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#2402782 - 04/10/12 08:33 AM Do you need a producer?
Brilliant Offline
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Registered: 05/06/02
Posts: 684
Loc: Port Arthur, TX, UNITED STATES
Another poster started This thread in the Bandwith Forum. Reading through some of the answers it got me thinking.

Who is your producer? The director, the man with the vision? Do you need someone outside the band to perform that role or as most bands have someone who fills the role of engineer with so-so to great results.

Just in case you aren't familiar with what a producer actually does, (s)he is the person who decides if you'll end up with this or this.

Same "song" but different directions.

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#2402867 - 04/10/12 01:14 PM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Brilliant]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
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Understand the role of "engineer" and the role of "producer" are two different hats.

Producer is the guy with the vision. Engineer is the guy who operates the equipment and, to some extent, make that vision come to life. Obviously the musicians are integrally involved in that process as well, but...

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#2402928 - 04/10/12 04:07 PM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Griffinator]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
No official band here, but I often force my poor wife to fill some aspects of the producer role. She is a second, critical set of ears for all the music I put out, views the artwork on the CD's, everything. Maybe she's a co-producer, because I obviously need to have the whole vision thing or I wouldn't be doing it.

I actually think it's very valuable and have told her so several times. You get too close to a project when you do everything, and flaws go unnoticed. It's better for the music to have someone you can trust who will be honest with you (come to think of it, that's pretty great for life in general).

That said, I don't think this how producers traditionally operated - more of keep the talent happy and yell at the recording engineers/mixers? Maybe that's different nowadays.
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#2403031 - 04/11/12 01:02 AM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Russkull]
Brilliant Offline
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Registered: 05/06/02
Posts: 684
Loc: Port Arthur, TX, UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: Russkull

I actually think it's very valuable and have told her so several times. You get too close to a project when you do everything, and flaws go unnoticed. It's better for the music to have someone you can trust who will be honest with you (come to think of it, that's pretty great for life in general).

That said, I don't think this how producers traditionally operated - more of keep the talent happy and yell at the recording engineers/mixers? Maybe that's different nowadays.


I don't think it's just about "flaws" per se, I once read an interview with Janet Jackson & Teddy Riley. She would talk about how he would push her to perform at a level she didn't know she was capable of.

Teddy had a vision (of what Janet wanted of course) & he wouldn't settle for less than perfection, even though the artist had already thought she'd given her best performance.

I think this is what most artist miss when they go the DIY route. Unless you've got a true perfectionist; Prince, Axl.... many artist will be satisfied with "good enough" & you won't get that "special" performance.... that once in a lifetime event....


That magic.

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#2403893 - 04/13/12 03:51 PM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Brilliant]
audiofreek Offline
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Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 782
Loc: Prince George,CANADA
Alot of session players that are used to being produced rely on the producer.If you don't give them specific direction,or a vision,they tend to just give great improvisation,riffing and stuff,but you may have just been looking for something simple,and understated.Alot of novice artists tend to have a very clear vision of what they want,but don't understand sonics and proper arrangement techniques.There are alot of differrent kinds of producers,and each one may be the right fit for the right project,a band has to know where they fit in,andfind the right producer for them.

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#2407237 - 04/27/12 01:19 PM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: audiofreek]
Robitaille59 Offline
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Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 380
Loc: Dallas TX
The two example you gave were not only two different producers, they were two different artists. So maybe that wasn't the greatest example of what a producer does.

A producer can fill a lot of roles.

Famous Name: if a producer is famous, it give an album credibility. I met a band in NYC called "the Bullies" years ago and they proudly told us that "Marky Ramone produced us"...not a bad claim. It could get people to listen. I remember when Kirk Hammett produced a demo for Death Angel...that was their ticket to the entire Metallica audience.

Discipline: When Bob Ezrin produced Kiss Destroyer, the story goes that he had to teach them how to play...he expanded their playing and made their best album to date.

Marketing: The producer can also have a hand in the song choice, picking which ones get on the album and which ones do not. Quincy Jones and the Thriller album is a great example of that, Quincy picked all winners that day.

New Direction: A new producer can take a band that is all ready established into a totally new direction. Think when Metallica dropped Rasmussen for Bob Rock, or when Rush dropped Terry Brown (bad idea btw).

Contribution of songs: Occasionally a producer will get songwriting credit. Felix Pappalardi is an example of this on Cream's "Disreali Gears"
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#2409278 - 05/06/12 02:45 AM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Robitaille59]
Brilliant Offline
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Registered: 05/06/02
Posts: 684
Loc: Port Arthur, TX, UNITED STATES
Originally Posted By: Robitaille59
The two example you gave were not only two different producers, they were two different artists. So maybe that wasn't the greatest example of what a producer does.

Without a doubt the artist plays a big role in the final "product" But I think the examples showed a pretty good contrast in production. One is "over-produced" imo, you've got back up singers, lots of instrumentation, & effects.

The other is subtle. One back up singer, two guitars, one used primarily as percussion.

The song is the same, Same lyrics, same melody, & same basic structure but played completely different.


Originally Posted By: Robitaille59

A producer can fill a lot of roles.

Famous Name: if a producer is famous, it give an album credibility. I met a band in NYC called "the Bullies" years ago and they proudly told us that "Marky Ramone produced us"...not a bad claim. It could get people to listen. I remember when Kirk Hammett produced a demo for Death Angel...that was their ticket to the entire Metallica audience.

A famous name is a famous name. Slash's name has been used to push Orianti, Daughtry, etc, etc... David Grohl's fame with Nirvana jump started the foo-fighters.

This industry is about milking any & all noteriety.

Originally Posted By: Robitaille59

Discipline: When Bob Ezrin produced Kiss Destroyer, the story goes that he had to teach them how to play...he expanded their playing and made their best album to date.

Exactly. Not every band/artist needs a disciplinarian. But sometimes, that's what it takes to get a final product that is marketable.
Originally Posted By: Robitaille59

Marketing: The producer can also have a hand in the song choice, picking which ones get on the album and which ones do not. Quincy Jones and the Thriller album is a great example of that, Quincy picked all winners that day.

I don't know if "picking songs" is exactly marketing. Now if you mean developing an "image" for the band & how they will be marketed.

Most of the songs we've heard from Guns & Roses from AFD to UYI were already written before AFD. But the band wanted to establish itself as a hard-rock, street-credible act so the songs were chosen with that goal in mind. AFD still showed the hard-rock sensibilities of the group, but also their pop-sensibilities (very Stones-like). UYI much, much more slick, more produced, more "theater"


Originally Posted By: Robitaille59

New Direction: A new producer can take a band that is all ready established into a totally new direction. Think when Metallica dropped Rasmussen for Bob Rock, or when Rush dropped Terry Brown (bad idea btw).

Or think about how AeroSmith has been able to remain "current" how they've "reinvented" themselves. Or Toni Braxton, she came out as the new Anita Baker, then to stay relevant she turned into some kind of pop diva.

Originally Posted By: Robitaille59

Contribution of songs: Occasionally a producer will get songwriting credit. Felix Pappalardi is an example of this on Cream's "Disreali Gears"


Some bands get into the studio very early in the song-writing process. They have a few ideas losely tied together & the producer is there from day 1 developing those songs.

Other times, bands have complete songs & demos. Then the producer simply helps to flesh out the vision.

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#2409433 - 05/06/12 07:44 PM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Brilliant]
audiofreek Offline
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Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 782
Loc: Prince George,CANADA
I think a good example of what a producer can do for an "up and coming" band is Rick Parashars'(Pearl jam) involvment with Nickelback.If you listen to their first effort,"The State",you hear a raw post grunge,independant rock band, with modest writing ability.Then Parash steps in on Silver Side Up,and the difference night and day.
The band used to perform bars here in Prince George alot prior to there international success.I went to hear them one night, and paid the five dollar cover charge.After listening to them do Metalica covers for an hour, I wanted my nickle back.
Now when they come here,and play the CN Center,they put on a great show.I still can`t say I`m their biggest fan,but it has been an impressive transformation,that I attribute to Rick Parashar,and the band.

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#2409986 - 05/09/12 03:14 AM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Brilliant]
Perkunas Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/28/12
Posts: 75
Just dropping from the guitar forums and thought I'd put my head up in this discussion.

I'm not going into what a producer does as that manual would rival War and Peace for bookshelf space, so I'm going for three or four words.

Objectivity, vision, expertise and communication/budget. OK there may be an extra word there.

If you are a cover band or doing a demo for pub gigs you can get away with self production, the engineer will probably help out.
Otherwise,

Communication/ budget.
The producer should have a handle on what the studio can handle and is capable of. He is the translator that explains the engineer's "tech" talk to the band and vice versa. He should also be able to predict how much time a certain process would take and keep your project in budget, often by using alternatives as solutions. e.g. I have tracked drums at studio A (cheap but very good room) and then tracked vocals at a much dearer studio cos they have a great mic selection and an engineer that knows how to track vocals. could go on but...

Expertise.
The producer should be familiar with all the instruments the band is using and all things musical in general. e.g. if I can see that the band's instruments might fall short of attaining the desired sound I will either bring in my own gear for them to use, hire it in (budget allowing) or choose a studio that has the required gear available. (Google Pensado Eric Valentine.)

Vision.
This is the bit where many artists fall short. The great song that has the audience standing on their seats at live gigs might not translate well to a recorded medium. PRE production is essential. The producer gets to know the material and the band, strong points and weak points and works with the band to get the best that they can possibly get before the clock starts ticking. eg. On one project I said to the artist that there was a song missing from his album. I picked up a guitar and played some rhythm...and he went into the night frustrated. Next morning he turned up with lyrics he had found in his drawer and a rough idea. In the first week of release about 30% of the radio stations were playing that song.

Objectivity.
You could burp in the general direction of a microphone and your mum will like it. Enough said, this where the producer really earns the bucks.

Cheers

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#2410122 - 05/09/12 10:28 AM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: Perkunas]
A String Administrator Offline
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Registered: 12/18/03
Posts: 11988
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Perkunas
Just dropping from the guitar forums and thought I'd put my head up in this discussion.

I'm not going into what a producer does as that manual would rival War and Peace for bookshelf space, so I'm going for three or four words.

Objectivity, vision, expertise and communication/budget. OK there may be an extra word there.

If you are a cover band or doing a demo for pub gigs you can get away with self production, the engineer will probably help out.
Otherwise,

Communication/ budget.
The producer should have a handle on what the studio can handle and is capable of. He is the translator that explains the engineer's "tech" talk to the band and vice versa. He should also be able to predict how much time a certain process would take and keep your project in budget, often by using alternatives as solutions. e.g. I have tracked drums at studio A (cheap but very good room) and then tracked vocals at a much dearer studio cos they have a great mic selection and an engineer that knows how to track vocals. could go on but...

Expertise.
The producer should be familiar with all the instruments the band is using and all things musical in general. e.g. if I can see that the band's instruments might fall short of attaining the desired sound I will either bring in my own gear for them to use, hire it in (budget allowing) or choose a studio that has the required gear available. (Google Pensado Eric Valentine.)

Vision.
This is the bit where many artists fall short. The great song that has the audience standing on their seats at live gigs might not translate well to a recorded medium. PRE production is essential. The producer gets to know the material and the band, strong points and weak points and works with the band to get the best that they can possibly get before the clock starts ticking. eg. On one project I said to the artist that there was a song missing from his album. I picked up a guitar and played some rhythm...and he went into the night frustrated. Next morning he turned up with lyrics he had found in his drawer and a rough idea. In the first week of release about 30% of the radio stations were playing that song.

Objectivity.
You could burp in the general direction of a microphone and your mum will like it. Enough said, this where the producer really earns the bucks.

Cheers


Great post, Perkunas.
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#2410294 - 05/10/12 02:22 AM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: A String]
Perkunas Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/28/12
Posts: 75
Thanks for your kind words, Craig.

I hope the OP is still monitoring this thread. So many acts flounder due to not being aware of the bigger picture.
Cheers

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#2410810 - 05/12/12 03:03 AM Re: Do you need a producer? [Re: A String]
audiofreek Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 782
Loc: Prince George,CANADA
I think a producers' musicianship is ultimately at the test when producing a band. Every artist is unique,it's the producers job to highlite the strengths of that artist,and at the same time, capture a marketable product for the genre.
That's a hard roe to hoe,if it can be done at all.
I'm talking about selling out,without making it obvious that you a creating a product for a market.
These days this takes a co-ordinated effort between,audio/visual/fashion/media/distribution.
If you don't agree with selling out,and being a loss leader for Coca Cola,there are other ways,but it's a hard roe to hoe.
What's this got to do with the producers role?Every producer waits for that band,or artist that is going to make thier job easy,no selling out,the real deal.
It's like seeing a great mountain,unobscured by clouds..All you have to do is point,and click,and Voila....The perfect photograph.
Bands and artsist,first have to come to terms with the fact that,they,and their' art,is a commidity,to be bought and sold,before they can come to terms with this kind of producers' role.
Perhaps you are a great mountain,obscured by clouds,and you are waiting for the right producer..waiting for the sky to clear.
FYI,I'm not fully employed by the music industry.I've just seen too may talented peolple,come and go,not willing to bend a knee to the reality of the music buisiness.Instead,they earn a living
like the rest of us,grinding away at the relentless pursuit of the American dream.Working 9-5 at a blue collar job.They cave,give up to life,surrender to to mundane reality.Still,they labour away on the weekends,hoping thier new brand of music will break,but they will not sell out.
Those people may never be able to be produced,they may have set their' music so high on a pedistal,that the world will not be able to mold it or corrupt it.I'm not saying that evry one should employ a DJ,or a hiphop artist in the band just to conform to the flavour of the day.Nothing new will ever happen if bands don't push the envelope.The greatest producers push the the band,not drag them kicking and sreaming.


Edited by audiofreek (05/12/12 09:58 AM)

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