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How Executive Producers Work


Music Executive Producer
George Martin worked as executive producer on many of the Beatles' albums.
George Martin worked as executive producer on many of the Beatles' albums.
© Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images

While a motion picture executive producer is mainly involved with the business side of the production process, a music producer is often much more involved in the creative process. In fact, Richard James Burgess, author of "The Art of Music Production," suggests that a music producer's role may be more like that of a movie director than a movie producer, with more control over the artist and his performance.

Burgess quotes George Martin, the Beatles' executive producer, as saying that a music producer is like a movie producer and director rolled into one: "A record producer is the designer -- not in the sense of creating the actual work itself, but he stages the show and presents it to the world. It's his taste that makes it what it is -- good or bad."

And while movie executive producers are part of a large production team, record producers often work as individuals and run their own small labels. Unless they are executives for a large record label, they may focus mostly on the creative and leave the deal making to music agents.

But the financial aspects of production can't be ignored. Deanna Schwartz, who has her own record label, Revenge Records, points out that whenever she does a project for her label, she's the executive producer because she's paying the expenses. That, she says, means having the final say over when a project is finished, as well as a hand in choosing the session musicians and the engineer for the mix.

With a small label or as an independent producer, a music producer may handle many aspects of production, including song writing, orchestration, sound engineering and vocal arrangements. He also may approve liner content and cover art, as well as working on music distribution and marketing plans.

Producers also often decide when and where to record, select the musicians and technicians needed to make that happen and manage the production timetable and budget. But often the best role may be simply doing the least and helping the recording artist to fine-tune their performance. Schwartz notes that "every project needs objectivity, and it's hard to be impartial about your own music."

Go to the next page to learn about the different types of executive producers in the television industry.