Today I would like to clarify a series of problems that I have observed working in the niche of music recording studios, and it is an issue that especially affects independent artists or beginners who have no technical knowledge in music production and mastering, so sometimes they can turn to people who have fraudulent businesses.:
In a world where it is common to copy or take music from others and pass it off as your own without the client realising it, fraudulent music production services are becoming more and more common. Similarly, superficial sound processing and passing it off as a technically adequate mix-master is also typical.
The problem in this kind of practice affects the singers, who at the same time are the ones who hire these kinds of services without realising the consequences. And, as I say, many artists do not have enough musical background to identify these fraudulent services, which is a problem for them and also for the professionals who work with dignity and who, with each fraud, lose the possibility of offering a rigorous and, above all, real service.
What’s good about this work
Music is an art, and like any art, you don’t need a university degree from the best educational institution in your country to get into the best recording studio or record label..
Therefore, it could be said that music gives the possibility to stand out for a good intuition being an amateur, and in fact some of us musicians who collect university degrees can also be considered amateurs when we go to certain corners of music, because its infinite condition turns us into mere explorers, especially in the experimental part of the creative process..
La cara B
But, just as in painting or poetry, in this world of music no one will ask you to study in order to do your job, because what counts is to assert yourself through direct results. The problem at this point is that, as there is no “Hippocratic oath” (so to speak) as in other professions that are preceded by a degree and a qualification, there are many “professionals” who play on the ignorance of their clients and customers (singers, influencers, amateur musicians…etc) to make a living from selling smoke and mirrors or swindling.
And although this is a rather bitter subject, I think that at some point it would be necessary to talk about it so that, if you are an artist, you are aware not to be fooled by anyone, because – truth be told – looking for commitment and quality here can be like trying to hunt for moles in a field of anti-personnel mines..
I would first like to comment on a series of anecdotes I have experienced during my years of work as a producer and mixing engineer, and then go on to make a series of recommendations to help artists not to lose money on fraudulent services..
1. Plagiarism and deception
There have been several artists who have come to me asking for commitment in my work or with mistrust. At first I was surprised, but over time I began to normalise my experiences with fraudulent professional practices in new artists..
Some singers doubt one’s work because of previous experiences with scammers selling other producers’ bases as their own. And what worries me most about this is not the number of artists who have become aware of the scam, but the many, many others who are scammed without being aware of it, because there are possibly a greater number of them than those who manage to uncover it..
I remember a specific case in which the theft was very blatant: the “producer” searched for an instrumental in which the pseudonym of the real beatmaker was heard in the intro of the track. The producer’s pseudonym is usually heard in instrumentals produced by leasing beats or free type beats, belonging to large YouTube channels to which hundreds of thousands of people who pay for their music are subscribed, a service that is carried out in a possibly questionable way in terms of conditions, but legal at the end of the day.
It seems to me to be tremendously audacious to take works that are so widely distributed – and with the producer’s pseudonym appearing on them – and sell them as original productions. And this doesn’t only happen in Spain, it also happens in other countries, in particular one of the artists who told me about it lives on the other side of the pond. And the fact is that the roguery is not endemic to Spain, but to music itself..
2. Non-consensual resale
But this is not the only fraudulent practice seen in music production. There are also others such as resale without consent. There are people who pay producers for their music pretending to be clients who require their services. Once they have bought the instrumentals, they use them to resell their tracks without their knowledge; they buy a beat at a certain cost and resell it by inflating it in order to take a percentage of each sale.
Here it is worth clarifying that it is one thing to contact a ghost producer to make an instrumental explaining beforehand that you will try to resell it or even send it to a record label (I myself have worked as a ghost producer at times) and quite another to make resale illegal by omission. What is clear is that no one is spared here!
1. False mixes/poor or intentionally mediocre mixes
Some of the artists I work with decide to ask another sound engineer to do the mix because the price is cheaper, or because when they record vocals in their studio – some beatmakers don’t record vocals – they also do the mix in the studio. The thing is that on some occasions it has happened to me that when the artist returns the master for me to listen to it I realise that it is all unworked, practically raw. This artist has then paid for a work that has not been done..
2. Flowerpower gifts
On other occasions the artist tells me that along with the recording he/she is given the mixing in the studio. When they finish the work and send me the master, I find out that there is no master at all! It even sounds worse than a quick pre-mix, as if it had been done in any way; they haven’t even minimally processed the voice, which gives the impression that it is a vocal recording made with a smartphone’s recorder..
That’s why, understanding that some artists want to take my instrumentals to other studios, I always ask them to pass me the portfolio of each professional to know if they can be trusted, because I prefer to advise them rather than being taken for a ride. Besides, it doesn’t do me any good if my works are processed badly, because when a work is badly mixed, it’s not worth exposing it in my RRSS or on my website, so I lose part of the profit of so many hours of effort.
Therefore, I believe that the money lost by many artists in scams and malpractice is lost in the form of opportunities for those professionals who really do a correct and meticulous job with high quality tools. For paying less money to an engineer who offers “miraculous value for money”, somehow there are professionals who do not grow due to fixed prices for quality and time of work. But at the end of the day the recording studio market is a jungle, and in every jungle there are scavengers.
Anyway, I hope this blog will help you to exercise caution when choosing a professional to work with on your musical ideas and final sound processing. I’ll leave you other similar ones down here, see you next week! Remember that you can buy rap, trap, drill, reggaeton, dembow, pop, r&b…beats!