Sandy Roberton, 6.2.04

RB: You must be one of the biggest producer managers out there?

SR: One of them. I’ve certainly been doing this the longest I think. I was producing myself and I made around 50 albums I think and by the middle of the 1970s I started winding down because as you know as a producer when you’re not getting to work with the artists you really want to work with it becomes pretty depressing. I ended up working with artists that I didn’t know much about and I was working with artists I signed to my production company because I believed in them. And I was doing it more because I loved to be involved, not because I was getting paid huge advances. I was basically signing them to my production company and trying to get them a deal. I did that on many many records. At the end there were a couple of records I didn’t manage to place and it makes you think when you are stuck with all the studio bills. I started winding down towards the end of the 70s. The last record I produced was a John Martin record. Well Kept Secret. Thornley was an engineer I was using and I was really getting fed up with being in the studio all the time and I asked him what he was doing next and he said he didn’t know. This is a guy who worked with the Thompson Twins and Duran Duran and so I said let me find you a project and I got him a job and I thought there’s a business here. This was at the tail end of the 70s and I kind of created this business. Very few people were doing it at that time, representing producers.

RB: I had a management company around then because I was getting more offers then I was taking and I wanted to pass them on. Do you find that a way to parlay business for your clients?

SR: If a call comes in for a producer and he doesn’t happen to be available, I very rarely let it escape. I try to get somebody else in my stable to get that project. It’s one of the things, having a large roster like I do it’s a big magnet. You’ve got certain producers who are not that keen to work all the time they want to be very choosy. If they get a call and they don’t want to do it I hang on like a terrier, I don’t let go of it.

RB: How many producers on average do you manage?

SR: It fluctuates but it’s around 60.

RB: Do you have a lot of staff?

SR: I have around 7 staff.

RB: Does that number fluctuate?

SR: I and one other person find all the projects. The time consuming part is all the coordinations. If my staff gets inundated with work, I will bring in an outside coordinator. Very rarely have they not been able to cope with the amount of projects because I tend to do the budgets with them and the producers. So the budgets done, it gets approved and they have it entered into computers and they just basically keep on top of it. They make sure if the producer wants session musicians, orchestra, band members flown in and out, whatever they need they deal with all of that and they keep an eye on it so that the producer doesn’t go over budget. I do all the business. I have a lawyer that I try to get most people to work with. I’ve been able to get him to give us a really good blanket deal for each project so the clients get a really good deal. That way I don’t have to speak to 60 lawyers.

RB: That seems to be a good idea, especially on a multi-producer album.

SR: I have a two-tier system with the law firm that I use where they charge me for up to three tracks and then another charge for an album. A producer doesn’t get charged a lot when only doing a couple of tracks.

RB: And the producer pays that expense? It doesn’t come out of your commission?

SR: I’ve been able to negotiate it down. That’s something that the producer covers.

RB: That, in your opinion, is a reason to have a manager because you can see you can get these good deals and not be killed by the lawyer.

SR: Well, I have everybody project in my computer. I track where we are on each project and I enter in there any contract that comes in and if it’s a mark up or not. I can go in right away and see where we are with each contract. The lawyer that I have is not one of the lawyers that rushes around clubs trying to get bands signed. He’s a contract guy and he comes in the morning and he works all day on contracts and goes home at night. You won’t bump into him at Don Hills or some other club. I’ve had a lawyer like that before and umpteen contracts didn’t get completed. When you have a bands lawyer they do the deal and the band pays them for doing the deal and if you don’t get the producer deal done quickly, the band’s lawyer doesn’t want to do it because the band won’t be in a position to pay him. The lawyer doesn’t want to do the work because he is not going to be paid. You get into a situation where you can’t get the producer contract signed. And if the producer contract is not signed and the letter of direction is not signed the label won’t pay the backend. If it’s a new band, you have to get the paperwork done very quick once the producer selection has been done. We have a standard producer agreement and it’s been seen by so many people they can mark it up very quickly and we can close it very quickly.

RB: Most people are very disparaging about lawyers, but you need them.

SR: US music lawyers invented this shopping thing. Quite a few law firms survive by doing these deals for bands to be signed with labels, charging anything from $20-30,000 a pop to do their record contract. In the heydays they were churning these out every single day. But now they are suffering a bit more and they are having to reinvent themselves because there aren’t that many deals.

RB: How do you avoid conflict of interest? When you’ve got 60 producers, how do you decide who gets what?

SR: I tend not to have too many producers who are doing the same sort of thing. In the writer/producer category, unfortunately, they’re all very much in the same category. But they are writing with the artist so it is slightly different. I don’t have 20 rock producers so that situation has never really arisen. I can’t imagine who you give it to if you have that problem. I have quite a varied selection of producers and very rarely has there been a situation where there are 2 or 3 people up for the same job and the band has wanted every one of them to do it.

RB: I guess it does come down to the band choosing the producer.

SR: A&R people like to think that they choose the producer, but ultimately it’s the band that chooses. The band really select the producer from records they like which is sometimes the wrong way to go about it, because if you are a good producer, what you’re doing is bringing through the band’s character and the way that the band wants to sound. It’s not really your stamp. If you go to the back of a CD cover and look at the producer credit and say, oh, that’s the guy that we want you may be wrong. You might have just fallen in love with the music and think that that producer was responsible for it. He might have just assisted in recording that band well.

RB: I advise bands to check two or three things that the band has done with and without a certain producer so that you can see what the producer may have contributed.

In recent times, I’ve moved into the writer/producers area and that is, solely producers writing with artists and hopefully producing the track. I find that a very creative vocation for myself at the moment because it’s going back to the beginning when I was a very active publisher.

RB: Do you operate mostly out of England or are you out of the State now?

SR: I’m an American citizen now. I live here. I still have a home in London and I go there a lot. I had a coordinator there, but now I only have two clients there so it’s just doesn’t warrant having anyone there.

RB: Do you find the UK to be different in terms of deals?

SR: I love the UK music scene. It moves very quickly and you can have very quick hits and they are actively deciding things there. The only thing that frightens me a little bit is that there are very few acts that get released in the States.

RB: For the past fifteen years there has been a big gap between the UK and US scenes

SR: You can produce it there and it never gets released here.

RB: Do you think the speed there is because they do one or two singles before they do an album?

SR: One thing they have there that they don’t have here is that they have a weekly music paper, the NME, that is very proactive and is always trying to break trends and it is a very good publication. They can decide at their editorial meeting to go after a certain band and it can make a huge difference. A lot of US labels were using the UK to launch their bands like the Strokes and even with the Australian band Jet they really started out in the UK. They could get on the front page and build a following. Although the readership of the NME is quite small they were able to build up a following. I don’t think the Strokes would have been successful in the States without their huge breakthrough in the UK.

RB: Can you put it down to consolidation, like with radio here?

SR: The UK is quite small. But they’ve really been able to start and Roughtrade worked from there and really got some great activity and were selling out Brixton Academy and got a name there. They were able to use that to bounce it back to the States. I don’t think they are as popular here as they are in the UK.

RB: How much to you think about international capability when you’re taking a project?

SR: I represent Dave Sardi who is one of the up and coming rock producers and we decided to do that band Jet and that’s been a very successful record. They played some shows in the UK and it looked like they were going to do really well there and for me that was a big deciding factor. Because Jet was a bar band from Australia, they didn’t have a lot going for them but the demos were good and they had a great knowledge of older music although they were very young guys and a cool band. Their managers were really smart to get them playing in the UK. They got some coverage there and when we made the record it was hitting on two fronts it was doing well in the UK and ended up doing well here. For producer managers, it’s not a case of setting up the date sheet. It’s better, if you can survive, to not do a crappy band to get money to pay the bills. As Steve Lilywhite, who I represent has been very smart about this, he’s always picked really great things to work on, things he really believed in, and things he thought had a real shot of coming through rather than solidly working everyday. That’s why his career has gone on for so long.

RB: That’s one of my questions. How can some people have longevity even without substantial hits?

SR: It’s the right projects. It’s so easy to get tempted to take a project just because you need the money. But it might be the wrong project. It’s important to be very selective. It’s hard because producers panic if they’re not working. I think they should really consider doing something else, like actors. The ones who are selective about what they do their career goes on.

RB: Do you think a producer can survive and couple of failed projects or is that a deal nail?

SR: I think they can survive. I really do.

RB: If they’re doing cool bands that don’t sell so well does that help?

SR: Absolutely.

RB: If they do a pop project that fails that can really hurt them. If they do cool indie bands, that can work out for them?

SR: Yes, look at Rick Rubin. He does Mars Volta and that record hasn’t sold a lot, but it had fabulous Robert Hilburn reviews – one of the most interesting bands out of California. And he’ll do the Johnny Cash box set, which probably hasn’t sold that many. Meantime he does the Chili Peppers. I think it’s being very selective of what you do.

RB: Do you think that ability to selective comes down to a producer or the producer’s manager?

SR: It’s a combination. Producers, if they’ve been working a lot, don’t have access to a lot of radio or can’t spend a lot of time listening to music. If they are working five or six day weeks the last thing they want to do on a Sunday is to sit down and listen to a lot of records. A lot of producers aren’t as up to date with music as they should be. I buy loads and loads of records and I’m always on iTunes. I feel I’m very current and I tip producers off. I say you should listen to this band. I don’t know what label they’re on but I bought this record on the Internet called The Razmus. They’re from Sweden and I think the guys who produced that are like the new Mutt Lange. If I hear a record that I think is really well produced and has got great sounds, I just turn my producers on to it.

RB: Who do you think is the greatest producer out there now or ever? Mutt probably has more diamond records than anybody

SR: I don’t think you could pick just one or two. I wouldn’t even go there. I have so many that I like.

RB: Where does most of your producers’ work originate? The label? The manager? The artist?

SR: I spend my time in this vague figure eight of traveling from London, to New York, to Los Angeles. I go to SXSW, Coachella, Glastonbury. I’m always out there looking working with managers and record companies. I’ve just been in New York and meeting with A&R people and finding out about new signings. Very impressively I got a call from a record company president at twenty past midnight last night looking for some producer ideas for an artist of theirs. I had emailed discographies on two or three ideas by the time he walked in the office in the morning. I’m constantly networking with A&R people and with artist managers. If you’re a record company and you’ve got a new act, it’s hard to come up with someone off the top of your head. And if you do come up with someone, there’s always the question of who represents the guy and how to get a hold of them. I think producer managers’ main role is to educate and keep people informed about their clients.

RB: Do you deal with engineers?

SR: Some of the guys I’ve got are engineers who’ve moved on the producing.

RB: But you don’t handle exclusively engineers or engineer/producers.

SR: Engineer producers, producers, writer producers and I have some mixers.

RB: Are you able to keep whole projects in house by having your mixers mix the project?

SR: You try to do that. Generally that is the one thing that an A&R person likes to think that he can have some involvement with the project by saying, oh, we have to get this guy to mix it. Generally the band tells him who’s going to produce the record. He’s worried that he’s not going to have much to do with the project. So he says that we should get this guy to mix it and generally gets his way.

RB: Might be a touchy question, but it sounds like you think A&R people don’t contribute that much.

SR: The sad thing is that A&R is one of the hardest jobs in the world. They have pressure from outside and within. Why didn’t we sign Franz Ferdinand. Incredible pressure and stressful job. They have a lifestyle where they can’t have any social life. There are meant to be out five or six nights a week. During the day they have to keep on top of their network of scouts from around the country. If I look at my Rolodex from 15 years ago, there is only a handful of people still doing it. The most disturbing trend is that A&R people can no longer sign bands. The decisions that are made in record companies, the few that are left, are made by the senior executives or in an exception the head of A&R. Very few A&R people can go to a band and say, ‘I want to sign you’ and be able to carry that wish through. I just had a recent example where the president and the West Coast senior executive for the label signed an act only to be told by the chairman after we had signed the contract to get rid of them.

RB: One producer said to me that major labels make records but they don’t put them out. They make an assessment when the record is delivered and decide if they want to spend a couple of hundred thousand on promotion costs or just drop the act.

The bizarre thing about the example I just gave is that they signed a finished record so there were no dark areas. And still we were told get rid of it.

RB: Was that an economic decision or a creative one

SR: I’ve no idea. I didn’t lose out and neither did the producers but I had to get the record back and start again. I think the trend with major companies today is that they no longer want to be involved in artist development. They would like have A&R from an outside sources to do it. I think producers should be proactive and they should use this trend to their advantage. If they have been lucky enough to get a ProTools setup they should go back to the 1950s and 60s and find the acts, cut as many tracks as they can afford to do, and then shop it. They either license it or do a record deal. Lock themselves in for that record and a portion of the second and maybe third record.

RB: The only way a producer can guarantee getting the next album is to sign an act to their own production company.

SR: Or if they want to sign the artist direct part of the deal that the producer strikes is that they either hire the producer for the second record or they get an override.

RB: have you been able to do those kinds of deals

SR: Oh, yeah. I’ve done two this week.

SR: We started a production company where we are signing acts and having my clients produce the acts and we are working deals out so that everyone makes out. Or we’re encouraging producers to sign the acts. Or just strike a deal with the act that they will do the record on spec but this is going to be the deal if we secure a deal. I’m striking the deals. When the producer develops the act and gets a deal.

RB: You always have to have that get out for the label that your producer will produce the album or get an override.

SR: We’ve been finishing the records. We’ve signed six acts to our production company. With the producers we have probably got another five or six acts that are being produced and we’ve got three deals on one producer and two deals on two other producers.

RB: Meaning three deals for those acts.

SR: The producer has got his own studio. He goes in and develops the act. Works on spec we have an arrangement with the act. We get the act a deal and the producer gets his advance and royalty. The acts are happy because they get a record deal.

RB: What would happen if the label wanted the act, but want to remake the album with another producer.

SR: I get a kill fee.

RB: So you agree the deal and get a fee and an override?

SR: So that the producer has not been wasting his time. If the record scores he makes out.

SR: As producer managers, we always have to come up with new ideas. The days of sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring are over. It’s not like the late 70s and early 80s when the labels were making hundreds of records. I visited London this week and two major labels each had only three or four acts. They have the established acts and they completely got rid of all the new acts and started over again. So they’re not signing as many new acts as they used to. They are not in a financial position to spend two years to develop an act. They need the album in the marketplace and get returns quickly because their overheads are enormous.

RB: Why is this happening?

SR: Because the old style of record companies is over. They should have had think tanks that worked out what was going to be happening. They weren’t smart enough to move with this new distribution. If all these record companies had thought about this carefully, saw the trend, started doing the Internet distribution, saw that the CD was going to be a thing of the past, they would have got it together. But they’re so late in the game. They lost millions and millions of dollars on free file sharing. They have never quite got the subscription thing together on the Internet. I don’t think merging and downsizing is the answer. I think a lot of the acts they were signing weren’t that good. They’ve been looking for quick returns like the television promoted artist like Pop Idol and American Idol. They’re just so now. No one will know who Kelly Clarkson is in five years.

RB: that’s a marketing exercise more than a A&R exercise?

SR: I think you’re going to find a huge burst of independent labels who are able to believe in an act and work with them. I read story in the NY Post the other week where Warner Bros. said they were actively trying to buy up independent labels. They listed the labels telling their competition what they are going to do. I’m sure Warners have a time period to make this work. They want to make the biggest returns for the investors, but the music business is really not like that. It’s about nurturing talent. I don’t know how quickly you can turn things around like that.

RB: How do you actually find a producer? Or do they find you?

SR: If there’s a record that I like or I hear by a producer I don’t know, I investigate them. If he isn’t represented and I love what he’s doing I will actively go and approach him. Some guys send me stuff.

RB: Does that happen a lot? By the time a record is out on a major label the producer is usually represented right?

SR: Not always. I called Dave at his Brooklyn number and he never picked up the phone and then one day he answered and he gave it a shot. We worked on a handshake and we got a relationship going. One of my longest clients is Tim Palmer. You know that.

RB: He was my assistant for some time.

SR: He was sneaking back into the studio at night to record B sides with the band and he sent me one. I think it was Kajagoogoo. And he was a tape op.

RB: I cite him in my book. His first day was with me and he had the best first day of any assistant. I said to him at the time, you’re going to be a great producer Tim. He ‘s awesome.

SR: He was sitting at the back punching in and he would make suggestions and he got fired off of some sessions. I’ve been representing him for about 24 years now. Very early on I got a call from the record company that represented Robert Plant. The A&R guy Phil said that they were looking for a young guy who has all the new technology off. I called him and said that Robert Plant might call you. I think that was the very first time that Tim miked a drumkit because he had been using drum machines.

RB: He came out of Utopia so he would have seen drums miked up.

RB: What do you think is the average life of a producer?

SR: It’s hard to say, but if they don’t keep current, they have a very short shelf life. They also have to remain enthusiastic. That’s a big thing. Some producers have success and there’s got to be a hunger there. You’ve got to try to be in the center. It’s difficult if you’re living in Memphis and there’s a band in LA at the Viper Room. You can’t see them and you can’t network with the A&R people or go backstage and say I just saw your set and my name is…it’s difficult to live out in the stix and just hope

RB: What’s the oldest producer you’ve worked with in terms of age?

SR: I have a three or four clients who are in their 50s.

RB: So you don’t think there is an age bias?

SR: As long as they keep current. If there is a producer who doesn’t really use Protools or understand it, if he’s one of those guys who just hits the talkback button and says let’s try that again. I think those guys are over. I think you really need to bring something to the table. I think every producer should really be able to use ProTools, Logic or whatever. I think you have to have some technical knowledge now.

RB: There are still a lot of producers out there using engineers. Do you think they really need to be hands on with the technology?

SR: Unless the producer is a musician/arranger. It’s difficult if you are just a guy giving out orders to other people who maybe has an overview. There are exceptions. I don’t think Rick Rubin knows ProTools. He has a great overview on music, great taste. Rick’s very proactive and he’s been able to be successful for a very long time.

RB: Are you able to keep guys working all the time to where they can make a living out of it?

SR: As I said earlier, I’m encouraging all the producers to sign and produce acts. I had a young guy called Dave Cobb. He’s hungry as hell. We are finding him acts and he is producing them. Three of the things that he did in his studio we just got signed for him. So he’s got three album projects based on doing spec tracks for three acts. He never would have been hired by those bands if they had got signed another way. Because he would have been last on the list. But because he is really good and he took the risk of spec’ing these tracks he has ended up producing three albums that have been signed to majors.

RB: Do you think that these days it’s pretty much impossible to get hired on spec. My first producing gig was Spandau Ballet. I had produced demos but never another band. That sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore does it?

SR: Did you have relationship with the management or the band or something.

RB: Yeah the management and the band. Also I was in competition with three or four big name producers for the project. I was shocked when Chrysalis let me do it.

SR: For a band there is a comfort level. They don’t want to go into the studio with someone who is not going to let them have some sort of involvement in the making of their record. So a producer may not be the best guy in the world for the job but if he is able to bond with the band he’s got a better shot of getting the job than someone who is a bit dictatorial in the studio or a little bit off hand with the band. Producing has a lot of psychology as well.

RB: What is the killer quality in a producer? Is there one thing or does it vary?

SR: There’s a lot of psychology. Obviously there’s talent. To have a longterm relationship with a band you have to bond with the band. They have to feel like they have a partner in crime. I don’t think bands work again and again with a producer they don’t like. I do know of bands that have worked again and again with a producer who may not have given them a hit. But if they have a relationship with that producer that they feel very comfortable with and they are a good working team they will tend to stick with him.

Look at Pink Floyd. They didn’t work with that many people. They could have worked with anyone in the world. They stuck with a couple of people. It was a very closed shop. Look at Steely Dan. Gary Katz was their A&R person at ABC Records. They obviously had a comfort zone with him.

RB: Don’t you think in those cases such as Sting or Phil Collins in a way the the artist is really the producer and the producer is really the facilitator.

SR: Hugh Padgham who I represent has worked with Sting, Police and Phil Collins he had a relationship with them and he fulfilled a role in the record making process. I think with artists like Sting and Phil Collins if they had had an overpowering producer they would’ve hated it. They needed that space to be able to create. I had hired Phil Collins to producer John Martin when I managed John. Phil was a musician also and he played on the record. He asked me to come into the studio while he tracked the drums. I left after he got the drums down so at least he could be in the control room all the time. Hugh was the perfect foil for those guys. He had all the knowledge and the creativity but at the same time he worked as a partner with those guys. There was no way he was going to tell Sting what to do. If Sting had had a producer who was telling him what to do he would have walked away.

RB: What’s the most money a producer can make these days in terms of fees and points?

SR: The advance is really your own money. I think the most important thing is to get the points right.

RB: Up to about two or three years ago I was hearing about about writer/producers getting $100,000 a track, like the Neptunes or LA and Babyface.

SR: In the urban world it’s different. It’s like on MTV Cribs half those homes are rented for the day. There’s the bullshit thing that they pay you $75,000 a track. I’ve never seen it. In my world and it’s changing by the day because budgets are coming down, but if you have got a really top producer $150,000 for an album, that’s really good. A good producer is getting $50,000 and $75,000 an album now.

RB: What has that come down from?

SR: It’s come down from the days of $100K to $150K. Those don’t exist anymore budgets are around that now.

RB: Although it’s easier to do it for that now. You can do half the album at home on Protools. What’s the range of points these days. 3% decent guy 4% for a great guy

I don’t think there has been a producer yet who can just stamp his foot and say this is what you are paying me or I’m not doing it. If you are a top of the range producer you are you’re probably getting four points and the standard producer royalty is two points. Most people who are in the mid range to top range are probably getting three. If you can get that without being reduced so that if there is a mixer brought in they have to pay for the mixer on top you are doing OK. Nowadays, that’s roughly about what it is and it rarely changes.

RB: But your royalties still get reduced the same way the artist’s do right?
SR: If the artist is being reduced overseas you get reduced the same way they are.

RB: There’s still no point in trying to fight that right?

SR: Nowadays there is so much competition for each job if you rattle the cage too much, you lose the job.

RB: What are the lowest points and advances you have seen?

SR: I was on a record where my client who mixed the record got one point, but the producer didn’t get a royalty, the record currently is around fourteen million sales

RB: Wow! Did he get an advance.

SR: No. He just wanted to get the credit. Probably in his mind he didn’t think the record would sell that many. I held out for my client [who mixed the record] and he made over a million dollars from the record.

RB: Stunned silence!

RB: How much does a point translate to in dollars?

SR: Very very roughly about $100,000 per point [for a million units of sale]. If you sell ten million albums you should make a million dollars if you’ve got a point on it.

RB: Deals have gotten much worse since you’ve been producing right?

SR: Yup. What I say to my guys is ‘if there’s a good record and you think it’s got a shot if you’ve got the royalties, just take a risk.

RB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

SR: The only thing I would to say is that there has been so much press about how the music business is, but in the five months that I’ve been working this year, my company has done better than last year, so I think it’s just a state of mind. There are projects out there. There’s a lot of activity. Everybody just has to slightly reinvent themselvesI think just to say the music business is over is crazy. Money may be down and there are not so many signings but there’s lots of other stuff going on. We, at World’s End, recreated ourselves a bit by starting to sign some acts and having the producers work on those acts and going out and getting deals. Everyone’s going to have to do the same. More people are listening to music than ever before. I think the iPod is just incredible. It’s such a convenience to be able to walk around with 8,000 titles in your pocket if you want to.

RB: We haven’t seen the royalty statements from the digital download services yet. What do you think is going to happen there.

SR: It will be interesting to see how quickly record companies can get that accounting flow through. I’m sure there is a lawyer right now preparing an action against a major because he hasn’t seen an accounting on a record that he knows has been downloaded so many times. But, I think it will come.

RB: The labels are getting paid monthly from Apple but they are still paying the artists and producers biannually.

SR: That’s one area that they need to get sorted out. I think it will happen. There’s no way that record companies can take a risk on not being audited.

RB: From a producers point of view and from the artist’s point of view how are they calculating royalties on downloads. Are they calculating them like a license where it is fifty percent of receipts or like a sale where the producer will get three or four percent of retail.

SR: I should know this but my lawyer knows this. I am a little bit in the dark with exactly what the producers and the artists are getting.

RB: I think we all are. I was curious to know if you were too. I deal with this issue a lot and I still don’t know the answer.

SR: It’s covered in agreements but I don’t have that percentage to hand right at this moment.

RB: I know that there are some potential lawsuits in the offing. But the iPod is a phenomenal thing.

SR: On a Tuesday morning when the new tunes come up on iTunes you can have bought a record before you are out of bed almost.

RB: You alluded to the fact that you don’t deal with urban acts…

SR: Oh I have and I’ve represented mixers. I love urban music and if I could find somebody to work with me in that area I’d jump at it, but you have to really focus on what you think you can do best. In the urban world, they’re so ahead of everybody else. Urban producers were in control of acts long before the rock producers were. The producers were signing acts, making deals and writing songs. It’s very producer driven. before the rock community. I think a lot of the labels would love to have the urban producers represented by people who are a little bit more together, but it’s quite difficult to break into that area.

RB: It’s interesting that you say that. So you think that things are going in the same direction in the rock and pop area. Where you find the act sign them to a production company and make the album.

SR: Especially in the pop area.

RB: When you sign them to a production company…

SR: Matrix who I represent have just formed a label and signed their first act. They’re going to make a finished album and I’m going to make a distribution deal for the label. They found the act, signed them. They are being very proactive in that area. They are not going to be just producers for hire they’re creating a brand name.

RB: With these production deals are they fifty fifty deals?

SR: No they’re better splits for the artist than that. They are very fair deals. Some investment from the producers but it’s mainly a spec situation.

RB: Are you able to get seven or eight albums on these production deals?

SR: It’s shorter than that. Most major labels are not trying to get nine or ten albums anymore.

RB: What is the number that you are seeing these days?

SR: The most a major label will ask for these days is usually around six albums.

RB: And you parallel that with the production deals?

SR: If you have signed an act and you haven’t got them to so many. You can always adjust it later on. You can always sign them direct to the label for the last two records or the act will alter your deal before you sign the major label deal.

RB: Thank you.

Additional Producer Interviews
Arif Mardin
Lauren Christy
Linda Perry
Peter Collins
Daniel Sheehy
Peter Ganbarg
Wendy Page
Sandy Roberton
Katrina Sirdofsky
Jim Hall
TAOMP title image 2
Bill Laswell
by richard james burgess