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The Art Of Record Production
Success And Money

Richard James Burgess' book The Art Of Record Production is a must-read for anyone aspiring to be a record producer. It is also a must-read for artists, because it provides sound advice and an excellent analysis of the art (and business) of producing a recording. In this excerpt, Richard tells the aspiring producer how he or she should expect to be compensated, and further offers some financial career advice.
How Much Can You Make?
Potential earnings range from the dirt-eating end of the scale to extreme wealth. Initially, the income may not be so great. If you are a complete unknown, you probably won't get a big advance to start with. Until you have a hit or get yourself established in a niche, it may not be enough to live on, unless you live in a mud hut. Prior to producing I was a signed artist who worked as a studio musician on the side. The first project I produced outside my own band was Spandau Ballet's first album. Although the advance was actually quite respectable for an unproven producer, I was still making less than I did working as a studio drummer. However, those albums went gold, launched my producing career, and I still earn royalties from them today. Ros Earls of 140dB uses as a rule of thumb, £50,000 or $75,000 income per 1% royalty rate per million sales at 1995 prices. Royalties are calculated in one of three ways: as a percentage of the retail price of the album; as a percentage of the wholesale price or published price to dealer which is known as PPD; or as a percentage of the record company's receipts. One percent of the retail price of an album that retails for $14.99 amounts to 14.99 pence. This, theoretically, translates to $149,900 per million units. Ros's $50,000 per 1% per million units may be closer to the mark by the time you factor in all the packaging deductions, free goods and the other wild and wonderful in which the record company giveth and taketh away. Producers command anything from no royalty at all uncommon for a very successful producer and above to around 3% of retail. Four percent is not that it's negotiable depending on your leverage. Using a retail price of $14.99, a 3% producer will make somewhere between $150,000 and $449,700 on a million units. A 4% producer's range will be from $200,000 to $599,600.
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