In the past, we thought it was a no-brainer to figure out why such disparate musical types as Johnny Cash, Jay-Z, Metallica, and now Crosby Stills and Nash, among many others, have chosen to have their albums produced by Rick Rubin. The man’s ears for music of different styles coupled with his commercial sense were great selling points for artists and labels alike. But, as we’ve recently learned, it may be perceptions tied into a ‘brand name’ that are doing the heavy lifting in most cases involving Mr. Rubin.
As it turns out, sources tell us that Rubin not being present, let alone interacting in the studio with the artists he’s “producing” is one badly-kept secret in the music biz. (We’re assuming Johnny Cash didn’t stand for this.) Basically, his production modus operandi consists of having one of his engineers work with the artist in the studio, messenger the day’s results to Rubin’s home, where he will take a listen, jot down some instructions and messenger the music back to the studio for fine tuning. Um, really? Scores of people can do that, probably as effective as or even more so than Rubin. But. Uh-huh. Yup, here it comes: it’s the Rubin name that generates press (in most cases, immediate critical acquiescence); raises profiles; and hopefully, for all involved, plenty of sales and associated revenue.
Be that as it may, his methodology has slightly tarnished his rep in our book, regardless of the results. Your mileage may vary.