Careers in Music, Film, and Digital Media: Music Producer

By Seamus Harte

Considering a job in the music industry? Aside from being an artist, possibly the most important role in the music business is that of a music producer. It’s true: you don’t have to be a musician to get into the business; the people that sit behind the mixing board can be equally important. Depending on the project, a music producer can wear many hats:

1) The Idea Guy
A music producer can help gather ideas for a recording project. The truth is, artists actually hire music producers to help pull songs together. The production of an album is essentially a CD of 12 to 15 “ideas.” Take, for example, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This concept album was made while working with producer George Martin. The Beatles changed music.

2) The Sound Guy
When the idea of the album is agreed upon, the music producer gets ready to listen. The producer will be responsible for making the decisions of song and musician selection and working with the band to bring the sound together.

The Music Producer often oversees the music and band from the mixing board.

Lots of times a band will go into the studio with the general idea of an album and a notebook full of songs. The producer’s job in that situation is to help select the best songs and determine which songs best support the overall concept and idea of the album.

To bring an artist’s vision to life and the songs to their full potential, additional musicians may be needed. Maybe the chorus of a song would benefit from a horn section…but none of the band members play any horn instruments. Or maybe a band member needs to be replaced. It’s the producer that’s responsible for making these tough decisions, which can ultimately make or break the album.

3) The Advice Guy
Once the musicians and songs are selected, the producer then becomes the coach in the studio. The producer is now responsible for getting the musicians to come together and create their ideas. A producer might help a drummer find his “groove” or help a guitarist find a different approach for his solo. A producer may also provide spiritual support, giving a vocalist the confidence they need to give their best vocal performance.

4) The Scheduling Guy
It’s the producer’s job to keep the production on schedule not just in terms of finances and release date, but also in terms of morale and fatigue. Getting a record released on time doesn’t matter if your vocalist was worked to death and didn’t provide his or her best performance.

Artists have their work cut out for them in the studio, while the producer oversees the process and makes sure the absolute best work is recorded.

5) The Follow-Up Guy
Once the production is completed, the musical artists get to go home, or back on tour. But the record itself is far from being finished. The producer oversees the final mixing and mastering process. The mix brings all the audio elements together, while mastering gives each individual track the same overall sonic quality. This is all the responsibility of the music producer. A producer may also work with a record company to determine upcoming track releases and tour appearances.

 

No matter the genre…be it Hip-Hop, Pop, Rock or Electronica…there are many incredible jobs in the music business. A music producer brings everything together and makes it sound great. If you want to learn more about making music, explore DMA’s Music Production camps.