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The Music Industry Moguls and the Music Industry Flops

Updated on September 24, 2015

The Geniuses behind the Vocals!

The A-List of Music Producers

One would be remiss to assume that musical artists are a ‘one-man’ operation. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Every music star - whether a raw talent or a polished entertainer - rose through the ranks because somebody recognized their talent, and wanted to promote them. Some artists had the wherewithal to do it on their own, but those stories are the exception rather than the rule. For the vast majority of singers, rap artists, performers and the like it takes someone special to believe in those people to get them on the road to superstardom. The list of music producers is long, and there is no disputing the fact that the majority of them bust out. Fortunately, there are plenty of A-list music producers out there with the know-how, the connections and the bankroll to promote the finest talent to the largest possible audience.

Ranking the Top 5 Music Producers

Any listing of top-ranked music producers is invariably subjective, owing to the preferences and bias of the audience, the musical genre and evaluation criteria. However there are several top ranking music producers who have proven themselves time and again. These are the crème de la crème of musical prodigies, talent scouts and financial moguls. Their influence, opinion and authority carry tremendous weight with artists and fellow industry executives. Therefore an evaluation of the top 5 music producers in the world requires in-depth analysis of multiple aspects simultaneously. It's not enough to simply list Quincy Jones without extolling the virtues that make Quincy Jones the gold standard of music producers. Everything is geared towards understanding why the big names remain at the top of the food chain, and how they got there in the first place.

#1 Quincy Jones

The top 5 listing begins with none other than the man of the moment – Quincy Jones. It’s best to start out with a quote by Quincy Jones from 1984: ‘… I was never very good at music when I was little… I never paid any attention to it in school.' This musical prodigy was born many decades ago, back in 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. His list of achievements are the envy of competing producers and artists the world over. Back in 1969 he was instrumental in arranging Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra. And his list of nominations and awards spans across generations, genres and time periods. Quincy Jones won the 1964 award for Best Instrumental Arrangement with I Can’t Stop Loving You. This was followed by the 1968 award category for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance – Large Group or Soloist with Large Group for the title Walking in Space. Jones followed this up with a big win in 1972 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for Smackwater Jack. Barely a year later Quincy Jones was nominated for, and won Best Instrumental Arrangement for Summer in the City. Since 1980 he has won numerous awards with increasing frequency. In 1989 Quincy Jones was awarded the Trustees Award and in 1992 he was awarded the Legend Award. He has been nominated 7 times for Academy Awards, from 1968 to 1986, and he won a special Academy Award in 1994 in the award category: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

All of these fantastic accolades have come with plenty of fame and fortune. Quincy Jones rightfully smiles when it comes to being one of the most influential African-American record producers of all time. According to estimates, his net worth is $350 million, and this is certainly nothing to scoff at. His list of talents is extensive, ranging from TV producer to musical arranger, record producer, musical conductor and trumpeter. In 1994 he teamed up with David Salzman to establish the Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment Company. Among others they produced The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mad TV and In the House. Among the many artists that Quincy Jones worked with are the following: Alfredo Rodriguez, Jacob Collier, Jon Batiste, Mervyn Warren, Richard Bona, Tommy Ward, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington, Shirley Horn and scores of others. Anyone who's anyone knows the name and the brand that is Quincy Jones.

#2 David Geffen

Chances are if you've heard of Quincy Jones, you know the name David Geffen. The two titans of the music industry are revered by artists, fellow producers, entertainers and music industry moguls the world over. David Geffen wears many hats, including former studio executive, co-creator of Asylum Records, DGC Records and Geffen Records. His net worth is enormous, and dwarfs that of Quincy Jones by at least 20 times. According to Forbes estimates, David Geffen is worth a cool $7 billion, and that's just an estimate. David Geffen is also one of the co-founders of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. He lives in Malibu California, is currently single and was educated at the University of Texas in Austin, before he dropped out to pursue his passions. One of the most interesting aspects of Geffen's resume is that he lied about his University of California degree. Among his many accolades are his signings, which include the likes of Aerosmith, the Eagles and Guns and Roses. 25 years ago, David Geffen sold Asylum Records for $550 million to MCA. By 1994 David Geffen along with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg raised a whopping $2 billion to start up DreamWorks SKG.

#3 Phil Spector

Phil Spector is a musical legend. To say anything less would be disparaging to him, the industry and every other music artist. Philip Harvey Spector was born in 1939 in the Bronx. He is revered as a singer, songwriter and record producer and his instruments of choice include the piano and guitar. He has been active since 1958 and his music labels include A&M, Philles, Warner Spector, Apple, Phil Spector International, ABKCO, and others. His skills are diverse, and include being a highly accomplished producer and creative director. He has been able to influence many smash hit sensations around the world including The Beach Boys and the Beatles. One of the most iconic aspects of Phil Spector’s brand is Wall of Sound. Bruce Springsteen favored this technique when he recorded Born to Run. In terms of musical accolades, Spector received the Grammy award for Album of the Year in 1971, the Rolling Stones accolade for Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004 and the Washington Times accolade for Greatest Record Producers of All Time in 2008. However due to the homicide of Lana Clarkson, Specter will be serving time in California State Prison until he is at least 88 years old. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Phil Specter is valued at $100 million.

#4 Dr Dre

Nobody needs an introduction to who Dr. Dre is today. Of course by now most everyone has figured out that he is no doctor, perhaps of music – nothing else. But there is absolutely no doubt that Dr. Dre is a musical genius and a record producer par excellence. As one of the biggest stars of the baddest rap groups to hit the planet – Niggas With Attitude (N.W.A.) –Dr. Dre is revered the world over as the undisputed king of hip-hop producers. His list of achievements is enough to fill volumes; suffice it to say that he is a true musical genius. His rising star is eclipsing his peers at a rate of knots. Not only has Dre succeeded in singing and songwriting, he has produced some of the biggest stars the planet has ever seen, and his range of products is fast catching on as the must-have brands in the world. In case you're wondering, Dre has produced 50 cent In Da Club, The Real Slim Shady and many others. Born Andre Romelle Young in 1965, Dr. Dre has revolutionized the hip-hop industry with world-class acts. Among others he has been awarded Best Rap Solo performance for Let Me Ride in 1994, Forgot about Dre with Eminem in 2000, the Marshall Mathers LP for Best Rap Album in 2001, Producer of the Year for Non-classical Work in 2002, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2010 with Crack a Bottle with Eminem & 50 cent, and Best Rap Album with relapse in 2010. Just in case you're wondering about his net worth – he weighs in with a cool $700 million, with plenty more about to pour in!

#5 Butch Vig

You may never have heard of Butch Vig, but those in the industry know all too well about him. Butch Vig is a record producer and musician. He is a co-producer and drummer in the rock band Garbage. But more importantly, he was the producer of one of the biggest selling albums of all time – Nevermind by Nirvana. Born Brian David Vig, from Wisconsin, he has had a string of hits with the band Garbage, including Garbage 1995, Version 2.0 (1998), Beautiful Garbage (2001), Bleed Like Me (2005) and Not Your Kind of People (2012). On the list of wealthy record producers and singer/songwriters Butch Vig does not make much of an impression. He is valued at $60 million, but that belies his immense talent. Among his many accolades are the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack. He has enjoyed sales of more than 17 million records of Garbage worldwide, and plenty more is likely to come from this multitalented musician.

In case you're wondering about all those people in the music industry who failed hopelessly… You could literally pluck them out of thin air as there are so many of them. This highly competitive industry has been labelled cutthroat for a reason; even the best of them don't make it. It's all about guts, determination, who you know, what you know and who likes you on the day. Persistence pays off, and many of the biggest names have yet to be heard over the radio waves!


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