Introducing SIDney Howard the opinionated. Last millennium, in the late part of the last decade of the last century, my nearly lifelong friends and collaborators (Mark Drummond and Aljay Boyd) launched an unfortunately now defunct full-interest music website: streetjamz.com. The invited me to pen an editorial corner. The following is the one that started the ...and SID Sez column that became the eaSS blog. Indulge and enjoy.
"Lettuce Produce" or "Producer or Reducer?"
by SIDney Howard
Welcome to this first installment of SID Sez. I'm a producer. Show of hands out there…Who's old enough to remember when that actually meant something?
For those of you who raised your hands, what did you name your pet Pterodactyl? But seriously folks… It seems today that everyone today is or will soon be a producer. It has become as ubiquitous as some plague where if you’re not directly affected, you have a friend or family member who has been so.
Going a bit further with this perhaps "ill-fated disease" analogy, let us strive to locate and define the "illness."
What a "producer" is has changed so drastically over time and technological evolution that we must start with what a producer was.
Back in the day when a studio was a hallowed hall of adventure where the wafting fragrance of warm Mylar spun onto massive two-inch multitrack master reels set the mood of serious artistic endeavors—as well as the three digit per hour no-mercy rates, time wasted was serious money flushed away. [run on sentence #1] Then in those days, anyone without a major label budget would brave these territories with the aid of a guide who would manage the sessions from an artistic and logistic point of authority. …not unlike Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon (maybe a little unlike it).
Anyway, the main thing this person provided for the artist was guidance and usually objective input and direction. To do so the brave producer had to know a little of everything going on: the music, the technical, the business side and record industry side. Said person didn't need to know it all, just enough to delegate authority to the proper authorities in the midst.
[Cue harp playing whole tone arpeggios]
Fast forward to present: A studio today is more likely to be a thing at one's place than the one place with all the things. A good analogy is the train/automobile comparison. With the coming of the Transcontinental Railway in the 1800's, Easterners too timid/too smart to travail the frontier in order to experience the other side of their own massive country were now able to do so without worry, muss or fuss. All one needed do was simply board a train, relax in one of its cars, and in a near-eternity Californie is the place they'd be.
With the coming of viable automobiles and the interstate highway and byways, the car was something individuals owned and operated. Each one became his own conductor.
MIDI, modular digital multitracks, and hard disc recording are the new "highways" by which each man can become his own island. "Island" records as such, have become acceptable and have given more and more the right to vote for their own taste. Now we have Hip Hop and Electronica, Techno and House, New Age and a Sue age if in any of these idioms idiots sample without clearances.
There is still the old brand of producers. They are what we new guys hope to be one day when we grow up and blow up. Until such a day comes your way, come and see me so we can talk production. Stop in again and see what SID Sez.
2014 UPDATE: Fifteen years after this writing, a studio may well be defined as a smart phone with the proper app. And unfortunately concepts are as like so compact.