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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Producer's Getting Paid Checklist

Music producer image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
Today getting paid adequately for your services is one of the most difficult tasks facing a producer. It used to be that there was plenty of money for an advance, and the sort of sales that could eventually lead to a substantial reward for a producer's participation in a project. Of course, that was during the heyday of the music industry when the power of the major record labels was at its peak.

Today it's much more difficult for a producer to be compensated for his expertise. With budgets ever smaller (a small deal is now around $40-50k, down from around $200k) as a result of much lower music sales, just asking for a percentage of sales is like giving away your time in the project for nothing. That's why a producer today has to have a new strategy for getting paid, be it with a percentage of publishing or merch or a larger up front fee.

To help you make sure that you will get paid, here's an excerpt from The Music Producer's Handbook that outlines a few questions to ask of whomever is funding the project you're about to work on.
  • Who’s paying? Is it a record label, the artist or band, or an investor?
  • What’s my compensation? Will I be paid per song, on spec, hourly, a flat fee, or a percentage of sales for the project?
  • Do I get an advance? How much is it? Can I get at least half up front?
  • Can I get paid on something other than music sales? Since sales are pretty low these days, can I get a piece of merchandise or publishing?
    • When am I getting paid? Do I get paid before the project beings or when it's complete? Half at the beginning and the other at the end? When I deliver the final product? Does that mean after mixing, mastering or manufacturing?
      • How am I getting paid? Are you paying me in cash, by check or direct transfer to my bank account?
      • Is my money part of the budget? Are you giving me the entire budget so I can pay the bills or am I giving you the bills for you to pay?
      • Do I get paid from the sale of the first unit onward? Or will I be paid after any advance is recouped?
      These are all good questions to ask before you take any production gig, even if it's on spec. Knowing the details up front will keep you from losing out later.

      For read more book excerpts from this and other books go to


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      1 comment:

      kevin said...

      this is the worst article I've ever read. PUBLISHING?! MERCH SALES?!?

      who are you? Where do subscribe to this incredibly flawed logic?!?

      more importantly - why the fuck did tape op reblog this?!?


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