What Does A Music Producer Do?
Updated: Sep 5
With the rise of hip hop and electronic music and the advancement of in-the-box music production technology, the term“music producer” (aka. record producer) has evolved to take on an array of different meanings.
As a consequence, the job of a music producer can be difficult to accurately define. To many, it is confusing and misunderstood at best. At worst it can even be viewed with suspicion or distrust. One thing is certain: A music producer can take on many different roles, so the confusion surrounding the term comes as no surprise.
So, “What does a music producer do anyway?”
In this article, we would like to explore exactly that.
The Music Producer ROLE
A music producer works closely with musical artists on defining, shaping and realizing the vision of musical projects.
It is their job to ensure the best possible outcome for the creation of musical recordings.
To achieve this, they are required to keep a good overview of all aspects involving the music production process.
From the creative and sonic intricacies of songwriting, arranging and recording, meeting deadlines and allocating recording budgets effectively, to resolving interpersonal tensions that may arise, a producer must navigate it all in favor of the outcome of the project.
The Music producer responsibilities
Depending on a project’s needs, some or all of the following responsibilities may be handled by the music producer and/or their team:
Writing or co-writing
A producer may be involved in the actual songwriting process and help the artist complete unfinished song ideas, collaborate on new material or even be the primary songwriter for the project.
They may help the artist select the most promising material for a project, as well as curate a selection that will form a cohesive and appealing body of work.
Before moving on to recording and final production, the producer is in charge of locking in elemental aspects such as tempo, key, feel, and song structure.
Instrumental and vocal recording/programming
When recording the material, a producer will work with the artist, sound engineers, and studio musicians to create appropriate vocal and instrumental parts and capture the best performances and sounds for them. Some producers play one or multiple instruments and might fulfill some or all of the session musician duties themselves. In the modern music realm, this is oftentimes replaced by or combined with a producer working on beat-making as well as synthesizer and sample-based programming and recording.
Personnel selection and booking
The producer is commonly in charge of hiring any personnel needed for the creation of the recordings. This may include the fitting studio musicians, recording engineers, mixing and mastering engineers.
Studio selection and booking
On the same token, the producer will select and book studios that are equipped to provide a comfortable working atmosphere for the artist and capture the desired sounds for the project.
Mixing and mastering
In the modern music production realm, it is also not uncommon for producers to have a heavy hand in the mixing and sometimes even mastering of their productions instead of outsourcing these parts of the job.
Budget and time management
Being the overseer of a music production also includes keeping an overview of the project’s deadlines and budget, scheduling sessions and allocating funds wisely.
Communication with label/management/investor
In case of a third party being involved or funding the recording, the producer serves as the middleman. They will try to ensure that both the artist’s creative vision and the third party’s requirements are fulfilled.
In the process of creating music, disagreements among collaborators are bound to arise. The producer will mediate and foster a productive and positive atmosphere in order to keep the process flowing smoothly.
Motivation and Inspiration
When the creative juices run dry, a producer may find ways to boost morale and inspiration by a variety of means.
As you can see, a music producer may fulfill a diverse array of responsibilities. From soft to hard skills, all of these roles may prove vital to the success of a production. Even though there are many cases in which artists successfully self-produce their music, it is clear to see why the majority of successful productions still utilize the services of an experienced music producer to define and realize their creative vision. Now that we have explored the potential roles a music producer may play in a project, we hope that you have gained some clarity on what to expect and look for should you ever consider working with one.
- Marko Fazio and David Contreras
Do you feel your music should sound better than it does? Are you interested in working with a music producer on your next release? Shout me a message, I want to hear about your music!
About The Authors:
Marko Fazio is a music producer based in Los Angeles. With his company Elevate Music Productions, his mission is to bring singer/songwriters’ music and artistic vision to full potential.
David Contreras is a drummer and music producer based in Los Angeles who has performed with numerous artists locally and internationally. He is currently playing for the band Karmic for which he co-produces their first studio album