Not a member yet? Join APRA AMCOS

Already started a Writer Member application? Continue

Anna Laverty on the Music Producer and Engineers' Guild

Story Published Wednesday 7 December 2022
Producer and Engineer Anna Laverty (photo by Marcelle Bradbeer)

APRA AMCOS Ambassador Anna Laverty is one of Australia's most in-demand music producers and engineers and has worked with Stella Donnelly, Camp Cope, Screamfeeder, Courtney Barnett and many more.

She is a co-founder of the new Music Producer and Engineers’ Guild (MPEG), which aims to provide a voice for its members, and to represent their commercial interests and community through advocacy and engagement.

We ask Anna about MPEG, the evolving role of the producer and, yes, songwriting splits.

Why did you form the Music Producer and Engineers’ Guild (MPEG)?

Australia has really needed a Guild to represent producers and engineers for a long time but no one could ever get it off the ground. The final nudge for me to do it came during COVID when our community was being largely forgotten in the conversation about the ‘Music Industry’.

Producers and Engineers have such unique issues and problems so if we build a supportive community we can help to address some of those issues together. Whether it be around rights and standards for producers or the mental health challenges faced by people working long hours, often alone we feel that by banding together as a collective voice we can be stronger and have better outcomes for everyone.

Who should join the MPEG?

Membership is open to anyone who is a music producer, studio sound engineer, mixing engineer, assistant engineer, etc. You just have to meet a basic minimum credit requirement to be a full member or you can sign up as a Student or Intern if you don’t quite meet the credit requirement. There’s also a Code of Conduct to agree to.

With many artists learning to do production themselves on their laptops and in their bedroom studios, what makes someone a ‘producer’ these days?

Well, the lines between what is production and what is songwriting are becoming more blurred as songwriters and producers are increasingly using laptops as instruments! Often the 'Additional Production’ credit can be used to help make sure everyone is credited appropriately. The most important thing is to communicate with each other about what your expectations are around credits and songwriting splits. We endeavour to create some clearer descriptions of these titles in the coming months.

Can you explain the role of the producer and the engineer? What kind of skills do you need?

The way I like to explain the difference is the engineer is responsible for getting the signal from one place to another and the producer is responsible for deciding how its going to sound when it gets there.

"Engineers are responsible for the technical side of the studio process and producers are responsible for the creative side."

Often the producer will have a creative vision for the project and is able to communicate to the engineer what they want and an engineer will use their experience to decide what equipment will be needed to get the desired outcome. Not to forget that often one person performs both the Producer and Engineer roles on a project.

How do producers contribute to the songwriting process?

This changes from project to project. Some producers write the entire song and the ‘Artist’ will just come in and lay down a vocal. Sometimes the ‘Artist’ brings the song fully formed to the producer to help record it.

But more often than not the artist and producer will write a song together with some combination of lyrical / musical collaboration. Every single project is different and you should try to avoid using a blanket agreement or statements when it comes to songwriting splits.

When should a producer and the artist and/or writer discuss songwriting credits? Do you have advice on how to discuss writing shares?

There are many different ways to split songwriting and the key with deciding how to do it is to have open dialogue between the collaborators. I would also recommend doing it as close to the session as possible - either on the day of writing the song or very soon (within a couple of days) afterward by email. This is so that the details are fresh in everyone's mind and it’s easier to stake your claim if it’s done within hours of writing the song.

What does the MPEG have coming up in 2023?

2023 is a huge year for the Guild! We’re going to launch a lot of our initiatives and announce the member benefits and discounts. Early in the year we will conduct a survey to better understand the needs of our members and plan how to meet those needs through advocacy and engagement.

We have a series of workshops planned for early in the year, these aim to educate both our members and the wider music community on producer and engineer's issues such as credits, producer points, the mental health of our members and some exciting support based initiatives.