I noted AJ's response, then your rebuttal:
Let me take a shot here. I get where you're coming from Andrew. I hear you saying this: 'Why the hell do we bastardize the art in the name of something you can't even sell (that much of anymore)?'
Though your statement makes perfect sense, in a technically, one could argue that it isn't relevant to the premise. Here's why: You would have to assume theres a necessary correlation between then producer, the process, and the outcome of the project. The question "Are modern producers the enemy of originality" seems to be a conflict of method and result, not a question of ends and means.
Let me propose a different way of looking at this, to make it easier to see why the producer doesn't have to be viewed as the enemy. Break the entire producer profession in to 2 groups:
-One group of producers is hired to uphold the monetary obligations to the investor
-The other group of producers upholds the artistic vision of the artist
To the first group, the bands opinion of their jobs being outsourced is irrelevant. Also, the artistic merit and validity of the art form takes backseat to the almighty dollar.
To the second group, the preservation of the musicians 'voice' and the essence of their artistic spirit supersedes bottom line. Because at the end of the day, they're hired to bring out the best in the artist and capture a moment in time.
I don't see why the same guy can't do both. And some guys meander back and forth between the two extremes, depending on who's writing the paycheck. Yeah, the first group chases a quick fast radio playable product like a lawyer chases an ambulance. But there's always gonna be work for the second group of guys.
One more thing...we as producers aren't always hired to deliver a material product. I've been on jobs where an incredibly talented musician found someone to finance his work because the investor (or donor I should say) just loved the guys work and wanted to see something complete, polished, and professional sounding that both could just put on their shelves and be dang proud of. That was ok with me because I really loved what the guy was writing as well. The writer was way too old to even think about launching a career and stuff...he just wanted something amazing to show a gift he never felt he got to use. Ya know, the guys who need help with an album just because its special to them (if they can manage to pay for it, and if the material is good), can be the most fun to work with out of everyone. Because its not about a bottom line. Its about someones passion, and their hobby. Those kinds of projects are quite fulfilling to me.