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Production vs. Songwriting
Old 19th March 2003
  #1
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Sofa King's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Production vs. Songwriting

Hello all,
Id like to get an idea of where you all think production ends and songwriting begins.

take care
Old 19th March 2003
  #2
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doug_hti's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
interesting and important topic, but not sure if i understand your question completely.

The truthful and honest reality now is that a good song produced poorly will many times be overlooked by a polished turd (or bad song produced great).
But better yet, have a good song and great production and it will obviously always win out. But I guess what I'm saying and what I experience on a regular basis, is that a good song will not always get through the hoops and loops without great production. This is something that has honestly changed in the last 1-2 years.

There are less and less A&R and publisher people that are seeing through the stuff. The demos now days are coming to the table very polished regardless of how good the song is.
So if you have a good song and don't have the capability to have great production, then you might be better off to strip it down as much as possible and go with the "less is more" mentality...

I have no idea if that is the sort of opinion you're asking. And I know I said some redundant common sense stuff....
Old 19th March 2003
  #3
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jazzius's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
seems to me that "ear candy" (production tricks) is replacing good songs (harmony and melody based) in recent years..........i think this is a problem 'cause ear candy dates quickly while a good song is timeless..............

..........'course some would say that production tricks are the new form of songwriting but i don't agree it's has such a long shelf-life as a good (traditional) song
Old 19th March 2003
  #4
Schnert
Guest
Hm, english is not my native language, so I'm not sure I got that question right either....

If I did, I've been wondering about the same issue: As a producer/engineer I often find myself altering the songs so much, including the melody, that I've been wondering if I should demand credits as a co-writer. Or do ya think it's included in the regular fee? How many notes do I have to change to be considered writing the damn thing?
Old 19th March 2003
  #5
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bassmac's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I was listening to a friends CD yesterday... I was so blown away by the ear candy, production, sounds, etc., I wanted to give up recording. But now, only a day later, I can't remember one song, one lyric, one melody. I've always thought a good song should stand on it's own with just guitar and voice. Remember when Dave Grohl performed "Everlong" on the Howard Stern show with just an nylon string acoustic guitar - that's what I'm talking about!

rollz
Old 19th March 2003
  #6
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Sofa King's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Ok let me make my original question somewhat clearer.

In my personal production history I’m always trying to decide myself and or negotiate with the artists, what is covered under my production fee, and when I should be credited as an author.

The typical bands I work with are high level Indies looking to be picked up by the majors. They’re usually in need of a musical over haul, so the preproduction period is pretty invasive and lengthy.

As a producer, I feel my job is to point out specifically where I feel the problems lie within a song or performance, and then I make general suggestions how to solve those problems.
Leaving to solution to the artist.

My belief is, when I start making specific solutions, singing melodies or changing chords, that is composition, not production.

Hopefully that clears up my post a little

Take care,
Old 19th March 2003
  #7
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by jazzius
seems to me that "ear candy" (production tricks) is replacing good songs (harmony and melody based) in recent years..........i think this is a problem 'cause ear candy dates quickly while a good song is timeless..............

..........'course some would say that production tricks are the new form of songwriting but i don't agree it's has such a long shelf-life as a good (traditional) song
I'm pretty much in total agreement with this statement. Mediocre songs played by mediocre musicians need a lot of candy to stack up. Most all the bands just seem to expect the studio to 'make that happen' for 'em... Make them 'not suck.' Or at least, suck minimally.

I'd much rather have great songs and players, but that's just not as common as it used to be. I'm likely to get flamed for saying it, but on the whole, in my neck of the woods, the bar has been lowered. Feel free to disagree. I've expressed this often and with several theories as to the 'whys' this has occured.

Or perhaps I'm just old, jaded and disillusioned.

And I find that I 'live' in the gray area between engineer, producer, co-songwriter.
I neither expect nor request writing credits. Just goes with the turf.

I do expect the pendulum to swing back, (hopefully) soon...
Old 19th March 2003
  #8
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infiniteposse's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Coming from a slightly different perspective...

I made electronic music (house, dnb, downtempo, etc) for years and in doing so sort of became the defacto engineer, producer and songwriter. I did this kind of writing from about 96' till about 2 years ago. I just all of a sudden hit this place where the process of building these songs, which is a lot about lengthy processes/treatments and fleshing out good sounds and "ear candy" got so painfully boring that I just couldn't stand it anymore.

I then moved back to writing on guitar exclusively which is how I started out making music over 15 years ago. I've never been happier with my songs and they hold up when played and sung by one person. The ear candy after the fact is OK, but actually working out a solid chord progression and a catchy melody is just so much more rewarding and the shelf life is going to be way way longer. I just can't listen to a lot of the electronic music I was buying a few years ago. There's just not enough substance there all of a sudden. There are the happy exceptions like the Boards of Canada, but for the most part, the appeal has just faded for me. Maybe it was largely contextual as well (ie: clubs and uh...substances).

This is a tad sad in that the music buying market is now gobbling up [email protected] like nobody's buisness and I'm not making it anymore, but ultimately I think this poor non-music (by that I'm thinking more the mass produced stuff that's got little to do with real talent and everything to do with the "machine" that creates it) will go away. The real stuff will survive and really has for the most part. As many of my friends who used to be party kids (who listened to a steady diet of dnb, house, etc...) grow up they're adding more and more "songs" into their music diet. God willing it's a trend.

My 15cents.
Old 19th March 2003
  #9
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doug_hti's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Sofa King
Ok let me make my original question somewhat clearer.

In my personal production history I’m always trying to decide myself and or negotiate with the artists, what is covered under my production fee, and when I should be credited as an author.

The typical bands I work with are high level Indies looking to be picked up by the majors. They’re usually in need of a musical over haul, so the preproduction period is pretty invasive and lengthy.

As a producer, I feel my job is to point out specifically where I feel the problems lie within a song or performance, and then I make general suggestions how to solve those problems.
Leaving to solution to the artist.

My belief is, when I start making specific solutions, singing melodies or changing chords, that is composition, not production.

Hopefully that clears up my post a little

Take care,
Okay, got ya. I'm not a songwriter, but my wife is and does that for a living, so I hear the frusterations and what not....
and I believe there should definately be an etiquette.

Like you said, as far as producing, the role should be to point out things that should be worked on, but not to actually make them yourself (from a song perspective), unless BOTH PARTIES ARE VERY VERY CLEAR.

What you should do, is define your role as prouducer/engineer and let them know that (as you said) you can make suggestions of WHERE they can make the song better.
If they are still having trouble and they are aware of it, then you can say, "I can try and help you, BUT this is SONGWRITING, not producing or engineering...and we just need to be clear on that".
Then if you do a section, you split up what it's worth and if someone helped you, etc. But obviously, significant lyric changes and melody changes, are songwriting.

However, since moving into the "huge production/programming age" I think that a lot of producer/programmer/engineers may have a hard time differentiating what is SONGWRITING and what is ARRANGING. Arranging parts does not mean anything and is not worth anything usually songwriting wise (unless it's a old song of public domain). Arranging could include catchy string lines or guitar parts, counter parts, etc.

So I think you got it right sofa king, just be upfront about it, because I know of producers that will try and jump in without being asked and expect songwriting credit (usually overestimated % as well) and this will piss off a writer like nothing else and is quite rude.

hope that confirms your thoughts
Old 19th March 2003
  #10
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Most of the best producers get very involved hands-on with the arrangement, the form, the chord structure and even minor lyric and melody changes to facilitate a better performance but this is not considered a legitimate reason to own part of the song.
Old 19th March 2003
  #11
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Sofa King


My belief is, when I start making specific solutions, singing melodies or changing chords, that is composition, not production.
I dunno - that's part of the nature of the way musicians work around here - it's certainly NOT considered to be composition but simply doing what you have to do to make the song work.

As an aside, most of the classic musical hooks you hear in country music - memorable guitar intros for example, were created by the musicians out in the room - it's part of what they're hired for as musicians and they aren't credited as co-writers.
Old 23rd March 2003
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The real problem here is how you get paid.

If you produce and mix a record you get about 4 points.

If you co-write all the songs with the band on the record you would be lucky to get the same (you do the math)

But, if the song gets played on the radio then the writer gets paid.

On tv and movies, then the writer gets paid.

Sales you both get paid.

Let's say you produced "Born to be Wild"

That song is all about the writing. To this day it is played on radio almost as much as any other (non-new) song.

Who get's paid. The writer. Not the producer. Not even the singer.

Everyone gets paid differently. Everyone contributed to that song being what it is.

I would try to get a contract with the band up front. "Look, I'm going to be changing alot of the songwriting on this record. Some songs as much as 50%. Let's make it 25% across the board and I'll only take 3 points."

Now the artist gets to keep an extra point.
Old 23rd March 2003
  #13
Good one Prod!



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