: Look, maybe I did abandon my daughter and steal her songs, but I'm still the most honorable record producer y'all have ever worked with! Natalie Maines
: Well, he's got us there. But in human
terms, he's deplorable!
Recording an album wasn't easy. You and your plucky underdog band
had to either get signed to a record label or raise funds
to pay for studio time. Then you had to choose a record producer, hope nobody ended up at somebody else's throats by the end of the sessions and prepare to be dicked around by the label
Of course, improvements in recording technology now give you the option to say bollocks to all that and just record stuff at home in GarageBand or something (as The KLF
predicted in The Manual
). However, these improvements haven't overshadowed traditional studios yet.
A record producer wears many hats. These include: controlling the recording sessions, coaching and guiding the musicians, organizing and scheduling production budget and resources, and supervising the recording, mixing and mastering processes. The last responsibility shouldn't be confused with the studio engineer, who actually
does the recording/mixing/mastering. As The Director is to movies, The Producer is to music. In other words, they are an important part of the recording process. Coincidentally, there are a few archetypes in this case.
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The Producer from Hell
You're not going anywhere, Dee Dee.
— Supposedly what Phil Spector
told The Ramones
before threatening them with a gun and forcing them to listen to him playing one of his songs on a piano until three in the morning.
The Producer From Hell
comes in many forms: Cloudcuckoolander
, one who does not suffer idiots kindly, or a man with a Berserk Button
or flat-out Hair-Trigger Temper
. He is distinguished by a domineering attitude that sometimes crosses over into bullying the band he's assigned. Band members will often be so marked
by the whole thing that they will hate him and swear to never work with him again. Coincidentally, some bands produce critically acclaimed work thanks to a producer from hell
. In short, the musical version of the Prima Donna Director
- Phil Spector, the inventor of the Wall of Sound and the man behind the board of some of the best known singles and albums of the 60's and 70's. Ignoring his personal life (showing his wife a coffin and threatening to kill her if she left) and that little murder conviction, he is famous being a genius of a producer, but this coupled (and often negated) by his temperamental personality and gunplay in the studio. He threatened Leonard Cohen with a loaded gun, stole tapes for the John Lennon album Rock 'n Roll at gunpoint, and put the Ramones through hell. He was last employed in 2003 by the alternative band Starsailor to produce their second album, but they fired him after two tracks.
- Joe Meek. He was the inventor of many modern bits of studio equipment which are still used today in almost their original forms, and is widely considered an electronic music pioneer. He was also completely insane, and ended his life killing himself after shooting his landlady.
- Martin Hannett, Factory Records' in-house producer. Various stories circulate about his bizarre Cloudcuckoolander behaviour towards Joy Division, his obsession with drum sounds in particular manifesting itself in freaky tormenting for drummer Stephen Morris. The following acts are attributed to Hannett: forcing Morris to dismantle his kit and re-assemble it with extra toilet parts, setting up his kit on a fire escape, making him continue playing for an hour after everybody else finished recording, staying on a hill for an hour to record "silence", and insisting that Morris play every drum separately to prevent leakage.
- Kevin Shields, who exhibited obssessive studio perfectionism, erratic behaviour and use of 13 separate studios and engineers to record Loveless, who ended up mostly bringing him coffee - only Anjali Dutt and Alan Moulder made any actual contributions to the process.
- Note that Shields was producing his own damn band and put them through hell. The other band members haven't really complained, since Loveless is pretty much Crowning Music of Awesome. The follow-up, m b v, which took literally twenty-two years to make, is nearly as good.
- Guy Stevens, the producer of The Clash's London Calling. Now, the band don't complain much since they got along with him very well and rightfully credit his production as a key ingredient of that album's success, but one can only imagine how pleasant it is to work with a producer who swings ladders and throws chairs around to keep everybody on edge and pours wine into piano cases for some reason. Well, hey, at least he ain't Phil Spector.
- Subverted in that while he did things like this to keep an edge he also did things that were the polar opposite. He for example brought out the band each day to play football with each other which together with other activities he did to encourage a team spirit.
- Fictional example: The Bruce Dickinson. Not that one.
- Bruce Dickinson is a real person, but he didn't produce any Blue Oyster Cult albums (he's actually a mid-level executive at BOC's label who oversaw the remastering of the band's catalog in the mid-90's).
The Acrimony Producer
Rundgren had sarcasm down to an extremely cruel art.
The Acrimony Producer
isn't as insane or bullying as the producer from hell, but the band does not get along with him for some reason. Again, some bands produce critically acclaimed work under his supervision
- Todd Rundgren. Famous for being both a musician and a producer, he did not get along with XTC during the production of Skylarking and Andy Partridge claimed he was often sarcastic towards them. Skylarking is XTC's most critically acclaimed album, coincidentally. When he produced a Bad Religion album, he didn't exactly like them, either, which left the band's singer Greg Graffin disappointed as he was a fan of Rundgren's music. Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman have both stated that their attitude in 1977 was that Rundgren was responsible for "ruining" several songs on Bat Out of Hell by reducing their lengths. However, they have also said that these changes were ultimately for the best (Jim Steinman has even gone so far as to say that Rundgren is one of the few people he considers a genius).
- Bob Rock. Metallica's favourite pastime during the recording of the Black Album was to find various ways of tormenting him - James at one point plastered the studio room with pictures of gay porn due to Rock's surprised reaction to such earlier. It's insinuated on the A Year And A Half In The Life of Metallica film that this is mostly due to Rock's having the balls to challenge James Hetfield and suggest he change certain riffs or write new lyrics (the case with "Enter Sandman"), something former producers Jon Zazula or Flemming Rassmussen had apparently never done.
- Yoshiki Hayashi, who once bought Bob Rock's studio. Dir En Grey liked/likes him as a person, but working with/for him is another matter entirely.
- According to former MC5 members, Jon Landau was overbearing and rude while recording Back in the USA, trying to impose a certain sound on the band.
- Nick McCabe, The Verve's guitarist, has admitted in an interview that he found working with John Leckie on A Storm in Heaven difficult, disagreeing over what the sound of the album should be like. According to him, the final result is a compromise between the two.
- Dream Theater fought constantly with David Prater during the Images and Words session. Mike Portnoy hated the electronic snare he was made to use, and the band were very upset when he cut their Epic Rocking masterpiece "A Change of Seasons" from the album for being "too long" (which is Completely Missing the Point - Dream Theater are all about the Epic Rocking). The band was also frustrated with how Prater's mix failed to bring out certain sections of the songs the way they desired and the overly polished final mix toned down their aggressiveness, making them sound more like Queensr˙che than a Progressive Metal band.
- When they finally got around to recording "A Change of Seasons" as an EP three years later, it was with great difficulty that they decided to hire Prater to produce once again, reasoning that since "A Change of Seasons" was an Images and Words outtake it made the most sense to have him handle it. There were less fights this time around, and Prater wasn't around long enough to start clashing with the band again since the rest of the EP was filled by a series of covers recorded at one of the band's concerts.
- Soundgarden didn't outright fight with Michael Beinhorn while recording Superunknown, but Chris Cornell mentioned that he did contribute to the recording process being slower and more frustrating:
Michael Beinhorn was so into sounds. He was so, almost, anal about it, that it took the piss out of us a lot of the time...By the time you get the sounds that you want to record the song, you're sick and tired of playing it.
- The band specifically chose to self-produce their next album Down on the Upside to avoid the slow, one-song-at-a-time, prolonged recording of Superunknown.
- Hole hated working with Beinhorn on Celebrity Skin, with drummer Patty Schemel accusing Beinhorn of forcing her out of the band because he wanted to work with a studio drummer instead (which is what happened; Schemel's replacement Samantha Maloney joined the band after the album was done but before touring), and Courtney Love calling him "a Nazi" in a retrospective documentary about the album's making.
- Trevor Horn - Previously the singer for The Buggles (and later a member of Yes and Art of Noise), Horn has a reputation for playing to his artist's strengths and adapting appropriately; hence how he can produce slickly produced and expansive pop/rock in the vein of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes, Yes' mainstream breakthrough 90125 or Robbie Williams' Reality Killed The Video Star, or alternately experimental and edgy like Grace Jones' Slave To The Rhythm and the Art Of Noise's... well, the Art Of Noise's early material. Horn is often cited as being the best producer in Britain, and the man deserves the accolade. That being said, his perfectionism at all costs (often quite literal costs) has been known to get artists' backs up from time to time, with Frankie Goes To Hollywood eventually taking him to court. Pet Shop Boys acknowledged that Horn promised a finished production job on one song within a week, only for the song to come back six months later, well over budget.
- David Tickle. According to the members of Split Enz, Tickle became increasingly arrogant after producing True Colours, their global breakout album. With the follow-up album Waiata, they were dismayed at Tickle's refusal to give them any input into the final sound of the album. Later on, Department S and Crowded House had similar creative tensions.
- Robert John "Mutt" Lange has a reputation for being a perfectionist in the studio. Def Leppard's Phil Collen reputedly described him as the "nicest dictator in the studio". And during the production of the Foreigner album '4', guitarist Mick Jones frequently "locked horns" with Lange.
- The Red Hot Chili Peppers had two different examples in their career: first with their debut album, when they fought harshly with Andy Gill - producer and guitarist for one of the band's influences, Gang of Four - because he wanted their sound to be more radio-friendly. They disliked him so much that Flea reportedly gave Gill a pizza box filled with poop. Then many years later during the Mother's Milk sessions, when John Frusciante frequently fought with producer Michael Beinhorn over guitar tone and layering, because Beinhorn wanted Frusciante to play in an almost heavy-metal style. Beinhorn's idea eventually prevailed, which explains the peculiar sound of the album.
- Squeeze were initially excited to be working with John Cale of The Velvet Underground as producer for their first album (they had actually chosen their band name from a VU album), but their enthusiasm rather quickly evaporated when Cale forced them to throw out all the songs they had already written, made them write songs on the spot in the studio, outright terrorised the band during sessions and pursued his pet theme of having the album be named A Bunch of Gay Guys (thus explaining the album's cover). And after that was all done, the record company then made them put "Bang Bang" and "Take Me I'm Yours" on the album, so they could have singles to sell. The result has since been received comparatively negatively.
The Invisible Producer
It always offended me when I was in the studio and the engineer or the assumed producer for the session would start bossing the band around. That always seemed like a horrible insult to me. [...] So, I made up my mind when I started engineering professionally that I wasn't going to behave like that.
The Invisible Producer
is very minimally involved in the recording process. He just sets up the microphones, pushes "record" and sits back. Sometimes he may give suggestions, but generally takes a backseat to the band.
- Steve Albini prefers to be this by default, even to the point of refusing to accept royalties from records he works on (most famously during the production of Surfer Rosa by The Pixies and In Utero by Nirvana), considering the act to be insulting to the band he worked with. Apparently because he favours "live" recording over the layers of multi-tracking that most producers prefer, Albini has to spend an age setting up the microphones just so, but other than that, the description is fairly accurate. He also tries to have his name left off the album credits if possible, and if not, he absolutely refuses to allow himself to be listed as a "producer", instead preferring the title of "engineer" or saying the album was "engineered/recorded by". Also, he despises digital audio formats and recording systems with a passion, to the point of referring to CD's as "the rich man's eight-track tape" and refusing to use the Pro Tools installed in his studio.
- Mick Jones for the Libertines.
- Glyn Johns
- Andy Johns (Glyn's younger brother)
- Ethan Johns (Glyn's son.)
- Bob Johnston. With all of Dylan's late 60s albums and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison on his resume, you certainly can't argue with his approach. He once wrote that if Cash had wanted to record a live album on the Moon, he would've gotten everything set up.
- Eddie Kramer
- Rodger Bain on Black Sabbath's first three albums. It should be noted, however, that this was due primarily to the rush job they did on said albums, which was a common practice in that era.
- Nick Mason, drummer for Pink Floyd has done several production jobs for artists like The Damned, Gong and Robert Wyatt. People who he has worked with confirm that he is brilliant at organisation (getting the studios booked, keeping it on budget) but that his influence on the actual music is minimal.
- Andy Warhol for The Velvet Underground. Although credited as producer, his influence primarily seems to have been just to pay for the recording, the actual production work was done by Tom Wilson and the band themselves. Lou Reed acknowledged that Andy's pedigree allowed them to get away with a lot for their debut that might've otherwise been lost in Executive Meddling.
- Speaking of Wilson, he also produced Bringing It All Back Home, White Light/White Heat, Freak Out!, "The Sound of Silence", and other masterpieces. Many of the artists who worked with him have noted that he basically just signed off on whatever they wanted to do because he trusted their instincts. He did, however, contribute massively to the popularity of Folk Rock (Dylan had already recorded "Like a Rolling Stone", which Wilson also produced) by overdubbing electric guitars, bass, and drums to the original acoustic version of "The Sound of Silence", which became an immediate hit and served as Trope Codifier for the genre. Zappa praised Wilson throughout his career for the fact that he "stuck his neck out for us" and deflected Executive Meddling to allow the Mothers of Invention practically free reign on Freak Out!, and letting their debut be an unprecedented double album.
The George Martin
The George Martin
is the Long Runner
of production, faithfully sticking with the same band for an incredible amount of time and albums. Of course, this exposes the band to the danger of getting stale, but it's not like they wouldn't get there anyway. Or alternatively, the band loses their way when they ditch the producer.
- The Trope Namer and Trope Maker, George Martin, who produced every Beatles album, except Let it Be, which was produced by Phil Spector.
- Nigel Godrich, who has been with Radiohead since OK Computer (1997).
- Rick Rubin, who has been with the Red Hot Chili Peppers since BloodSugarSexMagik, and produced all System of a Down albums. In addition to his work with those bands, he's also incredibly eclectic, working with artists from Jay-Z to Johnny Cash, all with his signature stripped down production style.
- Bob Rock for Metallica between 1991-2003. They finally ditched him after St. Anger made them realize they were digging themselves into a hole.
- Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois in various degrees for U2 since The Unforgettable Fire, only absent on 1997's Pop.
- Ted Templeman, on Van Halen's first 6 albums. He left with David Lee Roth (although returning for For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge). Templeman stuck around longer with the Doobie Brothers and Michael McDonald.
- Bill Ham, producing every ZZ Top album from 1969 until 2003.
- Terry Brown, who produced every Rush album between Fly By Night and Signals.
- Rob Cavallo, with Green Day since 1994. (they only ditched him for 21st Century Breakdown)
- Pierre Marchand, with Sarah McLachlan since 1994.
- Frank Peterson, the Martin for Sarah Brightman.
- Dick Knubbler in Metalocalypse.
- Notable for doing a double Heel-Face Turn- from producer (sent by the record company for quality control) and spy, to trusted confidant of the band and the only person aside from Offdensen they'll actually listen to. If they can hear him...
- Pat Dillett, who produced all of They Might Be Giants' releases since Factory Showroom.
- Jimmy Miller, who produced the most highly-regarded series of albums by The Rolling Stones - Beggars' Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. He was thrown out after Goats Head Soup because his drug use was affecting his production skills.
- Though he's always credited as co-producing with the band themselves, David Fridmann for The Flaming Lips; He first worked with them in 1990 (when critics and fans seem to generally agree that the band started Growing the Beard), and with the exception of Transmissions From The Satellite Heart, he's co-produced every album since.
- Gil Norton, with The Pixies between Doolittle and Trompe le Monde.
- Iron Maiden had two: Martin Birch, that produced all between Killers and Fear of the Dark (then retired), and Kevin Shirley, for all since Brave New World.
- All of George Strait's albums since the Pure Country soundtrack in 1992 have been produced by Tony Brown.
- Similarly, Brown produced for Vince Gill from 1989 to 2000.
- Dwight Yoakam worked with producer/guitarist Pete Anderson from his 1986 debut Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. until Population Me in 2003. Anderson also played lead guitar on all of those albums.
- With a career spanning from 1989 to the present, Alan Jackson has worked with producer Keith Stegall on all but one album (his 2006 New Sound Album Like Red on a Rose). The first two albums had co-production from Scott Hendricks, as did one song on the third, and Jackson's 2013 Bluegrass Album features his nephew Adam Wright as a co-producer.
- Patty Loveless has been produced by her husband, Emory Gordy, Jr., for all but two albums. He and Tony Brown co-produced the first two, then Brown produced her third and fourth by himself, before Gordy returned permanently. The only exception ever since has been Justin Niebank co-producing 2005's Dreaming My Dreams. Gordy also plays bass guitar on most of her albums, and in her road band.
- All of Five Iron Frenzy's albums (eight of them, over the course of eight years) were produced by Masaki Liu. In the liner notes of their final album, FIF called him and label-runner Frank Tate the 9th and 10th members of the band.
- Tony Clarke, who produced The Moody Blues' "classic seven" albums of the late '60s and early '70s, as well as the not-quite-as-classic-but-still-pretty-damn-good Octave from 1978. He's often referred to as "The Sixth Moody" by fans.
- Paul Rothchild produced almost every album by The Doors. He split with the band after Morrison Hotel, dismissing their new material as "cocktail music", so the band instead promoted engineer Bruce Botnick (who had engineered all of their albums) to the position for L.A. Woman.
- All of The Cure's albums between The Top and Wish were co-produced by David M. Allen.
- All of Steely Dan's albums were engineered and co-produced by Roger Nichols. All of their albums between Can't Buy A Thrill and Gaucho were produced by Gary Katz.
- Tim McGraw has always co-produced with Byron Gallimore, starting with his long-forgotten self-titled debut album in 1992 (which James Stroud and Doug Johnson co-produced). Between Not a Moment Too Soon (1994) and Set This Circus Down (2001), Stroud continued to co-produce; Darran Smith took over the co-production role from Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors (2002) until Emotional Traffic (2012), Tim's last album for Curb Records. Following his move to Big Machine Records immediately after the latter, Smith departed, leaving just McGraw and Gallimore for 2013's Two Lanes of Freedom.
- McGraw and Gallimore also produced for labelmate Jo Dee Messina from 1996 through 2006, except for her 2002 album A Joyful Noise, which was produced by Brent Maher (best known for producing The Judds). Also, the McGraw/Gallimore team only produced three tracks on 2005's Delicious Surprise, while Messina produced the rest of the album (something she hadn't done previously) with Gallimore on some tracks, and Mark Bright on others.
- Buddy Cannon has produced for Kenny Chesney since I Will Stand in 1997. Between then and All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan (2003), Cannon's frequent co-production partner Norro Wilson helped.
- All of Garth Brooks' albums except for two have been produced by Allen Reynolds. The first one was the Chris Gaines album, produced by Don Was, and the second was the 2013 box set Blame It All on My Roots, which was produced by Mark Miller (plus Steve Buckingham on one track).
- Keith Urban worked with Dann Huff from 2002's Golden Road until 2013's Fuse, which included Huff as one of ten co-producers.
- Mary Chapin Carpenter co-produced all of her albums with John Jennings from her little-known 1987 debut Hometown Girl through Time* Sex* Love* in 2001. The former included one track co-produced by Steve Buckingham instead, while the latter had Blake Chancey as a third producer.
- Brad Paisley worked with producer Frank Rogers from his 1999 debut to 2012.
- From 1996 to 2013, all of Gary Allan's material was produced by Mark Wright, albeit with at least one helping hand on the first four discs (songwriter Byron Hill on the first three, then Tony Brown on his third and fourth). Allan co-produced with Wright on his fifth through seventh albums, and Mark Droman (an engineer who frequently co-produces with Wright) joined on his eighth, Get Off on the Pain. 2013's Set You Free broke from the pack, with Jay Joyce on five tracks, Droman on four, and Wright on only three.
- With a handful of exceptions, Felton Jarvis produced or co-produced most of Elvis Presley's late 60s material, and in 1970 he was officially hired as Elvis's exclusive producer, a job he held until Elvis died.
- With a career spanning from the late 1970s to The New Tens, Randy Travis was produced by Kyle Lehning for all but four albums: his little-known 1978 debut under his real name of Randy Traywick (produced by Joe Stampley); Wind in the Wire, a 1992 album done as a side project for a TV series (produced by Steve Gibson); and his first two albums after switching from Warner Bros. to DreamWorks Records in 1998: You and You Alone and A Man Ain't Made of Stone (produced by Byron Gallimore and James Stroud).
- He's also had a couple stray tracks by different producers: his Warner Bros. debut "On the Other Hand" was co-produced by Keith Stegall, who declined any further production roles at the time as he wanted to focus on his own singing career (which imploded, thus leading to Stegall's long-running role as Alan Jackson's producer), and a cover of Brook Benton's "It's Just a Matter of Time", which was produced by Richard Perry for a compilation called Rock, Rhythm & Blues and included on one of Randy's albums because he liked how it sounded.
- The Oak Ridge Boys were produced by Ron Chancey for most of their hit-making years, spanning from the late 70s to the mid-late 80s.
- All of John Conlee's material was produced by Bud Logan.
The Helping Hand Producer
After that, I think we finally figured out that Guy [Bidmead] just wasn't Vic Maile. [...] He was too nice! Vic knew when to tell us to shut the fuck up!
, about working on Nö Sleep At All
The Helping Hand Producer
is a slightly subjective trope, and one whose existence is rather hard to determine until after the fact. It refers to the belief that one producer is a great match for a band because he knows their strengths and helps them produce excellent albums. A great sign of this trope is when the band split with said producer and release albums that don't have the same reception. As said, it's easier to discern after a split occured.
occurs when a band gets Genre Savvy
toward Real Life
and decides to produce their albums themselves to avoid interference
. Either that, or they have a creative vision that they couldn't express properly before.
- The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, at least in their most commercially and critically successful years.
- Although the nominal producer on their earliest records was Nick Venet, by most accounts his role was limited to telling the engineer to do whatever Brian Wilson wanted.
- Yoshiki Hayashi for almost every X Japan single or album, although Jade was co-produced with an American producer.
- Jimmy Page, who produced every Led Zeppelin album.
- It is worth noting Jimmy was an experienced producer by the time Led Zeppelin started. He even admitted he switched around engineers for every album to make it clear to everybody that he was the architect of the band's sound.
- Trent Reznor, the only permanent member of Nine Inch Nails.
- Al Jourgensen, for Ministry.
- RZA for the Wu-Tang Clan.
- Geoff Barrow, for Portishead.
- George Clinton, for Parliament-Funkadelic.
- Jack Dangers, the only permanent member of Meat Beat Manifesto.
- Daft Punk.
- My Bloody Valentine were credited as producers for every album/EP except Loveless, which credits bandmembers Kevin Shields and Colm O Ciosoig (the latter purely for the interlude "Touched").
- The Velvet Underground started self-producing with 1969's eponymous album, after one album (allegedly) produced by Andy Warhol and one with Tom Wilson.
- Queen, alone (1976-1977) or in collaboration with three other producers: Roy Thomas Baker (1973-1975, 1978), Mack (1980-1984) and David Richards (1986-1995).
- Paul McCartney. alone or in collaboration, for most of his solo career. Anything of his recorded after the break-up and before 1998 has his touch.
- Steve Harris has produced or co-produced a lot of albums and videos for his band, Iron Maiden.
- Steven Wilson self-produces Porcupine Tree records, and has produced other bands such as Opeth.
- The Rolling Stones' "Glimmer Twins" (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards) have either produced their albums themselves or in collaboration with others (Steve Lillywhite, Don Was, The Dust Brothers) since It's Only Rock 'n Roll.
- Sonic Youth have had a co-production credit on almost every record since around Bad Moon Rising.
- Big Black, considering their guitarist was Steve Albini...
- After Tori Amos' boyfriend/producer broke up with her, she thought it would be appropriate to produce her next album Boys for Pele. Now Tori produces all of her albums.
- Kate Bush.
- The Tea Party.
- Most recent Rush albums give the band, or at least guitarist Alex Lifeson, a producer co-credit.
- Recent Hot Hot Heat albums are recorded in a studio Steve Bays owns and mostly self-produced.
- Disturbed from Indestructible onward. The primary production seat is held by guitarist Dan Donegan.
- Mike Shinoda has produced everything Linkin Park-related aside from their first two albums and Dead by Sunrise's debut.
- The Smiths co-produced all their albums, usually with either John Porter or Stephen Street. Morrissey and Johnny Marr received the main credits, but Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce were allowed to make decisions about how to mix their own instruments.
- The Cure or Robert Smith have been credited as co-producers on every album since Seventeen Seconds.
- The Band, beginning with their third album.
- Toby Keith's first two albums and a Christmas album were produced by Nelson Larkin and Harold Shedd. After Shedd left Mercury, Keith began co-producing everything he put out: first with Larkin for one album, then with James Stroud (from 1997's Dream Walkin' through 2005's Honkytonk University, his last album for DreamWorks Records before it closed). He has been mostly DIY ever since, with the occasional helping hand.
- Garbage (though Bleed Like Me has an extra producer as they started it really burned out).
- Kanye West is the Trope Maker of this for hip-hop, as he was a producer before he became a rapper and so produces all of his songs, which lends his albums a sense of coherence and vision that most hip-hop albums lack.
- Kanye opened a door for "producer/rappers" and made them appealing to record-labels (less production costs), and as a result there are now the likes of J Cole and Big K.R.I.T. in or on the outskirts of the mainstream.
- Before Kanye, someone taught Eminem how to produce, and as a result, Shady co-produced the vast majority of his Magnum Opus The Eminem Show.
- Dr. Dre is not really an example, simply because Dre didn't write any of his raps, and was first and foremost a record producer. A number of well-known rappers have written raps for Dre, including Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Royce da 5'9', Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z (famously on "Still D.R.E.").
- Electric Light Orchestra's albums are either produced or co-produced by Jeff Lynne.
- As mentioned above, Brad Paisley abandoned Frank Rogers, who'd produced him since 1999, in favor of self-production on 2013's Wheelhouse. That album has a far more bombastic style than before, which has been met with mixed results. What makes this more interesting is that, unlike most artists, Paisley refused to co-produce.
- Clint Black was produced by James Stroud for the entire first decade of his career. Mark Wright co-produced the first album, and Clint co-produced from his third album onward. Starting with D'Lectrified in 1999, he abandoned Stroud and produced everything by himself. He also produced Nashville Star winner Buddy Jewell's debut.
The One or More Trick Pony
The One Or More Trick Pony
has one or more distinctive styles that, consciously or not, he imposes on the bands who work with him.
- Nigel Godrich - ethereal space-rock (Radiohead, Pavement, REM, BECK etc.).
- Mark Ronson - more trumpets (Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, etc.).
- Jackknife Lee - fuzzy ballad rock (U2, Kasabian, Bloc Party, etc.).
- Bill Laswell - Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly fusion with a recurring Production Posse of session musicians. His production work on Herbie Hancock albums is often derided as "Bill Laswell featuring Herbie Hancock".
- John Leckie - Sixties influenced psychedelic rock (The Stone Roses, XTC, The Verve, Radiohead).
- Steve Albini - aggressive, lo-fi Grunge/Alternative Rock (The Pixies, The Breeders, Nirvana, PJ Harvey). Although he did do a fantastic job recording folk singer/songwriter/harpist Joanna Newsom and Post Rock ensemble Godspeed You! Black Emperor with an almost absurd degree of clarity, and Mono's Hymn To The Immortal Wind with an orchestra and thirteen minute instrumental tracks. But he's still stereotypically associated with lo-fi recording methods and big-name Alternative Rock bands.
- Robert John "Mutt" Lange - formerly gritty Hard Rock (AC/DC's Highway to Hell, Back in Black), now over-produced pop-rock (Def Leppard's Pyromania and Hysteria, The Cars' "Heartbeat City", Bryan Adams' Waking Up the Neighbours, Nickelback's Dark Horse) and pop-country (ex-wife Shania Twain).
- Nick Lowe developed a clean, unpretentious pop sound ("bash it out, we'll tart it up later") in the late '70s which helped launch the careers of, among others, Elvis Costello and the Pretenders.
- Butch Vig - clearly recorded but still aggressive grunge/alternative rock (Nirvana, L7, The Smashing Pumpkins) or industrial rock (Garbage).
- Tony Visconti - trippy glam rock (T. Rex), grinding proto-industrial rock (David Bowie's Berlin Trilogy and Scary Monsters), and various other styles (Mary Hopkin, Moody Blues, etc.)
- Larry Klein has produced exclusively albums by female singer-songwriters. He got his start on Wild Things Run Fast by Joni Mitchell, whom he eventually married, though it didn't last.
- The same thing happened to Eric Rosse, whose production credit on Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink led to him being hired quite frequently by female singer-songwriters (Lisa Marie Presley, Anna Nalick, Sara Bareilles, etc).
- Jim Steinman - a grandiose, bombastic sound that is equal parts Bruce Springsteen and Richard Wagner. He perfected this style with Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler, and it's very much in evidence on a variety of one-shot singles he's done with other artists (Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing at All", Céline Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now").
- Marty Munsch - known as "The Phil Spector of punk rock" for his aggressive, massive sound and his work with various industrial Ministry, KMFDM, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Nine Inch Nails, Revolting Cocks, Young Gods, Front Line Assembly) and electronic bands (Meat Beat Manifesto, The KLF).
- Phil Spector - inventor of "The Wall of Sound".
- Rick Rubin - his scaled down sound marked by minimal use of effects like reverb, trying to keep most of the instrumentation live and a focus on performance and precision. He's known for the sheer eclecticism of the bands he's worked with and his seemingly uncanny ability to bring out the best in the people he works with. His credits include: The Beastie Boys (Licensed to Ill), Run-DMC, LL Cool J (Radio famously had the credit "reduced by Rick Rubin"), Jay-Z, Slayer (Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss and more), Johnny Cash (the American Recordings series), Red Hot Chili Peppers (all of their albums since Blood Sugar Sex Magik), Danzig, Metallica (Death Magnetic), System of a Down (all their albums), AC DC (Ballbreaker), Neil Diamond (12 Songs), Justin Timberlake and Weezer. On a more negative note, he is also notorious for Loudness Warring his recent releases to an egregious extent.
- Bob Ezrin - alternately grandiose and arty (Pink Floyd's The Wall, Peter Gabriel's first album) or simple and direct (Aerosmith's Get Your Wings, KISS' Destroyer), but always pretty slammin' rock.
- Scott Burns very nearly invented the sound of 90's death metal, producing Cannibal Corpse's first five albums, five by Deicide, four by Obituary three by Death, three by Malevolent Creation, and many more. His retirement from producing was largely due to death metal exhaustion, having never been a big fan of the music, just very good at making it sound right.
- Gil Norton - spacey, aggressive Alternative Rock (The Pixies, James, Belly, Catherine Wheel, Foo Fighters) or whiny Post-Grungey indie rock (Dashboard Confessional, Jimmy Eat World).
- Stock Aitken Waterman - high-energy pop-dance (Dead or Alive, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue). Probably the most hated of the bunch.
- Conny Plank - Krautrock. Yes, it is a bit circular since Krautrock is basically "sounding like Conny Plank", but his tendencies (expressed through Kraftwerk and Neu!) are clear: lots of synth, lots of echo, clear clean drums and liberal use of abstract noise as an instrument.
- Timbaland - dance-pop music with heavy drums
- The Neptunes - dance-pop/rap music with emphasis on bass & drums
- Trevor Horn - crystal-clear sound quality, eighties reverb, lush arrangements, heavy use of samplers and new recording technology, the presence of Anne Dudley and J.J. Jeczalik.
- Erik Rutan - Mostly death metal, though he does other genres from time to time. Especially known for great guitar tone and an approach that can be anal and perfectionist at some times and laissez-faire at others, though he also has major Loudness War issues.
- Giorgio Moroder - a pioneer of the 'computer disco' sound in the 1970s, and subsequently producing many New Wave, hi-NRG and rock artists in the 1980s. Heavy emphasis on analogue synthesisers and four-on-the-floor drum machine rhythms.
- Bruce Fairbairn - overly bombastic, occasionally horn- and synth-laden rock (Aerosmith, Yes, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Loverboy).
- Red One - booming drums, grungey sawtooth synth bass overlaid with sweet-sounding synth melodies.
- Dann Huff — Slick, often bombastic mainstream country-pop with loads of electric guitar, making him a particularly effective producer for the rock-styled guitar work of Keith Urban. (Not surprisingly, Huff is also a session guitarist, and often plays on whatever he produces.)
- One of his favorite tricks with Rascal Flatts, whom he produced from 2005 to 2013, is to make the song start off really soft with just piano, then keep building and building until the song is almost ridiculously loud on the final chorus, before cooling back off to just piano again. This power balladry often forced lead singer Gary LeVox, who already has an extremely nasal tenor voice, to resort to really whiny, warbly histrionics just to be heard over the noise.
- Some of his production on The Band Perry's Pioneer is noticeably more organic than Huff usually is, particularly "Better Dig Two".
- Huff made a rare excursion outside country-pop when he produced Megadeth's Cryptic Writings and Risk, but he still brought a slicker, more mainstream-friendly sound to those albums compared to Megadeth's previous output. Mustaine later admitted that he made a mistake in allowing Huff and his manager Bud Prager more creative control over Risk, blaming them for its terrible reception.
- Kelly Clarkson's "Don't Rush" is also a major exception, with none of Huff's usual bombast. It's a very laid-back song that sounds like an early 80s country-pop tune.
- Jay Joyce uses lots of funky acoustic guitar riffs, usually in really low tunings like Drop C, and heavy electric guitar. He also loves using drum loops and nonstandard instrumentation (for instance, "Homeboy" by Eric Church has harps on it), and loves vocal filters (e.g. Church's "Creepin'" or Little Big Town's "Pontoon"), and his production has a very "raw", unpolished feel throughout. However, he does know when to tone it down, such as Thomas Rhett's "Beer with Jesus" or Church's "Like Jesus Does".
- As mentioned above, Keith Stegall has worked with Alan Jackson on all but one album. While Jackson is known for his meat-and-potatoes, everyman simplicity, that same sound can be heard in a lot of Stegall's other productions. Most notably, Stegall's knack for simplicity brings out the harmonies and nylon-string guitar/fiddle/keyboard interplay of the Zac Brown Band.
- However, Stegall often let his bombastic pop side out of the bag in the early 2000s when producing for Mark Wills.
- Frank Rogers also has a generally light touch with crisp vocals and a prominent bass line, making him most effective for the deep-voiced, traditional-sounding Josh Turner and other strong vocalists such as Darryl Worley, Darius Rucker, and Scotty McCreery (although unusually for him, some of Rucker's work falls under Loudness War). He generally mixed louder for Brad Paisley and brought out the guitar more.
- Paul Worley (no relation to Darryl) also wears many hats. He started off with a meaty, guitar-heavy sound (unsurprisingly, he's also a session guitarist like Dann Huff) that wasn't too polished, and kept this into the late 1990s. By the early 2000s, he used ultra-slick pop sheen on Martina McBride, nearly Meat Loaf levels of pure rock loudness on Big & Rich's albums, and returned to ultra-slick pop sheen later in the decade for Lady Antebellum. One of Worley's trademarks is using a very large number of instruments that come and go throughout the song.
- Michael Knox seems to excel in a raw, overdriven, Southern rock-influenced sound that's less brickwalled than most, but isn't as "quirky" as Jay Joyce. This is most evident on his production for Jason Aldean, but it also helped return Montgomery Gentry to their signature sound on Rebels on the Run.
- Dr Luke - self-consciously low-fi, video-gamey synths, arrangements that sound sparse but take ridiculous amounts of multitracking to do, and very sparkly, ultra-sampled guitar. His biggest success is Katy Perry, but his sound is so distinctive that a number of people confused Jessie J for Perry on first hearing simply because they both work with him.
- Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift) has an affinity for more acoustic-driven arrangements. If any electric guitar is used at all, it's usually clean. The only exceptions are the pop mixes of Swift's songs, which are given heavy back beats, and the heavy electric guitar on the pop mix of The Band Perry's "If I Die Young". However, as of about 2012, he's developed a much more layered, overdub-heavy style with lots of polish, as seen on the tracks he produced on Keith Urban's Fuse, as well as Lady Antebellum's "Compass".
- Frank Liddell seems to have two modes: "reasonable" and "brick-walled into total noise". It's hard to believe that Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" (nothing but vocals and acoustic guitar) and "Only Prettier" (very loud and brickwalled) had the same man behind the boards. One of his favorite tricks is making the guitars super-loud but hyper-compressing them into a loud, trebly, tinny mess (good example: "Let It Rain" by David Nail).
- Some of it also comes from his occasional production partner Mike Wrucke, who does the same thing to albums by the Eli Young Band — one track sounds good, another is obscenely brick-walled.
- Billy Sherrill: sophisticated, dramatic music mixing traditional country instruments with strings and other embellishments, fronted by a distinctively-voiced singer (Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Charlie Rich).
- James William Guercio: horn-dominated hybrids of jazz and rock (Chicago's first 11 albums; Blood, Sweat & Tears; The Buckinghams).
- Mark Bright: Slick country-pop, dating back to his work with Blackhawk in the mid-late 90s. It carried Rascal Flatts for their first few albums, and is now seen on Carrie Underwood's work. Basically "Dann Huff if he backed off on the guitars a little".
- Buddy Cannon seems to have two modes. The first is neotraditionalist fiddle-and-steel country, a style that he's kept since the early 90s when he worked with the likes of Sammy Kershaw and George Jones, and on through the likes of Chris Young and Ashton Shepherd. The other is "Kenny Chesney style", which has evolved from the same neotraditionalism, to a snare drum and guitar-heavy arena rock sound (e.g. "Big Star", "Young"), to a combination of tropical influences ("Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven") and somber, spare, acoustic numbers with little more than acoustic guitar and organ ("You and Tequila", "El Cerrito Place").
- Andy Sneap specializes in heavy metal, and has a known penchant for a very specific guitar sound that heavily pushes low-mids.
- Mark Wright, a Countrymusic producer, is known for really "heavy" instrumentation with lots of up-front guitar and drums. His production style helped re-energize Brooks & Dunn on their 2001 comeback album Steers & Stripes. Since about 2000, he's also favored a huge amount of instrumentation with big walls of backing vocals and often odd instrument choices, such as a mandolin distorted through an amplifier. Lee Ann Womack specifically sought out Wright on her first albums for his "fat" production.
The Multiple Producers
is, well, when a band works with more than one producer for an album
. This can be for various reasons - either they worked with one at first then moved on to the other and both batches of songs ended up on the album, they consciously set out to do so, they found a few who bring out different parts of their sound, etc. The advantage here is that you get more people you can bounce ideas off of, and may provide a degree of diversity to your album. The pitfall is that Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup
, and you might just end up with an inconsistent, disorganised and schizophrenic mess.
- Almost every Hip Hop album since sometime in the mid-nineties. There are lots of reviewers who point out that this basically loses the coherence and sonic/conceptual unity that rap albums had in the past when the entire production would be handled by one guy/team.
- Whereas previous Pink Floyd albums were either credited to Norman Smith (1967-1970) or the band alone (1971-1977), The Wall's production credit reads: Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie, Roger Waters. The Final Cut is slightly less unwieldy, being reduced to Waters, Guthrie and Michael Kamen - but that's partly because Gilmour had his name removed from the production credits over disagreements with Waters over the direction of the album.
- All of U2's albums since 1984 have been produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, but in The Nineties they expanded production credits by having The Edge take occasional credits, bringing in Steve Lillywhite for Achtung Baby, Mark "Flood" Ellis for Zooropa and Howie B and Steve Osborne for Pop. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb bears their longest list of producers, numbering: Steve Lillywhite, Chris Thomas, Jacknife Lee, Nellee Hooper, Flood, Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Carl Glanville.
- The production duo of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced just about every Madness studio album (with the exception of their covers album, The Dangermen Sessions, Vol. 1), as well as Too-Rye-Aye for Dexys Midnight Runners and a couple of albums for They Might Be Giants and Elvis Costello.
- Most of Jars of Clay's self-titled debut was self-produced, but "Flood" and "Liquid" (two of their first hit singles) were produced by Adrian Belew.
- Primus specifically drafted in more producers and guest musicians for Antipop to try and do something different. Said producers included: Tom Morello, Tom Waits, Stewart Copeland, Matt Stone and Fred Durst.
- The B-52s' Cosmic Thing. Half the tracks are produced by Nile Rodgers, and half by Don Was. The tracks produced by Rodgers are more commercial sounding and happy, whereas the Was tracks are more experimental and jungly.
- Several country acts in the 1980s and 1990s were co-produced by Buddy Cannon and Norro Wilson. Cannon continues to produce mainly for Kenny Chesney, although Wilson has largely been retired since 2003.
- Jason Aldean's road band (which consists of Tully Kennedy, Kurt Allison, David Fanning, and Rich Redmond) produces for labelmates Thompson Square, James Wesley, and Parmalee under the name New Voice Entertainment.
- Keith Urban's 2013 album Fuse features eleven producers, including himself, longtime co-producer Dann Huff, and a few from far outside the realm of country (e.g., Benny Blanco and Stargate). The album has been fairly well-received for the resulting mix of sounds.
The Man in the Middle
What's my job as a producer? To produce an album. I'm not getting paid to be Layne's friend.
The Man in the Middle
is the exact opposite of the Acrimony Producer
: this time around, the band
are too busy fighting amongst themselves
and the producer by default ends up trying to keep the whole thing going, even if it means being the only one around to tell the band to chill out and get back to, y'know, recording.
- Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat, Fleetwood Mac's producers from 1977's Rumours to 1987's Tango in the Night. Ken recalled that during the Rumours sessions the band members would, when not recording, get into fights with one another and snort whatever they had handy, and he repeatedly found cocaine lying on the mixing desk.
- George Martin himself in his final sessions with The Beatles. After the ordeal that was recording Let It Be, with George Martin mostly absent, Glyn Johns being more in charge of the whole thing than anyone, and fights erupting left and right, Paul asked George Martin if he was willing to do one more album with the band. George replied "Yes, if I am really allowed to produce it". Although the boys didn't hate each other much less than in the previous sessions, they were willing to let George Martin reign supreme and the ensuing album, Abbey Road, is not only much more consistent and cohesive than The Beatles ("The White Album") and Let It Be, it's also one of the best albums by anybody, period.
- Dave Jerden had the misfortune of being pretty much the only sober man around while Alice in Chains were recording Dirt, inevitably clashing with the band over their destructive habits.
- By some accounts, Trevor Horn was forced to attempt this on Yes' Big Generator. It didn't work.
- Although Pink Floyd were credited as Producers or Co-Producers on all their albums up until Roger Waters left (either as 'Pink Floyd' or David Gilmour & Roger Waters), various producers such as Chris Thomas (The Dark Side of the Moon) and Bob Ezrin (The Wall) were brought in to mediate between Gilmour and Waters' different visions of the music. Thomas largely accomplished this goal by skillfully reaching a sonic middleground that satisfied both Gilmour and Waters, while co-producer James Guthrie described Ezrin as being more forceful in bridging the gap between the two, who at that point had a soured relationship after Waters' I Am the Band trip starting with Wish You Were Here.
- Gary Usher produced three albums for The Byrds and found himself in this role for the chaotic The Notorious Byrd Brothers sessions, during which David Crosby and Michael Clarke were fired and ex-member Gene Clark rejoined the group but abruptly quit after a few weeks. A bonus track on a later CD reissue of the album captures a vicious in-studio argument between Crosby and Clarke with Usher trying to act as peacemaker. To his credit, it's usually considered their best album.
Artist as Producer and vice versa
Artist as Producer
/Producer as Artist
. Two sides of the same coin. Sometimes, an established artist will be sought out by up-and-coming artists hoping that whatever magic made the established artist a star will rub off to them. This can have varying results (the less said about Keith Moon's
attempts to produce Peter Cook the better) but sometimes it will lead to a secondary career for the establishd artist which may prove invaluable when the hits dry up and when touring becomes more of a pain. In the second category, there are those who start off with 'Producer' as their day job and seeing the adulation for the acts they work with, at some point think "I gotta get me a bit of that"
Examples in the first category include;
- Munetaka Higuchi.
- Yoshiki Hayashi. See "Acrimony Producer" above.
- Todd Rundgren. See "Acrimony Producer" above.
- Brian Eno. Starting as a synthesizer player with Roxy Music, he then released a number of acclaimed solo albums. This led to production jobs with the likes of Talking Heads, David Bowie, U2 and James.
- David Bowie. Used his star power to resurrect the careers of early influences such as Mott the Hoople, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.
- Elvis Costello: For The Pogues, Squeeze and The Specials. Costello was at one point considered to produce They Might Be Giants' breakthrough Flood, but the Johns hired his former producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley instead.
- Edwyn Collins: Having had hits with the group Orange Juice and a succesful solo career, he went on to produce for Terrorvision, The Proclaimers and The Cribs
- As mentioned above, Tim McGraw produced most of Jo Dee Messina's albums with Byron Gallimore; the two also produced The Clark Family Experience, Lori McKenna, and Halfway to Hazard. The former was on Curb as well, while the latter two were on StyleSonic, a label that McGraw and Gallimore own as a side project.
- Tony Brown was a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band before breaking off in the 80s and 90s to produce for Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, and George Strait among others.
- Dann Huff was a member of the Christian rock band White Heart, and later the rock band Giant. He spent most of the late 1980s through mid-1990s as a session guitarist, primarily in country music. By the end of the 1990s, he started working as a producer, starting with a few small country acts before getting his big production break on Faith Hill's Faith album. Ever since, Huff has focused more on production, and generally plays guitar only on albums that he produced.
- Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn co-produced Wade Hayes' 2001 album Highways & Heartaches. Another producer on this album was Terry McBride, then the bassist in Brooks & Dunn's road band following the demise of his own band, McBride & the Ride.
- Garth Brooks produced Highways & Dance Halls, the third album by his friend (and former guitarist) Ty England.
- Singer-songwriter Paul Overstreetnote made his production debut in 2012, collaborating with Tony Brown on songs by Kristen Kelly.
- The Reverend Horton Heat had three different albums produced by people primarily known as musicians: The Full-Custom Gospel Sounds of the Reverend Horton Heat was produced by Butthole Surfers vocalist Gibby Haynes, Spend A Night In The Box was produced by Butthole Surfers guitarist Paul Leary, and Liquor In The Front was produced by Ministry's Al Jourgensen.
- Paul Leary has done a fair share of producing or mixing in general, starting in the mid-90's: a few of the better-known acts he's produced are Sublime, The Meat Puppets, and Daniel Johnston.
- Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne has found a secondary career of producing other musicians' albums as a result of his work with ELO and The Traveling Wilburys. He produced his Wilburys bandmate Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever (Petty credits him for being the main reason "Free Fallin'" was written, as he had brought the sequence of three chords into the studio and encouraged Petty to work it into a song), and became a Promoted Fanboy by working on The Beatles' "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", having been chosen specifically because of the combination of his production expertise and the fact that he was a great fan of the Beatles.
- Brett James is an interesting version, as his career path changed many times. He started out with an album on Arista in 1995, then put his career on hold to start a family and attend college. In the early 2000s, he turned down an invitation to join the band Sixwire and started writing songs for others. These cuts' success led to him re-signing with Arista and charting with two singles that never made it onto an album. Although the second phase of his singing career didn't pan out, songwriting was his bread and butter for many years. But after the hits stopped coming, he turned to producing for the likes of Mark Wills, Josh Gracin, Jessica Simpson, and Kip Moore.
- Byron Gallimore was originally a singer who won a contest at a song festival. When his singing career didn't pan out, another producer (James Stroud) encouraged him to start producing as well. Gallimore went on to produce all of Tim McGraw's albums, with other notable production credits including Faith Hill (Tim's wife), Jessica Andrews, and Sugarland. He also collaborated with Stroud on several occasions.
- Besides his work with The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson produced a number of singles for outside artists during the '60s, although none of them enjoyed anything close to the commercial success Wilson's own group did. In 2003 Ace Records in the UK issued a compilation CD of these, cleverly titled Pet Projects.
- Ever wondered how, exactly, Neil Diamond managed to get onstage with all those rock legends in The Last Waltz? The fact that The Band's Robbie Robertson had produced Diamond's Beautiful Noise album earlier that year might just possibly have had something to do with it.
- This is common rap, examples include Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Timbaland, among others.
Examples in the second category include:
- Ian Broudie. Starting out as a producer for the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, The Icicle Works and Terry Hall before forming his own group The Lighting Seeds. Broudie admitted that he was very uncertain about beginning a career as a musician, and played all the instruments on the Lightning Seeds' first album - only after it was successful did he assemble a real band.
- Garbage. All of the members apart from singer Shirley Manson were experienced producers and remixers before forming the band.
- Timbaland: Was a producer for three years before releasing his first solo album.
- Alan Parsons: Probably the definitive example of this trope, Parsons had already engineered and produced for the likes of Pink Floyd, Cockney Rebel, Pilot and Al Stewart before starting his solo career (or, to be technical, joint solo career with manager/songwriter Eric Woolfson).
- Daniel Lanois was already a big name producer when he released the album Acadie in 1989. It was critically acclaimed and sold well enough to make the Billboard album charts. Since then he's released several more albums and also did some film soundtrack work alongside his production duties.
- Jon Astley (no relation to Rick). In the middle of his prolific production career (most notably with The Who and Eric Clapton) he released two albums in the late 1980s and scored a couple minor hits ("Jane's Getting Serious", "Put This Love To The Test".)
- Norman Smith engineered all The Beatles recording sessions through Rubber Soul, then produced three of Pink Floyd's first four albums. Then in the early 1970s he adopted the stage name Hurricane Smith and managed to have Top 10 hits in the UK and US.
- Kanye West started out producing for various acts in Chicago before breaking it big with Jay-Z in the early 2000s. He still continues to produce for other artists after his career took off.
A possibly unique example of both:
- Keith Stegall. He was a solo singer-songwriter in the 80s and had a few cuts by other artists, most notably Dr. Hook's "Sexy Eyes" and Mickey Gilley's #1 hit "Lonely Nights". Although he scored a Top 10 hit on his own with "Pretty Lady" in 1985, his singing career was never very successful. His first production credit was two tracks on Randy Travis' 1986 album Old 8×10, and by 1990, he became known as Alan Jackson's producer. In 1996, Stegall made a one-time return to the other side of the mic as a side project for Mercury Records Nashville (where he was also head of A&R), while maintaining the production career that he holds to this day.