The producer is someone who composes music artistically in a CD or “makes beats”.
Long Definition: A music producer can play many roles from acting as a creative source to hiring musicians and financing a particular music project. Usually music producers have knowledge of the overall recording process and help guide the artist or musicians through the recording process. A producer will be able to get the best records possible out of the artist they are producing. A music producer does not have to be the person sitting behind the mixing board; they usually hire a sound engineer to record, mix and master the records. I know a lot of music producers that are also very capable sound engineers, I happen to be one of them as well. Usually music producers are musicians and can play or program more than one instrument. Being able to play music is not a prerequisite to becoming a music producer.
If you want to become a music producer you must be able to communicate with artists and musicians, you will also need to have a good hear for great music. Music producers tell the sound engineer what kind of sound they are looking for in the studio. I feel that music producers should definitely have knowledge of analog and digital recording equipment so that they can give the sound engineer their input. Most sound engineers are musicians as well and can help the music producer with the overall musicianship, song structure and desired sound. As a music producer I like using sound engineers that get into the project technically and creatively. When I was eighteen, I went to citrus college for audio engineering. They had a very extensive two-year program that I learned a lot from. I knew that if I wanted to be a great music producer, I had to also have a background in audio engineering. I think that it is extremely important to go to school and take audio engineering and music production classes.
Since I am a Rock/ Hip-hop/ R&B producer it is my sole responsibility to come up with and play most of the music I record. Occasionally I am working with a band that have all their music written and don’t need to change a thing. Usually bands welcome a music producer’s input because they want the recording to be great. I would never change a band’s music, but I will give them ideas. When I am creating Hip-Hop beats I usually program and play all the parts myself. I also like to hire musicians to play a part or two to give the song a fuller feel. The most important thing for a music producer to learn these days is pro-tools because you will be able to do many things like TV, Radio, Imaging and Film projects.
A great way to start off making a living being a music producer is to get your music published and placed in TV and Film projects. You can do this by contacting Music Publishers and Music Supervisors. As you start making money as a music producer you will want to record and produce as many great bands as possible for a small fee. At first it is not as much about the money as it is about your reputation and experience. The music business does not pay right away so people usually take jobs as interns and work their way up. The music industry is all about word of mouth. If you produce great songs and create a good buzz there will be a lot of work coming your way. A&R people, artists and musicians like working with reliable music producers. If anything, don’t be known for being lazy, too expensive, or flaky.
It is extremely important to build strong and lasting relationships with music industry professionals like Record Label A&R people, Music Managers and Music Publishers. This part goes a long with what I said earlier, it’s all about your reputation. You want to be known for creating great songs in a timely fashion. A&R people like contacting producers that they know have a great talent for finding and producing exceptional acts. Make contact with successful A&R people, Music Managers, Music Publishers and Music producers because these people will want to hear what you have. These music industry professionals will have the capabilities to shop your product in exchange for an advance and royalties. As a Music Producer you can have your artists sign a contract stating that you have exclusive rights to produce their material. If you are planning on jumping ship to sign with another record label this is not a good idea. Most record labels will not sign a band that is under an exclusive contract with a Music Producer or Music Manager.
A record label may only want the artists and not the baggage that has to come along with them. Record labels don’t like to buy out contracts and avoid this procedure at all costs. I like to think of myself as one of those music producers that started out producing music for the love and everything eventually started paying off. I know you have heard this a million times “Do what you love, and the money will follow”. I love being a sound engineer because it is a lot easier to get paying clients right off the bat. You can offer artists a deal like if they pay for studio time you will make their beats and produce them for free. I suggest buying a pro-tools system like the M-Box or DIGI 001 to start with. These systems are great for beginners and can churn out awesome sounding records. They are extremely easy to set up! All you need is a computer PC or Mac. Plug the sound card into your PCI slot on your motherboard connect the DIGI 001 install your pro-tools software and your set. I have been recommending pro-tools to anyone that is interested in becoming a music producer because it is both professional and affordable. In this digital world a music producer’s best friends are always going to be his computer, guitar, midi keyboard and recording software.