In the music industry, a record producer has many roles, among them controlling the recording sessions, coaching and guiding the musicians, organizing and scheduling production budget and resources, and supervising the recording, mixing and mastering processes. This has been a major function of producers since the inception of sound recording, but in the later half of the 20th century producers also took on a wider entrepreneurial role. 
The music producer could, in some cases, be compared to the film director in that the producer's job is to create, shape and mold a piece of music in accordance with their vision for the album. Unlike in film, the music producer is seldom responsible for raising the funds to create the record – more like the film director, the record producer is hired by those who have already obtained funding (typically record or publishing companies, though occasionally the artists themselves).
Freed from this traditional system by the advent of independent commercial studios, the new generation of entrepreneurial producers-- many of whom were former record company employees themselves -- were able to create and occupy a new stratum in the industry, taking on a more direct and complex role in the musical process. This development in music was mirrored in the TV industry by the concurrent development of videotape recording and the consequent emergence of independent TV production companies like Desilu, established by '50s TV superstars Lucille Ball and her then husband. Desi Arnaz.
These producers now typically carried out most or all of these various tasks themselves, including selecting and arranging songs, overseeing sessions (and often engineering the recordings) and even writing the material. Independent music production companies rapidly gained a significant foothold in popular music and soon became the main intermediary between artist and record label, signing new artists to production contracts, producing the recordings and then licensing the finished product to record labels for pressing, promotion and sale. (This was a novel innovation in the popular music field, although a broadly similar system had long been in place in many countries for the production of content for broadcast radio.) The classic example of this transition is renowned British producer George Martin, who worked as a staff producer and A&R manager at EMI for many years, before branching out on his own and becoming a highly successful independent producer.
As a result of these changes, record producers began to exert a strong influence, not only on individual careers, but on the course of popular music. A key example of this is of Phil Spector who defined the gap between Elvis and the Beatles (1958–1964) with such acts as The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, The Righteous Brothers and The Paris Sisters. Spector's Wall of Sound production technique also persisted after that time with his select recordings of The Beatles, The Ramones, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Dion and Ike and Tina Turner.
Some producers also became de facto recording artists, often creating records with anonymous studio musicians and releasing them under a pseudonym. Examples of this phenomenon include the records by fictional groups The Archies and Josie & The Pussycats, produced by Don Kirshner and Danny Jansen respectively, who were contracted by TV production companies to produce these records to promote the animated children's TV series of the same name. Similarly, Jeff Barry and Andy Kim recorded as The Archies.
In modern digital music, it is possible for the producer to be the only person involved in the creation of a musical recording. The said producer is entirely responsible for writing, performing, recording and arranging the material. The existence of such producers is, in some ways, challenging the role of the traditional recording studio in that feasibly, an entire album can be created and recorded from the producers home studio.  .This change has been partially due to the increase of inexpensive yet powerful music production software (such as Ableton Live, ProTools, Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase and Sonar), which allows for entire tracks to be composed, arranged and recorded on a single computer, allowing the roles traditionally carried out by a team of people to be performed by one individual. With the advent of portable recording equipment, live album production has become much more cost-effective than in the past.
With the advent of the computer web applications like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, record producers can now serve in very non-traditional roles, using "social networking." They can produce music via the internet by having their clients email .mp3 or .wav files to them. In this way the producer can be located in a different geographic location and still accomplish their goal.