In our previous post, we saw that music producers are responsible for helping the recording artist realise the sonic vision for a piece of music. Producers have the team, skills or resources to reach this goal. While all producers share this one goal, their approach to reaching it is as diverse as their skillsets.
In the next two posts, we’ll consider six different types of music producers and how their unique strengths enable them to serve recording artists. In all of our examples, these strengths are actually a combination of various skills. Of course most creatives would detest being placed in a proverbial box, and great overlap occurs between our “categories”, but we do so here only for the sake of definition and explanation.
This list is in no way exhaustive; it is simply a description and a summary.
Let’s begin with “The Musician”, “The Composer” and “The Singer-Songwriter”.
This type of producer is firstly a highly skilled musician – perhaps a vocalist, instrumentalist or both. Often, their years of experience as performing artists and/or musical directors combined with their sheer passion for music equip them well to create quality productions for their clients. Examples of South African producers who fall into this category are Don Laka, Salealo Selota, Gabi Le Roux, Lucky Dube, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jaydine Baron, RJ Benjamin, Mark Goliath and Tony Drake.
This type of producer may have started off as an instrumentalist, but their unique gifts enable them to see the big picture of a sound recording while ensuring that the smallest details are in their place. Sometimes classically trained, always possessing an exceptional ear for music, their skillset serves them well in scoring large scale productions such as television and movie soundtracks, musicals, commercials and theatrical productions. Lebo M, Trevor Jones, Trevor Rabin, Zwai Bala and Bruce Retief are South African producers who exemplify this category.
These types of producers are more readily recognizable as performing or recording artists. Yet, their ability to oversee the entire creative process of producing a piece of music distinguishes them from other singer-songwriters. They are equally at home penning a song, performing a song and producing a hit song for themselves or other artists. Jonathan Butler, Neville D, Simphiwe Dana, Clive and Tony Ridgway, Leaveil “Vally” and Verd Eaton, Ernie Smith and Danny K are examples of these multi-skilled producers.
Next week we’ll explore three others.
Which kind of producer are you? Which kind of producer do you think you need?