Wendy Day: What Every Producer Should Know Part Two

In Part one Wendy Day discussed various ways to structure a written contract, how to gain attention in the industry, and the drawbacks of offering your production for free.  In this part Wendy touches on the best ways to build relationships and how to protect your artwork from being stolen.   AllHipHop.com-  In your opinion, what is the best way to shop beats?Wendy Day:  You know it’s the hardest job out there, and it’s the thing I hate to do more than anything in life, because it’s all based on relationships.  There are so many producers now, and the market is so weak because there are so many bulls**t producers out there that you have to really have a relationship with an A & R person or the artist.  The only way you can build a relationship is to network. If that A & R person is based in New York or Atlanta, and you’re in Memphis, You have to get to New York or Atlanta somehow in order to interact with that person.  If you sit back in Memphis and wait for them to come to you, it’s probably never gonna happen.  So [you need to] align yourself with a manager that’s based in New York or Atlanta, or you can just set up meetings yourself and play your beats for people.  But it’s more than just listening to your CD once though.  The thing about A & R people is that they don’t really pay attention to beats until they’re working on an album.  So if I’m Gorilla Zoe’s A& R person and his record just came out, I might take a meeting with you just because I like you and I like the game that you kicked me on the phone.  But the reality is that I’m probably not gonna remember who you are next summer when I’m working on Zoe’s next album.  It’s not just reaching out to them one time, it’s reaching out to them every month so they’re getting to know who you are and your style.AllHipHop.com-  Wow! That’s good advice.Wendy Day- Yeah, and [it can be] a little frustrating.  As a producer you really just wanna make beats. You don’t want to be doing a mailing once a month to a bunch of New York people.  But you have to, it’s a business.AllHipHop.com-  When you do shop a beat, and a A & R is interested in using one of your beats, what would be a appropriate rate for a new producer to get paid?Wendy Day- I would say between 1,500 and 5,000 dollars a beat. That is based on a major label purchasing your beat for an artist who’s not necessarily new. For a new artist, because they are going to have a lower budget, maybe between 1,000 and 3,000 dollars on a major label.  AllHipHop.com-  But in that range there is always negotiation right? What if you have a hot beat that you know the label or the artist really wants?Wendy Day:  You have more leverage if you know somebody really wants your beat. Everybody wants a hit record. Hit records are what sell albums in this business.  If you’re delivering a hit record you just have to have enough faith in yourself to stand your ground. If you feel your track is worth 1,500 dollars then that’s what it’s worth, if you feel it’s worth ten grand, that’s what it’s worth.AllHipHop.com-  I got an email from a producer who claimed he was jacked by a certain major label.  They allegedly took his beat, re-worked the elements, and put it out under another producer’s name. What is the best way for a producer to protect his or her work?Wendy Day:  I hate this question because I hate the answer to it. The answer is, it’s hard to protect yourself. You need to copyright all of your beats.  You can copyright by Cd. For example when I helped David Banner set up his company Banner Beats, I copyrighted all of his beats for him. We had Banner Beats One, Banner Beats Two, you know all the way up to 60 something. So every time he would make enough beats to fill a Cd, I would send them off to the copyright office and save it as Banner Beats One.  So if he heard a beat that sounded an awful lot like his he could say “Ok, I think it’s around Banner Beats four, five, or six.”  Then I’ll burn the copies for him and send them to him, he’ll find the beat, and then file suit because it sounds too much like a beat that he produced and handed to the artist. The way the law works, not only does the beat have to be your exact beat and sound, you also have to prove that the person had access to your beats.  You have to prove that you either handed them a Cd or Federal Expressed them a Cd or whatever.  That’s really, really, hard to do.AllHipHop.com:  Ok, give me the one thing a producer should avoid doing in his or her process to get in the industry.Wendy Day:  I guess I’d say, don’t sign underneath another producer and let them steal your s**t.  Sometimes when you come up under a producer, you think that’s the price you have to pay to get on. But in a lot of cases, you never get on.  I could give you many, many, examples of this, but I wont do it here (Laughs).

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