Mercury was a very early one to credit producers; I've seen David Carroll
credited thus on singles from the mid 1950s, and indeed I recall "Produced
by Norman Granz" as being the oldest use of the credit I know, from around
1950. RCA also credited Hugo and Luigi as producers from that time and a
little later added a distinctive insignia to identify the disc as their

The producer credit on Folkways albums seems to me scarce before 1960. They
used "edited by," "selected," "compiled," terms that dance the idea of the
producer. For Ethnic Folkways that would have been Harold Courlander,
usually cited as an "Editor" or "Compiler," or not cited at all.

Columbia got into that game late, in terms of pop singles; Ray Conniff was
one of their first credited producers, and he didn't start with Columbia
until 1957. Burt Bacharach is credited of "The Blob" on Epic; that is 1958.

I agree with the notion that the producer of a recording is sort of like
the director of a film. Early guys like the Gaisbergs, Jack Kapp, Mayo
Williams and Tommy Rockwell fit the modern profile as well as anyone. But
I'm not sure that what constitutes "production" was handled from a single
kind of professional in relation to the recording itself; some fit more in
the role of engineer as we understand it. But there were fellows in the
1920s like Ed Kirkeby who would book a pool of musicians to record a slate
of songs in stock arrangements, which he would supervise, and not always
lead; or Clarence Williams who block-booked sessions of songs from his
publishing concern and led the band. In such cases, the record company is
working with a client who in effect "produces" the records. Publishers had
a lot of influence over what was recorded before World War II; after, the
publishers were there, but by then, artists were working with more autonomy
in regard to material. I understand there is an encyclopedia of producers,
but I have only been able to tip into it here and there and do not know if
they have developed a criteria as to what a producer is. Anyone have it?

I have done some producing myself, and I cannot tell you how important a
function it is in a session to be able to override the wishes of an artist
when it is needed. Not to overuse such privilege, but to step up to the
plate when something is going the wrong direction. It moves things forward.

Dave Lewis
Lebanon, OH

On Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 10:02 PM, Roger Kulp <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I may be wrong,but weren't Moses Asche,and Norman Granz,among the first to
> be called "producers" in the late 1940s? This would be on 78s,just after
> the war?
> Was Alfred Lion even credited before the Lp?
> Roger
> ________________________________
>  From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 2:31 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Producer Credit (was: Digest - 17 Apr 2012 to 18
> Apr 2012 (#2012-105)
> 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 era.
> -- 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]