"A good performance will override any production idea or sonic idea that you can have." - Record Producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, etc)
Of everything I'm about to discuss with this article, the above statement is perhaps THE most important aspect of a producer's role. The performance is the key. It is the responsibility of the performer to show their best, and the responsibility of the producer to take them further.
The Record Producer
In the previous article, I mentioned a handful of definitions related to the term producer. While they're all valid, for the purposes of this article, I'll only go into depth on two of those terms.
The Record Producer vs The Electronic (music) Producer
The quick and dirty difference between the two is to think of the Electronic producer as more of a songwriter. He/She is the one creating/sampling/manipulating electronic sounds or noises into something that (hopefully) sounds really great. A couple examples are local producers James Sadoway and Eleazar.
The traditional record producer, on the other hand, is more easily thought of as the manager or boss of the recording. They pay attention to all aspects of the recording from songwriting to performing to budgeting to time management. After that, the field is pretty wide open for what a producer is. They can be mentors, documentarians, songwriters, musicians, fans, or even artists. One thing a producer MUST have - and everyone seems to accept this (though I prefer Jerry Wexler's take most of all) - is an ear for music. A producer has to be able to hear that it's in tune, that the players are in the pocket, and that what they're doing will work.