August 2017

Music Producer Ludwing Erick Salazar:
My dream is to become famous


By: Melanie Hazemberg
Projects Abroad Volunteer

Photo: by Melanie Hazemberg

Ludwing Erick Salazar is one of the best music producers of Bolivia. He makes tracks for young artists from all over the world. Artists come to his little recording studio in Cochabamba where he records their songs and prepares them for the real music business. In a country like Bolivia where the music industry has a minor role, it is difficult to accomplish your dreams of being a producer.

Can you tell us something about the music industry in Bolivia?

"The thing I love to most being a producer is that you can make a final product from just a scratch."
Photo: by Melanie Hazemberg

There is no music industry in Bolivia. In other countries, there are many record labels, but not in Bolivia. Those labels help artists promote their tracks and become famous. The record labels create the link between production and promotion. The few pertinent Bolivian artists here are promoted by cellphone companies like Tigo or Viva. Unfortunately, the only way to survive as an artist in Bolivia is to perform. I am working with starters in the music business, so to actually get requests to perform can be rare. You also cannot sell your music here because of pirated goods. When it is about music everything is sold through Facebook, YouTube, and other online media channels. Bolivia is first in the row when it is about online music. Nobody here buys CDs anymore. In the last two years my artists have been putting their music on Spotify, but that unfortunately only works for artists who are already quite well known. When you're a starter like all of my artists, there is no way to make money with Spotify. Every time somebody listens to the whole song you get 0.00001 of a dollar cent. So it is really complicated to be an artist. I have actually no idea how my artists can survive in a country like Bolivia."

"I do not know how you can survive in Bolivia being an artist"

So, if you do not know how artists can survive, why did you decided to become a producer?

"I went to London to study music. I began placing my focus on bass guitar; because that is my main instrument. During my studies, I met many people in the music business. When I finished my studies and got my degree, I played with some artists. I toured the UK with a rapper and performed with others for the BBC and MTV channels. That was amazing! During this period, I had a friend who was into producing music. I liked it and took some classes to learn more about producing. I could help my friend in his small studio with some recording stuff when I was doing the classes.

Afterwards, I could record for other people and for the rapper who I was working with. So my focus was changing from being a musician to becoming a producer. The thing I love the most about being a producer is how you can make the final product from scratch. Being a producer I see the whole picture of a song in my head. When people come to me with demos I know exactly how I can make a great track out of it. I love how the entire process unfolds."

And what the process going of making songs?

I want to make the new, next and young Bolivian star
Photo: by Melanie Hazemberg

"It depends on the artist. Sometimes artists come to my place with only an idea. They want for example a song about love. Sometimes that is the only thing they already know. Then we can write a song together and make the arrangements. When they don't have any ideas about what they want I can set up some ideas. Most of the time it takes two or three days to figure out what suits their voice and what kind of song is good for them. Sometimes the artist already has the whole idea. The song is finished and with the exact guitar chords and piano part. In this case, my job is simply to record everything and then I am finished. So it depends on the person who I am working with. For example, Santiago Laserna: he is a songwriter who writes songs and plays guitar. I made with him an EP composed of four songs. This guy also works in my band to helping to make songs. Santiago is quite well known in Bolivia. He writes his own songs, so they are really personal. When he has a song, he comes to me and I record it for him."

Can you give more examples of people who are working with you?

"I am for example working with a girl named Sara Salinas who is only 14 years old. She said to me that she wants a song that is really fresh and made for teenage girls. I made the whole idea for her.

She said: 'I want something with the word real.' That was the only thing she wanted, so I let her say real and chopped this word into little parts. The result was the beginning of a dance track. This girl just started in the music world. She really wants to be an artist but first she needs to learn more about the music business, because that is necessary when you want to become an artist. I also did some recordings for a guy from Norway.

He was kind of famous there. He is only fifteen years old and came to Cochabamba to visit his sister and recording a song. I recorded this song with him in one day. Sometimes there are people coming who just want to record one song and other times they want to do a whole album. An album takes longer but I like to do that more. When you produce an album or an EP you can do more songs. Every song needs to be produced in the same style but at the same time, it has to be a little bit different. So, keeping this variety while conforming to the style is really interesting."

And what kind of music style do you prefer to produce?

"I am very open. I do a lot of different music styles. In Bolivia, you can find a lot of Cumbia music. However, when somebody asks me to make a Cumbia track I will probably say no. I don't like this style because it is always the same. I think I like pop the most because you can take elements from other genres. Pop is always a mix of different music styles.

When I was in London, I mainly recorded Salsa and here I am playing in a rock-country band. So I like to do different styles."

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

"In the future, I would like to become famous. I would love to perform with famous artists and make arrangements for them. My other goal is to take the music from Bolivia out of Bolivia."

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