A record producer is a music industry professional who works with artists to produce records. Much like film producers, record producers play a role in shaping the artistic direction of the projects they work on, while also controlling quality and generating a project which will be successful. Producers are a very important part of the team which gets an album from the minds of the musicians to the shelves of retail stores. Some noted record producers include Phil Spector, George Martin, and Brian Eno.
In some cases, a record producer owns a recording studio, and artists specifically seek out that studio so that they get an opportunity to work with that producer. Other record producers are hired by recording studios as part of the house staff, in which case artists can make a point of booking time with them. Producers can also work independently or for a particular record label, going into the recording studio with the musicians who hire them. Some producers are also musicians, working in the studio with their band to record their albums.
Record producers play a key role in recording sessions, controlling the schedule and working with the sound engineer to get the desired sound. They also deal with the recording budget, offer artistic assistance to the musicians, and organize the tracks on the album. Some record producers are also sound engineers, and they may write songs and contribute in other ways to the album. The record producer can be involved in the promotion of an album as well, using connections and industry experience to promote artists and albums.
The role of a record producer can vary, depending on the type of music being recorded and the preference of the musicians. In hip-hop, record producers are often more famous than the musicians they work with, and they can make or break the success of an album. Conversely, record producers working with classical musicians may be much less involved artistically, focused on getting a good, clean recording.
Someone who wants to become a record producer can approach the career from the perspective of a musician, a record company employee, a production assistant, or a sound engineer. Most record producers start out working for recording studios or record companies to gain experience and start networking with people in the industry, and they gradually take on more work. Rates of pay for record producers vary, with some taking flat fees for their work while others take fees and “points” which consist of a percentage of album sales.