What Does a Music Producer Do? How to Become a Music Producer

A music producer can take on a lot of different roles within a production environment. Anyone can become a producer but it takes a lot of talent and work if you want to be successful.

Creating amazing recordings and helping an artist exceed expectations are aspects of a producer’s role. They also need to understand and communicate effectively with artists and their team. However, some producers just make beats and send them off to artists.

Do you need to work with a producer to get a record deal? Maybe you want to be one yourself. We’ll cover everything to do with a producer’s role and a potential career path as a producer.

What does it mean to be a music producer?

What is the role of the producer in music?

Being a record or music producer can mean different things across different genres of recorded music. It can also mean different things to different people as two different producers could have completely different methods of working. 

Being a producer essentially involves leading and managing the creative process and production of music. Although this involvement can vary, producers will play a pivotal role in crafting an artist’s recording.

What is the role of the producer in music?

A music producer’s role often comes down to bringing out the best of an artist. This can be done by building a great relationship with artists, helping make the process of writing and recording more enjoyable, efficient and productive. Usually, this results in a better recording and hopefully more streams and sales.

For some, this means being in the studio with bands to help them translate their songs to a record. Others may have more involvement in the actual recording and also work as an engineer. Some might create instrumentals for other performers so as you can see, the role completely depends on the artist. 

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What does a music producer do on a day to day basis?

A music producer’s day to day can include setting up a studio and then having meetings with artists, as well as their management and record label. The producer could be responsible for session musicians too and even organise when they come to the studio. 

A producer will often run recording sessions with an engineer. Whilst the engineer focuses more on sound quality, the producer will focus more on the artist. Amongst other things, they could decide what takes are good enough or whether certain harmonies or arrangements should be added or taken away. They’re there to offer a different perspective from the artist and help bring out the best in them whilst they are recording. 

Do music producers make beats?

Not all producers do their work in the studio because some simply make beats at home. Many hip-hop producers and bedroom producers make music on their laptop or specific production equipment, such as samplers and drum machines. Making beats doesn’t usually require live recordings because they can be made with samples and loops. 

Who would a music producer work with?

A music producer works with singers, bands, rappers and any other kind of recording artist. They also work with the designated recording studio and the team that runs it.  They will often work with the management and label teams around the artist and can even work with songwriters and musicians. Basically, anyone who has any involvement with the recording could potentially work with the producer.

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Do I need a music producer?

You might need a producer if you’re struggling to achieve your vision in the studio by yourself. Having someone with experience and expertise to help you out can go a long way. It could even develop into a long term partnership that lasts for years. 

Many of the most successful artists have often worked in tandem with a producer. Whilst some can succeed without, many will say that they need a producer with them to bring out the best in them. 

How can I be a producer?

How can I be a producer?

Anyone can be a producer but you need to put yourself in the right kind of situations to make it happen. This often involves building relationships with artists or being in a studio while they are recording. 

You also need an exceptional knowledge of music and the process of making a recording. This can be hard to get when you’re just starting out. It is good to find a producer who is already working with artists and build a relationship with them. If you can, get in the studio for a session and get some experience.

If you are making beats then you need to find rappers or singers to perform on them. Anyone can make beats with basic computer software. Some producers even make beats on their phones and tablets so there is nothing holding you back. 

How do I become a successful music producer?

A producer’s success is often tied to the success of the artists that they work with. If multiple artists have hits from the same producer then people will take notice. This will lead to more work with potentially bigger artists and could develop into a successful career.

Because of this, a producer’s network is vital for success. Being able to build relationships with talented artists and work with them on recordings comes naturally to those who are successful. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to your craft as a producer. The quality of the beats you make or the recordings created in a studio will be your calling card. Combine this with a great network and nothing will stop you.

Is being a music producer hard?

Being a music producer is hard because it involves so many skills across many disciplines. Whilst these skills come naturally to some, many can find it hard to develop the skills to make a career out of production. It’s much harder when you try to be something you’re not. Try producing in different ways and find your own style that works for you.

What are the skills needed to be a music producer?

A producer could need a wide range of skills, including songwriting, arrangement, engineering and production. Most importantly, they need to be able to communicate with a diverse range of people. 

Being able to manage creatives in a studio environment is a daunting task and your ability to communicate is essential. Bringing forward new ideas, managing conflicting opinions and understanding what various team members are trying to express are amongst the many responsibilities of a producer.

If you’re not great at leading and communicating then you can still be a producer. You might just be better suited to making quality beats and recordings by yourself and then sending them off to artists. However, it is good to step outside your comfort zone and find new ways of developing your skills.

Music producer apps & software requirements

Do producers get signed to record labels?

Producers will often need some kind of technology to make music out of a studio. This is typically a laptop but, as we mentioned earlier, it can also be a phone or a tablet. Producers use a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in their home studio for recording music and programming beats, samples and loops. 

DAWs can include Logic Pro X, Ableton, Pro Tools as well as cheaper software such as Reaper or GarageBand. Alternatively, you can use apps on your phone or tablet to produce music, as well as mobile interfaces such as IK Multimedia’s iRig. 

Do producers get signed to record labels?

Producers can get signed to a record label but these deals don’t tend to work like artist deals. Artists are signed to make and release recordings under their artist name. Producers are more likely to be signed to make music for these artists. 

Some labels have in house producers that work with the artists on a roster. However, this doesn’t tend to be exclusive and they can also work with big artists outside of the label. 

If a producer gains enough popularity then they may become an artist themselves. Kanye West is a good example of an artist who started out as a producer and then moved on to become a superstar.

Can you make money producing music?

You can make money from producing music as you progress and work with more successful artists. Some producers may end up working in roles related to production, such as sound engineering or A&R, alongside working as a producer. This diversifies their income so that they aren’t dependent on their success as a producer. 

How do you make money as a music producer?

Producers can make money through a variety of ways. Superstar produces can end up charging a significant fee as well as being paid in an advance or in royalties from the recordings you make.

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Do music producers get royalties?

Producers can get royalties for the recordings that they produce. However, unlike artists, these royalties don’t always come from the record label. Instead, these royalties can come as a share of the artist’s royalties, typically around a fifth of the royalties that the artist receives. 

This could mean that the artist is responsible for paying the producer. This can be a problem as an artist might not have the financial management skills to understand how this works. Also, an artist could be legally obligated to pay a producer royalties that they haven’t even received yet. 

Overall, it is much better for producers if they are getting their royalties from a record label rather than an artist. 

What is a music producer salary?

A music producer’s salary varies significantly based on their level of success and output in a given year. There is no set salary for a producer and it can be years before a producer starts seeing returns from royalties. 

How much does a producer make off a hit song?

A hit song can result in thousands of pounds for a producer through the royalties that come from it. Whilst a hit can be a great cash cow for years, it’s the fame from the hit that will allow a producer to make the most money. A hit bumps up your reputation significantly and you need to sustain momentum in order to become a producer that can earn massive amounts of money.

How much money can you make as a music producer?

A top superstar producer will earn thousands from a single hit. Multiple hits can turn to tens or hundreds of thousands. For the very best, expect an upfront advance of £100,000 and maybe even more. These superstar producers can also have more leverage on their deal that allows them to make even more from royalties. 

Is music production a good career?

Music production can be an incredibly lucrative career if you hit the jackpot. However, the competition is fierce and the best opportunities are hard to come by. There are no guarantees but if you keep learning and improving, have faith in yourself and work hard then there is little that can stop you.

Do you need a degree to be a music producer?

Producers don’t need a degree to make music but there are many schools that offer production degrees. Although there is a significant investment, it does offer you three to four years to work on your craft and learn from teachers and peers. It can also put you in an environment around other artists or in a big city with a thriving music scene.

What is the job outlook for music producers?

Music producers will rarely get work through traditional avenues. You won’t find opportunities through indeed or through dropping CVs at offices. Instead, you need to hustle and build relationships. This can be done by going to gigs or spending time in studios and taking any opportunity to work with artists.

Who is the best music producer?

Famous music producers

The most successful producer in history is arguably Quincy Jones. He is most famous for his work with Michael Jackson, including producing Thriller, which is the highest-selling album of all time. 79 Grammy nominations are also amongst his countless achievements. 

Although Thriller is the highest-selling album, the Beatles are the highest-selling band. This could make their producer George Martin the most successful producer of all time. Regardless of who sold the most, there are plenty of other famous producers that deserve to be mentioned amongst the best of all time. 

Famous music producers

  • Quincy Jones
  • George Martin
  • Dr Dre
  • Rick Rubin
  • Pharell
  • Timbaland
  • Mark Ronson
  • DJ Premier
  • Danger Mouse
  • Kanye West
  • Paul Epworth
  • Madlib
  • J Dilla
  • Steve Albini
  • Metro Boomin
  • Brian Eno
  • Zaytoven

Tell us your favourite music producer in the comments below!

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