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What is a Music Producer and What Do They Do?

Much like a movie would never get created without a director, an album would never get finalized without a producer. They are the backbone of a studio, and most of the time, have a very influential say in the process of creating the album - from recording, mixing, mastering, and helping with distribution - the producer generally runs the whole show. 

What is a Music Producer?

All producers have different definitions of what a producer is, depending on their musical background and overall involvement with the recording process. Here are how some professionals describe their line of work.

Rick Camp, of RC1 Productions & Master Mix Live says: 

"The music producer is in charge of organizing material and making it sound like a cohesive song. He calls the shots on what's played, when it's played and how it's played, and the sounds that are used, or the vocals that are recorded if they're correct or not. They producer is in charge of everything. "

Camp has experience working with some of the biggest names in the hip-hop and R&B genres like Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Dr. Dre, and even Queen Bey herself! The producer, according to Camp, is the shot-caller, and the album gets produced according to how he envisions the finalized product. Others may prefer a different approach to running their production studio. Mike Johnson at Clear Track Recording Studio thinks this about the roles of a producer: 

"He is in charge of kind of like the film director, but he's in charge of getting all of the musicians to play their best... to come they way it was intended and to make sure that the sounds of the engineer in the studio are fitting the song style."

Johnson has worked with major names in alternative and pop genres, like John Legend, U2, Boyz II Men, and Madonna. The kind of producer Johnson describes focuses more on the musicianship side of production, really working with the artist and musicians to create music the way it was intended. 

Though both of those descriptions are different, neither are wrong. Producer's roles in their studio are in a constant state of flux and there is no clear definition as to what their role really is. There are many different types of producers. Let's take a look at the most common types of producers you might find in a recording studio, and what their roles are in producing an album. 

5 Most Common Types of Music Producers

Every famous recording artist works with top-notch producers who are highly skilled and trained in the art of producing music, as well as knowledgeable in the musicianship side of production. Sometimes finding your niche as a producer will open the doors to success! 

1. The Engineer

The engineer is the most stereotypical vision of a producer that people envision working in a studio. This type of producer is the hands-on kind: works diligently while hunched over the soundboard, most likely obsessing over compression settings, equalization, and reverb tails. 

This kind of producer generally has a solid foundation in the technical aspects of recording music. Perhaps they were an audio engineer before moving up the ranks and becoming a producer. 

2. The Mentor


The mentor most likely has experience being a recording artist themselves. This type of producer is very in tune with the artist and their needs. They can see where the artist needs coaching, motivation, and encourages them to produce the best music they're capable of.

Due to their own history of recording, they seem to have a gift for providing fresh insight and are able to re-focus artists on their core strengths. 

Rick Rubin is a prime example of the mentor-producer. He strategically chooses engineers to handle the technical aspect of producer, so he can focus solely on working directly with the artist and his or her intent. 

3. The Golden Ticket

This producer has the magic touch - their proven track record can almost guarantee success for anyone who works with them! Whether it's their ability to network with other industry professionals, the knowledge of music trends, or how they run their studio, they are incredibly successful and share that success with their recording artists. 

Dr.Dre is a prime example of a producer that seems to hold the golden ticket for anyone who works with him. He is very in-tune with the music industry and knows what will be a crowd favorite, while sticking to his hip-hop roots. 

4. The Musician


The musician is first and foremost just that, a musician. Once a musician, always a musician. While they are now a producer, they also are very involved in recording tracks for the artists - playing instruments and contributing to the overall orchestration of the tracks. 

Grammy winning musician-producer Trevor Horn has been dubbed as "The Man Who Invented the Eighties" by many because of his influence on 80s pop music. Horn has performed with numerous bands, as well as producing famous songs like "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal. His musicianship is hugely influential in the production of albums, because he is very hands-on and plays most of the instruments heard of recording tracks. 

5. The Artist

Sometimes the artist takes full control of their album and they become the producer, too! This is generally an artist with lots of successes under their belt, as well as experience with producing music and recording equipment. 

Arguably the msot famous artist-producer is Prince - who infamously credited himself: "Produced, Arranged, Composed, and Performed by Prince."

So it's clear to see how the range of a producer's duties change, all depending on their background and what they are familiar with, and comfortable doing in order to create a successful album. Finding your niche in the production industry might take awhile, but as seen in the examples above, you don't necessarily have to have specific musical training or engineer training to be a successful producer! 

If you're around Maryland, D.C., or surrounding areas and want to work with professional music producers that have decades of experience, let the team at Sheffield help you! They're skilled professionals, all with their certain production styles. Contact them today to find what kind of producer you want to work with, and start recording your latest project.