In the music industry, "record producer" designates a person responsible for completing a master recording so that it is fit for release. In earlier days, record producers bore the title of A&R men, for Artists and Repertory, which gives a clearer picture of their function: controlling the artists and choosing the material.
In the first part of the 20th century, the record producer's role resembled that of a film producer, in that the record producer supervised recording sessions, paid technicians, musicians and arrangers, and sometimes chose material for the artist. By the 1960s, record producers took a more direct role in the musical process, including arranging, engineering the recording, and even writing the material. Through it all, record producers have had a strong influence, not only on individual careers, but on the course of popular music.
Notable record producers
- Chet Atkins, noted guitarist and creator of smooth "countrypolitan" form of country music.
- Sonny Bono, worked with Phil Spector, produced Sonny and Cher records
- T-Bone Burnett, producer for Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, The Wallflowers, Counting Crows, Marshall Crenshaw, Sam Phillips, Los Lobos, Bruce Cockburn, Gillian Welch, and the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
- Leonard Chess, producer of "Maybellene", many other rock and roll and blues classics, founder of Chess Records.
- Willie Dixon, bass player and major producer with Chess Records.
- Brian Eno producer on some of David Bowie and U2's most artistically successful albums.
- Bob Ezrin
- Milt Gabler, producer of "Rock Around the Clock"
- Nigel Godrich, producer for all of Radiohead's material, and some of Beck's.
- John Hammond, one of the first, with a career that spanned decades, recorded and produced Leadbelly, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Pete Seeger, and Bruce Springsteen.
- Buddy Holly, one of the first recording artists to control his own production
- Robert "Mutt" Lange, produced for Def Leppard, AC/DC, Bryan Adams and the No. 1 selling female singer in history, his wife Shania Twain.
- Bill Laswell, produced for Motorhead, Herbie Hancock, and many others
- John Leckie, best known for his work with Stone Roses, Magazine, and Bill Nelson.
- Steve Lillywhite, producer for U2, Dave Matthews Band, XTC, Morrissey and others.
- Sir George Martin, producer of the Beatles and recordings of the Goon Show. His Goon Show work was what made the Beatles want to work with him.
- Terry Melcher, son of Doris Day, produced many acts on Columbia Records, associated with the Beach Boys, auditioned Charles Manson but turned him down.
- Lester Melrose, pioneer blues A & R man
- Les Paul, guitarist and technical innovator in both music and recording, created many common techniques, multi-tracking.
- Ralph Peer, pioneer producer, discovered and recorded the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, the singing brakeman
- Lee Scratch Perry, producer for Bob Marley, and influential in the beginnings of Dub
- Nile Rodgers, Chic guitarist and award-winning producer of many hits of the 1970s and 80s; involved in the sales of over 100,000,000 records
- Dan Rothchild, producer for Better Than Ezra's Deluxe, Fiona Apple's Tidal
- Rick Rubin, producer for LL Cool J, System of a Down, Slayer, Danzig and The Black Crowes.
- Phil Spector, responsible for the "Wall Of Sound" production style, now mainly associated with girl groups
- Muff Winwood