Don't mix business and art
I briefly touched on this a little bit earlier. Now that we're kind of in door engineering, let's start thinking about business a little bit more. Boo. Creative people hate to talk business. So those of you who have worked in creative fields or business fields know that creative people and business administrative people are kind of different animals. Um, I honestly believe that its physics, its the brain, you know, different people that are once either brain is stronger. It just the physics of it. The other side of the brain is in his balanced out that's. Just what I believe. Because that's, my experience and that's, how I feel talking about business and money with clients, can ruin the vibe. So I try to avoid it at all costs um and the way that I avoid it is when money questions come up I played dumb and there's ways to do this obviously the best way and the way eventually when you get to point your career you'll have management the same way an artist or producer will have a manager a...
n engineer will have a manager and they get to do all the boring vied killing talk for you um if you don't have that or before I had that you know when I was starting out I played dumb the song is I will I care about the music well we'll figure out the money later I don't care about the money I don't do this for money which is true but also I'm trying to make a career I am running a business so you just need to make sure you got it through the proper channels most artists that you work with I mean you do have artists that are doing completely out of pocket you know? They're producing the record they're paying for the record themselves and when that happens you just have to tread carefully no there's 00:01:58.852 --> 00:02:01. a time and a place to discuss that it's not in the 00:02:01.94 --> 00:02:03. control room it's not when you're in the middle of 00:02:03.72 --> 00:02:05. cutting a record it's not when you're trying to be 00:02:05.64 --> 00:02:07. creative and get ideas out 00:02:08.56 --> 00:02:11. and hopefully you can ride it through the proper channels 00:02:11.67 --> 00:02:13. you hopefully you don't ever even have to speak to 00:02:13.18 --> 00:02:15. the artist anything money related 00:02:16.57 --> 00:02:16. um 00:02:17.99 --> 00:02:22. I always play dumb so how much to charge or how much 00:02:22.1 --> 00:02:24. is a mix or how much you charge a day rate for engineering 00:02:25.22 --> 00:02:27. I was like you know I don't even know my managers 00:02:27.87 --> 00:02:30. you know sending me out of these days I don't even 00:02:30.13 --> 00:02:32. know I just show up and work so let's just work and 00:02:32.78 --> 00:02:36. we'll let we'll figure that out later I'm just excited 00:02:36.07 --> 00:02:38. to get to work I'm excited for the song I'm excited 00:02:38.44 --> 00:02:42. for the record man this is going to be great we'll 00:02:42.16 --> 00:02:44. worry about the money later we'll fix all that later 00:02:44.16 --> 00:02:46. let's let's just get this get to the record let's 00:02:46.32 --> 00:02:49. get to the good stuff and again that goes back to 00:02:49.43 --> 00:02:52. this is their baby you know they don't want to they 00:02:52.19 --> 00:02:54. don't want to talk about money about this you they 00:02:54.21 --> 00:02:56. want you to feel excited about the creative part of 00:02:56.22 --> 00:02:58. it they want you to be as excited about it as they 00:02:58.96 --> 00:02:59. are 00:03:01.02 --> 00:03:03. so you know the most important thing is the music 00:03:03.73 --> 00:03:06. of course the most important thing is the music and 00:03:06.78 --> 00:03:09. it is the fact that we still get paid for this is 00:03:10.32 --> 00:03:11. I still can't believe I could pay for this 00:03:12.92 --> 00:03:16. it is the music it is a business so there's a time 00:03:16.63 --> 00:03:17. and a place for everything 00:03:19.12 --> 00:03:21. keep the business talk out of control room that would 00:03:21.44 --> 00:03:24. be my advice. Good cop, bad cop. You know, someone 00:03:24.91 --> 00:03:28. has to be the bad cop because record labels don't 00:03:28.32 --> 00:03:29. like to pay 00:03:30.62 --> 00:03:34. if you don't. If you don't tell them that you they 00:03:34.38 --> 00:03:36. owe you money, they'll forget very conveniently. 00:03:38.1 --> 00:03:40. Oh, the envelope. Oh, can you resend that 00:03:42.32 --> 00:03:45. guys, this is great. This is when having this really 00:03:45.92 --> 00:03:51. becomes great, um and sort of the transitional period 00:03:51.97 --> 00:03:53. when you know that you're going to start needing this 00:03:54.22 --> 00:03:54. is when 00:03:56.52 --> 00:03:57. you will get to a point 00:03:58.62 --> 00:04:02. where you're doing business with a lot of cos you know, I've done business with island def jam, interscope records and atlantic records and sony bmg and epic records. And sometimes you have projects and outstanding invoices with all of these companies at the same time, good luck calling all of those mega companies and getting a cheque from everyone. Like, would you start having a lot of money floating in the atmosphere? It becomes hard to collect on it. So that's, when you start to be like, okay, I might need this. In the beginning it's all about the volume of which you have out there if you have you know, a couple invoices here a couple invoices here you could probably spend I used to spend one day out of my week I would always do on mondays collecting my invoices so I would take a day off of engineering whether was editing or copping vocals or mixing or whatever I was doing that day and I would spend the day doing my business ok let me follow up with the record companies and the administrative people to make sure I getting paid when it starts becoming the need for this is when you have twenty, thirty, forty and voices out there because one day a week is not going to cut tracking that down it's essentially I want to say a full time job but you need someone that's doing that full time toe add you into there a collection of invoices that they're going for not only that but contacts you know these air very big companies that you're dealing with universal music group sony music group on it they're very big companies and they have specific departments that handle all this and if you don't know what how to get to that department it's going to be very hard to get to the person that's actually the one that's going to be writing you the check this they know everybody and they know the contacts they know how to get your money and it's going to make you a better engineer because you can concentrate just on the music because you got to remember this you can say this to the artist of the producer and actually one hundred percent it could be absolutely true it won't be in the back your mind like you're like oh man the music is important but in the background you like but I'm not going to get paid for this like I gotta eat I mean I love doing the music but how am I gonna pay my rent I'm not waiting tables anymore that that was five years ago this is how I make my living now like how do I tell this guy that I need to get paid for this without sounding like a five killer baba blood once you have this and you have you can separate your business from your creativity come like I told you know when I got with my manager I told them basically I don't even want to know what I'm getting paid I just want to show it to the studio and do the work I don't want that I don't want the worry of that it's their job to get me the best possible rate that I could get because you know management gets a percentage of your income right so it's in their best interest to get you the most money because that's how they're going to get the most money. So you work out a win win scenario for people. I don't have to worry about money. We're talking about money, and I know I'm gonna get the best rate because it's in your best interest, too. So the moral of this, the don't mix mix business with art is when you start out, you're gonna have to kind of be maurine this realm where you're playing dumb and because you may not have management yet, no, just it goes back to feeling the temperature of the room again. When is the best time to discuss business? When is the best time to discuss a rate? And just always remember that it's never during the creative process. I mean I've worked some of my clients that I've worked with I worked with them for six seven years we've had a six or seven year business relationship and I've never once talked about array with them not one time I've never he's never said this is what I'm gonna pay you and I've never said how much am I getting for this not one time I'm not exactly sure how tow ask this question so bear with me you're talking about a scenario that is pretty specialized you're talking about major label engineering and um some folks might hold their business life in a different scenario that's more independent music with artists who may or may not have management the engineer or the producer may or may not have management so and I agree with you don't talk about music in the control room but can you just can you say some words about your thoughts on solidifying business and contracts before you get into the control room something that I've come across is it's really good to nail down the admin before you start the creative work absolutely then you can you know I mean in my touring I always negotiated with the artist's manager so I never talked about it so that I never talked about the artist but as a producer I'm working often with independent artists don't have management I don'thave management so we're talking you are talking about it right right so you just at that inn that point, you just obviously there's going to be business discussion. There has to be. So. My advice for that would kind of be just what you said already, like. Just make sure it's the right, sensing the right time to approach people about it again, even though you don't want to talk business with creative people, and they probably don't really want to talk business about it with you. Essentially, the awkward feeling is going to be mutual. So you're going to get it out of the way it's obviously best to do it first because I've learned the hard way my experience because I mean I I'm so passionate with my clients and that I mean one of the reasons why I had to get management because you know I'll screw around and say I'll do it for free like oh it's great I'll just send me the files and I do it and then the payment thing is kind of I don't have any leverage anymore because I've already given them the work right so it is definitely best to get out of the way first you can always find a way to cut the tension the most you can be like look like uh you know before we get started like find find the best possible comfortable way to approach the business discussion like like when I was doing that I would always tell them like now I don't have a set rate I don't charge us a specific amount I work with all budgets I'm all about the music if I like the music I can work with any budget and since I really really like your music like let's just talk about what you have like what are you able to do like how much you have in your budget and the way that I'll phrase it is I'll ask them what is your budget for the whole project rather it just be like what's your budget for me mixing right? I'll just be like how much money do you have to spend on this record and then they'll say well I mean people how much of you already spent how much did you spend on studio time when you recorded or a bobble block evan how much how much money of that have you already spent and whatever's left over like let's work with what you comfortable spending and then once I get that number I could better tell you what I'm comfortable being paid right? So the best way is to find his mutt again what are we doing re kon we're finding out information that might not be any of our business how much money they have to spend on a project might not be your business I mean how much they're paying you to do your job that you've been hired to do maybe their business but how much money do you have to spend on this record and then I can figure out how much what I'm doing being mixing recording I guess in your sense if you're the producer than the whole budget is absolutely your your business because that's who you could be in charge of it right? So um how much do you have to spend on the record? Very simple question and then they'll tell you and then you'll know what you're in for if you're in for a passion project or if you're in for something that's going to keep your lights on for a year. Client personal two cents on it is I've been in that situation I tell him like what do you want to see one of those before they answer you say just so you know if you tell me ten thousand dollars it doesn't mean I'm going to tell you it cost ten thousand dollars right say no we don't need that much we can do it for five I just want to know and and always remember to with kind of on top of that point is um don't screw people out of money this is bad it's too small the business um and word's going to travel fast that you screwed somebody if they find out be honest with somebody it was like okay if you like how much do you have a spell on this record and they say a hundred grand don't be like well I can mix it for sixty five thousand dollars like I mean if they say one hundred very like okay so they got enough to pay me what I'm worth and don't overcharge them and don't undervalue yourself like that's why you asked them first what the budget is that way one you know if they're like oh I got five hundred bucks then in that case if I really really loved the music I'll do for anything 00:14:03.549 --> 00:14:07. because I just loved the music but if I can't do that 00:14:08.1 --> 00:14:11. the easiest way to move on to the next you're t make 00:14:11.95 --> 00:14:14. them not feel unimportant as you like you know what 00:14:15.6 --> 00:14:18. um just with my schedule and what I already have booked 00:14:18.92 --> 00:14:21. I just don't know if I could do that but what I can 00:14:21.12 --> 00:14:23. do is I can work with you to find someone that could 00:14:23.81 --> 00:14:27. do this and deliver it just as good as I can come 00:14:27.9 --> 00:14:31. that way you you can recommend somebody that can do 00:14:31.61 --> 00:14:34. the work that will be willing to do it for a rate 00:14:34.45 --> 00:14:37. like that because you can't undervalue yourself because 00:14:37.89 --> 00:14:40. if you do that the word can also spread that someone's 00:14:40.78 --> 00:14:42. getting you for cheap and then that will drive your 00:14:42.77 --> 00:14:43. right down 00:14:44.33 --> 00:14:47. so yeah I think I'm just curious about how how different 00:14:47.92 --> 00:14:50. folks do different things I mean one one way I work 00:14:50.84 --> 00:14:54. with someone's budget if it's I've just been you know 00:14:54.76 --> 00:14:57. over the years doing a lot of number crunching about 00:14:57.36 --> 00:15:01. well not besides my experience and my talent or ability 00:15:01.71 --> 00:15:04. or whatever special sauce I bring to the table we're 00:15:04.14 --> 00:15:07. also talking about time how much time do I spend per 00:15:07.97 --> 00:15:13. song and putting a value to my time so if somebody 00:15:13.55 --> 00:15:16. comes to me with a smaller budget one of the things 00:15:16.39 --> 00:15:18. I'll say even if I'm totally passionate about it is 00:15:19.14 --> 00:15:23. let's two fewer songs do them right and you know just 00:15:23.21 --> 00:15:26. trying to look at how to value the artist and value 00:15:26.68 --> 00:15:27. myself yeah 00:15:28.9 --> 00:15:30. and that's something that you just it's kind of a 00:15:30.91 --> 00:15:32. trial and everything and it's going to be different 00:15:32.78 --> 00:15:36. with everybody. Me, personally, I have. I've never 00:15:36.73 --> 00:15:38. done things according to time 00:15:39.16 --> 00:15:42. again. I'm not a producer, so I think in production 00:15:42.38 --> 00:15:44. and producing, you do have to think about time or 00:15:44.62 --> 00:15:46. where's it been mixing. I do everything on a song 00:15:46.57 --> 00:15:51. by song basis, right? So if the song takes me a week, 00:15:51.44 --> 00:15:53. I'm going to get paid the same if it takes me two 00:15:53.72 --> 00:15:56. hours. But if it takes me two hours, I can do for 00:15:56.72 --> 00:15:59. you today. Exactly. But but you start having a sense 00:15:59.65 --> 00:16:02. of how long it does take you to mix a song just told 00:16:02.46 --> 00:16:06. us it takes you roughly six hours to two days, depending 00:16:06.48 --> 00:16:09. on the complexity of the song, depending on the source material that you got all of that, you know? Well, I'm probably not going to be spending more than two days, right? You know, it's, a general number crunching, knowing how much time you're going to spend. Yeah. It's. Just you'll learn it's going to different for everybody. You learn as you go and with different people it's going to change and and as we get in the next segment, I'll start to show you how important it is for you to be prepared for drastic changes, because that's part of this business and staying relevant, is changing. Things change every year. You know, when I when I was sitting in the seats, you're sitting, things were very, very different, and that wasn't really that long ago. Come. So just real quick overview of where we're at and what we discussed. Remember that you are work for hire it's, not your song, it's, somebody, else's child, you give, you want to give them what they want. What they want is the bare minimum. If you do, if you give them exactly what they ask for that's, the bare minimum, anything less than that is unacceptable, but to give them more song is it's not too different, it's, a very fine line, that's. Why I used the haircut analogy if they ask for a specific hair cut that's what they want, but it doesn't have to be the most standard basic version of that. It just can't be too different than what they had in mind. Re kon and ninja will help you better assess that very, very small industry can't stress that enough. Be appropriate. Stay off social media when you're in the studio. Be respectful of the vulnerability that these people are putting in front of me while they're in the control room. And they're creating things in there, writing things. And you know, these people, even when they're mega celebrities and big time artists, they're still as passionate as people that are poor musicians that that don't make any money. They just been blessed enough to have the success. They still have the same passion for the music. So there you're dealing with the same passion that you feel so I know that when you're working with them. And then that just never lose. Never, never lose control, even when you do. Don't let other people know that you've lost control because it will spread like a virus to everyone else in the control room. And you will hear it come out of the speakers. Seen it many times too many times. And, yeah, check our egos at the door. You know those of you that grow up to be big time producers. One day, you may have an ego, and years will be big enough for the engineers and not have one. So you know, never lose sight of where you came from, where you started. Respect the chain of command, nowhere. Who is who who's talking to who? Who's in charge, who's. Second in charge, who's. Third in charge, where you fit into that scenario, where you khun, who you can talk to, how you can talk to them, and you do that by re kon being prepared more prepared than anyone else, just like the day you walked into that internship and you brought got the menus from every restaurant. Or you clean the control room and looked at the patch bay when you know. You respect the chain of you, do the same re kon of the people that are in these sessions in high places, so you can strategically put yourself in the right position. It keeps you from accidentally putting your foot in your mouth or saying something that you should have said to somebody else. It's over preparing, you're over prepared, which is absolutely great. Being under prepared is absolutely disastrous. And then you know what we do. Try not to mix business and art again, it's going to happen when you're dealing with smaller, independent projects, but just try tio, you know, take the steps to try toe, do it without killing the vibe, you know. Great. Got some questions. Sweet. Yes, under this question, came actually, from vanessa. This goes back kind of what we were saying about when you're starting out. What is a good way to approach someone you want to work with? What's the great opening line, for example. How do you communicate enthusiasm without coming across this desperate or even too strong? You know what that's a really tough question because depending on how big the person is that your talking to like you have to realize that these are this is it's a marathon not a sprint you have to you can't be down here and then approach someone up here and expect that they're going to give you the time of day you have to you have to strategically be approaching people that air in the levels directly above you so you can climb the ladder and in doing that just it goes back to what we were talking about in the first segment it's all about passion and letting that person know how generally excited you are to work with them but at the same time you have to know that you have to bring some value there has to be a reason why they want to give you a chance so you do that with the re con with okay I really want to work with this person so let me figure out everything I can about this person and see if I can find one little loophole that I can slide through like you know anything that you can find out about somebody you don't want to become a stalker like oh show but the airport when they're trying to get on a plane to stuff like that but you know I'm gonna touch in the next subject we're going to do a little discussion about trade shows and how it pertains to networking and these are perfect opportunities and I might actually be able to answer the question through that there are appropriate places where you can really approach people and discuss what's going on what excuse me your ambitions what you want to do trade shows are perfect for that on it I guess my short answer to the question would be fine just take baby steps you know if you want to work if your dream is to work with this person up here you know find out the chain of command that's below them and work your way up through there mom if you want to work with the you know you say you want to work with this producer like max martin or one of the you know he works at a specific studio in l a we'll find your way through that studio and get in there and then look okay your two rooms away from the guy like you're in the door your ninja like now you just gotta maneuver your way around so you can get into the actual room like find out as much information as you can and prepare yourself that way now that wasn't too big for the question of preparations something we talked about very clearly it's in every inn every step it's even though I'm trying to I'm giving as much detail about certain things I can really only it's very basic concept you just have to out prepare everybody else that's around you. And if you do that, you'll be fine in the audience. Yes, sir. Going back, teo business, uh, in art, uh, topic, um, where did you find your management to deal with the sykes guy personally? The production company that I was doing a lot of work for, um, the company called red zone entertainment. Um, we I was doing so much work with them helping them, you know, engineering on the records, helping with preproduction, help doing mixing. They started their own record label. So I started mixing a lot of the artists that they have on the label, and it was just kind of a natural progression because they're like, okay, well, we manage artists and were you're working so much with us? Why don't we just manage you? Like we need an engineer that you know, that we can have on on call at all times and you need a manager so it's win win. So, uh and it was great because I've had a working relationship with these guys for years, so no, I felt very comfortable with, you know, then managing me, so it was for me it was a very natural progression, it's going to be different for everybody. You probably want to stray away from large, huge entertainment management companies um, because as an engineer, although you can do very well and be very successful, you're probably not going to be raking in the twenty thirty million dollars that movie star clients and these people are, so you're kind of, I guess, you know, it's kind of a hard out chump change, I wouldn't say no, you're not chump change, but you're not as important. You want to make sure you're with somebody that's really going to go to bat for you because management is a lot more than just collecting money, it's helping you develop your career in career direction and taking on the right projects like my management does much more than you know, they tell me, well, this is going to be a cheaper rate, but it's probably better opportunity than this like this is a money gig it's full rate, but it's a money gig. This is really great music, and even though you're not getting paid as much, you could probably this could this could be heard by more people and be a better project so they would stare me in the direction to take less money to do the gig that's going to be better for my future than the gig that's more money and it's just going to be a paycheck