What Do Music Producers Do? (Plus How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creating music often requires the expertise of multiple professionals. One of the most important people involved in the process is the music producer. They're primarily responsible for ensuring the successful recording and production of tracks to create the best possible songs and albums. In this article, we define what a music producer is, discuss what do music producers do, explain their typical work environment, outline the steps to become a music producer and list the skills they need.

What is a music producer?

A music producer oversees all aspects of creating a song or an album and considering every detail to create an excellent final product. They're creative, artistic individuals with an excellent knowledge of music who understand everything that's involved with studio production. Some music producers specialise in a particular area, such as a certain genre, type of musician or end product, like producing music for commercials, films, television and video games. Also, they may be self-employed or work for a particular record label or recording studio.

Music producers aren't necessarily musicians themselves, though technical knowledge can be beneficial. Instead, they have an understanding of music in general and what's required to achieve the best possible tracks. They're capable of visualising the end results of a project and guiding musicians and engineers through the process of creating those results.

Related: How To Become a Music Teacher (Including FAQs)

What do music producers do?

Music producers often lead and oversee entire music projects. They're responsible for ensuring a high-quality final product. While their responsibilities may vary for each project, common duties that music producers do include:

  • Advising bands or singers about their performances

  • Assisting artists in choosing the songs for albums

  • Booking studio times

  • Collaborating with artists, managers, songwriters and sound engineers

  • Creating a positive, cohesive work environment

  • Deciding when and where to record songs or albums

  • Determining how instruments and vocals should sound on songs

  • Developing and tracking budgets for albums and individual songs

  • Ensuring recording or sound engineers do their jobs properly

  • Evaluating the marketability of songs or albums

  • Experimenting with songs to determine what sounds the best

  • Hiring backup singers and session players

  • Listening to recording performances to provide feedback

  • Placing microphones and other equipment

  • Running soundboards and other equipment during record sessions

  • Scheduling recording sessions

  • Understanding industry and commercial trends for music

  • Working out musical arrangements

Music producer work environment

Music producers most often work in music studios. They often work with others, such as sound engineers and different types of musical artists. When working in the studio, they work with computer software programs and a variety of dubbing, mixing and recording equipment.

Music producers often work long or irregular hours, especially when they have strict deadlines for their projects. They may also need to work nights and weekends and outside of the studio. For example, they may need to attend concerts or other industry events.

How to become a music producer

Consider following these steps if you're interested in becoming a music producer:

1. Listen to music

You may benefit from listening to a wide variety of music to broaden your knowledge of the industry. This will help you broaden your knowledge of the industry and provide a contextual understanding of various genres. You may also learn more about your own personal preferences, what you think is important for a good song and if there's a particular genre you want to specialise in as a music producer.

2. Become a musician

Consider learning how to play at least one instrument, such as the piano or the guitar, or learning how to sing. While this isn't a requirement for becoming a music producer, it's often helpful. Similarly, try to learn how to read music, and learn about the technical aspects of music.

3. Practise making music

Try making your own music, such as writing songs or creating beats. This may help you become familiar with using recording equipment or recording software. Also, consider collaborating with other musicians or meeting with them to play music together and share ideas.

4. Pursue a qualification

Consider pursuing a qualification. While it can be possible to become a music producer without a formal education, it may help you develop your skill set. Think about earning a certificate, degree or diploma in a relevant area such as:

  • Audio engineering

  • Creative arts

  • Music composition

  • Music production

  • Music theory

5. Gain experience

Explore opportunities to gain relevant experience as a producer. While earning a qualification, you may consider completing an internship. Similarly, pursuing a mentorship may allow you to work closely with experienced professionals and learn more about the production process.

6. Build a network

Build a network with other music professionals. It's important for music producers to have relationships with all types of professionals, such as audio engineers, singers, instrumentalists and other producers. Start by attending local music shows, and look for opportunities to connect with industry professionals online through professional organisations or networking websites.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

7. Look for new artists

If you are looking to work for a large label or commercial market, aim to keep up with new trends in the industry, especially those within your preferred genre. Look for new artists that you're interested in working with by attending shows or researching artists online. Speak with the artists about collaborating, and look for opportunities to promote their work.

Music producer skills

Becoming a music producer requires developing a skill set with hard and soft skills. These professionals often rely on a combination of soft and hard skills. While music producers often require efficient communication skills to liaise with musicians and other industry members, they may also need to have a technical understanding of music production. Some important skills for a music producer to have include:

Ability to receive feedback

Feedback includes constructive criticism a person provides to help someone improve their skills or performance. Music producers may receive feedback from their collaborators when working on projects, and it's important for them to be able to listen to and use that feedback. Similarly, it's critical they're prepared to handle the feedback about their finished products from the general public.

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills, also called people skills, help you build and maintain relationships with others. It's important for music producers to have excellent interpersonal skills because they work with many people in different roles. They need to be able to work with a variety of people successfully and create a positive environment.

Read more: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Creativity

Creativity is essential for music producers as it helps them to offer advice to musicians to help ensure they create the best possible product. However, it's also important for them to know when they should ask others to provide insight or when to refrain from giving their opinion. Many music producers rely on their creative skills to produce original and authentic tracks.

Musical aptitude

Music producers don't have to play instruments or have classical training. However, it's often helpful to be able to play at least one instrument, even if you're self-taught. Similarly, it's important for you to have an excellent understanding and knowledge of music in general.

Leadership skills

Leadership skills refer to your ability to inspire others and motivate them to achieve a common goal. It's the music producer's responsibility to establish what the goals for the musicians, engineers and other professionals on the project are. They need to communicate their expectations, inspire everyone to achieve good work and ensure the team works together successfully.

Related: 14 Leadership Qualities That Are Found in Great Leaders

Project management

Project management skills allow you to oversee all aspects of a project and ensure your team completes it on time and within budget. It's important for music producers to have the necessary organisational skills and confidence to establish effective workflows and provide directions. This also helps them balance between focusing on the present demands of recording and what they need to do in the future, such as booking studio time or hiring session players or backup singers.

Self-motivation

Self-motivation may help create goal-oriented, career-driven music producers. This is essential because this career path typically differs from a traditional career. Becoming a music producer requires a dedication to improving your own craft and a commitment to achieving success regardless of potential challenges.

Flexibility

Flexibility includes your ability to adapt to changes. It's crucial for music producers to be flexible when working with artists, especially when changes differ from their original vision for a project. Also, it's important for music producers to be open to different work opportunities and flexible in the type of projects they complete.

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