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Record labels and how they work

Posted by fourtwentyplenty 
Record labels and how they work
August 10, 2004 10:52PM
I'm curious if anyone has any info on how record labels work and why they split into so many subsidiaries past and present? What's the difference between an executive producer and a producer? There's some reggae related info to discuss Rootzilla. I'm genuinely interested.

fourtwentyplenty
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 10, 2004 11:13PM
My knowledge of the business side of reggae is probably comparable to Jah Bill's knowledge of Capleton: I don't know it from squat. But I'd say the way record labels work and the way reggae labels (especially the Jamaican ones) work are two different animals. I just read a Jimmy Riley interview where he said that to this day the only company he's ever recieved royalties from is Taxi.

The first thing to note is that the term 'producer' means quite different things in the worl of rock & pop music and in the world of reggae. In pop & rock music producers are sorta like 'overseers' of the recording project, hired by the artist, and they get royalties for recods sold, just like the artist (actually more than the artist in some cases). In reggae world the producers hire the artists to record songs for them.

My impression about the roles of executive producer and producer is that producer is the person who has the ultimate financial responsibility for the recording. This would be the part that is not included in executive producer's job description. The executive producer might have his fingers in arranging, recording and mixing, as well as choosing studios, musicians, etc. As far as the terminology in reggae world goes, a 'producer' can pretty much mean any combination of these roles, but always seems to include the financial side (Lee Perry is a good example of the hands-on type of producer, who would write, arrange, pick musicians, record, mix, you name it. On the other hand someone like Junjo Lawes I believe mainly took care of financing the sessions and selecting the material and performers, leaving the musical side to the hands of musicians and engineers (I might be wrong but this is my impression). hope someone with more info can give better explanations...

One love,

Rootz
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 10, 2004 11:16PM
splitting into subsidiaries is probably often related to tax write offs.
executive producer = cash
producer = generally more hands on, involved in actual music production, sessions etc.
not a lot of info, but it's late and i'm stoned.
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 10, 2004 11:19PM
Rootzilla may not be stoned and so could be deemed more reliable at this time.
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 10, 2004 11:21PM
because everyone knows you can't get good weed in finland, reindeer meat yes, weed come to cali.
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 10, 2004 11:25PM
Yup, got them mixed up in writing that. So just switch exec. prod. and prod. around in the sentence that begin swth 'My impression...' Also, about rock & pop world, producer is hired by the artist or the record company to produce the artists album or single, executive producer is someone who invests their money to make that record. So the Jamaican producers would mostly fall into 'executive' category.

One love,

Rootz
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 10, 2004 11:27PM
And no, I'm not stoned. But I haven't slept during the whole night, so that might be an excuse.

One love,

Rootz
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 06:12AM
You might have more responses asking this on the dildo board, 4:20.

One love,

Rootz
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 09:49PM
Rootzilla you commented about there not being enough reggae related discussion on the board. I'm trying to help that. I'm sure I could go to the B & F board, but I was told that all these guys with things to say also have great knowledge of reggae. Why not ask it hear or is it that they really meant to disrupt the board?

Here's another question? Why/how is it that the same album is sometimes released on different labels with different cover art?
jbwelda
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:11PM
>Why/how is it that the same album is sometimes released on different labels
>with different cover art?

that usually comes about via licensing agreements with various labels who then prepare the albums for release and often change artwork and/or titles. often they are bootlegs and the art and titles are changed not only to attract gullible customers but also to avoid the scrutiny of the true license holders.

one love
jah bill
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:22PM
How can one discern which is the bootleg and which is the real deal? It seems to me that it is one of the biggest problems as a reggae lover. The worst thing is to buy an album and then find out that it is a terrible recording. Does anyone have any tips on how to get around this, short of listening to or previewing the album in some way? I know material from certain labels is practically a can't miss like Blood and Fire. I'd venture to say that all of their stuff is solid unless you're not a fan of a particular genre of reggae music they've released. Any other labels?

fourtwentyplenty
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:39PM
The bootleg part doesn't really have any relevence to the recording quality, legitimate labels put out shite recordings and there are some stella sounding questionable releases. It's a tough call with reggae anyway, what exactly is a questionable release ? Certainly if some one merely dubs a recording and then reproduces it for profit that's clear enough, but what about labels that continue to releases recordings after licenses run out and producers who release material and do not compensate the artists and musicians (the most common). One of the very useful functions of the B+F forum is you can usually obtain quick feedback on sound (and general) quality etc of a certain release before purchasing.
I try to support artists and labels as much as possible, but wouldn't refuse a bootleg copy of something completely unobtainable by other means.
Pressure Sounds is another (IMO) very reliable reissue label, but there are many out there.
jbwelda
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:39PM
lots of other labels, pressure sounds, motion, makasound, heartbeat, ras, trojan (these days but in the past they were one of the most prominent questionable labels) many more than i can mention put out quality legitimate releases. others like esoldun, lagoon, clocktower, rhino (of the uk not the rhino in los angeles), culture press all put out fairly dubious releases, or at least some of their releases seem pretty crap and some are outright pirates (abrahams/clocktower in many cases, including stealing b&f's masters and repackaging them). and then there is the entire ja music industry where no one is really sure of what is what much of the time and sound quality is often subpar even on legit releases.

best way to find out is to ask in a forum where others know about certain releases. just take anyone like me's opinion with a grain of salt! :-)

one love
jah bill
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:42PM
spooky.
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:43PM
So labels actually have an expirable license to release the recordings? How does that work?

What do you think of Soul Jazz?

fourtwentyplenty
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:47PM
The license part varies according to the contract negotiated, it can be short or unending (as most of the early Trojan contracts, that artists never actually read, were).
Soul Jazz are great, a little 'all over the show' but great collections imo.
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 11, 2004 10:48PM
"(as most of the early Trojan contracts, that artists never actually read, were)" - so it has been said.
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 12, 2004 08:02AM
"The worst thing is to buy an album and then find out that it is a terrible recording. Does anyone have any tips on how to get around this, short of listening to or previewing the album in some way?"

Like Bufo and JB have said, just ask around. I think my comment earlier tells a lot about the artists side, even in 'legit' business: "I just read a Jimmy Riley interview where he said that to this day the only company he's ever recieved royalties from is Taxi." So even if the company has a valid contract with the produced, the artist doesn't necessarily get anything. (It should be remembered that some of the recordings were made on the basis of one-off payment to the artist, like he was just a session musician on his own recording).

One love,

Rootz
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 12, 2004 10:17AM
A good thing to remember in reggae is that many of the seemingly thousands
of producers in jamaica might not have properly stored(or even held onto) their master tape from the 60s/70s/80s---or even 90s----and therefore you get guys who press from vinyl.

Throw in the non-existant(in many cases)legal contracts, rip-offs, death of either producer or artist,and what respective family members may or may not do, and
let's just say the situation is uh, unpredictable. Yeah...
jbwelda
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 12, 2004 10:35AM
>therefore you get guys who press from vinyl

many if not most reissue companies do this, for reasons given above plus in the 70s and 80s there was a tape shortage in ja and many producers reused master tapes. you have to remember, reggae was supposed to be a local, transitory music. none (or few) of these guys thought anyone would give a toss about todays songs tomorrow so tape archives were few or if they existed, they were in massive disarray or poorly stored. the exceptions might be riddim tracks that were used over and over by tubbys, jammys, studio one, etc but lee perry for instance was an example of a guy who just didnt (seem to) care and of course we all know the quality to expect from studio one on their home market (not to mention import) stuff.

the "pressing from vinyl" thing isnt always bad though; blood and fire for instance takes a lot of care and spends a lot of money on trying to restore and clarify their master tapes taken from old copies of the records. pressure sounds on the other hand cares not a bit evidently, judging from the sound of some of their releases.

one love
jah bill
jbwelda
Re: Record labels and how they work
August 12, 2004 10:37AM
>the exceptions might be riddim tracks that were used over and over by tubbys,
>jammys, studio one, etc

i forgot to mention one of the most prolific "mr do-overs", bunny lee.

one love
jah bill
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