An Introduction to Studio Professionals

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Intrductions, Recording | 0 comments

My shop has now been open almost 18 months.  I’ve learned quite a bit in that year and a half about full time studio life, and yet one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how differently each of us see the world we live in.  It doesn’t matter if our world is small or large, we each see things radically different.  Producer Sukhi Singh has been fond of pointing this out to me, and I credit him a great deal in this discovery of mine.  In fact, a typical conversation we would have would go like this…

  • Singh “Do you like this song?”
  • Seabrook “No, not really.”
  • Singh “Great. It’ll be a hit for sure then.”

I’m paraphrasing of course, and I’m sure he’d argue the specifics, but that’s one of the reasons we work well together.  We understand the roles we play in the studio and respect each other’s expertise.  When the both of us are involved in a project, Singh is the producer and I am the engineer.  As producer, he makes sure that every aspect of the recording is better, from budgeting to performance to creativity, and I make sure that neither he nor the artist needs to worry about the technical side.

Now, when it comes to your studio recording, it is VERY important to know the roles everyone will play once you begin.  As I move forward, with this series of articles, I will go into greater detail with each role to help you understand.  For now, here’s a quick introduction to each of the MAIN roles played in the studio.

Of course, I’m assuming the talent speaks for themselves

Producers

This is such an over used term I often argue it should be rebranded to split up the many different definitions.  Clarification is the key, I would think! Still, here is a list of so many ways the term “Producer” is used in the multimedia industry…

  • stage producer – organizes the administrative & financial aspects (in Canada this is not the director. However, in Britain, this IS the director)
  • film/tv producer – overall administrative responsibility (again, NOT the director)
  • video game producer – oversees development of video games
  • radio producer (type a) – organizes the guests and ‘mentions’ required from the host
  • radio producer (type b) – records voices & sfx, making complete commercials, documentaries, imaging, etc…
  • music producer (type a) – supervises the arranging & recording of music
  • music producer (type b) – writes/creates electronic music (similar to a composer)

(In music terms) Producers are, for lack of a better description, the managers, the bosses, the organizers, the individuals who call the shots.  And yet, the producer can at times wear so many different hats.  They can be the engineers, the composers, the arrangers… among so many other roles.

In smaller recordings, it is usual for the artist themselves to take on the producer role to reduce costs.

Engineers

This is an individual who uses an advanced level of knowledge to design or create.  Specifically in the multimedia industry, this is the individual responsible for the capture and manipulation of sound.  The global blanket term sound engineer, also referred to as audio engineer, can be broken down for our purposes in the following way…

  • recording engineer – responsible for mic/source placement, and operation of equipment to capture a performance
  • mixing engineer – creates the smooth & appropriate blend of recorded sounds for playback
  • mastering engineer – responsible for ensuring the mix is appropriate for all types of media and completes any sonic changes required before mass reproduction

Interns

These are the assistants, the coffee makers, the learners.  They are there to become a producer or engineer.

Technicians

Techs are responsible for the maintenance of equipment and/or instruments used in the recording studio.  They tune drums, fix guitars and amps, maintain tape machines (or computers). In today’s small budget recording sessions it is uncommon to hire technicians. Rather, most artists and studio owners prefer to save money by taking on this role themselves.

Other Roles

There are, of course, other roles to be played… studio administrators, booking agents, consultants, voice coaches, and so on.  I won’t go into any detail on these.  Their role in the recording process is either negligible or self explanatory.  I should hope.  If you have questions about them, I’m more than happy to answer.  Send me an email.

In future articles, I’ll be expanding specifically on the roles of the Engineer and the Producer as it relates to the studio recording of music.  Stay Tuned…

James