Let’s look at the role and responsibilities of the Music Producer within the music industry. A music producer can wear many hats. I will try to cover them all here, but do know that depending on the project a producer may wear all of the hats or perhaps just one.
Let’s check out some of the hats the music producer wears:
1) The Idea Hat
It can be the music producer’s job to gather ideas for the project. This may seem vague, and it is, that is why artist hire a music producer. When all is said and done with the production of an album you essentially have a CD that has on record 12 – 15 “ideas”. It is the music producer’s job to steer this idea harvesting.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is an example of a “concept” album. On this album the Beatles worked with their producer George Martin to collect and shape their ideas of an album recorded by “Sgt. Pepper” and his band.
2) The Golden Ear Hat
Once the idea of the album is agreed upon the music producer can put on his Golden Ear Hat. While wearing this hat the producer will be responsible for making the decisions of song selection and musician selection. Lot’s of times a band will go into the studio with the general idea of an album and perhaps more songs than can fit on one album.
The producer will help select which songs should be put on the album by determining which songs best support the overall concept and idea of the album.
Often to bring the songs to their full potential additional musicians need to be brought in. Perhaps, the chorus of a song would benefit from a horn section, but none of the band members play any horn instruments. Or sometimes, the band members themselves need to be replaced for the best sound on record. The producer is responsible for making these tough decisions that can ultimately make or break the album.
3) The Coaching Hat
Once the musicians and songs are selected the producer then becomes the coach in the studio. The producer is now responsible to coach the artist and the studio musicians to come together and create the most accurate record of their ideas at hand. Perhaps this is helping the drummer find the groove or discuss different approaches with the guitarist for the solo. Sometimes it can also be much more psychological than musical. Maybe it’s making the vocalist feel confident so they give the best vocal performance.
4) The Schedule Hat
It is very important to not only have a schedule but have one that allows for your artist to provide their best performances. It is the producers responsibility to keep the production on schedule in terms of finances and release date, but also in terms of morale and fatigue. What is the point of having the record released on time if you exerted your vocalist too much during the production and his vocals are the best? This balance of schedule is very important and requires the producer to juggle the demands of many different people in the process.
5) The Follow Through Hat
Once the production involving the artist is done they are able to go back on tour or go home and relax, but the record itself is still far from being done. The producer is responsible to oversee the Mixing and Mastering process. The mixing process is where a mixing engineer mixes together all of the audio files gathered in the recording process into one sonically beautiful stereo track. The mastering process involves a mastering engineer that ensures that each individual track on the album matches the sonic qualities of the other tracks on the album. Again it is the music producer’s responsibility to oversee these processes and ensure quality control.
These are examples of the hats that a music producer would wear in the record making process. The term “Producer” in some genres such as hip-hop, pop, dance, and electronica, is the actual producer of the music. These producers are the ones responsible for the production of the music track, or the “beat”.
Hopefully this shows you a little into the many hats of the music producer.