Amazing money in the world of Iranian music, we asked Mehdi Manafi to join us in this conversation
- May 23, 2023
We talk about music. Some people say that there are not many figures in music that are worth listening to. We are talking about “music powers” or “music mafia”. A phenomenon that entered the world of music with the influx of excessive money, like everywhere else, and was so strong that no one could resist it. No voice can be heard from the Ministry of Guidance to stand up to this power and other organizations apparently still do not know what is going on. Independent singers protest from time to time, and others seem to have decided not to speak so that their lifeline is not cut off.
This time, we want to see if financial turnover in music is worth risking or not? How much should be spent to create a brand and how much does this brand benefit its creators? How much should it cost to make a music album in the current situation? Do they still sell music albums? Where are the costs of producing a music album compensated for the producer?
what is the story
We are talking to one of the people involved in the music field. He is willing to give information on the condition that his name does not appear in the report. He says that he has a small studio and many singer and producer friends. He does not want his bread to be bricked and make enemies for himself. We ask him about expenses and income in music. He says: “In 1998, costs have increased greatly. Last year was better. Many singers prefer not to release an album because it’s all a loss. No one buys the album, either they download it or finally, if they believe too much, they go to music sites and buy the songs. Nobody buys physical albums anymore. Most of these producers have their own studio to reduce the cost. All the income of the producer comes from the concert, especially if he can hold a concert outside of Iran.
We ask him about the costs of producing an album, and he answers: “It’s impossible to say a fixed number. It depends on the singer and the producer. It depends on what level of quality he chooses for his album. Some singers are rich, but they only care about releasing an album and leaving. Neither they follow nor their audience (if they have any). But there are some who do not have strong financial support, but they like to work with professionals and they want to comply with all the standards in their work.” In the continuation of his explanation, he categorizes the albums into medium and strong. Then he says that the cost of albums depends on the number of pieces.
The cost of an album
Mehdi Manafi says about the paid numbers: “The first step is choosing a composer. By the way, it is at this stage that the singer has to decide what quality of the album he wants. If the composer is a face, the price will be higher. They may be better than him, but he is in the stock market. He may have gained this fame due to his collaboration with figures outside of Iran or appearing in television programs. A singer cannot spend less than 10 million tomans for an average composer. 10 million to 30 million tomans for one piece. The handsome or strong composer demands between 35 and 50 million for each piece, depending on the position of the singer. Of course, we have heard more numbers in recent months. After that, it is the turn of the regulator. It also depends on the type of work. There may be someone who arranges a piece for five million tomans, but arranging an orchestral piece is not less than 13 million tomans. Prominent figures of the regulator are paid between 40 and 50 million tomans, and these numbers increase and decrease according to the background or ability of the singer. The singer has to pay a fee for mixing and mastering, which is much lower than the salary of the composer and arranger, and maybe even with one million tomans, the matter can be settled.”
free songs, expensive songs
One of the important points about a small number of songwriters is that they make their works available to singers outside of Iran for free, and after these songs are played and their fame is added, they raise their wages inside the country. A point that was the subject of many debates a few years ago and one of the poets claimed that two or three of the songwriters were even willing to pay money for famous singers outside of Iran to sing their songs. One of the reasons for the different prices of songs is that each poet has a position for himself and sets a salary for himself according to the media he has. Of course, if he doesn’t feel like singing and doesn’t leave his good works for himself. After talking with a number of songwriters, we found out that the songs start with five million tomans and may reach 20 million tomans, depending on the singer and the singer. Perhaps these figures have caused some singers to put words together and sing them and publish their names as songwriters in the album’s birth certificate. Usually the game of songwriter and singer is either win-win or both lose together. If he gets a song, in addition to the singer, the songwriter will be more famous and the price of the song will be added.
How many albums?
Although it is not possible to get an exact figure, we reach two odd numbers for two levels of album production. Let’s say you’re a regular singer who wants to release an album with eight tracks. You have to set aside nearly 606 million tomans for this. This condition is more special for a professional and strong album. The cost of this album is close to one billion and 600 million tomans. Now why should a producer spend such a figure on average for a singer and an album. We know that every producer does not work with only one singer and such a number may be multiplied by five or 10 people.
Studio and musicians
A fee must be paid for each hour of work in the studio, which is again categorized based on quality. A producer who does not want to be named in the report helps us here: “The cost of one hour of recording in a normal studio is between 120 and 200 thousand Tomans. This number is between 250 and 400 thousand tomans in a famous studio with facilities. It is obvious that the duration of making a song in the studio varies according to the type and arrangement and the use of musicians, etc. A singer may record one piece in three hours and another in 15 hours. According to the ability of the singer and the conditions of the studio and the number of pieces on average, it takes between 50 and 100 hours to record an album. Mixing and mastering work for amateur singers is done by the studio itself. The musician’s salary is another cost that the singer has to bear and it varies based on the quality of his work. This wage is calculated hourly and piecewise. According to the type of instrument and the quality of their work, watchmakers are paid from 500 thousand tomans to three million tomans. Of course, musicians of abandoned or more specialized instruments demand higher wages. Those who count pieces have their own method. They request between two and four million tomans regardless of the percentage of compromisers in the plot.
Virtual space and billboards
Now that the album is made, it’s time to release it. We obtained the tariff table for advertising on billboards. The average cost of the presence of only one billboard in the city for a period of one month and according to the urban area is 100 million Tomans. Making news in the media, creating virtual pages on Instagram, paying an amount to appear on popular radio programs and free attendance at the beginning of activities in charity centers are among the actions that are done in order to advertise and be seen more.
Different numbers are proposed for these matters, and it is impossible to arrive at an exact number, but in the discussion of billboards, at least one billion tomans can be considered for 10 billboards in the city for one month.
How are costs returned?
While everyone knows that producing an album is just a loss, why should someone be found and suffer the consequences of this loss. The most important reason for producing albums for singers and producers is to use them in concerts. In fact, concerts are the main source of income for producers. Of course, if they are a little lucky and can find their audience outside of Iran, they can earn in dollars. Some time ago, a young singer broke the record of performing on stage in such a way that they wanted to register his name in the Guinness book. Although many concerts are held in different cities of the country, the main center and focus of attention is Tehran. Let’s review the main halls together: Milad International Exhibition Hall has 2100 seats. Milad Tower Convention Center has 1700 seats, Iranian Arena has 800 seats, and Vahdat Hall has 900 seats. Let’s imagine that the average concert ticket is 90 thousand tomans. That is, a concert session brings an income of 189 million tomans. Of course, expenses such as hall rent, venue management, light and sound equipment, band and singer, media advertising and the percentage of ticket sales sites are deducted from them. Finally, 80 to 90 million Tomans remain for the concertgoer for each session in the most pessimistic case. Calculate this number for two sessions in one night. Now multiply this figure by the number of domestic and foreign concerts of any singer you like and see why a producer is willing to spend 1 billion 600 million tomans for an album. The producer usually signs a five-year contract with the singer, and he must perform whenever and wherever he wants.
Mohsen Rajabpour, the director of Hamed Homayun’s programs, in 1996, in an interview with “Sobh No” said: “In a country where the world thinks that concerts are not held or that concerts are restricted, we have been able to hold concerts in the first half of the year in a period of five months. In 1996, we had about 239 performances. “We have held concerts in all of Iran, except for four or five provinces.”
You heard right. 239 performances in five months. Be sure to bring your calculator with you. It is obvious that the costs in the previous two years were lower than now and the numbers in this report are not the criteria for calculating. But again, an amazing number for just one singer and producer.
The basis of this calculation was the singers who had talent and did not have enough money to spend on their development. There are also singers who bear all the expenses themselves, and the producers are only their spiritual supporters and then take the profits of their possible concerts.
Certainly, music and concerts have benefited some people who have been working in this field for many years, and of course they always complain that music is oppressed in our country and is not paid attention to. The number of concert organizers, singers and producers is increasing day by day and its financial turnover is also increasing. This is the name that has brought many breads to the tables and still some people are ungrateful.