How Can I Become a Music Producer
If you want to be a music producer, it starts with considering what the job fully entails.
The role of music producer can be one of the most exciting and creative jobs within the music industry, but it can also be one of the most hectic. As a producer, you’ll need to be willing to work long hours, wear a variety of “hats,” and know a thing or two about how to work with different types of people, both on the business and the artistic sides of the aisle.
A good music producer understands music on two different levels: the creative/artistic and the commercial. Regarding the artistry, you need to understand some things about the nature of music, and you need to know what makes music “good.” Playing an instrument is not a requirement, but a thorough understanding of music definitely is—which is why many producers are themselves musicians. Regarding the commercial aspect, depending on the goals of your artist and the label who might have hired you, you’ll need a good understanding of musical trends—what has sold in the past, what is expected to sell in the future, etc. You’ll also be handling the budget for a record, and you’ll need to know how to put those dollars to good use.
In many ways, a music producer becomes a jack-of-all-trades in the music industry, working with both creative and business aspects of the recording process. As a producer, you’ll need the following skills:
- Creative know-how. You’ll need to have an instinct for making good music better.
- Working with talent. You’ll be acting as a coach to the artist or band in the studio, and you’ll need to have an instinct for knowing how to bring out the best in people. Since artists are typically “right-brained” people, sometimes you’ll have to deal with heightened emotions, inflated egos, diva personalities, etc. You’ll have to learn how to work with these people diplomatically, keeping them focused while earning their trust.
- Working with label executives. If you’re hired by a label to work with an artist, you won’t just answer to the artist—you’ll also answer to the label executives who expect you to develop the artist and release a record that will turn a profit. This is where the business and commercial know-how comes into play. You’ll sometimes have to conduct a balancing act between the conflicting visions of the artists and the label.
- Working with money. You’ll be the person who hires the studio and musicians, appropriates money for recording, mixing, mastering and printing, etc. You’ll need to have an understanding of how to do this wisely.
- Marketing skills. Many times, producers also take on certain marketing roles similar to that of a manager or promoter. You’ll need some basic understanding of how to sell the record once it’s made, how to get it distributed, etc. You might not just be selling the record, but the artist, as well.
You can see from this list that becoming a music producer requires a wide range of skills. It requires not only having an ear for music, but also a mind for business. This is why one of the best ways to become a music producer is to learn one-on-one from a working producer who can mentor you.