music producer

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A music producer is in the music industry one with the management and implementation of a music production person in charge. The tasks of a music producer can vary widely. He coordinates z. B. the music recording in the recording studio , the commitment of the musicians and takes care of the marketing.

The music producer mostly only exists in this form in pop music , country music , jazz and electronic music . In classical music , the artistic unit manager , usually a sound engineer , usually has more influence on the artistic result. The work of the music producer with the sound design is z. Sometimes comparable to that of the director of a movie . Since they are responsible for artistic and technical tasks, music producers often recruit themselves from the field of recording studios (studio owners or sound engineers ) or areComposers / songwriters who supervise the implementation of their compositions in the studio themselves.


The profession of music producer is closely related to the development of the recording studio. The first recording studio was opened in early 1897 by the pianist Frederick William "Fred Gaisberg" (* 1873, † 1951) in Philadelphia / Pennsylvania . Gaisberg worked for the German-Jewish emigrant Emil Berliner . This concentrated on playback technology ( gramophone , record ), but efforts also had to be made to improve the preliminary stage of playback technology, industrial recording technology. As a pianist, Gaisberg knew the interpreter's perspective and familiarized himself with the recording technology. At that time, the division of labor in the recording studio was small, because the tasks of the sound engineer, music producer and artist and repertoire manager were often combined in one person.

When Harry O. Sooy was appointed head of the recording team at RCA Victor on January 1, 1909 , the function of music producer was officially established. The importance and the tasks of the music producer increased with the rapid technical development. When John Hammond made three jazz recordings with Fletcher Henderson's band on December 9, 1932 , his career as a music producer had effectively begun. His tasks initially consisted only of contacting the performers, agreeing on the number of recordings and recording the music on tape as naturally as possible. With the introduction of the tape recorder in 1948, faulty recordings could be completely or partially deleted and re-produced, and multi-track technology finally made overdub possible . This broadened the producer's field of activity.

The rock & roll successful authors Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller broke new ground in the studio practice of pop music when they interfered in the recording process like never before and implemented their own compositions in studio work. The technical possibilities in the recording studio in 1955 were still quite modest, because it was only possible to combine different takes and create reverb effects. The term “record producer” did not yet exist for their studio work, they were still referred to as “supervisors” on the first Drifters LPs. Leiber and Stoller owes its status of music producer, because music production was on the one hand part of composing, but on the other hand it was also an independent profession.


With the first recording studios and the improvement of sound technology , the need to use creative elements in sound recordings began . The range of tasks of a music producer in today's music industry varies greatly and depends in particular on the division of labor between the music label , recording studio and producer. The music producer is the mediator between artistic performance, sound engineering and the commercial potential of the recorded works. On the one hand, the range of tasks of a music producer can be divided into technical, artistic and economic criteria; on the other hand, the phases before, during and after a music recording can be differentiated. The music producer is therefore not only focused on the monitoring, mixing and mastering process .

Before recording

In the run-up to a recording, he looks for and trains talents and decides on their repertoire together with the artists and repertoire manager. In addition, he makes the final decisions about the arrangement and use of session musicians , takes on the role of mediator between the record label and the performers, is responsible for commercial responsibility together with the record label and makes the final decision on the recording budget . In terms of copyright, the music producer must obtain the rights of the musical works planned for the sound recording so that later distribution on sound carriers is permitted. This takes place in the form of so-called exclusive artist contracts. The producer is often also responsible for working out the arrangement; he determines the individual instrumental and vocal parts and manages the recording process .

While recording

The music producer creates the recording schedule, books and organizes the recording session in the recording studio, decides on new takes, determines the takes permitted for mixing and mastering, and pays the sound engineers and studio musicians. He takes care of or supervises the placement of the microphones / microphone stands, microphone amplifiers, music stands or the isolation of the instruments. He works with the artists to optimize the recording. He cooperates with the studio crew before, during and after the sound recording. During and after the recording session, the producer and sound engineer have a wide range of sound effects available such as overdub , compression , equalizer , delay , flanger , phaser , chorus , filter , pitch shifter or distortion . The producer is involved in sound recording ("recording"), mixing (the mixing of all takes) and mastering (compilation of the final sound).

After the recording

The music producer has the artist transfer the right to record and exploit music. In doing so, he can be granted the right to exploit the music titles mentioned in the production contract years after their first publication within the framework of title exclusivity. The producer can, but does not have to, temporarily assume the costs of production and marketing. If he has not already done so, he is looking for record companies who will have the finished recording pressed onto a sound carrier and then market it. Performers and record companies rely on the producer as an objective listener in fulfilling their tasks, especially in determining the right sound.

Artistic influence

Outside of the classical music, the sound of the sound recordings plays an important role. Usually sound engineers and especially music producers are involved in the recording session, whose core task is to create the sound. The producer decides on the instrumentation, the use of background voices or overdubs. This means that the artistic influence of some producers becomes so great that they are entitled to a creative share in the work and thus take on the role of co-composer. In terms of copyright law, this sometimes goes so far that the music producer is also formally named and registered as a composer. The copyright claims of some music producers have always been partly controversial (see Cut In ). A producer with significant artistic influence on the music was Phil Spector , who found the talents, contributed to the text and music, and meticulously monitored and intervened in the recording studio. The artistic aspects are supplemented by technical and economic tasks. Some producers acted as musical catalysts like Brian Eno or like Trevor Horn try to realize a special concept of pop music and its marketing. In hip-hop and dance in particular , music producers are often the composers and / or lyricists of the pieces they produce.


According to the degree of independence, a distinction is made between the independent producer and the music producer (usually employed by a record label) . The latter receive a salary from their employer as well as performance- related royalties , while independent producers usually work on the basis of an advance payment to be offset against future royalties . This also results in the entrepreneurial risk of a music producer. The independent produces for their own account and risk. He offers the finished master to interested record companies, who then take over the finished songs. He concludes a production contract with them, which secures him his income from the sales of phonograms. If the income is lower than the costs incurred due to low sales, he may make a loss. The salary producer is not exposed to this risk. The executive producer is responsible for financing a music project, while the simple record producer takes on the creative part.

Famous music producers

Although in pop music the music producers like the composers and studio musicians tend to work in the background and remain largely unknown to the music audience, few producers have moved out of this anonymity. Successful and excellent music producers enjoy a status similar to that of the performers themselves. In the USA, mention should be made of Nile Rodgers , , Bill Putnam , Sam Phillips , Quincy Jones , Rick Rubin , David Foster , Jimmy Iovine , Phil Ramone (Pop ), Rudy Van Gelder (jazz) or Chet Atkins (country). In Great Britain George Martin , Alan Parsons , Trevor Horn , Mike Batt , Norrie Paramor , Joe Meek , Mickie Most or Stock Aitken Waterman . Ralph Siegel , Hans Bertram , Nils Nobach , Heinz Gietz , Conny Plank , Dieter Dierks , Frank Farian or Dieter Bohlen were or are important German music producers. In jazz in particular, personalities such as Alfred Lion and Manfred Eicher have found and still find themselves today , who record musicians out of their own conviction and market them on their own record labels. In England, Hugh Padgham is particularly notable for his work with Genesis, Phil Collins, The Police and Mike and the Mechanics.

Individual evidence

  1. Ross Laird: Tantalizing Tingle. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1995, ISBN 978-0-313-29240-8 , p. 66. Limited preview in Google Book Search
  2. Pekka Gronow, Ilpo Saunio: International History of the Recording Industry. A&C Black, 1999, ISBN 978-0-304-70590-0 , p. 11. Limited preview in Google book search
  3. cf. Gronow / Saunio 1999, p. 70.
  4. cf. Gronow / Saunio 1999, p. 111.
  5. ^ A b c Virgil Moorefield: The Producer as Composer. MIT Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-262-51405-7 , p. 8 f. limited preview in Google Book search
  6. ^ A b David Ritz: Hound Dog: The Leiber and Stoller Autobiography. 2009, p. 299 f.
  7. a b Sebastian Steinhardt: Music production of the future: An empirical study on new possibilities for musicians and producers. Diplomica Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-8428-9209-5 , p. 43 f. limited preview in Google Book search
  8. Michel Clement: Economics of the music industry. Springer-Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8349-9916-0 , p. 64. Restricted preview in Google book search
  9. This can be used to compensate for movements of the singer in front of the microphone, for example
  10. ^ Phil Ramone, Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music , 2007, p. 14
  11. ^ Insa Sjurts: Gabler Lexikon Medienwirtschaft. Gabler, 2011, ISBN 978-3-8349-6487-8 , p. 425. Restricted preview in Google book search
  12. ^ John Shepherd: Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. A&C Black, 2003, ISBN 978-0-8264-6322-7 , p. 197. Restricted preview in Google Book Search
  13. Harvey Rachlin, The Encyclopedia of the Music Business , 1981, p. 345
  14. Wieland Ziegenrücker / Peter Wicke, Sachlexikon Popularmusik , 1987, p. 299