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What is Music Production?: A Producers Guide: The Role, the People, the Process Paperback – 25 Nov 2010
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Hepworth-Sawyers' What is Music Production excerpted on ProSoundWeb
"Authors Russ Hepworth-Sawyer and Craig Golding tackle a seemingly nebulous and elusive target for the subject of this 277 page book from Focal Press. I liked that they first define and quantify music production in the first section sections and then go on to describe what kind of people gravitate toward this profession, what being a music producer really means, and how to make a living/business out of it.. I found What is Music Production? An excellent read and well worth adding to your library."--Music Connection
"This book isn't a 'Bible' for every producer (could there be such a thing?), but as a go-to guide on a variety of topics and an enlightening insight into parts of the industry we don't always know enough about, it's a fascinating read and highly recommended."--Review in Recording Magazine
About the Author
Russ Hepworth-Sawyer is a sound engineer and producer with extensive experience in all things audio. He is a member of the Association of Professional Recording Services and the Audio Engineering Society; a Fellow of the Institute For Learning (U.K.); and a board member of the Music Producer's Guild. Through MOTTOsound (www.mottosound.co.uk), Russ works freelance in the industry as a mastering engineer, a producer, writer, and consultant. Russ currently lectures part-time for York St John University and Barnsley College Online and has taught extensively in higher education at British institutions including Leeds College of Music, London College of Music, and Rose Bruford College. He currently writes for Pro Sound News Europe, has contributed to Sound On Sound magazine, and has written many titles for Focal Press.
Craig Golding is currently Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Music Production degree program at Leeds College of Music in the U.K. Craig lectures in production, sound recording techniques, studio production, and song production and leads a team that is responsible for the delivery and development of one of the most popular music production courses in the U.K. Craig also has an active freelance career in sound engineering and production with over a decade's experience working in the industry. Under the banner of CMG Sound Craig has worked as an FOH engineer at many large venues in the U.K. including The Sage Gateshead; The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester; and Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. Craig continues to work with a variety of artists and ensembles both in live and studio contexts.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
While the authors are clearly highly informed on their topic, I found the presentation of material in this book a bit frustrating. There is a lot of description of issues that successful, big-time producers must deal with, but very little practical information for interested people who are just starting out. Of the entire text, the short section on analytical listening was the most practical bit of information, but it was never made explicitly clear exactly how this skill would then be put to use for a music producer. In contrast, there is an extended section on general business practices, time management and accounting that isn't specifically relevant for music production. After reading this book, I felt more informed about the variety and level of complexity of skills required for established music producers, but I am still quite confused about what music production entails or how a person might get started in the field.
This book was written by British authors for British readers; while many specifically British references and vocabulary have been adjusted for North American readers, a few oddities remain, such as the term "collection agencies" referring to music licensing companies. In addition, copy editing is sloppy in a few places, such as on p. 110, where there is a bizarre out of context, impossible to understand paragraph "Time management sounds almost cult-like. To many people, they follow their system religiously. In fairness, this is how positive gains manifest themselves. Many producers might read this section and laugh out loud and consider it barmy!" Two pages later, the paragraph is repeated with slight editing and put a little more in the context it was intended, "This all might sound far-fetched. To many people, they follow their system [specific time management software packages just introduced in prior paragraphs] religiously. In fairness, this is how the results manifest themselves: by relying on their system. Given the many people who have adopted these systems, it clearly must work. Many producers might read this section and laugh out loud and consider it barmy." All in all, I found the book slightly informative, but not adequate as an introduction to the field.
The writers are in the UK, but they are aware of the US readers and keep the "tranlations" in mind. Fascinating sidebars by industry professionals clarify and personalize their careers. Charts, formats and suggested ways to note and list help the readers to see what might work best for them.
Also, the authors, very aware that this is a vast and complicated subject, offer other books within the text, plus an exhaustive bibliography and glossary of terms.
Are you suddenly in the middle of a creative project and want to sound like you know what you're talking about (not that you don't, of course)? Want to have a handy guide when you're already in the business? This is one for the reference shelves and a great book for those aspiring to join the music business.
Unfortunately, as any seasoned pro will tell you, experience is the greatest teacher -- so while this is a nice primer in "What Is," it is not in any way a definitive "How To." Does that make sense? It defines all the terms and provides some decent "strategies for success," but music is a real "learn by doing" prospect -- no amount of book knowledge is going to make something bad sound good. Yes, there is a degree of mysticism to it all -- but like billiards you can engage it only in its own language. The written word only really abstracts it, and there is no way to materially communicate how Radiohead got from raw demos to Kid A.
However, the authors do a credible job of presenting the subject and outlining the issues, and this would make a fine text for "Introduction To The Music Business"-style curriculums ...even though there is a degree of built-in fallacy to the conceit that music and business can ever truly reconcile into anything other than a very forced and uncomfortable symbiosis.
Section A of the text deals with the question, "what is music production?" Chapter A-1 "quantifies" the role of the producer both historically and currently, finding the common denominator to be "guidance" through the artistic and production process. Chapter A-2 discusses the "analytical" nature that the music producer must take-on when listening, giving great specifics.
Section B, entitled `Being It' is divided in to sub-sections (chapters) `Being a Producer,' `Your People,' and `Being a Business.' `Being a Business' deals with `networking' and the composure that a producer must have. Section B-2, `Your People,' deals with working with the artists, studio staff, record company, and important people involved in the recording and promotion process. The final sub-section, `Being a Business,' deals with all the details of being part of a business (the type of business, business logos, administrative duties, etc).
Section C, entitled `Prepping It' encompasses sub-sections entitled `What's The Deal' (contracts, income streams such royalties, production agreements), `Pre-Production' (demos, forms of pre-production, composition), `Product management' (how much planning takes place?), and `The Desired Outcome: Strategies for Success' (arranging, the studio gear, etc.) Section C, just like its title, deals with the "pre" before the actual music production process begins. The authors do a fine job of explaining the preliminaries here.
Section D, entitled `Doing It,' is very logical in ordering. Section D is divided into `The Session'
(the producer's role during the recording), `The Mix' (engineers, methods of mixing, producer influence on the mix), and last but not least, `The Mastering Session,' which the authors describe as "... the last creative stop on the train line to the end of a production project." Again well written and broken down, Section D describes the process, following the preparation of the earlier sections in the text.
Section E, entitled `The Future,` describes `the changing face of music production' dealing with promotion and professionals working at home. Section F, provides appendices, including `The tape store,' and a `glossary.' An `index' closes the text.
Overall well written and put-together, What is Music Production?: a producers guide, the role, the people, the process serves as a sound reference for music production enthusiasts and those beginning in the business. Not too technical, this text is an easy read whether you are more technically-driven or more of a casual enthusiast.
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