The Bar for Music Producers Has Been Lowered
A Lack in Leadership and Resourcefulness
Every so often I get a DM from a random producer or artist asking me to be their manager. It’s become an annoyance because these are complete strangers asking me to taking on an enormous role solely for their benefit. Most of them don’t have any real income coming in to support the duties needed yet wonder why some people who offer managerial services have a monthly fee. I’m 50/50 on charging for the services but I can’t act like I don’t understand. However, when it comes to producers specifically it baffles me how desperate a lot of them are when it comes to finding one. I used to think that maybe there was this idea that if they got a manager then everything would be taken care of. The more I dive into why they are asking in the first place the more it becomes apparent what the problem is. Today’s producers, or beat makers, lack leadership and resourcefulness. I’m going to give three observations I’ve noticed and explain why I keep seeing them.
There’s a Lack of Vision: When an artist approaches me about working on a record they’re asking me how can I take their idea to the next level. If I respond “it’s whatever you wanna do” more than likely they’re not going to hire me. Even rappers would like to know the destination of a record. If you don’t tell them where the chorus and bridge are they’ll just make their own. Online I’ve noticed a lot of producers state how happy they are that an artist even listened to one of their beats or references. That’s odd. I thought the point was to showcase your talent to work on the record with the artist. Not be thrilled that they had it playing in the background on their IG story. There’s a huge lack of initiative in the producer community and it’s lowered the bar. Don’t be happy that someone recorded a reference or texted you a fire emoji. How about going a step further and laying out an idea you had for the track?
They’re Not Resourceful: This one has bothered me as I started to question that may be I was over doing it as a producer. I grew up watching Babyface, LA Reid, Clive Davis, and Jimmy Iovine bring solution based thinking to records. These guys never just produced a record, they found where to place the record so it could live. Take Babyface for example. He didn’t just produce the soundtrack for Waiting to Exhale, he took it to the next level by carefully placing full songs in spots of the film that took the scene over the top. Today, you rarely see producers take this approach. There’s gotta be a benefit for an artist working with you even if its just your brand being attached to the record. Are you producing a love song? If you are, then I’m sure there are hundreds of YouTube creators, films, or even apps you could get that song placed. If you don’t know how to do this, then you need to find out how. That’s your job.
Not Creating Their Own Opportunities: The placement game has been one that we have all played but some live in it. There’s nothing wrong with building a relationship with an artist to send beats off in hopes of getting a placement. However, why are you not creating your own albums and placement opportunities? Who says you have to wait for the approval from an A&R, artist, or another producer to get your beat on an album? You can do it yourself. You are, in fact, creating the music. Shouldn’t you also be the one looking for songwriters, musicians, and other beat makers to send music your way to help create the best album you possibly can? Wouldn’t that make you the plug you’re so desperately trying to find?
Stop waiting, stop whining. The role of a producer can be an ambiguous one but the goal has always been the same. You make records and solve problems. That’s it. No need to make it more complicated. If you have a vision for a collaboration then you need to make it happen. Get on the phone, send the DM, and schedule the meeting. No one is gong to do it for you nor should they and if they did you should expect a fee.
Be a producer. Be a problem solver.