George Martin

The Different Types of Record Producers

by Wes on April 14, 2011 · 3 comments

There are many different types of Record Producers that all serve different purposes.  It is good to understand the different types of producers and how they all fit under the term music producer.   Below is a detailed explaination of the different types of producers.

Record Producers – What Do They Do?
The record producer works side by side with the band, sessions musicians and the studio engineer to “produce” the sound recordings, in effect giving a certain feel to the track. The producer’s job is to work out the side details of the track. His machinations help produce a certain sound which was heretofore not included by the musicians in their demos. The record producer also arranges some parts of the track, or in some cases he writes them. In smaller studios the engineer and the producer may be just one person. The band or the musicians may produce or co-produce the recordings with the engineer.

1. In-House Record Producers:
An in-house producer works in a particular studio. His fees are included in the studio rent, for his services are deemed part of the package. Studios often scramble after in-demand music producers because retaining them means they can get more artists to record in their studio. Some producers, own their own studios, so needless to say, they get much of the rent. If you want to work with a certain producer, make sure he is booked in the studio you want to record in.

2. Independent Record Producers:
An independent producer as the name suggests, is retained by the band or the label in behalf of the band. He is not connected with any studio, and his fees are separate from the studio rent. The producer and the band works together in the studio to record tracks. The producer usually oversees the recording sessions, mixing and mastering of the recordings. It would be wise, however, for the band and the producer to be clear on this first before the recording starts.

3. Pioneering Record Producers:
Here are just a few producers credited with actually changing the way music sounds:

  • George Martin – the fifth Beatle. He invented many studio techniques still used today while working with the Beatles.
  • Joe Meek –he was an electrical whiz who pioneered many production techniques. He also built some of the equipment he used.
  • Phil Spector – He created the “Wall of Sound” production style while working with musicians playing the same music pieces.Robert Lange – Innovated many multi-track recording techniques, like recording each string on Angus Young’s (AC/DC) guitar on separate tracks for their seminal Back in Black album.

4. Hip Hop Record Producers:

The rise of hip hop brought along with it the rise of the producer, who enjoys a higher profile and higher fees than many of the artists they produce. Superstar hip hop producers can virtually ensure the success of a song, However, they often pass in and out of style quickly which means the wrong producer at the wrong time can also ruin a record.

5. Bedroom Record Producers:
Computers and related software has brought forth a new breed of producers, now known as “bedroom producers”. One of these bedroom producers is Brian Burton who began working on tracks in his bedroom under the name Danger Mouse. He was raised to prominence with The Gray Album, a mash up of Jay Z’s Black Album and The Beatles’ White Album. He caught the attention of EMI’s legal team and Damon Albarn’s ear, who brought him in to produce the second album by his virtual band Gorillaz. The album brought Burton a Grammy award. Another one is Gnarls Barkley, whose worldwide smash hit Crazy caught international fame. He is now one of the world’s most in-demand producers.

Common Questions about being a music producer:

How Do I Become a Producer?:
Producers initially start out as engineers or session musicians. They gain experience in the studio environment and eventually work as in-house producers until they gain a good reputation among artists. Danger Mouse’s story shows that a producer can start working from his bedroom, but studio experience is always a plus factor for producers. A producer almost always works with a studio engineer, but he will be expected to know how to do well in a mixing desk. The trick is to begin inside your own bedroom, and then gain some experience in the local studio to build up your skills.

How Do Record Producers Get Paid?:
Most producers get paid in advance for their work. Their fees are fixed. Some will also receive points. Points are a percentage of the dealer price of a record, a share of the profits made from the recordings, or both. Producers usually receive both. A producer may opt to work for a reduced fee, but he will sure ask for some points He may also ask for both a fee and points, if he feels his services are necessary for the record’s success. Some producers start working free of charge if only to get experience and contacts, but top-level producers’ services command high prices. If a producer is also involved in the songwriting, royalties can also be expected.

Record Producer Contracts:
Contracts are important in the music industry, like in any other aspect of it. They let everyone know where they stand and what is expected of them, how to live up to those expectations and what they will get in return. An engineer may feel that he is producing the session, while a band may not look at the situation in the same way. A band may look forward to the producer to overseeing recording, mixing and mastering. The producer, however, may expect to work only on the recordings. Issues such as these, as well as fees and points should be worked out before recording begins so as to avoid misunderstanding. A contract serves the purpose of putting everything in black and white.

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