Blog #8
Blog #8: Career of the week

Music Producer
Other Titles: Audio Engineer, Producer
Salary: $41,000-$105,000 per year

Music Producer


The person that produces the song has usually spent a lot of time inside of the studio.  They might have started as a runner (an intern getting drinks or helping with easy tasks like fixing the angle of a microphone, or making sure that things look good or are clean), or as an apprentice.  There are plenty of Producers that have gotten degrees in production, and have never done anything with it because they didn’t take it seriously, while there are plenty of Producers that have never spent any time in a classroom, but have learned everything they possibly could as an apprentice to an already established Producer and listened to what they heard and what their vision was.  The person that wants to succeed will rise to the top, not just because they work hare, but because they gain the most information from what is presented in front of them.  


The record producers job is to take the ideas of the artist or band that is recording and turn it into what they wish it to be.  In the simplest terms, how do you take what has been practiced and turn it into something someone would want to listen to over and over again, while not being a live performance.  The producer must have their own vision for what the overall product will be, but also try to accommodate what the performers what through the process.  They are like a cook, but cooking for picky eaters.  They might have the ability to create what they want, but if the consumers don’t want what they produce, they have not succeeded.

In a more focused glance at what they do, the producer is responsible for making sure the microphones are in the right spot, all of the levels of the recordings are correct, the performers are in time, the room is ready to record, and a number of other minor things that set up the performer for success.  Then when all of the recordings are done, they mix the recordings together to produce what you hear when you listen to a song (many of the songs you listen to have each instrument recorded separately and layered by the producer, like the drums recorded, then the bass, then the guitar, etc. and at the end the producer puts it all together).


The best place to learn how to be a producer is in your own ears.  Can you listen to a whole song,  a whole album, a whole artists career and hear the idea that was thought throughout the way?  Can you listen to the ideas that a song might have and say, this was an idea someone had in the recording process and made sure to feature (whether it was the artist or the producer, the producer had to make sure to feature it).  The best producers are produced through their own ears, and how they want things to sound.  Can you listen to a song you want to like, but be critical about how you might change it? This is the role of a producer. 

Obviously a professional producer will need to spend countless hours in a studio with live artists, but they are spending that time perfecting their ears and thinking about what they think and how to bring the best version of the product they are getting out in the end.


As with most jobs, there is not timeline on when to find your way into a profession.  There are people that start at 16, and some who start at 55.  There is no timeline as to when, except for the desire and the understanding that comes with a long term goal of a profession that doesn’t develop over night, but with practice, the same as the skills that the performers that you will record take time to develop.  No one wakes up and becomes a professional producer, but through experience and exposure to how and why to make decisions, potential producers can cultivate their own opinions.  


The best way to get into music production is to listen to everything you hear with a critical ear.  Was that the best speed (tempo) for that song? Could that have been louder/softer? Was there enough drums? These are the thoughts of producers and creating a critical ear is the start to a production career.  Other things to consider would be finding someone who is in the music production industry to apprentice with or to go to school for music production. Both of these options would give you the experience to build on in the field, but it is ultimately up to the individually to create the product in the end.

How this top producer turns his laptop into a studio

5 questions to ask a music producer

Day at work: Audio Engineer

Click this link to respond to the questions below

Listen to a song of your choice (name the piece) and focus on one instrument the entire time.  Write what you heard and what you thought of that performance.

Listen to a song that you don't particularly like.  While listening to it, think about how you would change it to make it more of a hit in your mind. Describe the changes you would make.