Often, the relationship between producer and artist can be appropriately described as strained. Creativity, job roles, live sound, and the finality of a recorded project tends to causes personalities to pop out once in while, and this is when the tension starts. The producer, looking at the band as a disorganized jumble of creative potential may sometimes feel the need to take too much control over the project and insert him/herself in an intrusive way. On the other hand, the band, never lacking ego, charges forward in whatever way they are turned, and more often than not, lacks the fines, patience and creative maturity that masters of the classical arts are so well known for.
Being around rock venues and young Boston bands you start to get a feeling of mutual disrespect that lingers in the space between “sound guys” and musicians. Both understand that without each other, the other would not exist, especially in modern technoculture. But they view each other as necessary evils that exist simply to push the Sisyphean boulder back down the mountain in the endless ups and downs of their struggles in the music business. In other words, they are the sources of continuous contention and struggle in an already heartbreaking business.
When such an environment becomes too strenuous, one may find a solution in the one place where solutions often lie; the past. With the modern influx of affordable recording equipment, digital workstations, synths, loops, and terrible sound quality encoding, the amount of bad “musicians” rose while the jobs for trained technology professionals dwindled. Musicians lost sight of producers and producers lost sight of good musicians as the studios started to close and wannabe DJs flooded the market with crappy Garageband beats.
When you get right down to it, the great recordings have been a result of a relationship; a relationship between individuals who held the music as the highest goal and recognized when personal aspirations were getting in the way. The engineer must be a competent musician in his own right with the ability to read scores, improvise, and talk intelligently/passionately about the technicalities and visceral properties of a performance. Likewise, the musician must be patient and humble enough to work with professionals in the recording field and should have a proficient understanding of the technology that is eternalizing their performance.
The following is a video of Janis Joplin and her band in the studio working with their producer/engineer. While there are disagreements, the importance is that there is real dialogue between professionals.