Talking With Producer Manager Zach Katz (Part 2)

by moe on March 17, 2009

producersweek

zackkatz

This is the second half of a 2-part interview with Zach Katz. To read Part 1, please click here.

Do you focus more on placing J.R Rotem’s music with artists or are you more focused on placing music with film, television and video games?

We do both, but I primarily focus on placing his music with artists.

We have an incredible publisher that helps us, Sony/ATV. That’s one of the reasons to do a publishing deal – to add more people to your team. They have a full film, television & video game department, who I provide music to on a regular basis, and their job is to go out there and to secure placements.

So I don’t do it all alone; I have people on the team who can also help.

But that income is definitely valuable, and the name of the game – especially in this shrinking market – is to capitalize and bring in as many revenue sources as possible.

One issue many upcoming producers have is knowing when to do free production for an artist and when to start charging. Also, once they do charge, how much to charge. How do you recommend they approach that issue?

Well, one objective is to keep a roof over your head so that you can actually make the music that’s going to build your future.

It’s different for everybody, but I mean, some people are still living at home with their parents, so it’s not a matter of charging. They have the luxury of being able to give people tracks for free, at first.

Others don’t have that luxury, so they have to charge something. So, at first, doing free tracks is definitely a solid option. It’s going to help get your name out there.

If doing 1 or 2 tracks for free is going to help you sell tracks 3 and 4; it’s worth it. But it’s just a matter of what you’re economic reality is.

Once you get into the game and you start charging, there is no set range. I’ve seen new producers sell tracks for $500, and I’ve seen them sell tracks for $7500.

I’ve seen a new producer get lucky landing a first single for somebody, and was able to sell it for $30,000; so it all depends. It depends on who you’re dealing with, who the artist is, what kind of budget they have, and how valuable is your record to that project.

That’s the biggest thing; how valuable your record is to that project.

A result of this shrinking market is that budgets are cutting dramatically, and producers are having more difficulty charging what they did a few years ago. Where do you draw the line on how low to charge for a production?

It’s very simple – right now, record labels aren’t really interested in album cuts; they want singles.

If you have a record that a record label is actually looking at, to launch their artist’s career, or launch a particular album – if the foundation for that project is your song – then you’re holding the commodity. You can charge whatever you want.

If you’re a brand new producer that happened to nail a record, let’s say for Rhianna or Beyoncé; I’m just using them as an example, I’m not speaking about them specifically – but if you’re a brand new producer, you made your first record today and tomorrow it gets in the hands of Beyoncé’s A&R, or Rihanna’s A&R or whoever else at the top of the game, and they actually pick your record as their first single – it doesn’t matter if you’ve never sold a record before in your life; you can charge whatever you want.

We spoke about this briefly, but can you delve a little further into the beatmaker vs. producer debate? Do you think someone can have long-term success as a beatmaker as opposed to being a music producer?

I think it’s becoming more challenging to be a beatmaker. Like I was saying earlier, people don’t want tracks.

People email me tracks everyday; I probably get 20 tracks a day. But I can’t do anything with them.

Here’s the problem: if you’re an amazing beatmaker, but for some reason, you’re not working with songwriters and you’re not actually making records out of your beats, you’re only half way there.

Some people make beats and when it’s a really hot beat, they talk about how they can see it being a single, but it doesn’t matter how hot it is; it doesn’t become a single unless somebody writes the right hook to it; or the right song to it. If you don’t have that, then your hot beat won’t matter.katzquote02

To me, being a beatmaker is like having a very nice car that has no engine – you’re not moving. If you’re just a beatmaker, you’re not going all the way out, to do what you’re supposed to do.

My advice to any producer, or any aspiring producer who just sits in their room, making tracks all day long and trying to move tracks around – my advice to them is to spend at least as much time collaborating with songwriters, as you do making tracks.

Anybody who’s just making tracks and complaining that they can’t get on, or that they’re not moving, my answer to them is; you’re only doing half the job. That’s why you’re not going anywhere.

Artists need to keep their presence known and make sure that they stay up on sites like MySpace, Twitter & Facebook. How important is it for producers to keep up their public image?

I think it important for producers too; especially MySpace. I get up by producers everyday asking me to check out their MySpace. If time permits, I definitely go. The problem is, most of the tracks they have on there are average.

Don’t ask somebody to go to your MySpace unless it has your best stuff on there.

At the very least, make sure you put your best foot forward and make sure that your best records are on your MySpace; so if I go, I’m impressed.

Otherwise, it’s just an idea of what you can do. I don’t need an idea – I want to know what you’re capable of, at your best.

What’s the biggest mistake you notice others make when they’re coming up in the game? What advice can you offer them?

That’s a tough one. Probably, getting into the wrong relationships.

A lot of times, people seek out managers, and they’re so set in an idea, they’re so married to the idea of having a manager represent them, that they end up signing long-term contracts with people who can’t really do anything for them.

If you’re going to have somebody managing you, you should have a trial-period, to see how compatible you guys are and how productive you can be together.

If you guys prove to be compatible, then great – sign a long-term contract.

A lot of these guys, they want a manager so badly, they get into the wrong contracts with somebody who isn’t doing anything for them. And then they’re stuck with somebody, for a matter of years, who can’t move their career forward.

So just think things through and make sure not to jump into anything just because you love the idea of it. Try it out first.

You can find Zach Katz and Beluga Heights on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/belugaheights.

{ 16 comments }

brian March 17, 2009 at 2:42 PM

good advice. i need to send this to some others to read over. especialy that last part.

Chuck Anderson March 17, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Great interview Moe! As a producer manager for Trak Atiks Music, LLC, this interview with Zach Katz was inspiring and gave me alot of insight on what it takes to be a successful manager in the entertainment industry. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more great interviews from you!

youngfreshnew March 18, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Great interview. I’m not a producer or beatmaker but this information is super valuable to anyone who is heading into that direction.

Great job Moe & Zack Katz.. Love every minute of it!

People should take notice..

Purple Chrome (aka Seneca Malcolm, CEO) March 19, 2009 at 12:15 AM

As an Underground Bronx, NY Ghost-Producer/Singer/Songwriter/Pro Tools Engineer, reading this 2 part interview here is the TRUTH! I usually play the cut/background BUT sometimes you have to take on OTHER roles besides just “beat-making” -> for sure! I also humbly suggest constant networking with the “check writer’s” aka the people “behind” the artists & NOT just tryna bombard the “Superstars” on Myspace or Twitter lol…

*Get @ Me for: Sung Hooks, Songwriting, My Beats, & Engineering (Studio-Time)

Rodel Ramsey a.k.a FEARLESS July 14, 2009 at 9:08 AM

Zach Katz you know your stuff ,don’t worry I am working non-stop right now to become the 6th or 7th artiste signed on to Beluga Heights and the first artiste from Trinidad and Tobago to get a major Record Deal .Bless !

Xplicit Ent. October 20, 2009 at 7:17 AM

hey man… saw ur comment and totally got caught up in the fact that ur from Tnt…Im an upcoming producer from Trinidad…im very much interested in looking for “local” talent is there anyway i can hear ur stuff and vice versa? holla back at me

Anonymous March 26, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Check Rodel Ramsey on Facebook and search 777FEARLESS on You Tube .I have much hotter track now but can’t post up on sites because I taking a different approach with these tracks .

Producer KMOORE July 17, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Excellent article & advice!!

fb1434241746 August 7, 2009 at 12:54 PM

Zach makes some great points. When artists contact me for consultations or music production, I generally ask them similar questions: do you have a potential hit record? have you released any product, if so, how many units have you pushed? People want a proven product. The problem is, since this is such a seemingly desirable industry to work in, everyone dubs themselves as a manager, artist, or “producer”.

To truly become legitimate, you have to invest in yourself. This means creating a perfect product, and honing in on your value. For artists, it’s the perfect album. For producers, the perfect submission disc. For managers, getting the artist or producer with their act together, and their product ready to shop. The #1 mistake I see artists and producers making is cutting corners. Master your music, pay for a certified recording engineer, make the PHONE CALL, not the email. Don’t save money on the cheap graphic design or cd replication. When I was young, my dad told me “Son, I don’t care what profession you choose. You can be a lawyer or a garbage man. But whatever business you decide upon, be the best at your craft.” If you don’t have the money, save up or get an investment. I have 4 artists who have obtained small business investments between $10k and $30k on an unsigned independent level, simply by asking around.

In the end, it all comes down to your intention. If you intend to learn, you will seek those who are knowledgeable. If your judgment and outlook is skewed by pop culture like many, you will find yourself sitting in the studio making music, and hoping to get “discovered”. Instead, talk to as many people as possible. Don’t stop asking questions, and know your value. As Zach states, if you know your value, you will be able to offer your value to those who have something that you want (contacts to important relationships, etc.) On one hand, it’s a bartering business in the sense that you must give a little to get a little. Favor for a favor. If you have no value, then figure out what value you want to have, and give. Then work your way toward honing in your skill sets. Whether you are a great networker, a great musician, singer, producer, manager or leader, find you niche and offer others value. No more being stingy with your music, or your talents. Remember the song: “Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more”? Replace the word love with value. Now you have a key to success.

N8Beats
http://www.NateBeats.com
nate.rimmel@gmail.com

N8Beats March 26, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Just updating my sig, new website.

N8Beats March 26, 2010 at 12:45 PM

http://www.MakeYourHit.com 100 % Radio Quality Beats with hooks for $19.99
We’ll add SFX to match your lyrics, Custom Breakdowns, Mix & Master your music to 100 % Radio Quality.

JAY August 9, 2009 at 5:12 PM

Mr. Katz is cool. I keep in touch with them, but if you don’t have that hott record he will definitely let you know. Thats what I like about him.

King Boogie December 23, 2009 at 5:50 PM

Yea this dude is a great manager and gives great advice. I had the pleasure of meeting him and having dinner with him and a couple of top industry people… one of the greatest moments in my career, just to know im that close… Cool dude for sure!

traffikbeatz December 23, 2009 at 8:17 PM

Talking With Producer Manager Zach Katz (Part 2) http://bit.ly/mif4

This comment was originally posted on Twitter

DeLille Media March 16, 2010 at 9:25 PM

As a manager of a up and coming HOT PRODUCER, I am glad to read what I have felt all along. That not only writing beats, but knowing how to hook the masses is what can set you apart. I strive everyday to make those contacts to the right people. I know the music is phenomenal because the fans love it. Now its just a numbers game. I stick it out just as hard if not harder as the producer, knowing that our loyalty and hard work is paying off.

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