Recording an album takes a lot more than just talented musicians. There is an invisible army of professionals working behind the scenes polishing and perfecting every track. They may not be as famous as the stars they record with, but their work is indispensable. Here are four of the essential professionals who make every record possible.
Producers work alongside the engineers to guide the album creatively, as well as make the fine adjustments needed to achieve the best final product possible. This role combines an artistic sensibility with a great deal of musical knowledge. This is such an important role that there are producers working in the industry today that have more fans and more power than many well-known artists. Kanye West was a producer before he became famous as a singer, as was Pharrell Williams.
The studio manager is a jack of all trades who keeps everything running smoothly. They can recommend engineers and other staff. They arrange the update and maintenance of equipment. They work closely with artists and agents prior to the recording session to arrange dates, times, and staff. In short, no album could be made without them. While they work on the business rather than the creative side of the industry, it is their work that enables artists to focus on their music rather than on the everyday minutia.
Audio recording has changed a lot since the era of the phonographs. Today, the process is infinitely more complicated. This is where an electrical engineer comes in. Not only are they needed in every recording session, but they work behind the scenes inventing and improving microphones, consoles, and other recording equipment. Everything from mic placement to mixing audio levels falls to these highly educated maestros. A Master of Science in Electrical Engineering or in audio engineering is a must for this job, and a focus on communications or audio while in school is a huge help for anyone who wants to pursue this career.
Records aren’t judged by their music alone. A slick album cover can instantly add visual production value to any release. It can catch the eye of potential new fans, and make the music itself easier to market. While designers don’t play a part in polishing the music itself, they are immensely valuable in getting that music heard. The biggest artists and labels know this, and work closely with graphic artists prior to any new release. David Bowie even went so far as to commission the design of an entire comic book for one of his albums.
Producing an album is a joint venture that requires a group of seasoned professionals in order to create the best possible album. Don’t forget all the people who work behind the scenes to bring you great music.