A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has many, varying roles during the recording process. They may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements.
A producer may also:
The producer typically supervises the entire process from preproduction, through to the sound recording and mixing stages, and, in some cases, all the way to the audio mastering stage. The producer may perform these roles themselves, or help select the engineer, and provide suggestions to the engineer. The producer may also pay session musicians and engineers and ensure that the entire project is completed within the record label's budget.
A recording session in Denmark
|Names||Record producer, music producer|
|Competencies||Instrumental skills, keyboard knowledge, songwriting, arranging, vocal coaching|
|Recording engineer, executive producer, film producer, A&R|
A record producer or music producer has a very broad role in overseeing and managing the recording and production of a band or performer's music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, composing the music for the project, selecting songs or session musicians, proposing changes to the song arrangements, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through audio mixing (recorded music) and, in some cases, to the audio mastering stage. Producers also often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules, contracts, and negotiations.
Writer Chris Deville explains it, "Sometimes a producer functions like a creative consultant — someone who helps a band achieve a certain aesthetic, or who comes up with the perfect violin part to complement the vocal melody, or who insists that a chorus should actually be a bridge. Other times a producer will build a complete piece of music from the ground up and present the finished product to a vocalist, like Metro Boomin supplying Future with readymade beats or Jack Antonoff letting Taylor Swift add lyrics and melody to an otherwise-finished “Out Of The Woods.”
The artist of an album may not be a record producer or music producer for his/her album. While both contribute creatively, the official credit of "record producer" may depend on the record contract. Christina Aguilera, for example, did not receive record producer credits until many albums into her career.
In the 2010s, the producer role is sometimes divided among up to three different individuals: executive producer, vocal producer and music producer. An executive producer oversees project finances, a vocal producers (also known as a vocal arranger) oversees the vocal production, and a music producer oversees the creative process of recording and mixings.
The music producer is also often a competent arranger, composer, musician or songwriter who can bring fresh ideas to a project. As well as making any songwriting and arrangement adjustments, the producer often selects and/or collaborates with the mixing engineer, who takes the raw recorded tracks and edits and modifies them with hardware and software tools to create a stereo or surround sound "mix" of all the individual voices sounds and instruments, which is in turn given further adjustment by a mastering engineer for the various distribution media. The producer also oversees the recording engineer who concentrates on the technical aspects of recording.
Noted producer Phil Ek described his role as "the person who creatively guides or directs the process of making a record", like a director would a movie. Indeed, in Bollywood music, the designation is actually music director. The music producer's job is to create, shape, and mold a piece of music. The scope of responsibility may be one or two songs or an artist's entire album – in which case the producer will typically develop an overall vision for the album and how the various songs may interrelate.
At the beginning of record industry, the producer role was technically limited to record, in one shot, artists performing live. The immediate predecessors to record producers were the artists and repertoire executives of the late 1920s and 1930s who oversaw the "pop" product and often led session orchestras. That was the case of Ben Selvin at Columbia Records, Nathaniel Shilkret at Victor Records and Bob Haring at Brunswick Records. By the end of the 1930s, the first professional recording studios not owned by the major companies were established, essentially separating the roles of A&R man and producer, although it wouldn't be until the late 1940s when the term "producer" became widely used in the industry.
The role of producers changed progressively over the 1950s and 1960s due to technology. The development of multitrack recording caused a major change in the recording process. Before multitracking, all the elements of a song (lead vocals, backup vocals, rhythm section instrument accompaniment, solos and orchestral parts) had to be performed simultaneously. All of these singers and musicians had to be assembled in a large studio where the performance was recorded. With multitrack recording, the "bed tracks" (rhythm section accompaniment parts such as the bassline, drums, and rhythm guitar could be recorded first, and then the vocals and solos could be added later, using as many "takes" (or attempts) as necessary. It was no longer necessary to get all the players in the studio at the same time. A pop band could record their backing tracks one week, and then a horn section could be brought in a week later to add horn shots and punches, and then a string section could be brought in a week after that.
Multitrack recording had another profound effect on music production: it enabled producers and audio engineers to create new sounds that would be impossible in a live performance style ordering. Examples include the psychedelic rock sound effects of the 1960s, e.g. playing back the sound of recorded instruments backward changing the tape to produce unique sound effects. During the same period, the instruments of popular music began to shift from the acoustic instruments of traditional music (piano, upright bass, acoustic guitar, strings, brass and wind instruments) to electric piano, electronic organ, synthesizer, electric bass and electric guitar. These new instruments were electric or electronic, and thus they used instrument amplifiers and speaker enclosures (speaker cabinets) to create sound.
Electric and electronic instruments and amplifiers enabled performers and producers to change the tone and sound of instruments to produce unique electric sounds that would be impossible to achieve with acoustic instruments and live performers, such as having a singer do her own backup vocals or having a guitarist play 15 layers of backing parts to her own solo.
New technologies like multitracking changed the goal of recording: A producer could blend together multiple takes and edit together different sections to create the desired sound. For example, in jazz fusion Bandleader-composer Miles Davis' album Bitches Brew, the producer cut and edited sections together from extensive improvisation sessions.
Producers like Phil Spector and George Martin were soon creating recordings that were, in practical terms, almost impossible to realize in live performance. Producers became creative figures in the studio. Other examples includes Joe Meek, Teo Macero, Brian Wilson, and Biddu.
Another related phenomenon in the 1960s was the emergence of the performer-producer. As pop acts like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and The Kinks gained expertise in studio recording techniques, many of these groups eventually took over as (frequently uncredited) producers of their own work. Many recordings by acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who are officially credited to their various producers at the time, but a number of these performers have since asserted that many of their recordings in this period were, either wholly self-produced (e.g. The Rolling Stones' Decca recordings) or collaborations between the group and their recording engineer (e.g. The Small Faces' Immediate recordings, which were made with Olympic Studios engineer Glyn Johns).[nb 1]
The Beach Boys are probably the best example of the trend of artists becoming producers – within two years of the band's commercial breakthrough, group leader Brian Wilson had taken over from his father Murry, and he was the sole producer of all their recordings between 1963 and 1967. Alongside The Beatles and Martin, Wilson also pioneered many production innovations – by 1964 he had developed Spector's techniques to a new level of sophistication, using multiple studios and multiple "takes" of instrumental and vocal components to capture the best possible combinations of sound and performance, and then using tape editing extensively to assemble a perfect composite performance from these elements.
At the end of the 20th century, digital recording and producing tools and widespread availability of relatively affordable computers with music software made music producing more accessible.
According to a 2018 study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, "The ratio of male to female producers across 300 popular songs is 49 to 1."
They also discovered only 2 percent of music producers are women. In 2019, The Recording Academy's Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion announced the "Producer & Engineer Inclusion Initiative." This initiative asks musicians, record labels, studios and others to consider at least two women for each producer or engineer position. Major artists, producers and organizations have signed on including Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Quincy Jones, Pearl Jam, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Pink, Cardi B, Maroon 5 and over 200 others.
In 2019, record producer Linda Perry was nominated for a Grammy for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. She was the first woman in over 15 years to be nominated for the award. Previous nominees include Lauren Christy (2004), Sheryl Crowe, Lauryn Hill and Janet Jackson. None have won the award.
In the classical music field, Judith Sherman has won Grammy for Producer of the Year, Classical, three times and been nominated twelve times. Wilma Cozart Fine produced hundreds of recordings for Mercury Records.
Producer Wendy Page describes being a record producer, "The difficulties are usually very short-lived. Once people realize that you can do your job, sexism tends to lower its ugly head. I tend to create a happy studio 'family' where everyone is glad to be there, especially the artist. Good communication and diplomacy usually sort any little problems out."
The path to record producing for many female singer-songwriters is through self-producing their own albums. Major artists who are "record producers" (on their own albums) include Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Toni Braxton, Lady Gaga, P!nk, Adele, Lauren Hill, and Missy Elliot.
There are numerous technologies utilized by record producers. In modern-day recordings, recording and mixing tasks are commonly centralized within computers using digital audio workstations such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton, Cubase, and FL Studio, which all are often used with third party virtual studio technology plugins. Logic Pro and Pro Tools are considered the industry standard DAWs. However, there is also the main mixer, outboard effects gear, MIDI controllers, and the recording device itself.
While most music production is done using sophisticated software, some musicians and producers prefer the sound of older analog technology. Professor Albin Zak claims that the increased automation of both newer processes and newer instruments reduces the level of control and manipulation available to musicians and producers.
Production has changed drastically over the years with advancing technology. While the producer's role has changed, their duties continue to require a broad knowledge of the recording process.
Tracking is the act of recording audio to a DAW (digital audio workstation) or in some cases to tape. Even though digital technologies have widely supplanted the use of tape in studios, the older term "track" is still used in the 2010s. Tracking audio is primarily the role of the audio engineer. Producers work side by side with the artists while they play or sing their part and coach them on how to perform it and how to get the best technical accuracy (e.g., intonation). In some cases, the producer will even sing a backup vocal or play an instrument.
Many artists are also beginning to produce and write their own music.
Noah James Shebib (born March 31, 1983), better known as 40, is a Canadian record producer and former child actor from Toronto, Ontario. He is best known for his musical collaborations with Canadian rapper Drake; he has produced all of Drake's albums. Shebib's style of production, which is often down-tempo and ambient, has become heavily associated with Drake's music.
Shebib and Drake are two of the three co-founders of the OVO Sound label. Shebib has also produced for artists including Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Action Bronson, and Jamie Foxx.Anderson Paak
Brandon Paak Anderson (born February 8, 1986), better known by his stage name Anderson Paak ( or ; stylized as Anderson .Paak), is an American musician and record producer from Oxnard, California. He released his debut album, O.B.E. Vol. 1 in 2012, under the pseudonym Breezy Lovejoy. He went on to release Venice in 2014, under his current moniker. .Paak followed with Malibu, in 2016, which received a nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammy Awards, followed by Oxnard, in 2018 and Ventura, in 2019. Apart from his solo career, .Paak is also one-half of NxWorries, alongside record producer Knxwledge. He is accompanied by the band The Free Nationals, who play a variety of instruments such as electric guitar, bass, piano, keyboards and drums and also serve as backing vocalists.Bill Price (record producer)
Bill Price (3 September 1944 – 22 December 2016) was an English record producer and audio engineer who worked with The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Guns N' Roses, Sparks, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Nymphs, The Waterboys, Mott the Hoople and Simon Townshend (Pete Townshend's younger brother). He was chief engineer on the first three solo albums by Pete Townshend: including Empty Glass and White City: A Novel.
He contributed to documentaries about The Clash such as Westway To The World. Bill Price started his engineering career in the mid-60's when he was an engineer at Decca Studios in West Hampstead, recording artists such as Tom Jones.
One of the final recordings he helped engineer at Decca before departing to Wessex Studios in November 1969 was the multi-million selling "Reflections of My Life" by The Marmalade.
Price helped build AIR studios Oxford Street, where he spent many years. During that time he engineered some of the major albums of the 1970s and 1980s including the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, and mixed Nilsson's "Without You".
He was the chief engineer/manager at Wessex Studios, the London studio where the Clash and the Sex Pistols recorded much of their work.
More recently he worked again with Mick Jones in his band Carbon/Silicon and mixed The Veils' albums Nux Vomica and Time Stays, We Go.Brendan O'Brien (record producer)
Brendan O'Brien (born June 30, 1960) is a record producer, mixer, engineer, and musician. He has worked with such artists as Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Zucchero Fornaciari, Soundgarden, Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine, The Black Crowes, Incubus, Train, The Killers, Seether, Kansas, King's X, The Offspring, Korn, The Fray, Wolfmother, Gaslight Anthem, Mastodon, Third Day, Lifehouse, Pantera, and My Chemical Romance.His career blossomed as a young guitarist with a local Atlanta band by the name of Pranks, signed by what was then Century Artists Management. The management company had the best of Atlanta and the region in those days, including the likes of Mother's Finest, Ezra Pound and a dozen other "super-regional" acts. In the late 1970s, he moved on to writing, performing and recording with the band Samurai Catfish.
Having become a notable local engineer known to be the go-to guy to "make a record in a few days for $1500." His studio career was propelled by the success of the first Black Crowes album, Shake Your Money Maker, on which engineered and performed guitar, bass and "a potpourri of instruments." The following year he produced and mixed Stone Temple Pilots debut album core and engineered and mixed Red Hot Chili Peppers breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. These two records launched his career as an in-demand, multi-platinum producer, engineer and mixer. He would go on to produce and mix nearly the entire catalog of Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. Most of his productions were engineered by Nick DiDia, who he worked with throughout most of his career.
Brendan would often engineer and record his own sessions with the help of various assistant engineers. A majority of the records that he produced and/or mixed were made at Southern Tracks Recording Studio near his home in Atlanta, GA from the late 80s until it closed.
In the mid 1990s, O'Brien became vice president of Epic Records and the Epic imprint 57 Records. He also played a Hammond organ for Bob Dylan's appearance on MTV Unplugged. In 1995, he joined Pearl Jam and Neil Young on keyboard for the Mirror Ball tour across Europe.In 2002, he won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album for his work on Bruce Springsteen's The Rising. In 2009, he was awarded the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. To date, 14 of the albums O'Brien has produced have reached No. 1 in the U.S. on the Billboard 200 chart.In 2015 he produced Higher Truth, the final release by Chris Cornell.
In 2016 he produced the Italian bluesman Zucchero Fornaciari's album Black Cat.
In 2017 O'Brien received credits producing on track three of the EP Cold Dark Place by progressive metal band Mastodon.Champions (GOOD Music song)
"Champions" is a collaborative song by American rappers Kanye West, Gucci Mane, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Yo Gotti, Quavo and Desiigner, released as the lead single from the upcoming GOOD Music compilation album Cruel Winter. The song was produced by West himself, alongside A-Trak, Lex Luger and Mike Dean, with co-production from Derek Watkins and Charlie Heat, and additional production from Noah Goldstein.Cirkut (record producer)
Henry Russell Walter (born April 23, 1986), known professionally as Cirkut, is a Canadian record producer and songwriter. He has co-produced and co-written for Rihanna, The Weeknd, Britney Spears, Jessie J, Kesha, Shakira, Nicki Minaj, B.o.B, Ava Max and Lil Wayne, and songs he has written and produced include the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles "Part of Me", "Roar", and "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry, and "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus.Danja (record producer)
Floyd Nathaniel Hills (born February 22, 1982), professionally known as Danja , is an American record producer and songwriter from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Starting off as a co-producer for Timbaland, he has since then created an extensive catalog of solo-produced singles, with a Timbaland influenced production style. He has produced songs for prominent artists such as Britney Spears, Usher, Agnez Mo, Keri Hilson, T.I., Nelly Furtado, Kevin Cossom, Ciara, Mariah Carey, Timbaland, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Missy Elliott, M.I.A., Justin Timberlake, JoJo, Joe Jonas, Simple Plan, The Clutch, Pink, T-Pain, Diddy, Meek Mill, Björk and Duran Duran.David A. Stewart
David Allan Stewart (born 9 September 1952) is an English musician, songwriter and record producer, best known for Eurythmics, his successful professional partnership with Annie Lennox. He is usually credited as David A. Stewart, to avoid confusion with other musicians named Dave Stewart. He won Best British Producer at the 1986, 1987 and 1990 Brit Awards.Eagle Rock Entertainment
Eagle Rock Entertainment is an international producer and distributor of music films and programming for cinema, television, DVD, Blu-ray, and downloadable media. Based in London, Eagle Rock has produced and/or distributed live concert and documentary films and programmes in various formats, featuring Talk Talk, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Moody Blues, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Toto, The Doors, ZZ Top, Gary Moore, Cher, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Nirvana, U2, Metallica, Eminem, Dream Theater, the Talking Heads, Jeff Beck, Katy Perry, Slipknot, and Supertramp.
Eagle Rock also operates two record labels (Eagle Records and Armoury Records), a full-service production company (Eagle Rock Productions) and a music publishing subsidiary (Eagle-i Music).Flood (producer)
Mark Ellis (born 16 August 1960), known by his professional pseudonym Flood, is a British post-punk and alternative rock record producer and audio engineer. Flood's list of work includes projects with recording acts like New Order, U2, Nine Inch Nails, Marc and the Mambas, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Ministry, The Charlatans, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Erasure, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey, Foals, a-ha, Orbital, Sigur Rós, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers, Pop Will Eat Itself and Warpaint. His co-production collaborations have included projects with Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Steve Lillywhite, and longtime collaborator Alan Moulder, with whom he co-founded the Assault & Battery studio complex. In 2006, his work with U2 led to his sharing of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
He is not to be confused with Mark Ellis, the bassist from the British mod revival band The Lambrettas from the late 1970s and early 1980s.GOOD Music
GOOD Music (a backronym of Getting Out Our Dreams) is an American record label founded by rapper Kanye West in 2004. In 2015, Pusha T was appointed the president of the label by West.Illest Motherfucker Alive
"Illest Motherfucker Alive" (censored on the album as "Illest Motherf**ker Alive") is a song by American rappers Kanye West and Jay-Z. It is only available on their collaborative album Watch the Throne (2011) on the deluxe edition. The song features additional vocals by Kid Cudi, Bankulli, and Aude Cardona. It samples "Tristessa" by Orchestra Njervudarov for an interlude.Mike Dean (record producer)
Michael George Dean (born March 1, 1965) is an American hip hop record producer, audio engineer, and multi-instrumentalist from Houston, Texas. Dean is best known for recording and mixing songs for major artists across the American hip hop industry such as Kanye West, 2Pac, Scarface, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Jay-Z, and Desiigner.Mustard (record producer)
Dijon Isaiah McFarlane (born June 5, 1990), known professionally as Mustard (formerly DJ Mustard), is an American record producer, DJ, record executive and hype man from Los Angeles, California. He is a frequent collaborator of Compton-bred rapper YG, and has produced numerous singles for hip hop and R&B artists since his entrance into mainstream music in 2011. Mustard's production style has been described as an up-tempo, club oriented, catchy yet rudimentary melodic hip hop style. This style has snowballed into the contemporary production style of West Coast hip hop during the early 2010s, which he calls "ratchet music". Almost all of his productions begin or end with the tag "Mustard on the beat, hoe!", a voice sample of YG, who says it at the end of "I'm Good", one of their early collaborations, as well as claps and repetition of the word "hey". Mustard's debut album, 10 Summers, was released on August 26, 2014.Peter Collins (record producer)
Peter Collins (born 15 January 1951) is an English record producer, arranger, and audio engineer. He has produced records by Gary Moore, Bon Jovi, Billy Squier, Rush, Air Supply, Alice Cooper, Nik Kershaw, Blancmange, Suicidal Tendencies, Queensrÿche, Indigo Girls, Nanci Griffith, Jermaine Stewart, Jane Wiedlin, October Project, The Cardigans, Rosetta Stone, Josh Joplin, Tracey Ullman, Drake Bell and The Brian Setzer Orchestra.Tapout (song)
"Tapout" is a song by American hip hop group Rich Gang featuring rappers Lil Wayne, Birdman, Mack Maine, Nicki Minaj and Future. The song was the first single off of the YMCMB compilation album, Rich Gang. The song is produced by Southside & TM88 and is co-produced by Detail. It also features uncredited vocals from its co-producer, Noel "Detail" Fisher. The song was premiered on March 12, 2013, and was available for digital download on March 19. The song has since peaked at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100.The Underdogs (production team)
The Underdogs are an American R&B/pop production duo composed of Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas.Tom Wilson (record producer)
Thomas Blanchard "Tom" Wilson Jr. (March 25, 1931 – September 6, 1978) was an American record producer best known for his work in the 1960s with Bob Dylan, the Mothers of Invention, Simon & Garfunkel, the Velvet Underground, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Eddie Harris, Nico, Eric Burdon and the Animals, the Blues Project, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and others.Tony Brown (record producer)
Tony Brown (born December 11, 1946) is an American record producer and pianist, known primarily for his work in country music. A former member of the Stamps Quartet and backing musician for Emmylou Harris, Brown has primarily worked as a producer since the late 1980s. He is known primarily for his production work with Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, and George Strait.
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