Music producers steer the recording and mastering process that makes songs sound complete.
When an artist gets in the studio, there's a lot more to consider than just hitting record. Lucky musicians will have a phenomenal music producer to drive the process, allowing them to focus on making the best possible recording. While music producers do deal with the practical side of things, like budgeting, networking, or booking studio time, they also have a hand in the creative process, helping to shape songs as they get made.
In many ways, a music producer is the bridge between several very different elements of the music industry, with an understanding of the formalities of a record company, the technical knowledge of a studio engineer, and the creativity of a musician. Connecting with a producer is a big deal for artists, and working with the right one can have a huge impact on their career. Some producers will take referrals from trusted sources or actively seek out musicians they want to work with; others are connected to studios and may be responsible for a few different artists.
Work as a music producer may include...
- Directing the recording process
- Trying new arrangements, effects, or layers
- Using studio equipment to capture and manipulate sound
- Communicating effectively with studios, artists, and technicians
- Adapting to change and circumstance
Music producing is hardly a standard desk job; producers may work at all hours of the day, including prep work, studio time, and tweaking. Some producers are independent, while others are employed by a studio or record company. Both arrangements have their benefits - producers affiliated with a studio or label gain access to their clients, which can come with more opportunity for prestige, while independent producers may be sought after by musicians seeking a certain sound and have more creative control over the output. Some producers enter the industry as recording engineers, and may look for opportunities to contribute creatively. However, modern technology has made it easier than ever to create and share music at home, and a growing number of independent producers are doing things their way.
There are different ways to prepare for a career in music producing. Some enroll in degree programs that teach them technical skills like recording, audio engineering, or sound mastering; others skip formal education in favor of networking. Internships or assistant jobs can be a great entry point for aspiring producers who want to work in the industry and meet key players. It also helps to have a good grasp of music; many music producers are musicians themselves, which helps them understand how to apply concepts like harmony, rhythm, and tone. Having a good ear allows them to make adjustments in real time, making suggestions that can turn a song into a hit. Another important point for producers is working well with others and knowing how to use recording technology; with this combination of skills, a music producer can go far.
If you have an ear for detail and want to make your mark on the music industry, a career in music producing might be just what you’re searching for.
The Association of Music Producers is a trade association made up of professionals who provide music and sound for branded entertainment.
The Recording Academy represents the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all musical professionals.