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Those of you who have major studio experience or are knowledgeable about top shelf recordings, how big a role does the producer play? I am sure the answer is "it varies", but in general.

I wonder how much of the content of a recording comes from the artist, songwriter or band and how much the producer sits there and says "Joe, play this and John play that", etc. I am not talking about "beats" and rappers, but actual music.



Colin

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dont know exactly, but I'm a passionate music fan, and I've heard Dylan and U2 search for De Lanois and Springsteen thank his Landau for taking out a special 'sound' for their albums. For me the producer, as a responsible of the overall result of the album, has to be expert in arranging, recording, sound engineering and mixing (and songwriting too) - for he has to take the final decision over the work of all those people (if it is good and sounds good). I believe it is and it should be so, like a coach for a football team.

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Hey Colin,

I'll go with MaxG on this one. The coach analogy pretty much sums it up.

I've worked for producers as a session muso, had them work for me to record my stuff, and produced other peoples work myself, a lot of the time where the running costs were averaging over $1000 a day. I don't know if that's "big" but certainly pro standard.

Bottom line is, you need someone in charge. And that someone is responsible for the end product. It's an involved job, and covers just about every aspect of the recording process.

Keeping all the egos in check is another story, but no less challanging. smile

So what role does he play ? "Head honcho not to be fcked with" , I think fits pretty well. smile

cheers, niteshift

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If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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Thanks for chiming in all. John has some good links there......


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

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http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


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I don't have a clue-I haven't gotten close enough to needing one to know
tim


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MaxG is right, that a producer is like a coach, but like a coach they bring along their own style.

Listen to Cream's 'Fresh Cream' produced by Robert Stigwood and then listen to all the later albums produced by Felix Pappilardi. There is a definite change in the sound. Then listen to a group called Mountain. Felix Pappilari produced their albums as well as played bass.

There are more modern examples of producer 'sound' but I used that example because both groups had hits and were successful.




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Sue and all,

The reason I asked this question is that I have a friend who is a studio owner and excellent producer. He typically puts his stamp on the work from his studio pretty aggressively. I have often seen him take a very lame song from an artist and make it into an excellent sounding product which almost overwhelms the lameness.....


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
Sue and all,

The reason I asked this question is that I have a friend who is a studio owner and excellent producer. He typically puts his stamp on the work from his studio pretty aggressively. I have often seen him take a very lame song from an artist and make it into an excellent sounding product which almost overwhelms the lameness.....


Interesting. I was just out of high school, I had a band and song I wrote, that when played around town or in school, it got a very favorable response from people, people would stop over and listen to us play and they wanted to hear this song.

Anyway, school ended, band broke up, but i still had my song that wasnt going away quietly.

A friend reccomends a studio not far from me, with a producer who owns the studio and runs it out of his then parents house. he was known and is still known as a big shot in the business of production and recording, a genius really.

I go in with my vision of the song. The guy hears the demo of the song I had, and hmmms and hahs. Then says, Ok I think you have a really good melody and you leave enough room for me to do something with.

At first I dont want him running the show, but when i heard him banging out parts to the song, I was like holy [naughty word removed], I know nothing this guy is incredible.

he says, right now the Phil Collins ballad with the gated drums are mainstream and I think this is how you should produce this.

He/I make an UNREAL recording, and this was 1988 ish, I had never heard anything like i was hearing, from the arrangement, the sound and instrument choices, and the way the song was building and hitting on an emotional level.

In short he owns the place, does all the instruments, records, mixes and masters everything.

It was my song, my voice and a basic guitar track. I also did a solo, anyway, yes producers do everything, not just sit there and figure out what reverb you should use.

It was an eye opener. I realized I wasnt as good as I had though, especially then. And I realized I didnt know anything about making music or producing.

To date, it was the greatest prudction I have ever been involved with, never made a record quality recording like that before, it was ready for radio.

It got college air play, and then dies a slow death after about 6 months.

ironically, I HATE what the song became. I wasnt that type of writer or singer, but I went commercial because the producer had control of his studio and I realized I was out of my league.

Anyway, great learning experience, and it cost alot of money by the time it was all done.



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I got hired by an indie label to produce a guy, we got to the studio and he asked me the question, "Just what does a producer do, anyway?" I told him, "Simple, we're planning a wedding reception, you're the bride and I'm your mother."


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

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Originally Posted by Mike Dunbar
I got hired by an indie label to produce a guy, we got to the studio and he asked me the question, "Just what does a producer do, anyway?" I told him, "Simple, we're planning a wedding reception, you're the bride and I'm your mother."


Lol, you could have least called him the groom.

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I like the "you're the bride, I'm your mother" analogy... it fits.

I think the producers role can vary, often depending on who is paying for the project and the type of market you're in. Example... I was an audio engineer/producer at a fairly big studio in a fairly small market (Charleston, SC) Most of the projects I did were paid for by the artist, so they had the final say in how aggressive or laid back I could be as a producer.

Now I live fairly close to Nashville, and am often there for work (not studio work, though), and I have a few friends who own studios there. Producers there are a whole different kettle of fish... often (but not always) quite aggressive in sculpting the sound of an arrangement. The producer/engineers I've met have all been amazingly talented folks, but I have heard plenty of stories from people who have been "put through the mill," spending a bunch of their own money & ended up with a fairly mediocre song.

Label-funded work is different... but I understand that is evolving quite a bit, and everyone says "It ain't like it used to be.."

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I found over the years there are basically two kinds of producers. The ones that micro manage and those that let the music develope.

The most micro managed was a producer that after a linear play through of my part then took a full day of me redoing that part over and over again a section at a time. Sometimes doing a three or four note riff over and over till he got exactly the sound he was looking for. The other producer just had me do three takes and said he'd work with them. (He liked the first take and just wanted something else if needed)

While the first producer was exasperating to work with, he had worked with Streisand so perfectionism was his mantra.




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Definition of a good producer is simple....... he gives the client what they want....whilst trying to do what he wants.

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If you have to ask, you need a Producer! smile

The Producer's primary job is to understand the vision that the Artist is going for, offer guidance to raise that vision to a higher level, and to know enough about ALL aspects of making a record to guide everyone through the process. While most artists have an idea what they are striving for, many don't understand what it takes to get there in the studio, and how much they depend on others to realize their vision.

This means that a GOOD Producer, while not necessarily a master of all, needs to know A LOT about songwriting, arranging, performance, recording, mixing, mastering, as well as organizing, scheduling, and paying the bills.

Not to mention ego management.....

Jes' my 2 cents...

Tom

Note - Many variables, but December's producer was probably not a good fit.

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Jim Dickinson talks about producing Big Star's iconic 3rd/Sister Lovers album.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nGaUx5Y2dY
Not specifically talking about the concept of producing, but you can glean a lot from what he does talk about.

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Hey Pop, Jim Dickinson was a legendary producer. I was blessed to be hired by him before he died. It was a project for Jim's friend, songwriter Bob Frank called Keep on Burning, it had Jim's kids the North Mississippi All Stars and some members of Mudboy and the Neutrons and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. When I got to Mr.Dickinson's studio, they had all the parts recorded but the bass. The album was a treat to work on, it was exquisitely arranged and meticulously recorded. I played upright into an old RCA ribbon mic, Mr. Dickinson had an amazing collection of old microphones. He was a true genius and a fine gentleman.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

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It is amazing of how some of those recordings are great beyond comprehension. While it wasn't mentioned here about a week ago Slim Whitman passed away. If only the recordings today had that magic of yesteryear.


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I guess I have never heard of Big Star. I listened to the song Kangaroo which sounds a bit familiar.


Colin

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Amen, Ray,

I have a theory that technology is partly to blame. Years ago, there were limitations with tape and vinyl. For example, engineers had to pan loud bass noises to the center. If you put a loud bass drum thump all the way to the right or left, it would make the needle jump out of the groove on the record. Also, many recordings piled up sounds and reverbs to mask the sssssssssssssss of analog tape.

Then, there's the skill of singing in tune, which is no longer necessary. Jim Reeves' RCA Records contract used to hang on the wall of his museum, it said in the contract that the artist must sing a note on pitch without vibrato for five seconds. I doubt if more than a handful of today's stars can do that, they often sing a song once and leave for the party while the engineer tunes it for them.

All style comes from limitation, whether imposed externally or internally. A rootsy country player might not be able to pick like a speed metal player, the engineers of yesterday could not manipulate sounds as they can today, etc. However,the fastest guitar player in the world begins to sound frantic but boring. The loudest band just gives you a headache, the softest band can't be heard. The most in tune and on time singer loses emotion. A lot of these things were taken care of simply because recording them or presenting them to an audience required care. Now, recording and broadcasting has become almost infinitely limitless and manipulable. Musicians who work in the new media become mesmerized with the possibilities and forget simplicity. It's like when the blues started morphing into jazz. Eventually the jazz got so fast and technical, its main audience (college kids) turned to three guys and a guitar singing "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley" mostly in unison.

Take heart. History shows, as in the jazz example, that when the popular artists, in their explorations of what is possible, end up losing their audience, other artists will emerge with a simpler approach.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
I guess I have never heard of Big Star. I listened to the song Kangaroo which sounds a bit familiar.

Watch this trailer for the new documentary about the band:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxAbkqRGxqY

You also probably know at least one song that they wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT8ihOjOf1g
although the version that you probably know is a cover of the Big Star original

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Originally Posted by Mike Dunbar
Eventually the jazz got so fast and technical, its main audience (college kids) turned to three guys and a guitar singing "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley" mostly in unison.



You probably know the difference between a rock guitarist and a jazz guitarist......a rock guitarist plays three chords for a thousand people while a jazz guitarist plays a thousand chords for three people.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/



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