Being a “producer” is a difficult thing to explain. Unfortunately, it has very little to do with either creating something you can hold in your hand or even, y’know, produce. But it is putting yourself in a position where all questions come to you and all questions you answer become your problem. That a position most people want to avoid.

Being a producer, in most fields, means getting money from one person and distributing it to a larger group of people who are, in turn, doing a series of small jobs that, when put together, creates a larger whole. So, depending on the number of jobs and the size of the whole, a producer’s job is either more important or less. Film producers employ thousands of people, sit through the credits of any movie and remember that half the people who worked on the movie aren’t credited, and you can see why film producers are very important, very powerful people.

I’m not a film producer. I produce live theater and music recordings.

Live theater employs a few people and doesn’t pay them well. This is an act of love we are doing. To call it a job is silly, we’re doing what we want to do and, I swear to God, if you ever catch me complaining about producing theater, I want you to stab me in the inner thigh so it takes me a little while to bleed to death.

The music recordings employ a bit more people. Quite a few, in fact. I wrote a blog on this earlier, but the work I do creates jobs for arrangers, engineers, musicians, directors, and singers, not to mention the random assistants and software guys. I would say that every regular size gig, ten to twelve songs, that I get employs about twenty five people.

And we are people who live and die on the edge of this knife. We went to school. We chose a life of music early on. We spent hours every morning practicing, scales, do-re-mi’s, bow position, hand position, breath control. We learned the circle of fifths, we learned figured bass, we learned how to use 7th chords.

And we are willing to be paid very little. As a producer, I fight like crazy to get these people paid a decent wage, but they will always agree to a pittance. And we agree that what we record is yours, you get to do whatever you want with it, you recorded it digitally so it’s yours until our grandchildren die, and we’ll never ask for another penny. Just the crappy wage that you pay me for the three hours I spend in the studio, not the thousands of hours I spent practicing, not the thousands of hours for the rest of history that what I recorded will be broadcast, just what we agreed on for the short time I actually play my oboe, sing my song, wave my arms, do my thing for you.

So, when you take that away… When you decide that the small budget that could go to freelance musicians scraping out a living, barely surviving, should go to you… when you think to yourself, “I am getting paid to be on staff at the publishing company because, despite learning some music in school, mostly I majored in business and got drunk at the frat and now I could easily do this stuff with MIDI and pay myself twice for this job…”, when you say “it doesn’t have to be *that good*, these are kids listening to this for chrissakes, what the hell do they know…” when you do these things, it makes you a terrible person. Plain and simple. These small acts of avarice are what makes the world base and mean.

Through the history of time, there has always been the Medicis or the frickin’ Catholics, or someone who was demanding the very best of us. Someone who was willing to pay for greatness, if we were willing to try to achieve it. It isn’t that way now. Our great musical stars are, for the most part, marketers, selling sneakers and kool-aid.

I won’t kvetch. This is the world, aint no use in complaining. But if you read this and you buy a CD for your children and you can’t stand listening to it because it is so bad, call the people who made it. Tell them that it should be *better*. Your kids are growing up ignorant. All of us are living in the gutter, but this music is reaching for nothing.