What Does a Music Producer Do?
What is a Music Producer?
A music producer oversees all aspects of the creation of a song or album. But what defines a music producer and their involvement varies from producer to producer. The choice of song, choice of musicians, instruments, and vocalist(s), and how it all comes together. Even where the song is recorded can play a vital role in the finished product.
Like a director is to a film, the music producer is to a song. They have to be able to make split-second decisions and convey their vision of the final song to all those involved. This vision needs to be communicated to everyone (audio engineers, musicians, singers) in a manner that gets the best possible performance.
The music producer needs to be able to focus on what’s going on in real time. How each track is laid down, booking necessary studio time, and hiring session players or backup singers for the additional recording sessions as needed. This requires great communication skills as well as an excellent understanding of logistics and budgets.
What does a music producer do?
A music producer helps artists record their songs, album, or project. Music producers bring an artist’s vision to life. It is the music producer’s job to make sure that the finished product is as good as it can be and that it meets the vision of the record label and/or the artist (as has been contractually laid out). While there’s no 100% sure way of making sure a song is a hit, making sure it has the potential to be a hit is oftentimes the producer’s domain.
They have an encyclopedic knowledge of music as well as the technical expertise of the gear and they’re up to the minute on today’s formats, genres, sounds, production techniques, and all that jazz. Although it varies from person to person, producers can work the soundboard, help place microphones, or even participate as a musician, if needed. They don’t always have to be “hands-on,” though.
A music producer’s job can seem as simple as sitting on the couch listening but never assume that’s easy work. If you’re just starting your music-producing career journey, it means your job is essentially to make sure that a song is well recorded and well produced. If the band and the studio are good and the recording engineer knows his/her/their job, this may not be too hard. However, if the band struggles and the engineer has trouble with the technical aspects, a producer needs to be more involved in the recording process.
Simply put, there’s no simple answer to the question. If the band, singers, or engineers just can’t get it together, a music producer must get involved. Getting the vibe, energy, and sound right is subjective stuff but it’s a huge part of what the producer is trying to achieve. They need to make sure that song has the feel, the groove, and the sonics that will hopefully get people hooked. Good record producers understand every aspect of studio production and understand the creative process. They also have a very good ear and a well-rounded knowledge of how voices and instruments produce recordable sound. Can you still be a competent music producer without being able to write, arrange, or even perform music? Yes – but the job becomes much more difficult. You can see why staying organized when you are a music producer is so important.
Let’s check out 4 tips on how to learn to be a music producer.
How to Learn Music Production?
- Learn Different Genres of Music
- Grow Your Music Production Skills
- Find a Music Production Mentor
- Make the Most of Your Opportunities
1. Learn Different Genres of Music
The very best music producers working today are well-versed in all aspects of the recording studio and different genres of music as well. Hip hop, rock, and pop are all created in the same sphere, so being able to move between different types of music is definitely helpful. And getting those skills only comes with experience. This also helps you find out what type of music producer you are while at the same time building out your music production catalog or portfolio.
2. Grow Your Music Production Skills
For a music producer starting out, this kind of experience can’t be learned from a book or inside a classroom. Yes, you can learn to be a music producer by attending a four-year university or trade school although most schools will have you go through the same curriculum as one for performance students. Furthermore, four year schools can be cost-prohibitive, time-consuming, or too academic for some. It’s a creative industry, shouldn’t there be some creativity involved? A great way to grow your music production skills is to build your portfolio.
3. Find a Music Production Mentor
We feel the best way to become a music producer is to hang around a bonafide music producer, someone who makes their living in the profession. Mentoring programs, such as the music production programs offered by the Recording Connection, offer many advantages for those who wish to learn to be music producers. In our programs, you learn music production while working hands-on in a real professional recording studio. And unlike recording schools, mentoring programs often give participants the chance to make their own hours. This is great news for anyone who needs to work a day job while pursuing their dreams.
4. Make the Most of Your Opportunities
Now you could beat your head against the wall trying to set up an externship with a music producer OR you could get in touch with us, Recording Connection. We knock on doors for you so you are on the inside dealing directly with a bona fide music producer from day one. One key thing you can gain from a mentorship that you can’t from recording school is relationships inside the music industry or contacts. Because in the music business, who you know can be just as important as what you know. Aside from the relationship you’ll form with your mentor, you’ll also get to prove yourself to local musicians, regional acts, and maybe even the occasional superstar. Recording Connection mentors have worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry. If you play your cards right (act responsibly, learn the gear, show drive, and determination), their contacts become your contacts. Prove your worth to your mentor, and if they hear of a job opening, they may just call your name. Our most successful graduates are often hired by the very music producers they learned under. That’s because they learned the way music production is done today in a fully immersive environment. More than 25,000 of our students have found work after going through one of our programs.
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Music Producer?
“The music producer is in charge of either writing the material or if he didn’t write it, he’s in charge of organizing it and making it sound like a cohesive song. He calls all the shots on what’s played, and when it’s played, and how it’s played, and the sounds that are used, or the vocals that are recorded if they’re correct or not. The producer is in charge of everything.” – Rick Camp, RC1 Productions & Master Mix Live – Las Vegas, NV Credits: Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, Dr. Dre, Earth Wind & Fire
What are the responsibilities of a music producer?
A Music Producer has a wide range of responsibilities, but primarily a music producer oversees the creation of music.
What is the Music Producers’ Role in the Recording Studio?
Music Producers can be viewed in the same role that directors serve for film. They creatively guide & direct the process of making a record. “Okay, This is a touchy subject because the term ‘Music Producer’ has become very distorted in the last few years by the advent of digital music production software, Logic, Fruity Loops, Reason, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, etc. A music producer is the guy that is in charge of making your song sound the way he thinks your song should sound to be competitive in the market that your song will be in. A guy who makes beats on his laptop with FL studio is a beatmaker. The music producer should be the guy that picks the studio and the engineer to work on your song from his experience of having worked on similar songs with the same guys. The music producer is hired because of his ideas in your genre of music. Then there are also vocal producers. Those guys can take your vocals and make you sing the way they know you can, and the way the song needs for you to sing. Then, they usually work with a mix guy that they trust to put the vocals together in the way the song needs in order to be the best it can be. Beatmakers take samples and put them together with other samples to make a ‘song.’ They are not music producers. Sorry.” – Donny Baker, ES Audio Services / Open Call Productions, Glendale, CA Credits: Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Brandy, Aminé,, H.E.R., Noah Cyrus, Amazon TV, BET TV, Netflix
Music Producers as Visionaries
A large responsibility of the Music Producer is to help provide an overall vision for the album and help to find a seamless way to interrelate the music in an album.
A Music Producer Wears Many Hats
A successful Music Producer is more than a one-trick pony. In most cases, producers bring other talents to a project, acting as music arrangers, composers, musicians, or songwriters. “Today’s music producer is handling every role that we had 5 different guys handling 10 years ago. They are engineering and mixing as they are writing the songs. They’re playing the instruments, choosing the co-writers, and supplying the studios. They even balance the finances of the project. Many of today’s producers have even absorbed the A&R roles that historically fell on the shoulders of the record label. He’s finding the artists, spending the development time nurturing them, and then bringing them into the label on a silver platter.” – Cameell Hanna, Serenity West Recording, Los Angeles, CA Credits: Justin Timberlake, Adele, Florence & the Machine, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg “He is in charge, kind of like the film director, but he’s in charge of getting all of the musicians to play their best, the song to get . . . to come out the way it was intended, and to make sure that the sounds of the engineer in the studio are fitting the song style.” – Mike Johnson, Clear Track Recording Studios, Clearwater, FL Credits: John Legend, Michael Bublé, Boyz II Men, The Roots, Jeff Berlin, Alice Cooper, U2, Madonna