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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 
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-----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]