“We don’t have enough geniuses making records anymore”: Tony Visconti explains how the role of the record producer has changed in the modern age
“People are still making organic music, and I’m involved in a couple of groups that are doing that, but labels are frightened of that.”
Image: Johnny Nunez / Getty Images
Producer and composer Tony Visconti has shared his opinion on how he feels the role of the record producer has changed in the modern age.
Visconti, who has produced iconic records for artists such as David Bowie and Marc Bolan, has remarked that labels now “bypass producers” and sign artists who are simply a “whiz on the laptop and make their own stuff.”
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The music industry is going through many tumultuous changes right now – the rise of AI, the impact of social media such as TikTok on how artists approach making music, and the various financial difficulties that come with low-royalty rates across streaming platforms.
The role of the artist has certainly changed, but Visconti feels the role of the producer is vastly different now, too. Speaking to Super Deluxe Edition in a new interview, he shares his thoughts on the matter.
“In my generation, the 70s was such a golden decade, because people were making real records and real studios, with great musicians and we didn’t have auto-tune, and the only way you got into the recording studio is by being great,” he explains. “Record labels signed people who were great, they didn’t sign a cute looking person and then fix the voice, fix the image, Photoshop the photos, which came later.
“With the record industry now, they almost bypass producers completely and go with some young person who is a whiz on the laptop and make their own stuff. They make their own videos. And I think that’s very admirable, but it has less dimensions in it than the organic music does.”
He later adds, “People are still making organic music, and I’m involved in a couple of groups that are doing that, but labels are frightened of that and the labels never had courage. Never ever, in a million years, did labels have courage to break new ground; it happened in spite of them.
“You get someone like Mark Bolan coming up, or a Bowie. The times now aren’t right for a new Bowie to come out. He would be too radical. You wouldn’t sound like the top 10. And why should he? Why should anyone sound like the top 10? We’ve got enough of those people. But we don’t have enough geniuses making records anymore, I’ll tell you that much.”
Learn more about Tony Visconti via Visconti Studio.
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