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What is your definition of a "producer"?


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... one who can get a finished product with a well defined personality.

 

 

Seriously, that is my definition, when teaching my seminar of "The 101 of Music Production in Computers".

 

Why?

 

In the manufacturing world you may or may not create the raw materials, but the final assembly, functionality and looks of the final product is upon you.

 

Same happens with music. Back in the old days, a very very small percentage of the cats out there had a studio at home where they could actually finish an entire project. They always needed to go to that bigger place with all the toys which of course, was not into their reign of knowledge so they needed external help.

 

A producer back then took recorded tracks -or even better, helped to get them properly recorded to suit its idea regarding how to produce them- and created a finished good out from that. With its personal touch which was the reason he was hired.

 

When the console operator of the studio only records and mix per customer's indications, then he was not a producer and the customer was actually producing its project. Just recording and mixing does not make anyone a producer. Adding your own sound signature and trademark it is the way to it.

 

 

Nowadays you can be a producer on your own since you can get all your stuff recorded and get a finished product -not always but you get the idea- with or without the help of someone else, given you have the time and tools to print your own signature sound to it.

 

Of course, that does not mean everybody can be a GOOD or GREAT producer, but there have always been the good, the bad and the ugly ones out there.

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... one who can get a finished product with a well defined personality.

 

 

That's a good definition. Whatever it takes.

 

Some guys engineer their sessions because for them, that's what it takes to "get a finished product with a well defined personality."

 

Some guys know how to hire the perfect compliment of techs to "get a finished product with a well defined personality." They know how to then step back and take the long view. Others get in deep to achive this like the first example.

 

Rubin knows how to remind the artist who they are... then he goes about getting "a finished product with a well defined personality."

 

However they go about doing it, it still all boils down to that definition. You got to get good stuff to put on there, and ya gotta get 'er done. I think a lot of folks don't recognize the logistical challenges there are in managing those 2 tasks. It suprised me when I started doing regular production for hire, even at my modest level.

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One who provides creative oversight, guiding a project with a "big-picture" mindset, and who provides more direct influence when necessary (ie. changing arrangements, etc.)

 

 

All done while respecting the the artist's music and vision.

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All done while respecting the the artist's music and vision.

 

 

And I'll add, all done while digging deep into the artists head to find things the artist didn't even know they were thinking about. I always look at the artist, usually the singer/songwriter of the group, as an untapped source of great ideas. I look at them as a context sensitive idea machine.

 

Say the guitarist is laying down some screaming raging riff but it doesn't seem right. I look to the songwriter.

 

"If I understand your lyrics correctly, it seems you're more hurt than angry at this point. Am I right about that?" "Yeah? Then do you think we should wait till after the angry bridge thing to bust loose like this... what do you say to him laying down that riff an octave down, with a lighter touch and a wah way rocking back and forth slowly without opening up just yet?"

 

At which point the writer comes up with a better idea for the part... the wah wah stays in the guitarist bag and we try something even cooler and pertinent to the track.

 

Then I take it and run, "Sure! I've got an E-bow! I can double it with this cello patch too if you like?!?!"

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I saw this on a web site and figured I'd mention it here as food for thought:

 

"Appropriate production is bringing to the project what it needs, clearing away what it doesn't, and not touching the rest. "

 

http://www.studioreviews.com/production.htm

 

It reminds me of Jim Dickinson's answer when asked what his job was as a music producer: "I turn the good parts up and turn the bad parts down."

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Good definitions so far- I'm aware of the "hands-off/hands-on" debate surrounding this topic, so here's my 2 cent's worth. In 1993 my band Lovewar was produced by the Elefante brothers, and it was a great learning experience for us. They helped shorten (for the better) a couple of our songs and also had us come up with a few new passages within existing songs, They thought we could take it to the next level- get that extra arrangement-happy transition or two- and they "got" our music. In doing so they fit that classic definition of producer as "One who provides creative oversight, guiding a project with a "big-picture" mindset, and who provides more direct influence when necessary (ie. changing arrangements, etc.)". Good definition, Veracohr.

 

Fast-forward to 1998- we've recorded 14 songs for a ten-song CD (the second CD of this band that I was producing) , but the record label wants 2 or 3 obvious radio hits from us (which they weren't hearing in the 14), so they bring in an outside ear. He doesn't get it and manages to record 2 songs from us that we don't really like. So he would be the more "heavy-handed" guy- but without the success!

 

I've tried to take all of this and apply it to when I engineer or engineer/co-produce- or of course engineer/produce. It helps to listen to what the band is trying to communicate (not as in the sarcastic "I like what you're trying to do...;) ) and "get" their musical vision.

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I spent a number of years producing mostly non-entertainment related audio projects through post production companies. Along the way I found myself wearing many different hats, from artist to sales man, all in the service of 'giving voice' to gadgets, games, commercials, etc. Between people asking me what I do, and potential employers asking me to write a job description, I ended up blogging about it. Reposting the entries in this forum would fill a few pages. Instead I've linked to the collected posts on the topic here:

 

Producer's Syllabus Series

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... one who can get a finished product with a well defined personality.

 

 

any band who can't do this by themselves really has no business making music in the first place. maybe they aren't the greatest recordists and need an engineer (enter sean eldon), but if they don't have FINISHED SONGS with PERSONALITY...why don't they have another job?

 

i personally think the producer thing is complete phooey 99% of the time.

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Sometimes bands and artists don't know how to take advantage of the studio thing. Putting in an overdub here and there or another harmony there or bringing in this and that isn't something they think of because they wouldn't do it live. There's space for a producer to have a direct affect on the songs there if the music calls for it. (And it can)

 

Also, sometimes the songs need to go just that step further, because they might be great songs, but they need that little bit more. I think if a producer is needing to rewrite an entire bands song then no one there really knows what they're doing, producer included.

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And, from our own Walters...we had this:

producing is like clive davis they are not engineers they don't care about mics,preamps,compressors they care about the total overall sound and compositional arrangement to hit climaxing ,modulation,changing feelings and modes having bridges,transitions,resolving melodies good structure and form in musical song format Think of Bad English,Barry manilow,Air supply, any modern love song most real producers they are producing a vanilla plain song from a songwriters taken from a publishing company and manipulating it thats what a producer does is manipulate a plain vanilla song or amature songwriter/amature song and making it have many keys,modulations,climaxs,bridges,good vocals coach,vibratos,alot of vocal notes to hit and nail solid. Taking the amature song and CONVERTING it a mature solid gold hit


Everyone is a producer in LA and really if u go to their house and listen to the demos are they really a producer
:bor:

Brian wilson,phil spector,mutt lange,jimmy page are producers/engineers/production layering(wall of sound)


Production layers: is layering overdubs,orchestration,loops,vocal harmonies

think wall of sound


Production quality: is Hi FI VS Lo Fi its the headroom,mastering

Hi FI - think steely dan

Lo FI - think early punk rock


Engineering - is preamps,mixing board console,compressions,eq's,reverbs

(this is not fun at all this is manual labor)


Post effects engineering- adds effects like flangers,phasers,delays

Think jimi hendrix adding tape flangering on

electric ladyland he is a post effects engineer

Think of jimmy page also very good

(this is really fun)


Mixing engineer: they sitt for hours adjusting knobs eq's ,compressors,

EMT reverbs,blending volume faders

(its not fun at all this is manual labor)


Rap crap engineer: adjusts vocal intonations plugs ins,time streching

vocal correction plug in's for DAYS and MONTHS

(its not fun at all this is manual labor)


Producer#1: knows about the audio equipment and know,has a vision

on what this ""concept"" record is going to sound like

knobs what audio squipement to get to get the job done

but doesn't know how to turn the knobs kinda like a foreman


Producer#2: A producer is not a songwriter they add/adjust/change the songwriters formula and then add there BAGS of TRICKS,productions secrets,compositional arrangements this is a producer


Producer#3: is someone u meet nowadays which is really not a producer

they are like scott storch mostly just write a song and they

look for people to sing/rap and write lyrics this is not a producer

this is a songwriter and they have a studio which they

don't really know how to use most of the time, need a vocal

coach,have money,are not really talented,smoke to much weed,

and talk only about money and how much they can make


Frank Zappa: the people that smoke alot of weed to be talented are not

talent to begin with thats why they smoke weed or drugs

to be talent.


Artist#1: is in it to get on TV and fame like Diddy. They will spend and

do anything to be remembered and in your face this is there goal


Artist#2: Not really into music but its a hobby mostly confused


Artist#3: Has a Cruise,mentally dysfunctional,mental illness

Think of syd barrett,brian wilson,phil spector,kurt cobain etc..


Think of Walters
:wave:

Artist#4: Plays music from the blues sole and sweats alot when playing

and they play every single day, on stage any where for years

doesn't matter about the money or where they live at

Think of Stevie Ray, Janis Jopin, Tupac

 

:cool:

Bear

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any band who can't do this by themselves really has no business making music in the first place. maybe they aren't the greatest recordists and need an engineer (enter sean eldon), but if they don't have FINISHED SONGS with PERSONALITY...why don't they have another job?


i personally think the producer thing is complete phooey 99% of the time.

 

 

I think sometimes the producer hat goes to the guy who extracts the best performances. Some bands get that "red light fever" and the producer is the one who can rally them through that and get a confident, natural performance.

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"Producer" is a job title. It's the word that goes under a certain person's name in the CD liner notes. If an artist or A&R guy assigns you the title of "producer", then that's what you are. Back in the "ol' days" (way before my time) the A&R guy usually was the producer. But nowadays, it can mean whatever the hell you want it to mean. Generally, the title implies that you had something to do with the final outcome of the music.

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What title is given to somebody who plays all of the instruments on the recording? I didn't write the song, but took the melody and arrangement that the singer came up with and did all of the music around that. Am I considered, Producer, arranger, writer?

Thanks

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What title is given to somebody who plays all of the instruments on the recording? I didn't write the song, but took the melody and arrangement that the singer came up with and did all of the music around that. Am I considered, Producer, arranger, writer?

Thanks

 

 

I don't know that you would be considered any of these things. You certainly wouldn't be the writer or arranger since the singer came up with that. And producer is "iffy", depending on what else you did and the circumstances.

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What title is given to somebody who plays all of the instruments on the recording? I didn't write the song, but took the melody and arrangement that the singer came up with and did all of the music around that. Am I considered, Producer, arranger, writer?

Thanks

 

 

from a copyright perspective (as I was told over the phone by someone who works at the US library of congress in music copyright) if you contribute to the authoring (lyrics) or writing (music) of a song you likely know it. so if you have to ask you likely didn't write or author the song. as far as I can see the industry views the lyrics and melody as THE 'song'. obviously this can be a fairly narrow view and these matters must be negotiated up front rather then later on in court.

/jonny

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If you played all of the parts on a song that someone else wrote, and you did it to their direction insofar as arrangement and performance nuances, then you were a session musician. If you take their song that they wrote and come up with all of the parts to go with their lyrics / melody, then you are an arranger. If you take their songs and help them select their best ones to record, help with any changes that might be needed, come up with the arrangement, coach their vocals, direct the recording and musicians, oversee the business end of things, encourage the musicians when needed, chew a$$ when necessary, etc. and generally serve as the "buck stops here" person in cooperation with the artist, then you're probably producing. :)

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But then again, there's about as many styles and approaches to production as their are producers. I don't think there is really any "wrong or right" answer to my original question - I was just interested in seeing what everyone else would come up with / thought about the subject. And you folks came up with some very good responses. :phil:

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