Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Question of the Day - RECORD PRODUCTION - June 23, 2009



J. G. Jurash asks:

Since technology has made it possible for anyone with a Mac and Protools to produce their own album, how does the profession of record producer fit in to the new era of the music business? If you're not necessarily a performing artist, but have a talent for producing, what are the elements of the right pitch for an up and coming producer?

Hartmann responds:

There are two primary activities in the music business, live performing and recording. The postmodern record business was born out of the marriage of FM radio and 331/3 RPM long playing albums. The Beatles were the superstars who led the way into multi-platinum record sales. Thousands of acts followed and hundreds achieved some level of commercial success. Most of the records released from the early sixties through the late nineties were produced by experienced professionals. Occasionally the artists themselves were involved in the production.

The digital age has reduced the cost of recording music and the threshold to entry for artists has been lowered to ground level. This does not mean everybody with Protools is talented. Making records is still an art form that requires considerable skill to do well. This is not going to change because the record business has lost its way. No matter what distribution system is used, and regardless of weather fans pay for music or not, the records will still have to be produced.

In the postmodern era record producers brought certain skills to the studio. Often they just had good musical taste and that justified their employment. Many producers were gifted songwriters and secured their assignments by providing material the artists and A&R men considered viable. Some producers were sought after for their engineering skills. A few combined all of these attributes and labels trusted them to deliver finished product on time and within the budget.

Practical experience making hit records is the common denominator most often sought. This system keeps a few producers in high demand and leaves many struggling to find employment. If a producer has product on the charts, everybody wants him, if he gets cold work was hard to find. The changing dynamic of the record industry has cut down drastically on the number of records being released. With fewer records in production, the hot producers will get the work and the new players will struggle to be noticed. All will have to discover, develop and promote new talent.

The Music Renaissance imposes other demands on producers seeking to build careers in music. Besides songwriting and engineering talent they are required to demonstrate informed and intelligent business choices. Record companies are losing their grip on the talent pool as independent artists create their own records and market them on the Internet. Record companies now watch for a record or video to receive extraordinary attention on the Internet and then they chase those artists offering 360 degree record deals and monetary inducements.

More importantly, music mavens scour the world wide web constantly searching for quality music. Since there is so much volume and so little quality material, it is very difficult to find music with universal appeal. This has produced a multi-niche format that allows fans to make deep explorations into specific genres without any one style dominating. Popular music is specific to the personal taste of each niche community and the fans become the prime promotional tool.

The Holodigm System requires that artists build their business enterprise from the ground up. The days of record companies deciding an act has talent and financing their careers is over. Today a simple formula can be applied: 1A + 1M = 1 E. One artist, plus one manager, equals one enterprise. The process of career direction is no longer about a manager working fifteen acts hoping one might stick. The entire game is far too competitive for an artist to risk being lost on a client list.

Survival is the first level of success. That means making a living from selling music without having a day job. If an act can reach the survival plateau the enterprise can be expanded to the wider market place. Record producers need to partner with artists and create their own record labels and publishing companies. If they can bring personal management services to the project they increase their chances of success. The more control each enterprise has over the various income streams the sooner survival can be achieved. Multi-tasking ability in all the core activities is imperative.

Artists starting out at Rock Bottom are simultaneously responsible for the activities of the eight core professions of entertainment. They must deal with the art, the management, booking, production of recorded product and presenting live performances. Until the budget allows, they are also their own lawyers, accountants, publicists and the crew. They need help they can trust.

Musicians who write songs, make records and perform shows have a lot of responsibilities. They need to find a business partner who can be the CEO of their corporation. It should be someone who is totally committed to exploiting the artist's talent and whose personal success is attached to the growth and development of their business. Experience is not necessary as the head of the management team can be trained and coached in The Holodigm System of career direction.

As in the past, future record producers will need the ability to get the job. This is about "pitching." The conversation between artists and prospective producers is a sales pitch. The act needs to feel that the producer knows more about what has to happen than the artist himself understands. Convincing an act that you can make a record, or run a business, is a skill in itself. Without that ability, a producer will have a hard time getting to make records. With it, his services will be in popular demand. If he can add management skills to the situation he becomes an invaluable asset.
The basic systems, mechanics and protocols of building an act in The music Renaissance are presented in The Holodigm Seminars at http://www.theholodigm.com/. The elements of a producer's pitch are specifically covered in The Holodigm Map and can be accessed free of charge on the site. Record Producers should learn to incorporate all aspects of how the business of music is conducted into their conversations with artists. The more details of the process they can include the more convincing they will be.

Producers should search for one great act and do whatever it takes to bring that artist's career to fruition. They should get as deep into the act's business system as circumstances allow. There won't be many artists with the talent to endure in the Music Renaissance and it will be important to own master recordings, publishing and equity in the company being built. There is no pension in Rock & Roll. The publishing and master recording library created becomes the permanent asset.

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