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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 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.
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.
A song is a single work of music that is typically intended to be sung by the human voice with distinct and fixed pitches and patterns using sound and silence and a variety of forms that often include the repetition of sections. Through semantic widening, a broader sense of the word "song" may refer to instrumentals.
A concept album is an album in which its tracks hold a larger purpose or meaning collectively than they do individually. This is typically achieved through a single central narrative or theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, or lyrical. Sometimes the term is applied to albums considered to be of "uniform excellence" rather than an LP with an explicit musical or lyrical motif. There is no consensus among music critics as to the specific criteria for what a "concept album" is.
A producer may also:
Session musicians, studio musicians, or backing musicians are musicians hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances. Session musicians are usually not permanent members of a musical ensemble or band. They work behind the scenes and rarely achieve individual fame in their own right as soloists or bandleaders. However, top session musicians are well known within the music industry, and some have become publicly recognized, such as the Wrecking Crew and Motown's The Funk Brothers.
A rhythm section is a group of musicians within a music ensemble or band who provide the underlying rhythm, harmony and pulse of the accompaniment, providing a rhythmic and harmonic reference and "beat" for the rest of the band.
Accompaniment is the musical part which provides the rhythmic and/or harmonic support for the melody or main themes of a song or instrumental piece. There are many different styles and types of accompaniment in different genres and styles of music. In homophonic music, the main accompaniment approach used in popular music, a clear vocal melody is supported by subordinate chords. In popular music and traditional music, the accompaniment parts typically provide the "beat" for the music and outline the chord progression of the song or instrumental piece.
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.
In sound recording and reproduction, audio mixing is the process of combining multitrack recordings into a final mono, stereo or surround sound product. In the process of combining the separate tracks, their relative levels are adjusted and balanced and various processes such as equalization and compression are commonly applied to individual tracks, groups of tracks, and the overall mix. In stereo and surround sound mixing, the placement of the tracks within the stereo field are adjusted and balanced. Audio mixing techniques and approaches vary widely and have a significant influence on the final product.
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.
Christina María Aguilera is an American singer, songwriter, actress and television personality. Her work has earned her five Grammy Awards, one Latin Grammy Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, making her one of the world's best-selling music artists. In 2009, she ranked at number 58 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Billboard recognized her as the 20th most successful artist of the 2000s, and in 2013, Time included Aguilera on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
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).
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.
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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.
In 2012 NME identified 50 of the greatest producers ever.
Osbourne Ruddock, better known as King Tubby, was a Jamaican sound engineer who greatly influenced the development of dub in the 1960s and 1970s.
A recording studio is a specialized facility for sound recording, mixing, and audio production of instrumental or vocal musical performances, spoken words, and other sounds. They range in size from a small in-home project studio large enough to record a single singer-guitarist, to a large building with space for a full orchestra of 100 or more musicians. Ideally both the recording and monitoring spaces are specially designed by an acoustician or audio engineer to achieve optimum acoustic properties.
Multitrack recording (MTR)—also known as multitracking, double tracking, or tracking—is a method of sound recording developed in 1955 that allows for the separate recording of multiple sound sources or of sound sources recorded at different times to create a cohesive whole. Multitracking became possible in the mid-1950s when the idea of simultaneously recording different audio channels to separate discrete "tracks" on the same reel-to-reel tape was developed. A "track" was simply a different channel recorded to its own discrete area on the tape whereby their relative sequence of recorded events would be preserved, and playback would be simultaneous or synchronized.
The Wall of Sound is a music production formula developed by American record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in the 1960s, with assistance from engineer Larry Levine and the session musician conglomerate later known as "the Wrecking Crew". The intention was to exploit the possibilities of studio recording to create an unusually dense orchestral aesthetic that came across well through radios and jukeboxes of the era. Spector explained in 1964: "I was looking for a sound, a sound so strong that if the material was not the greatest, the sound would carry the record. It was a case of augmenting, augmenting. It all fitted together like a jigsaw."
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer. Regardless of configuration, modern DAWs have a central interface that allows the user to alter and mix multiple recordings and tracks into a final produced piece.
Automatic double-tracking or artificial double-tracking (ADT) is an analogue recording technique designed to enhance the sound of voices or instruments during the mixing process. It uses tape delay to create a delayed copy of an audio signal which is then combined with the original. The effect is intended to simulate the sound of the natural doubling of voices or instruments achieved by double tracking. The technique was originally developed in 1966 by engineers at Abbey Road Studios in London at the request of The Beatles.
Overdubbing is a technique used in audio recording, whereby a musical passage is recorded two or more times. This practice can be found with singers, as well as with instruments, or ensembles/orchestras.
Ken Scott is a British record producer and engineer known for being one of the five main engineers for The Beatles, as well as engineering Elton John, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Duran Duran, the Jeff Beck Group and many more. As a producer, Scott is noted for his work with David Bowie, Supertramp, Devo, Kansas, The Tubes, Ronnie Montrose, Level 42, among others.
Trident Studios was a British recording facility, located at 17 St. Anne's Court in London's Soho district between 1968 and 1981. It was constructed in 1967 by Norman Sheffield, a drummer of former 1960s group the Hunters, and his brother Barry.
Double tracking or doubling is an audio recording technique in which a performer sings or plays along with their own prerecorded performance, usually to produce a stronger or "bigger" sound than can be obtained with a single voice or instrument. It is a form of overdubbing; the distinction comes from the doubling of a part, as opposed to recording a different part to go with the first. The effect can be further enhanced by panning one of the performances hard left and the other hard right in the stereo field.
Pitch correction is an electronic effects unit or audio software that changes the intonation of an audio signal so that all pitches will be notes from the equally tempered system. Pitch correction devices do this without affecting other aspects of its sound. Pitch correction first detects the pitch of an audio signal, then calculates the desired change and modifies the audio signal accordingly. The widest use of pitch corrector devices is in Western popular music on vocal lines.
The history of sound recording - which has progressed in waves, driven by the invention and commercial introduction of new technologies — can be roughly divided into four main periods:
Alan Parsons is an English audio engineer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He was involved with the production of several significant albums, including the Beatles' Abbey Road and Let It Be, and the art rock band Ambrosia's debut album Ambrosia as well as Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon for which Pink Floyd credit him as an important contributor. Parsons' own group, the Alan Parsons Project, as well as his subsequent solo recordings, have also been successful commercially.
The studio practices of the Beatles evolved during the 1960s and, in some cases, influenced the way popular music was recorded. Some of the effects they employed were sampling, artificial double tracking (ADT) and the elaborate use of multitrack recording machines. They also used classical instruments on their recordings and guitar feedback. The group's attitude toward the recording process was summed up by Paul McCartney: "We would say, 'Try it. Just try it for us. If it sounds crappy, OK, we'll lose it. But it might just sound good.' We were always pushing ahead: Louder, further, longer, more, different."
Multitrack recording of sound is the process in which sound and other electro-acoustic signals are captured on a recording medium such as magnetic tape, which is divided into two or more audio tracks that run parallel with each other. Because they are carried on the same medium, the tracks stay in perfect synchronisation, while allowing multiple sound sources to be recorded asynchronously. The first system for creating stereophonic sound was demonstrated by Clément Ader in Paris in 1881. The pallophotophone, invented by Charles A. Hoxie and first demonstrated in 1922, recorded optically on 35 mm film, and some versions used a format of as many as twelve tracks in parallel on each strip. The tracks were recorded one at a time in separate passes and were not intended for later mixdown or stereophony; as with later half-track and quarter-track monophonic tape recording, the multiple tracks simply multiplied the maximum recording time possible, greatly reducing cost and bulk. British EMI engineer Alan Blumlein patented systems for recording stereophonic sound and surround sound on disc and film in 1933. The history of modern multitrack audio recording using magnetic tape began in 1943 with the invention of stereo tape recording, which divided the recording head into two tracks.
Overproduction is the excessive use of audio effects, layering, or digital manipulation in music production.
An audio engineer helps to produce a recording or a live performance, balancing and adjusting sound sources using equalization and audio effects, mixing, reproduction, and reinforcement of sound. Audio engineers work on the "...technical aspect of recording—the placing of microphones, pre-amp knobs, the setting of levels. The physical recording of any project is done by an engineer ... the nuts and bolts." It's a creative hobby and profession where musical instruments and technology are used to produce sound for film, radio, television, music, and video games. Audio engineers also set up, sound check and do live sound mixing using a mixing console and a sound reinforcement system for music concerts, theatre, sports games and corporate events.
In music production or composition, recording studios are sometimes referred to as an instrument forming a vital part of the music creation process. The approach, known as "playing the studio", is typically embodied by artists or producers who place less emphasis on simply capturing live performances in studio and instead favor the creative use of studio technology in completing finished works. Techniques include the incorporation of non-musical sounds, overdubbing, tape edits, sound synthesis, audio signal processing, and combining segmented performances (takes) into a unified whole.
A bedroom producer is a musician who produces electronic music independently using a home studio. Typically bedroom producers use accessible, low-cost technology, such as MIDI instruments and VSTs, to come up with musical ideas for release to the world. While a traditional record producer oversees and guides the recording process, often working alongside multiple people such as artists, engineers, mixers and writers, a bedroom producer does everything independently: creating the ideas, recording them and processing them for release. Bedroom producers are often self-taught, learning sound design, mixing and music theory by reading music production blogs and watching tutorials on the internet. As bedroom producers depend on the accessibility of music technology, bedroom production has been made easier with advances in home computing power and digital audio workstations (DAW).