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In the music industry, a record producer has many roles, among them controlling the recording sessions, coaching and guiding the musicians, gathering the ideas of the project, directing the creativity, and supervising the recording, mixing and mastering processes. This has been a major function of producers since the inception of sound recording, but in the latter half of the 20th century producers have also taken on a wider entrepreneurial role. These activities comprise record production.

Today, the recording industry have two kinds of producers: Executive Producer and Music Producer; they have different roles. While the executive producer has the financial role of the project, the music producer is responsible of the entire music of an album.

The music producer could, in some cases, be compared to the film director in that the producer's job is to create, shape and mold a piece of music in accordance with their vision for the album.

In the UK, before the rise of the record producer, the A&R Man would oversee the recording session, assuming responsibility for creative decisions relating to the recording.

History

Early record producers

During the 1890s, Fred Gaisberg ran the first recording studio and provided the closest approximation of production by guiding an opera singer closer or further away from a gramophone's horn to match the dynamics in the score. (Citation: Gronow and Saunio 1998, p. 8; Moorefield 2005, p. 1).

However in the first part of the 20th century the record producer's role was similar to the role of a film producer in that the record producer organized and supervised recording sessions, paid technicians, musicians and arrangers, and sometimes chose material for the artist. In the mid-1950s a new category emerged, that of the independent record producer. Among the most famous early independent producers are the famed songwriting-production duo Leiber & Stoller, "Wall of Sound" creator Phil Spector and British studio pioneer Joe Meek.

Magnetic tape enabled the establishment of independent recording studios in major recording centres such as Londonmarker, Los Angelesmarker and New Yorkmarker. Unlike the old record company studios, which were effectively a "closed shop," these new studios could be hired by the hour by anyone who could afford to do so.

The biggest and best commercial studios were typically established and operated by leading recording engineers. They were carefully constructed to create optimum recording conditions, and were equipped with the latest and best recording equipment and top-quality microphones, as well as electronic amplification gear and musical instruments.

Top-line studios such as Olympic Studiosmarker in London, United Western Recorders, Fine Recording in New York City, and Musart in Los Angeles quickly became among the most sought-after recording facilities in the world, and both these studios became veritable "hit factories" that produced many of the most successful pop recordings of the latter 20th century.

Evolution of the role of the producer

Prior to the 1950s, the various stages of the recording and marketing process had been carried out by different professionals within the industry – A&R managers found potential new artists and signed them to their labels; professional songwriters created new material; publishing agents sold these songs to the A&R people; staff engineers carried out the task of making the recordings in company-owned studios.

Freed from this traditional system by the advent of independent commercial studios, the new generation of entrepreneurial producers – many of whom were former record company employees themselves – were able to create and occupy a new stratum in the industry, taking on a more direct and complex role in the musical process. This development in music was mirrored in the TV industry by the concurrent development of videotape recording and the consequent emergence of independent TV production companies like Desilu, established by '50s TV superstars Lucille Ball and her then husband, Desi Arnaz.

These producers now typically carried out most or all of these various tasks themselves, including selecting and arranging songs, overseeing sessions (and often engineering the recordings) and even writing the material. Independent music production companies rapidly gained a significant foothold in popular music and soon became the main intermediary between artist and record label, signing new artists to production contracts, producing the recordings and then licensing the finished product to record labels for pressing, promotion and sale. (This was a novel innovation in the popular music field, although a broadly similar system had long been in place in many countries for the production of content for broadcast radio.) The classic example of this transition is renowned British producer George Martin, who worked as a staff producer and A&R manager at EMI for many years, before branching out on his own and becoming a highly successful independent producer.

As a result of these changes, record producers began to exert a strong influence, not only on individual careers, but on the course of popular music. A key example of this is of Phil Spector who defined the gap between Elvis and the Beatles (1958–1964) with such acts as The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, The Righteous Brothers and The Paris Sisters. Spector's Wall of Sound production technique also persisted after that time with his select recordings of The Beatles, The Ramones, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Dion and Ike and Tina Turner. This tradition has been kept in motion by Marty Munsch who, ironically, has been called the Phil Spector of Punk Rock.

Some producers also became de facto recording artists, often creating records themselves or with anonymous studio musicians and releasing them under a pseudonym. Examples of this phenomenon include the records by fictional groups The Archies and Josie & The Pussycats, produced by Don Kirshner and Danny Jansen respectively, who were contracted by TV production companies to produce these records to promote the animated children's TV series of the same name. Similarly, Jeff Barry and Andy Kim recorded as The Archies.

Modern production technology

Nowadays, with computer web applications like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, "Indie" record producers can now serve in very non-traditional roles, using these "social networking" sites. They can produce via the internet by having their clients email .mp3 or .wav files to them. In this way the producer/Artist can be located in a different geographic location and still accomplish their goal.

With digital audio workstations like Digidesign Protools it is not uncommon for the producers to seldom meet the clients but rather share the project files. These new technologies have also sparked a variety of "do it yourself" producers.

References

  • Hewitt, Michael. Music Theory for Computer Musicians. 1st Ed. USA. Cengage Learning, 2008. ISBN 13-978-1-59863-503-4
  • Gronow, Pekka and Ilpo Saunio (1998). An International History of the Recording Industry. ISBN-X. Cited in Moorefield (2005).
  • Moorefield, Virgil (2005). The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music. ISBN. 123


External links

Record Producer Video Interviews, http://www.recordproduction.comAmerican Music Producers, http://www.imusicproducers.com




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