Insider articles about music production?
October 26, 2013 1:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm really interested in the insides of music production and I would like to read some insider accounts of what it's like working in the industry, but not from an artist's point of view.

Kind of like how (while I know it's inaccurate) Devil Wears Prada goes behind the scenes of Vogue - something that would give me an idea of what goes on inside a label and what the people inside the label are typically like and do. What life comes with the job title 'music exec' or 'producer' etc.

Longform articles would be ideal, as would documentaries. Fictional accounts, novels, films, would be great too provided they're true to life.
posted by litleozy to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Do you mean the kind of music producer that produces bands or the kind of music producer that makes dance music? Two really different scenes.
posted by empath at 1:20 PM on October 26, 2013

Response by poster: Honest answer is that I don't really know. Both so I could get to understand the difference? Any kind of work that goes on behind the scenes- I know that's stupidly vague but as an outsider, I don't know yet how to be precise
posted by litleozy at 1:22 PM on October 26, 2013

Best answer: I can tell you what it's like from an underground EDM producers point of view. One of my best friends is an up and coming producer/dj. It basically involves a lot of sitting in your home studio tweaking knobs for weeks/months/years, then touring for weeks and networking with label owners and djs, then back to working by yourself. It's draining, often lonely, and you're constantly worried that you're being passed up by the scene. You can go from up-and-coming to a has-been in months. He's been working by himself for over 10 years, had a short burst of releases 8 or 9 years ago that fizzled out, and then nothing for years until he kind of just captured the moment at a time when a new genre was catching on and handed a track to one of the biggest DJs in the scene, who signed it, and he's released like 10 tracks or remixes in the last year.
posted by empath at 1:27 PM on October 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

You should read the profile of pop producer Dr. Luke from the Oct. 14 New Yorker. (Link is to a preview; article is paywalled, sorry.)
posted by purpleclover at 1:29 PM on October 26, 2013

Best answer: A couple of New Yorker articles come to mind: The Song Machine: The Hitmakers Behind Rihanna by John Seabrook and Nightclub Royale by Josh Eells. Plus there's the (sadly underpopulated) "music industry" tag on longform, this article on Portland's music scene I found on Longreads, and this possibly useful tag on Metafilter.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 1:31 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Since they were responsible for a couple of albums that tied together sampling/electronic production and live recording (Paul's Boutique and Odelay), here's a pretty good interview with the Dust Brothers.
posted by mannequito at 1:55 PM on October 26, 2013

TapeOp magazine in general, and Phill Brown's "Are We Still Rolling?" in particular.
posted by rhizome at 2:39 PM on October 26, 2013

For fun reading, mixerman's diary from the early 2000's is good for lulz, though he can be problematic at times.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eric Olsen's pre-BlogCritics blog, Tres Producers will have interesting stuff for you, such as this article on the history of record producing up to 1950. Eric was done with 3P by 2002, so you'll definitely be looking into the archives.

The Daily Adventures of Mixerman is a funny look at production from a studio engineer. It is fictionalized in order to be funnier (and more lawsuit-proof), but the stories are plausible, if not all on the same recording project.

Steve Albini has lots to say about The Problem with Music.

It's not wrong to get into the field, or even to be an exec in it, but it's a business and one which can be ruthless and chew up talent all over. Making music is amazing and fun, but the business of music can be sobering.
posted by Mad_Carew at 3:21 PM on October 26, 2013

All You Need to Know about the Music Business is a very readable classic written by a music industry attorney.
posted by colin_l at 3:28 PM on October 26, 2013

And maybe Dannen's "Hit Men."
posted by rhizome at 5:07 PM on October 26, 2013

Another vote for Fredric Dannen's Hit Men. It's a very sobering, unromanticized look at how music labels work and how much of what we hear is the result of marketing and corruption. Published in '91 but still relevant.
posted by googly at 5:46 PM on October 26, 2013

Tom Dowd and the Language of Music is a fascinating look at the life and career of a legendary music producer. By following his life, you get an inside look at a good chunk of the history of the American music industry.
posted by misozaki at 5:52 PM on October 26, 2013

What you are looking for is Sound On Sound Magazine. Goes back to the '90s.
posted by dekathelon at 6:12 PM on October 26, 2013

"Behind The Glass" (book)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:22 AM on October 27, 2013

I don't know if all the links are still good, but Katullus made this amazing post about George Trow's 1978 profile (Part 1, Part 2) of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic.
posted by felix grundy at 7:53 AM on October 27, 2013

Seconding TapeOp magazine. It's free, and it's not full of quite as much bs as a lot of the bigger magazines.
posted by nosila at 9:34 AM on October 27, 2013

Nthing TapeOp and Sound on Sound, plus try browsing through the archives of Mix magazine, Pro Sound News, and Electronic Musician.

Any interviews with George Martin are worth reading, as he is both intelligent and articulate about his experiences as a producer.

On the more tech side, The Beatles Recording Sessions is a fantastic book.

And it's been a while since I read it, but if I recall correctly Before I Get Old has quite a bit on how The Who interacted with various producers, engineers, label execs, and management during their career.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:19 AM on October 27, 2013

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