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Cynosure
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:10 pm    Post subject: Producer
Subject description: What does it mean to you?
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There was a bit of an argument in the chatroom today over the term 'producer'. I think that its use in the music industry has changed a bit over the years.

Here is my take on it:

It used to be used for a record producer. This was a person who worked for a record company and over saw the recording and creation of an album. They had very little to do with the actual creation of the music, but made sure that everything required to get an album made was being done.

At some point in time, it started to be used for sound engineers. This probably started to happen in the 70's as technology advanced and the sound engineers played a greater role in the overall sound and 'feel' of the album. They did not compose music, but their method of recording, multitracking and application of effects were a big part of the sound of the final product.

Currently, the term is used for anyone who creates and/or edits music. This can include composing, but is not limited to it. This is a very loose definition that can include people who never touch an instrument, DJ's, musicians who multitrack, and all kinds of variations in between. This current definition is most commonly applied to electronic music artist who do not play or compose in the traditional sense.

There seems to be some push back against this last term. It might be in part due to its loose definition, but most likely it has more to do with its use for defining current popular music artists. These are artists that don't ever call themselves 'musicians' because they do not play an instrument and might not even compose any notes. These a the "button pushers", sample players and DJ's. Many of us here cross that line to some degree or another, yet still prefer to call ourselves musicians.


What does the word mean to you?

Where do you draw the line between producer and musician (or is it even possible to do)?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I agree with what you have said. This term has become very loose. A lot has to do with the style of music. Dance music andHip Hop musicians seem more likely to call themselves producers, than, say, ambient musicians.

Some producers, like George Martin who produced the Beatles, are very much musicians. He has been called the 5th Beatle; rightly so IMHO. Other producers and more like lead recording engineers.

Good producers are both musicians and recording engineers, no matter what they are called. Not necessarily so for composers or musicians.

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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

We live in the time of self-made producers and producer specialization...

In a way I reckon that the modern take on it, with someone who sits down and makes music, actually producing something, is technically more correct than the old meaning, i.e. record company executives being "producers". In the modern world, the latter is perhaps more of a project manager(?)

There has been a technological and cultural shift that empowers the people further down the "title ladder", so that they are concretizing the act of producing. I'm fine with that - the old world big-record-company hierarchy seem to have faded, or at least their relevance to those who actually produce music has faded. So, I think that musician and producer are no longer mutually exclusive functions; you can be one or the other, or both.

Edit: Ninja'd by mosc, while thinking and typing Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The producer used to be the guy who's job it was to make sure you sold a lot of records... You need a lot of different skills for that, and they came in all shapes and sizes.

Nowadays to be a producer all you need is internet access... Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The word producer often means .. "more_or_less_nice_5_second_intro || : BOOM boom BOom Chik : ||" Shocked

The word producer has a relation to production ... which to me is associated with factory work. Maybe that is sort of correct for sounds made by machines though.

Anyway I do not produce, i do not like the word "producer" for being creative, for me it takes the "soul" out of it, no matter what the rest of the world thinks, or does, or how nice some productions are, or was that products.

Got a nice productive cough going BTW, lemme smoke one more Laughing

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

^ I agree Jan! I'd rather compose, play and record than produce... But you and I are old farts, not fashionable hipsters Razz
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I still think of a producer in the old-school way:

He/she is the person who makes sure you make a good record.

Kind of on a tangent... I enjoyed reading Steve Albini's letter to Nirvana, before he started producing their In Utero album. The letter gives quite a bit of insight into why Albini has been considered one of the all-time great producers in rock music:

http://www.thecurrent.org/feature/2013/09/27/teenage-kicks-steve-albini-nirvana-letter

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Two Macero was another great producer at the same level as George Martin, in my opinion. His edits weren't about cleaning up or sanitizing. They were creative actions that added whole dimensions to the recordings.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Producer
What does it mean to you?


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I remember when Christopher D Ashley (used to hang out here as "Stanley Pain") released an album, I read some promotional text describing him as one of the hottest new producers at the time. It was essentially a pop album that he made mostly by himself, not even in any "urban" style as far as I could see.

I was a bit confused by the "producer" term in this context, but after seeing it around I took it to mean something like music auteur - someone who starts with a concept and then does it all himself.

I think it may be due to the sampling and cooperative culture that has emerged here and there in music making, where you have one or more persons managing a project and then (besides bringing in hired help to write songs and perform) copy/pasting large chunks of finished work into a new product.

This has become the norm in some places, and these people may think of anyone who manages a music project - even if it's just a one man job - as a "producer". You can be Phil Spector in your bedroom these days, with a daw, plugins and instruments instead of a huge staff and studio.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:14 pm    Post subject:
Subject description: George Martin and Phil Spector
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One of my favorite George Martin quotes: 'Told by EMI that The Beatles didn’t want his name on Let It Be, he says, “I wasn’t having that,” adding that he suggested the credit should be “produced by George Martin, over-produced by Phil Spector”'
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:49 am    Post subject:
Subject description: George Martin and Phil Spector
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Acoustic Interloper wrote:
One of my favorite George Martin quotes: 'Told by EMI that The Beatles didn’t want his name on Let It Be, he says, “I wasn’t having that,” adding that he suggested the credit should be “produced by George Martin, over-produced by Phil Spector”'


Word.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

To me, a producer is someone who, as Gov. Silver said, ensures the quality of a record is, in all aspects, the best it can be, composition-, performance-, recording- and mix-wise. What they actually DO will vary from producer to producer, and from artist to artist. The level and manner of involvement changes from artist to artist and from producer to producer. Whether or not the word "producer" is the right nomenclature, if you will, is, I feel, irrelevant. Extensive usage has made the term understandable to most people, even if there are different opinions about what it is they contribute to a record.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oskar wrote:
Extensive usage has made the term understandable to most people, even if there are different opinions about what it is they contribute to a record.

That is the problem - it is no longer only used for what you are describing. It is now often used to describe the artist, and not a person who only oversees the creation of an album. Now that person is often one in the same, and the term has been blurred even more.

I think that was the confusion that happened in the chat room. Someone was saying that we are all producers, and people got upset about it because they thought that meant that they are not artists. It was kind of a silly argument and unfortunately ended with someone new to the community leaving and not returning.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cynosure wrote:
I think that was the confusion that happened in the chat room. Someone was saying that we are all producers, and people got upset about it because they thought that meant that they are not artists. It was kind of a silly argument and unfortunately ended with someone new to the community leaving and not returning.


No, I then meant to say, and I still do, that I am NOT a producer.

But I did not mean to say that someone else could not use the word to describe their own activities.

Just please don't tell me what I do or don't or shouldn't or am ... it's hard enough to make up my own mind about that Laughing

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
Just please don't tell me what I do or don't or shouldn't or am

You just sort of had a stern resistance, but there was another person who seemed to actually get angry over the use of the term. I assumed that it was because he didn't understand how it is currently used, but maybe he felt the same as you do - he just doesn't like people telling him what he is or fitting him into a preconceived term, no matter how broad it is.

If that is the case, then how far does it extend?

Do we call ourselves musicians?

Do we call ourselves artists?

Or do we just say that we 'make sounds with electronic and electro-acoustic instruments and devices' and leave it at that?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I feel a parody coming on--anyone want to help with additional lyrics to:

"I'm A Producer" (sung to the tune of "I'm A Believer)"

Then I cut some tracks
Now I'm a producer . . .
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I roughly remember a Frank Zappa quote from when he was touring somewhere -- maybe in Europe? -- in which the trade press got upset because, when they asked a question about improvisation, he said something like, "We like to tailor our product to the local market."
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Right or wrong, and it's very subjective, I think of a producer as one who creates product. A band can write and make music, but the producer "adjusts" the artists' music into a product.

Musicians make music. Much of that music is necessarily experimental and thus not always good "product." I noodle almost every day but I seldom feel a need to turn on the recorder. I explore and play music because I enjoy it. I'm a musician.

A sound "artist" may or may not make "music" per se, and it may only be considered "product" by a few people who are interested in the direction(s) the artist is going. The mere act of creation is rewarding for the artist, or perhaps he/she creates compulsively. "Art." the verb, is creative. "Art," the noun, is a kind of product. I don't really think of myself as an artist. I don't have anything I want to "say" with my playing, though I often did when I was younger.

There's nothing "wrong" with any of these perspectives. They are different but can blend together.

I, too, really liked George Martin. He created product but he was very musical and I think those "five Beatles" probably had a very good time making those records. I truly think the Beatles would have been very run-of-the-mill without GM. I'm not selling them short; the first British invasion was one helluva group of bands. I just think GM was a huge reason the Beatles stood out so much.

Cut and paste "producers" today don't generally impress me, but then Missy Elliot blew my mind. It's all down to what you do with your resources.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

AEJOTZ - Your reply was great. It contains a lot of insights.

A producer is not necessarily an artist or a musician. Also, their main goal (no matter how it is used) is to make a polished product for others to listen to.

Your reply also pointed out to me the fact that I have the most fun when just playing at home with nobody listening. It is nice if others listen to my music and like what I play, but I would still play music even if nobody ever listened. It is a great way for me to relieve stress. I will just sit at one of my synths and play whatever happens to come out. Afterwards I feel totally refreshed and clear minded.

I rarely have anything to say in my music. There are no lyrics and no message. Sometimes it is an expression of how I feel, but a lot of times it is just what I randomly create that I think sounds good. It is like the act of creating is a form of therapy.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cynosure wrote:
AEJOTZ - Your reply was great. It contains a lot of insights.

A producer is not necessarily an artist or a musician. Also, their main goal (no matter how it is used) is to make a polished product for others to listen to.

Your reply also pointed out to me the fact that I have the most fun when just playing at home with nobody listening. It is nice if others listen to my music and like what I play, but I would still play music even if nobody ever listened. It is a great way for me to relieve stress. I will just sit at one of my synths and play whatever happens to come out. Afterwards I feel totally refreshed and clear minded.

I rarely have anything to say in my music. There are no lyrics and no message. Sometimes it is an expression of how I feel, but a lot of times it is just what I randomly create that I think sounds good. It is like the act of creating is a form of therapy.


That resonates a lot with how I feel.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A E J O T Z wrote:

I, too, really liked George Martin. He created product but he was very musical and I think those "five Beatles" probably had a very good time making those records. I truly think the Beatles would have been very run-of-the-mill without GM. I'm not selling them short; the first British invasion was one helluva group of bands. I just think GM was a huge reason the Beatles stood out so much.


I think you are right. There are two Beatle albums that make that point in spades.

First is "Let It Be Naked". The "Let It Be" release was produced by Phil Spector, and a lot of us think it was a very shitty production. Apparently, Phil Spector was a pal of George Harrison and John. A few years later, George Martin remixed it and released "Let It Be Naked". You can really hear the difference. GM's version is much superior.

The second, and most impressive, is "Love", which was produced by George Martin and his son, Giles, for the Cirque du Soleil presentation in Las Vegas. This is a remix and mashup of old Beatle records. It's amazing. I use it as a test record for the AmbiophonicDSP. The stereo is breath taking. If you are even moderately interested in the Beatles and what value a great producer can add, then buy this CD. The sound quality makes the CD better than a good MP3. (Worth the money) Many great songs come to new life in spectacular fashion. George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" has the Eric Clapton guitar solo removed and some beautiful strings added instead. It's worth the price of the CD for that alone.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think the way someone uses the term can have a lot to do with their vintage too.
Being over 50,I'll always think of it in the George Martin way: One who oversees the general sound and all of the details of the record.Kind of a project manager,if you will.
A younger person might apply it to the sole artist making hip hop or dance music in their home studio with an MPC and a laptop.
You can't really say anyone is exactly wrong,the meaning has morphed.

This is what I think Burroughs was talking about when he said: "Language is a virus"?

It kind of reminds me of when I read a reviewer refer to Pere Ubu as "industrial music"

I suddenly feel old...
Where did I leave my reading glasses now?

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

pyrosonic wrote:
Where did I leave my reading glasses now?

My generation uses hand magnifying glasses.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Could it be that the older understanding of producer in a musical context is derived from the role of a producer on, say, a film? I.e. someone who facilitates, steers and makes possible the production? That's how I always thought about it anyway.

I am relatively sure that the modern usage of the term in music comes from older underground hiphop. That is where I first came across it at least. As a lot of the creation of the backing track, or beats, was done on a pretty low budget by one individual (who often also recorded and mixed vocals), they in effect became the producer in that particular creative universe.

Personally I am fine with being labeled as a producer. The associations to me aren't so much toward the production of a glossy presentable production, but more in the way that producing something is creating something. It is also an easy way to tell people what I do. Plus, from time to time I do produce recordings in the more traditional sense, so there is some crossover.

In my mind there is no implicit lack of artistry or creativity in the term producer, but the term producer doesn't in and of itself imply that you are artistic or creative. I think that may be an issue for some people.

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