Getting the Music Noticed
May 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Barbara Schultz
FOR NEWER ARTISTS, PRODUCERS WHO MULTITASK CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
It's 12:15 p.m. on March 27, 2009. Remember this so you won't blame Mix magazine if everything in this feature is old news by the time our May issue is printed (around April 30). The music business — all business — seems to be changing that fast. Within months, we all saw “social networking” transform from trendy buzz words to an essential promotional tool, along with viral marketing, “freemiums” and “tweeting.” In some ways, the entire music-business model has turned upside down. How many times have you read in Mix's live sound section that an artist or band is “touring in support of a new release”? Yet that's not necessarily what's happening. More likely, an artist is giving away new songs online, or at least streaming them, to drive paying customers to their shows — the one source of revenue and in-the-moment musical joy that no one can really experience online, even if the concert is streamed live worldwide. You don't see Michael Jackson rolling in the money from a farewell double-album — yet.
For newer acts especially, the process of artists accumulating a fan base and promoting music to the point where the parties involved can quit their day jobs has changed completely. So it follows that for music producers — those musician/therapist/parent/business manager/advocate types who have often played for points — it's a new world. We talked to a handful of ultratalented producers in our industry who have addressed the morphing model by stepping up their involvement in their clients' careers, doing every job from artist development to putting together business plans to producing on spec. Not surprisingly, most of these guys were already wearing a lot of hats when file sharing started rocking the boat.
Carmen Rizzo is a two-time Grammy nominee whose talents as an electronic musician, mixer, remixer, composer and/or producer have contributed to recordings by Seal, Coldplay, Alanis Morissette, Paul Oakenfold and many more. He also co-founded the world-beat/electronic-fusion group Niyaz and co-produced the debut release from the collaboration Lal Meri (Six Degrees).
Producer/engineer/mixer Brandon Mason began his career at Bearsville Studios, and along the way has worked on recordings by Norah Jones, Tim McGraw and Ricky Martin. Other clients include New Order, David Bowie, the Secret Machines, The Zutons and his latest focus, rock 'n' rollers Loomis & the Lust.
An R&B/urban-music producer/keyboardist/composer/arranger/vocalist, James McKinney has performed with luminaries such as Stevie Wonder, Rachell Ferrell and Kenny Lattimore, as well as discoveries like Eric Roberson and Annaya Gregory. He runs independent label New Moon Recordings, and co-produced/co-wrote the 2009 Grammy-nominated performance of “Loving You” (Music) by Wayna and Kokayi.
Nashville-based producer/guitarist/label exec Paul Worley is a two-time Grammy winner for his work with the Dixie Chicks. His many other production credits include Big & Rich, whom he signed as a new act to Warner Bros. in '02 when he was VP of A&R there, and smash Capitol artists Lady Antebellum.
The Front End
Anybody can make a record now, but the business of getting music out there and making sure listeners take notice and maybe pay for it is changed. How has this affected the way you approach new work?
Rizzo: It's important for someone like me to choose records carefully that I can truly get [more] work from. You want people to say, “You worked on that record? I love that record,” and want to hire you. I can remember many years ago I mixed a Britney Spears song for a producer, and I thought, ‘Shit, will I be getting calls for this kind of work?’ Thank god the song was not on the album…
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