Stacking the deck
So for a while now, I’ve been hearing some stuff about the producer for the new Brian Free and Assurance project (who is NOT Wayne Haun, alas). Evidently BFA’s label, Daywind, and this producer have agreed that BFA has to record at least three songs that the producer has written. Honestly.
The producer, Barry Weeks, is obviously quite talented as a songwriter (”Truth is Marching On,” “Mountain Mover”). He’s produced the Booth Brothers and wrote several songs on that project. So it’s not that he’s unworthy of the cuts as a songwriter. It’s the self-interested squelching of the competition that’s troubling. If he’s at all worth his headphones as a producer, he has to know that the best song selection for an album comes from songwriters competing for a limited number of slots on a project. Stacking the deck is how you make weak records, no matter who you are.
I wonder if this is the same guy whom songwriter Joel Lindsey blogs about here. Even if it isn’t, it’s nice to know that a talented guy like Lindsey appears to agree with me, or maybe I’m agreeing with him. No matter, money quote:
I have said it before and I will say it again… TO THE ARTISTS: If my song is not the best song for your project, DON’T RECORD IT. But if you throw my song into the pile of potential songs for your project and IF IT IS THE BEST, don’t let ANYONE (record company, producer, publisher, etc.) keep you from recording it. I don’t want cuts, if I have get them the wrong way. I mean that. I’d rather fold shirts at The Gap. Of course, I’m just arrogant enough to think that if politics were removed I’d actually get more cuts, but who knows? I just know that I love writing and getting songs recorded and being proud of the work that I do. And I love getting cuts because my songs were the cream of the crop…not because I twisted someone’s arm to manuever cuts on the project.
One point Lindsey doesn’t make is that producer-friendly deals not only shut out potentially worthier songs, but also give the producer/songwriter an incentive to submit less than his best songs, since he knows he’s guaranteed a fixed number of cuts. So not only do other songwriters get shafted. So do the artist and the listener. Of course, I’m sure BFA and their new producer would say that they’re getting the best from everyone all the time, including from Weeks’ songbook, but once you’ve put your thumb on the scale, it’s hard to take a “trust me” terribly seriously.Email this Post