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Although we commonly associate recorded works of music such as albums or singles with an individual artist or act, their status as recordings means that other individuals contribute significantly to how they are made and how they sound. Behind the scenes on famous recordings are a host of personnel who contribute to the sound, feel, and texture of the recording. These include personnel who are directly involved in the studio process include such as studio engineers (who are have technical and scientific expertise) and record producers (whose role is one of co-ordination and artistic direction). Other personnel that have an effect on the eventual content of a record include recording industry personnel from the artist and repertoire department, or hired-in specialists such as arrangers, computer programmers, or computer specialists such as Pro Tools operators.
Often these individuals make decisions that can drastically alter the final recording. This may be in terms of directing or over-riding creative decisions during a recording session, or through decisions made at the final mixing stage of production. Such decisions made by producers, for instance, have often been crucial to the structure, arrangement and overall sound of a recording. Indeed the role of the producer has become so important that many become famous in their own right and become associated with particular 'signature sounds' which are sought after by artists and revered by critics and fans.
Today the role of the producer has become much better known, to the extent that sometimes the producer has star billing alongside an artist (for instance, Mark Ronson's production of the Zutons song 'Valerie' with Amy Winehouse), or are marketed as artist/producers such as the hip-hop rhythm and blues teams Outkast, the Neptunes and the Liverpool born producer of 'urban' music Adam F. Also, the fact that recorded music is ever-present in our daily lives, and its important role in the social settings in which we hear music (such as clubs and discos), has led to what Moorefield calls "producer's genres" (2005). Dance musics such as disco, house, techno and electronica have made stars of 'producers' who write, record and arrange music under a number of names and whose material is never played live in a traditional sense.
Follow the links below to explore the history and roles of differing recording personnel: