With Easy Access To Music Production Tools Do We Still Need Producers?

07-17-2013 09:43 AM

I’m going to break the golden rule of any presentation, that’s saying off the bat that some of you are going to hate this article and possibly me too by the end of it. We’ve grown accustomed at Pro Tools Expert to people reading headlines or skim reading articles and then thinking we said something we didn’t so my money is on some of that happening this time. However I hope that some of you will carefully read this article before sharing your opinion.
I remember the first time I worked with a producer, he suggested I changed some lyrics on songs and chords on other songs. It was a hard thing to hear - my songs were perfect, what could he possibly suggest that could make them any better? He came up with new guitar ideas, drum riffs and keybaord parts. By the end of the album his suggestions had taken average songs and made them good and good songs and made them great. He had a vision that was far bigger than mine had been.
Some of you are used to working with producers and know that in some ways the technical bit of their craft is the least important.
A producer is a new perspective on the songs, an arranger, a musician, a technician, a visionary, a counsellor, a perfectionist, and often the most important thing for creatives, a producer is someone who takes ideas and makes sure they get finished.
In recording production the landscape has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, now someone with an average computer a DAW and plug-ins can make a high quality recording. The problem is it’s created a new generation of people calling themselves producers, in the same way easy access to DTP makes everyone think they are graphic designers. Don’t get me wrong I’m all up for access to creative tools for the masses, I have kids who love to create, but that doesn’t make them record producers, no more than me giving them a piece of paper and a pen makes them Shakespeare.
Some of you will think I’m here to protect the interests of my record producer friends, perhaps one of them has asked me to write this, or paid me? Nope, they will be as surprised to read this as some of you.
In my view, the democratisation of music production has not removed the need for professional producers, in fact the opposite, it’s made their role even more important. Having more songs out there doesn’t necessarily mean we get better quality, it can actually mean we have a harder job to navigate to find the true gems. Talented producers like Paul Epworth help to bring the cream to the surface, to nurture talent and songs, to craft mixes so that the idea conceived in the creative womb comes to full term.
I’m a blogger, that means I have the power to write and publish to a worldwide audience, but that does not make me a journalist, with the skill and craft that goes with their work. As one person once put it ““A blog is not writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation” This does not make my contribution any less valid, but let’s not confuse the two.
Your ability to write and record your songs may yield some pretty decent results, but I’d put money on the probability that with the help of a producer your songs could go from good to great. The devil’s in the detail. Discuss.