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Meet Sam Glaser of Glaser Musicworks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Glaser.

Sam, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born into a musical family, with music coming down the generations on both sides.

I grew up singing and started classical piano at age seven. I was in bands from high school and on. Upon graduating from the University of Colorado with a major in Business and a minor in Voice, I supplemented my music studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston and the UCLA Film Scoring Program. I opened my first recording studio by the airport, hence the name LAX Records, with my production partner Chuck Sparks. Over time it morphed into my current studio setup, Glaser Musicworks, in Beverlywood.

My initial clients were songwriters, singers and bands looking for a professional song and album production. I also became the in-house composer for the Sports Channel of LA, creating the TV soundtrack for all the Angel, Dodger and Clipper home games. Soon I moved over to the WB Network (Channel 5), writing incidental music for a variety of shows and sports broadcasts. Warren Miller Entertainment tapped me to write for both TV shows and movies, I scored some films for PBS and I did music for the fashion industry thanks to my garment manufacturer father’s connections.

So what’s up lately and how do you keep the business coming in?
These days I’m primarily doing album production in a variety of genres, from folk to jazz to metal. I also get occasional TV score, game or app clients. My album clients come to me because I serve as a reliable, reasonable one-stop-shop for all their needs. I’ve produced over a hundred full-length albums and therefore can easily calculate the scope of the project and accurately estimate turnaround and budget. I actually finish the projects that I start! I’ve written thousands of songs so I can help with the music and lyric creation front. I have good intuitions regarding how songs should be arranged and the ability to write the charts and hire and direct the studio musicians to get that vision realized.

As a keyboard player, I have a mastery of a wide variety of popular playing styles and a vast collection of gear to create any sound palate. Lastly, I mix and master in-house, offering a radio-ready finished product for a fraction of what it might cost in a large, commercial facility.

Thank God, the studio is fully booked and I don’t advertise. I believe this is due to the power of word-of-mouth and consistently treating people right. Clients marvel at the relaxed vibe of the studio coupled with a stunning amount of work that gets accomplished. They also are blown away at how my studio players are so good-natured and friendly while being vastly accomplished. I feel so blessed to be making music all day (and night!) and I think this joy is evident in every piece of music coming out of here.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No music career is smooth. This is the craziest business in business. It shouldn’t even be called a business! In terms of scoring to picture, the biggest struggle is in the limited timeframe granted for the musical aspect of the production. It is typically the afterthought, and by the time we get actual footage, the deadline is yesterday. Another issue is the plethora a free or library music options, making the custom score more of a rarity.

In terms of album production, the big question artists are asking these days is, “Why bother?” Streaming has won the day, ownership of music is dead. The paltry .004 cents per stream that services like Spotify pay virtually guarantee that artists never break even.

Of course, creative types must record… or they risk stagnation. But when the net result is essentially giving away the fruits of their labor? I’m grateful that many artists are still finding a way to produce and distribute their new material and using our services to bring their musical dreams to fruition. But I’m not bullish in the long run unless something fundamentally changes. In the meantime, one-stop production facilities like mine are increasingly attractive since budgets are tighter than ever.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Glaser Musicworks – what should we know?
On the album production front, what sets us apart is in the utilization of time-tested methodologies. Creating an album can be so nebulous, with so many options, so many opportunities for distraction. I get hired as a producer because I really do produce results.

I help the artist refine their goals and keep them focused. I “batch process” songs in that I work extensively in pre-production so that songs take shape in the most efficient manner possible. I chart every detail so that studio musicians can nail their parts without wasting time. I also get the “extra” take: allowing the musicians to take a track or two to give me a “wild” or “more expressive” version, so we have choices at mixdown. I make sure to get all the guitar parts, for example, for the whole project over consecutive days to minimize set up time and so we don’t have to get the player to come back in because there was something we forgot.

I hyper-focus, getting deeply into the music, hearing every detail and accepting nothing other than super-clean perfection, regardless of genre. My drum room is state-of-the-art, floating on neoprene, massive floors, the best mics and mic pres. The best players in the city have learned to call this place home. I also make sure everyone is well fed!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think the secret to our remarkable long-term run in this business is honesty. I’m an Orthodox Jew and I take my faith seriously. That means I don’t roll on Shabbas! It also means that I am scrupulously honest and invoice accordingly. It means that when I give an estimate to a client, I don’t “bait and switch” to get them to spend more than they expected.

I also clarify when my services as a producer are crossing the line into collaboration or co-authoring the material. I recognize it’s important to always have clear understandings and avoid assumptions. There are so many opportunities to mislead or abuse in the music business. That simply doesn’t happen here. It’s not good for my business in the long or short run, and I know it’s not good with the Creator.

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