Producers and “producers”

I’m an old curmugeon.

Something interesting has been happening to music production. More specifically, something interesting has been happening to the role of the music producer.

I commonly see the term “producer” to refer to various roles, usually something like “the guy at the computer” or “the guy who does the mixing”, or even “the guy who makes the beats”. Maybe a “producer” is simply someone who produces music?

Traditionally, the producer is someone who works with a band and is responsible for the creative vision of a project (usually an album). The producer might perform any of the following tasks:

  • Help choose band members or additional studio musicians
  • Help with instrumentation and arrangement of songs
  • Maintain the mood, esteem and motivation of the band members
  • Communicate the creative vision for the project to third parties such as studio musicians, mix and mastering engineers, marketing and promotion teams, record label staff, etc
  • And others…

Nowadays though, modern technology has allowed recording studios to be owned and run by almost anyone. Now people with creative vision for music projects are likely to skip working with a band. Instead they’ll set up their own computer studio and write and record their own music. Now all of a sudden there’s a single person who is a composer, musician, recording engineer, mix engineer, studio owner, promoter, etc.

Sometimes this “producer” will outsource to cover gaps in their own knowledge and abilities. Weaknesses in songwriting or composition skills can be covered by doing remixes or covers. Weaknesses in singing or playing instruments can be covered by bringing in musicians. Sometimes people try to cover weaknesses in engineering skill are by purchasing more expensive gear. Either way, the lines are blurrier now, and the term “production” has grown to include a number of newer roles.

In todays smaller studios, there is production implied when people speak of recording or mixing. Likewise there is often recording or mixing (or even composition) implied when people speak of production.


  1. In a more modern way of thinking within electronic music, I think that a “Producer” is someone who is able to arrange not only different musical terms, players and instruments but is able to look outside of his box and give his work some external fruits whatever his production needs. A “hip hop” producer for example is someone who can add some sax or life-percussion for example to give some high value to his own music taken from the whole spectrum of genres possible.
    This is a drastic difference to a “beatmaker” who is only able to arrange drumloops and sounds, maybe some chords but is not able to make bring it up into a whole musical level. I also think a real producer is able to work on different kinds of music successfully if he needs to – to keep his way of inspiration and creative output alive.
    anyway great blog here, keep it on – there are not much!

  2. this bothers me

    I have made many many records but refuse to describe myself as producer

    programmer? yes

    mixdown engineer? yes

    recording engineer? yes

    arranger? yes

    DJ? yes

    Composer? yes

    producer??? no, maybe one day,

    people who call themselves producer just cause they write music in a DAW make themselves look shabby and unprofessional in my book

  1. July 12th, 2010
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