A record producer or music producer was classically the overseer or operator of a musical act's sound recording and its refinement—roles now typically an audio engineer's—whereas today's record producers, directing or creating the musical sound and song structure, are mainly music composers who arrange the vocal and instrumental contributions while often coaching the musical act. (The executive producer instead enables the project by arranging its financing and business partnerships.)
The producer may gather musical ideas or samples, help improve the song's lyrics or instrumentation, hire session musicians, play instruments, cowrite, or even publicly appear by name in the recording. Sometimes doubling as the engineer, the producer may supervise the entire process of creating a finished recording: preproduction, recording, mixing, and perhaps even mastering. For some projects, the producer also chooses all of the recording artists. Music producers are likened to film directors.