What’s in a word?
The traditional producer’s role is as an interface between the record label, musician/artists, and the audio engineering staff. With knowledge of the record business, song writing, musicianship and the art of audio engineering while acting as a conduit between creative and technical with an understanding that there is overlap going both ways. As far as the musical parts and instrumental arrangements, traditionally a producer would be involved in rehearsals leading up to the recording sessions to help the musicians get parts that will compliment the recording process and not turn into an engineering nightmare while blowing a ton of money on studio time. Being in that position will be approached in differing ways by different producers and in different circumstances but in any case it’s the art of making all involved feel a part of the process, everyone have an influence in their sphere, while seeking the realization of the artistic goals of all. I’m sure producers approached the task in a myriad of different ways.
Today’s use of the word producer is very much like what the title of sound designer has become. At one point there was only one. He was the sound effects engineer on the movie Apocalypse Now IIRC. His work creating the war sound effects most notably the bullets flying by your head, was held in such high regard that the title of SFX engineer was replaced with Sound Designer in an attempt to acknowledge and differentiate his incredible contribution to the impact of that movie. Now everybody who makes loop recordings or messes with sound effects or synth programming is either a producer or a sound designer. I personally have negotiated for coproducer credits on documentaries that I have worked on as editor, camera operator, lighting and creative, when actually in video and film a producer flies a desk, making sure all the behind the scenes work gets done and the project gets what it needs for production to function while the director fills the traditional “audio producer” role between all the creatives and technical staff, providing direction to the actors and is really pivotal in the artistic vision of the movie. All of that to say that what we might think of as a producer in the studio could very well be called a director without actors, other than that occasional difficult musician who acts out..so to speak. Nowadays my quest for self aggrandizing cool sounding credits has become more difficult as the terminology devolves into common use.