The Many Roles Of A Music Producer
Lucas Hass on December 10, 2017
From writing to mixing, the role of a music producer is essential when deciding who to work with and is the job ever actually done?
Producing music can be an extensive and in-depth process that many artists and bands aren’t too familiar with. The production process varies in vastly different ways depending on genre, but let’s start with the role of a modern music producer and look at how the role has evolved throughout history.
Producers traditionally were hired by record labels or artists to come into recording sessions and direct the tracking of an album or single. This could mean, hiring session musicians and engineers, scheduling studio time, suggesting instrumentation, creative guidance and overall time management and direction of a recording session. Songwriting input and engineer roles eventually became added to a producer’s list of responsibilities and when multitrack recording became available in the 50’s and 60’s, producers took on a much more involved role. Producers such as Sam Phillips and Phil Spector embodied the role of modern-day music producers. They developed a unique “sound” using breakthrough recording techniques to establish outstanding productions. Record labels began to send their artists into the studio with them to create a combination of a great song with unique production which is still very much what producers do today. They are very involved in the engineering side of music production as well as songwriting and creative instrumentation.
Typically a songwriter will go into the studio with a producer and begin crafting a rough idea of the song if they haven’t done so already. The producer will begin adding instrumentation around the track while the lyrical ideas and concepts are being formed. Producers usually determine what type of sounds and sonic elements are used in the song. When the vocal recording begins, sometimes it is just melodic mumbles and sometimes the words come out naturally on the spot. Once the idea is completed, the artist now has a demo to listen to and show their label and see how it goes over. Fingers crossed, the label loves and wants to put it on the album.
Depending on the genre, many times session musicians will be hired to come in a re-play or add instrumentation to the song under the producer’s direction. This is very common in country music. The artist will then cut final vocals to the finished instrumental track and put the finishing touches on the song. The producer then mixes the song or send it out to be mixed and mastered.
The song is done and can now be released. Typically the producer will receive a percentage of sales as well as a producer fee. Depending on how much involvement the producer may also be considered a writer and receive royalties on the release as well.
The production process varies vastly and everyone has their own way of creating music. No one way works for everybody. Sometimes the demo sounds better than the final mix. Sometimes the producer decides to add a string section in the bridge that just doesn’t fit. In the end, it is very important to have a good relationship with a talented producer who you work well with and knows what your music should sound like.
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