Why editing is like producing records

Three types of record producers and how this relates to writing and editing

Andrew Macrae
3 min readJun 14, 2021
Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash

My favourite podcast at the moment is ‘Gear Club’ by Stuart Lerman and John Agnello, two veterans of the New York City recording scene.

I love listening to them talk to their guests about the art of making records.

In fact, the title of the podcast is a complete misnomer, because they spend very little time on the technical aspects of recording, and much more on the human dimensions of the process of turning performance into recorded music.

The role of producer is one that’s always fascinated me.

The Steve Albini approach

On one end of the spectrum, there’s the Steve Albini philosophy, which is that the producer’s role is primarily that of a technician.

The job is to set up the acoustic environment and the microphones and route the signal to the tape machine in a way that most faithfully captures what the artist is attempting.

There’s a good argument for this approach, and I totally buy it — Albini’s line is that it’s not up to him to impose an aesthetic on the band he’s recording, and further, his personal aesthetic is irrelevant to what his client is trying to achieve.

The Quincy Jones approach

Then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s the more traditional role of the producer, like Quincy Jones, who has the big-picture vision for the project.

This might might include scoring, arranging and songwriting.

The sense of aesthetics of the Quincy Jones–style producer is central to the project.

Their main job is to bring together the people to achieve this artistic vision.

The John Agnello approach

Somewhere in the middle is the producer, like John Agnello, who is there is to help an artist to realise their vision.

The producer shepherds the artist through the process, keeping the session moving and making sure the atmosphere is relaxed and conducive…



Andrew Macrae

Freelance writer and editor. Sign up for my newsletter about writing, freelancing and whatever is worrying me https://tinyletter.com/Andrew_Macrae