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What are the roles of music producers?

Most Ghanaians may find it difficult naming producers, sound engineers, or songwriters of a song but can easily identify the artist’s name.  

Music-making is a complex job that involves songwriters, artists, producers, and sound engineers.

However, it is difficult for the average person to name a producer, sound engineer, or songwriter of a song but it is easy for them to identify the artist’s name.

In Ghana, it is even worse!

Musicians are the face of the music business but behind the scenes we have other people working hard to get the music playing.

Today my focus on music producers, the unsung heroes in the music industry.

IDENTIFYING PRODUCERS

Usually stuck in the studio making music, producers have not until recent times been interested in having media attention thus making it hard for Ghanaians to notice them.

Most at times, a producer is identified with his name tag – a strategy that has helped many gain fame whiles still remaining unknown.

A producer can also become popular due to working with a particular artist or having a unique sound people identify with.

An example is the Legendary Da’Hammer of the Last 2, whose beats were identified by his heavy drum kicks whiles Jay Q had the ‘Jama’ vibe to his song.

In recent times Producers have been more open to the idea of being in the faces of people as opposed to taking a back seat.

Producers such as Killbeatz and Mix Master Garzy, have left their comfort zone and are active and vibrant on social media and appearing in music videos.

This has helped them more identifiable to Ghanaians thus giving them celebrity status.

Also, we have producers who have also begun following their musical dreams such as Magnom – who had his smash single ‘Baby’.

With all the above developments, it is still surprising to note the average Ghanaian doesn’t understand the main role of a producer and the impact they have on a record.

Speaking to people on the street, I realized the misconception they have is producers just play beats even though producers do more than that.

To change that misconception I spoke to three young hit-making producers to find out their perspective; Fimfim (Tulenkey – Proud F Boys), Ssnowbeatz (TeePhlow – SOA) and TwoBars (Kofi Kinaata – Things Fall Apart.

What are the roles of music producers?
Producer Fim Fim || Credit: Instagram

ROLE OF PRODUCERS

Firstly, they spoke about how key producers were in the music process.

Tulenkey – Proud Fvck Boy produced by Fim Fim

FimFim referred to Producers as the building blocks of the whole music production process,

‘Producers are like the building blocks of the whole music production process because erm sometimes artists even come to the studio without having a song in their head. When they come they are like don’t you have any beat available so you play a couple of beats and they try to do some freestyles and when they feel this is the beat I want to work with they jump on it. So imagine an artist comes to the studio and producers don’t play any beat, how are you going to record your song or get your song done.’

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‘I will say producers even play 60% of the role. Aside from that some of the producers are coaches. Me myself I will coach you when you come to the studio. I don’t let you just sing what you want to sing, I coach you, I direct you. I suggest a whole lot to you so if we are on the same page, we good to go but if you feel s3 what you brought from home is what you want to go with I give you the liberty to also do your stuff but producers play a very major role in the production process.’

For Ssnowbeatz, he believes,

‘without music producers, there won’t be music… We are as important as the artists themselves.’

TwoBars echoes the same sentiment as he stated,

‘Producer is the main brain behind most songs you hear. The public fails to appreciate producers because the artistes are the ones who are out there but in the actual sense, we do 80 percent of the work.’

What are the roles of music producers?
Ssnowbeatz || Credit: Instagram

GAINING CREDIT AS PRODUCERS

Producers in Ghana are not as prominent as the artists they work for and are usually ignored when they produce a hit record.

Sometimes they are not even credited for their works leaving fans to heap praise on the Artists whiles failing to appreciate the contribution of the producers.

This is a development most producers are not happy about.

TeePhlow – SOA produced by Ssnowbeatz

TwoBars apportioned blame to the Artist’s management rather than the artist;

‘I feel somehow cheated. Quite often, the musicians are not well educated on these credits things so I usually blame their management. I have first-hand experience on an artist album that I wasn’t credited’

FimFim stated it was the best feeling in the world,

‘Ermm It’s not the best of feeling Charley, because a lot of work goes into the production before the song becomes what it is. And at the end of the day you realize all the effort that you put into the work, you are not even recognized and that is the order of the day.’

‘Immediately the song drops people just focus all their attention on the artists and the producers are left at the back. It’s not the best of feeling. ‘When you know that’s my baby’ but I’m not given the credit s3 that my son or daughter or product.’

Ssnowbeatz is yet to have an encounter of not getting credit for his works but he opined,

‘artists who do that don’t really understand the importance of the producer credit and we should rather start to educate them to fix that problem once and for all.’

What are the roles of music producers?
TwoBars || Courtesy TwoBars

ROYALTIES FOR PRODUCERS

According to Forbes, the global recorded music market stands at roughly $20-$21 billion.

How much of these incomes trickle into the pockets of producers and how do producers get paid?

Kofi Kinaata – Things Fall Apart produced by TwoBars

Per encounter and research, Producers make most of their money upfront by charging for the production of the beats but they can also earn royalties on records since they still own the intellectual property of the beat unless signed off.

However, in Ghana, it seems the only major source of money for producers is upfront payment without the support of royalties.

Thus whiles they can earn royalties they have to have the necessary paper works and my encounter with a majority of studios in Ghana show producers do not operate based on split sheets (Split sheets shows the distribution of rights and ownership based on percentages).

Although it is a requirement when putting songs on Major Music platforms, some Artists ignore to give producers their due with the idea paying for the beat gives them 100% rights on the song.

FimFim believes producers are not making much money in Ghana as he feels they are being cheated,

‘Producers don’t make much money in Ghana. Why because (first off) the artists pay for the studio sessions and think that’s it but one thing that we have to know is after I produce a beat for you, the beat doesn’t belong to you. You only paid for the studio session I still own that intellectual property. It’s mine,’ he said.

He also spoke believes the royalty system in Ghana doesn’t work,

‘So I’m supposed to be paid royalties but do the royalty system even work down here? It doesn’t work.’

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TwoBars buttressed the royalty part stating ‘royalties don’t work.’

He revealed; ‘About 90% of Ghanaian producers make money from the money that’s usually paid to them for the whole production.’

Ssnowbeatz didn’t touch on royalties but revealed he makes money by charging artists for production.

On royalty collection for producers, the Chairman of the Ghana Music Right Organization Rex Omar stated in an interview with MuseAfrica’s Tilly Akua Nipaa that producers could only earn royalties if they prove beyond reasonable doubt that they own or have rights to the song they produce for artists.

SOLUTION FOR PRODUCERS

It is clear most Ghanaian producers are suffering in silence and mostly it is because of their lack of education on the music business.

Most producers for the fear of missing out on producing for some of the top artists fail to secure their intellectual property; the beat.

They also take money upfront and forget about publishing royalties, thus leaving an artist and his team to take a 100% share of the song.

On the way forward, it has been established education is the key to helping producers gain recognition and the money they deserve.

They need to be educated on how royalties work, what publishing royalties are, and how to get artists to sign split sheets to enable them to earn money from their works aside from the production payment.

If all the above is understood, producers will start getting serious about production credits while earning more money to improve their livelihood. 

An increase in income means an improvement in equipment that leads to the improvement of the quality of sound produced in Ghana.

Luckily for producers in Ghana, tunesXmuse is here to help them with their publishing rights and many more.

If you are a producer and you want to learn more about publishing royalties or split sheets call tunesXmuse on 0547094698.

Story by Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh

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