Behind the Scenes


A big part of the entertainment industry is having a face and personality to advertise. You have to have something to sell. Hence why actors are much more popular than directors, frontmen are more popular and known than, for example, the drummer, etc. Another group of people not given much recognition are songwriters. This was hugely prevalent in older music from the 50s or 60s. Most of the groups did not write a majority of their hit songs. Elvis Presley, one of the most famous musicians of the century, maybe even of time, did not write a single one of his songs. This is a perfect example of the two components needed to be successful in the music industry. Elvis couldn’t have made it without the many writers behind him but in turn, Elvis is the one who made the songs popular as they were, something the writers probably could not have done themselves. Performance and creation are two different things that are both extremely important components to music. 

The people and the talent behind the scenes in the making of music may not be all that popular to the public but they do get their respect inside the community. People like lyricists, ghostwriters, session musicians, arrangers, producers etc. are the backbone of the creation and success of music. However, many of these behind the scenes people sometimes try to branch off into a solo music career of their own but they are often commercially unsuccessful. An example being the career of Van Dyke Parks. Park began playing in bands when he was rather young but he never met mch success. However, when songs he had written for other musicians found mainstream popularity and were regarded for their lyrical wordplay and imagery. He then signed with Warner Bros. and they had him write for unknown groups, making them into successes for the label. Parks was popular in the scene as a songwriter, session musician and arranger. He became acquainted with many important figures and was asked to join quite a few bands including the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, although he declined all offers. He would perform with many musicians as well, such as Frank Zappa and SteveYoung. He would end up becoming rather close with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and would write lyrics for their ambitious album Smile. He even did some work for films, arranging the piece ¨Bare Necessities” that would be a staple in the Disney animation The Jungle Book. Even though Parks found great success as a behind the scenes musician and orchestrating success for other musicians, he never found great success solo. His 1967 album ¨Soul Cycle¨ garnered great critical review but it did not sell well. It did gather a cult fan base, but that was not enough to sell records. He put out a few records after this but they did not bring in any better results. This is a course many songwriters or session musicians took. On the other hand though, many people who started behind the scenes were able to form a very successful solo career themselves. Jimi Hendrix actually started his career by working with the Isley Brothers in the studio, backing Little Richard , and playing with a plethora of other groups and musicians before becoming one of the most important and successful musicians of the century. 

     Producers are another group that is absolutely vital and ever important in the music industry. Even huge acts like the Beatles had George Martin, who was credited for helping them acquire the fame and success they did, often even referred to as the “Fifth Beatle”. Session musicians are often some of the best musicians out there. Their versatility and ability to adapt to what the artist wants is extremely important in creating successful records. They play on just about anything in any genre. Famous session musician Carol Kaye was estimated to have played bass on around 10,000 recordings in her career span. 

     The importance of writers, producers, arrangers, and session musicians still is as precedent today as it was years ago. However, many artists today take production and songwriting into their own hands, doing the most with their music that they can.