they deserve because of the A&R's greed...sometimes the music won't even make it to the artist at all if the producer is not 'playing ball'. It's all kind of levels to it depending on how greazy the A&R is willing to be for that extra dollar in their pocket.

Speaking of dollars lets keep it 100%, the money that can be generated for producers as well as artists is not what it once was during your heydays at Bad Boy.

Absolutely, because there are not as much albums being worked on as they used to be and you have the steady decline in album sales so as with any business you have to find ways to cut cost in order to balance your books. One way of course is to start letting go of staff in the form of layoffs, firing people and eliminating departments. The next part is cutting down spending when it comes to marketing, promotion, recording and artist development. Albums are being released further and further apart so the days of going over budget are over for the most part.

Compare the recording budgets of the early days compared to more recently.

I remember working with a recording budget of 2 million dollars, and that's just for recording only! That was at the highest level but even with the newer artists you can easily run into seven figures because they've been with the label for so long and recording for so long so it adds up after a while. On the other hand you can have a budget for $300,000 and make it work without going over.

With the decrease in recording budgets doesn't this give the label more of an incentive to work with newer producers since their prices are cheaper than some of the more established producers?

With the major label artists the new producer will definitely get a better chance of working with them because with the advance in technology you can record so many songs that much faster. The problem is most of it won't make the album and will end up on the mixtapes and/or internet and the producer won't get paid. If they cut 60 records and only 14 make the album the label is only going to pay for the 14 tracks because they won't make any money off of the other 46 songs.

En resumidas cuentas el proceso es el siguiente:
1º- Colocas el beat al artista/a&r (esto ya tiene buena pinta)
2º- Después de todo el proceso de grabación de los mil temas que grabará el artista se debe confirmar que el tema con tu beat va a ser para el lp (ya puedes empezar a dar botes)
3º- Negocias el precio del beat con la discografica (en la entrevista lo dejan en plan minimo por 5 mil dolares, aunque depende del productor y de si el tema va a ser un single o uno de los temas "de relleno"
4º- Una vez se confirma el precio, te envian un primer contrato por el que otorgas la exclusividad del beat al artista/compañia
5º- Firmas el contrato, envias el beat en sesion de Pro Tools o en pistas por wav y te ingresan la mitad de lo que hayas pactado.
6º- Aqui se acaba "lo facil". En este punto, te envian el segundo contrato con los terminos de royaltis por ventas y temas editoriales (derechos de autor etc) que segun dicen es un contrato de igual 20 folios. En estos terminos ya entra en juego la figura del abogado musical que es el que se revisa todo eso y te dice si esta todo correcto. Una vez firmas el contrato (con o sin negociaciones del mismo) puede tardar entre año y año y medio que te paguen la otra mitad. De hecho, cuenta que puede ser que esa mitad no llegue "con razon" si el tema al final se queda fuera o "sin razon" y como usan la expresión si tienes cojones te metes en juicio con ellos.

Esos son los pasos. Por lo demas cuenta que hoy en dia con las nuevas tecnologias y demas, es mas facil todo el tema de manejar las pistas de los beats y demas, y que todo es mas rapido en las relaciones productor <> artista. Otra nota positiva que comenta es que con el tema de la crisis del sector y demas, se le dan más oportunidades a los productores menos conocidos porque igual tienen basones pero no van a pedir 50mil dolares por un beat. Por último también hablan de la figura del A&R como pseudo productor haciendo que el tema no sea un beat y un tipo rapeando, la diferencia entre beatmakers y productores propiamente dichos y también las relaciones entre A&R y productores.

Muy interesante la entrevista, sobre todo porque como se puede leer es otro nivel en muchos sentidos. En España de todos esos pasos se reducen a: le pasas el beat al artista y el artista te dice que te da promo salir en su lp pero que no te paga un duro (por regla general) porque su sello no tiene para pagar productores, el productor que por lo general no sabe/entiende de temas editoriales tampoco se interesa por el tema de los derechos de autor y ahi se queda la cosa. Aqui tampoco hay A&Rs y si hay abogados musicales seguro que pocos clientes de hip hop han tenido. Esta claro que España NUNCA llegara al nivel americano y dudo incluso que llegue a nivel europeo, ya no por la música en si, sino por la industria de mercadillo en la que sobreviven cada vez menos personas.


4 comentarios:

  1. Bueno la cosa es que en España, si colocas un beat en un lp, por lo menos en sgae debes incluir lo que es tu nombre. Creo que lo justo ademas es el 50%, ya que el beat podríamos decir que es la mitad del tema, y lo demás se lo reparten entre los que cantan. Ahora puedes pensar, no se venden discos, pero si es un grupo que actua en festivales normalmente, y de los gordos, si tienen que firmar la hojita de sgae, por lo que de ahí te llevas también algo. Aunque no te paguen el beat, pero algo recibirás... 1 euros o 2 jajaja

  2. Hola Aisho, sigo tu blog desde hace algún tiempo pero no había comentado todavía, espero a partir de ahora hacerlo periodicamente.

    Es otro rollo en Usa como va el tema de los productores, aquí en España tenemos productores cojonudos y no se les valora practicamente nada... así nos va...

  3. que wapa la noticia..y eso sera verdad que a un notas en america le pagen por ejemplo 50000 dolares por un bason??
    ajaja aki lo mas q conseguimos es un calentamiento de cabeza pa alargarle mas el estribillo..acortarsela a nosekien..y luego si tienes suerte un par de cervecitas y un bocata d jamon ya con mucha suerte ajaja
    diferencia entre amerianos y españoles.....que nosotros tenemos jamon..

  4. Buenas!

    Nexxa... lo de los derechos de autor la cosa es que hay mucha peña que no tiene ni idea y hay sellos que registran los temas con la parte musical pendiente de registrar, porque a ellos le va bien asi, asi que hay gente que ni eso.

    49pro... gracias por pasarte y comentar =) La figura del productor en España esta infravalorada porque hoy en dia todo el mundo hace algo, por lo general todo el mundo o es mc o es productor o las dos cosas. Eso crea que haya tanta masificacion de productores (lo cierto es que la mayoria de dudoso nivel) que da la sensación de que es facil encontrar alguien que te haga música (y GRATIS porque si este me cobra me voy a otro que no me cobre).

    Kyni... Hombre, pone lo de 50mil dolares como ejemplo, supongo que eso solo lo pueden pedir productores de altisimo nivel y renombre. Yo tengo entendido que depende del tema si va a ser single o no, del presupuesto para el lp y tal, pero lo "normal" ronda de los 5mil a los 15mil dolares por beat en un Lp en Estados Unidos (incluso enn una discografica independiente pero con ciertos medios).

    La mayor diferencia entre USA y España es que alli son verdaderas profesiones, es una profesion ser mc, una profesion ser productor etc cosa que aqui se cuentan con los dedos de las 2 manos los que a dia de hoy viven de sus obras musicales.

    Saludetes y gracias por participar a todos!


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