I think the term "producer" is a relatively new (maybe 1950's, commonly seen in the 1960's) term for 
what used to be a "record company man overseeing the recording session." The term "A&R man" is older 
and basically covers the same thing. "Talent scout" was also used for the early "recording trips" 
undertaken by the American companies in the 1920's. "Recording supervisor" and "recording director" 
were also used. The job evolved to where it was, literally, producing a "production," to the point 
of weeks or months of sessions and non-linear recording of different parts (overdubbing, comping, 
etc). Back when the talent gathered around a horn or a microphone and performed all together, all at 
once, the role was more "A&R" (artists -- lining up the sessions, booking the artists, deciding what 
talent made the grade for release -- and repertoire -- knowing music and performance well enough to 
know what was a good take, what songs would likely be hits from that artist, etc). Today a 
"producer" seems to be part schedule-juggler, part mixing engineer, part recording engineer, part 
musician and part record company executive. If you want a purer notion of a "producer", I think 
about Alfred Lion at Blue Note. He owned the record company, oversaw the sessions (which for years 
involved complete takes of musicians playing all together at the same time), decided on the album 
sequences, oversaw the design of the covers and marketing materials, and planned the next step for 
his aritsts. A varient of a classic "producer" would be Quincy Jones, who could act as talent scout, 
talent coach, arranger/conductor, session organizer and director of recording and mixing.

The term "producer" is thus somewhat fluid and it doesn't mean the same thing to everyone in every 

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Diehl" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 4:11 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Producer Credit (was: Digest - 17 Apr 2012 to 18 Apr 2012 (#2012-105)

I have not encountered the term producer used in its current sense before the 1950's. "Producer" 
generally meant manufacturer. Recordings made by Irving Mills' Master label were released on 
Columbia with the phrase "Produced by Master Records, Inc." starting in 1939. The most favored term 
seems to have been supervisor throughout the 1940's. Keynote jazz recordings often carry the 
notation 'Recording personally supervised by Harry Lim" The designation "Artist and Repertoire" 
(A&R) was a common title in the 1930's but Victor's recording sheets simply state "Mr Kirkeby (or 
whomever) present"
Helen Oakley Dance supervised many Master Records sessions 1935-8.
David Diehl
Visit the Blue Pages: the Encyclopedic Guide to 78 RPM Party Records
-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Biel [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:00 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Producer Credit (was: Digest - 17 Apr 2012 to 18 Apr 2012 (#2012-105)

From: "Place, Jeff" Jeff -- First of all, don't just hit reply and send the list the entiredigest. 
Pick an appropriate subject line, like I picked "ProducerCredit", and delete everything else on that 
line and in the digest thatisn't appropriate. (and Rich and Brenda -- please don't repeat the"crime" 
of resending the digest, especially for a one line reply!!)> Hi ARSC folk: My colleague Richard 
James Burgess is the author of the book,> The Art of Record Production. He is updating his book and 
he had a few> questions which I thought I would share from the group. Do any of you> know the answer 
or know of a good source (s) to look them up in. Here goes:> Thanks for offering to ask these 
questions:> 1. What was the earliest use of the term producer (as in record producer or music 
producer)You might want to contact Niel Shel, Nathanial Shilkret's grandson. Idon't have his book at 
hand but I think he might be able to give you ananswer. Nat was first in charge of the foreign 
language section ofVictor and worked as a producer and conductor before he became a notedleader. He 
also was involved in making broadcast syndication discs in1931 and this might have led to the 
migration of the word producer tothe record business. > 2. When was it used on a label or cover> 3. 
Who was the first to use itIn December 1939 was the first of several albums featuring Lee 
Wileydevoted to a single composer. They were produced by Ernie Anderson whoalso wrote the liner 
notes. The first album "Eight Show Tunes FromScores by George Gershwin" was recorded Nov 23 & 25 
1939 and released onthe Liberty Music Shop label in December 1939. They state on the 
labels"Recording Supervised by Ernie Anderson". In Jan or Feb 1940 came TheRodgers and Hart Album 
issued by Rabsons Music Shop on the Music Boxlabel, and the labels state "Recorded By Ernie Anderson 
1940". WriterStanley Green stated that the idea for the Gershwin album came from anadvertising 
artist John DeVries and that Ernie Anderson was the managerof the musicians used on the albums. John 
DeVries signed the artwork onthe cover of the Gershwin album (which predates the first 
albumillustrated by Steinweiss by at least three months, so do not fall forthe Steinweiss myth 
because he actually was a follower of more than ahundred albums issued on a dozen other labels.) The 
cover of the Rodgersand Hart Album shows the artist credit of DeVries-Peterson.Since 1938 Milt 
Gabler was the producer of jazz records on his CommodoreMusic Shop label, but I am not sure if his 
name was on the label. Thestory of how he was producing the records was widely known in thecollector 
circle and mentioned in the jazz press. George Avakian gotthe idea for a series of jazz albums at 
about that time, but they werenot produced on Decca until 1940. Avakian and John Hammond were 
thejazz producers for Columbia jazz reissue albums after that. Their namesappear as writers of the 
liner notes or booklets. > 4. Most of the early producers such as Fred Gaisberg seem to have> termed 
themselves “Recorders” is this the most commonly used term> and if so when was it used untilActually 
I think they used the term "Experts" in Europe from the verybeginning.> 5. Were there other terms 
used for what we know call the role of producerSupervisor, Recording Supervisor.> 6. Apart from 
Frances Densmore were there any other early women recorders or producersShe was really a Field 
Recorder on her own, not producing for a company. Two albums of field recordings by Laura C. Boulton 
"African Music:Rhythem in the Jungle, Vol 1 and 2" were issued on RCA Victor in 1940. The cover and 
labels state "Recorded by Laura C. Boulton on the StrausWest African Expedition of Field Museum of 
Natural History". One of thepictures on the covers shows Laura at her equipment surrounded byAfrican 
natives. I hope this helps. I have photographs of the labels and album covers.Mike Biel 
[log in to unmask]