Knowledge Bank

news category created 17 May 2014 written by Dan Cox

Producers’ Income & The Future of Record Production

The massive reduction in sales of recorded music has had the effect of not only reducing the personal income of those who traditionally benefitted from it, i.e. artists, record producers, publishers, managers and record companies, but has also fed back into the financial structure and reduced the amount of money invested in record production; recording budgets are much lower than 5-10 years ago.

Thus, record producers are hit at both ends; reduced budgets means lower advances, and reduced sales means lower royalties.

Artists have, to a limited extent, been able to compensate for this loss by increasing the number of live performances, but record producers (and, it should be noted, non-performing song-writers) have no such comparable option.

As record producers’ overall income has decreased, they have been forced to try to seek ways of achieving financial benefit from other, associated, sources, e.g. a share of an artists’ publishing, sync, PPL, PRS income.

So far, this has been negotiated on an individual basis, but there is an opportunity for the Music Producers Guild to play a major role in helping those individuals achieve greater success in this area.

The MPG can, and in my opinion should, embark on a pro-active campaign, using public debate (via the website and social media), the press, and public events like Q-Time, to broadcast the issue, enlighten those who are unaware, and create a climate of understanding that record production, as a valuable and creative source to the benefit of recording artists, should be supported and cultivated in the face of financial compromise.

The MPG should adopt a responsibility for supporting record producers not only in general, but also in particular, over this issue of diminishing income streams. Mounting a campaign of public awareness will create a climate of sympathy towards this issue, and make it much easier for individual producers to negotiate better terms as a basis for their relationships with artists and recording companies.

I believe it is of utmost importance to promote the role of producers and engineers in music. Their role goes beyond the job they do in the recording studio as they also are quite influential when it comes the live-performance of music of artists or bands.

Without doubt there should be an emphasis on making the public aware of the value of recorded music but what can we do if sales have plummeted to untenable low levels that don’t even cover the costs of recording in the first place. The costs of releasing a record these days for a new act has become almost unrecoupable for the singles or EP market and the record companies are demanding more and more of a slice of everything, and so are the publishers, the producers, the agents and the managers. We are in a spiralling downhill trend and need a new model for income streams. When Spotify are paying .007 per play and YouTube won’t even reveal the deal it has struck with PRS due to an NDA, we know that we are in trouble. This is a statement from PRS:
The deal is subject to a confidentiality agreement (similar to the last deal) which means that we are not able to disclose full terms of the deal. We recognise that this is not ideal and this is not something that PRS for Music feels particularly comfortable about given its desire to be as transparent as possible with its members, however it was necessary for us to agree to these provisions in order to secure the deal. Members do however have the assurance that the deal was subject to discussion by and the approval of the Boards and that any subsequent distribution policy will be approved by the Boards and any relevant Board sub committees through the normal processes.

The new streaming services from YouTube and Beats haven’t finished cutting their deals yet but we can be assured that this is only going to be in their favour and not the artists or producers.
So we can complain and bemoan our situation but there must be something that we can do as an alternative to this situation? Maybe some sort of locked premium product that can only be accessed with the direct permission of the producer and the artist?

Whilst thoroughly supporting the views here about valuing and protecting the role of the producer and engineer in our current business climate, I would like to suggest a way of increasing producer/engineer income from music that some of our community may not have explored.
Library music.
Whilst, as Mick has already observed in his post, record sales have plummeted in recent years, hitting us all hard, the music publishing world is still in good shape and as a writer- producer I have had some success in the library or production-music world.
The payment is through royalties on PRS (even publishers rarely do advances these days, some of the bigger ones still do)
Having in the past few months also succeeded in placing other composers’ work with library publishers, I have now joined an A&R team solely for this purpose.
MPG members who are not already active in, or are not familiar with, the library world and would wish to pitch to me, please read the following brief:
Please submit 2 or 3 pieces of original instrumental music as an mp3. It MUST be unsigned, as most library publishers only do exclusive signings and in perpetuity.
Email me and the team at
It can be ANY genre (although we are short on pop, EDM and hiphop tracks at the moment) and must be 2 minutes 30- 2minutes 45 seconds long with proper endings, no fades at the intro or outro.
If your music pieces are something we believe we can go forward with, we will open a Dropbox account with you so you can submit WAVs and we will try and place it with a publisher for you, in return for a royalty split.
Good luck to those pitching.