About Me

Find out more about me here.

06 October 2017

Producers and Consistency in Music

I wanted to follow up to my post from the other day based on a comment from a good friend/colleague. Brent wrote:
I'm surprised you didn't mention producers, who seemed to have a big influence on the cohesiveness of an album's sound (ex: Nevermind vs. In Utero). The fact that modern pop albums are produced by a wide range of people rather than a single person might also contribute to the decline of the album as a thing.
I replied that, in part, that is what I was trying to convey writing that "persisting collaboratives produce more complex bodies of work not translatable as singles." His point is well received, though, and I have been thinking on it. I think it's a bit bigger than just the producer. The role of the producer is actually a bit spurious to the effect of the traditional recording session.

Many pop albums are essentially collections of several singles driven by disparate producers, albeit usually mastered as a group. (Hence my reply to Brent that this is actually just further evidence that the album has already been in decline.) This fact can make pop albums sound disjointed compared to rock albums. I think the unifying element for rock albums, though, is more the session instead of the producer.

As a guy who has spent a decent amount of time in the studio and who has informally played the role of producer many times, I can attest that there are a number of choices in the recording and mixing process that, like the mic placement process I noted originally, are sunk costs, things that are done once and set for the sake of efficiency. Drum submixes are a good example, as are mixing board and effects settings in general. An album producer has the luxury of coming in, setting up, and grinding out several songs at once. A producer of a single, on the other hand, is constrained by having to set up for just one song. If an album producer had to start from scratch for each song on the album, the body of output would certainly be less cohesive.

No comments:

Post a Comment