Everyone knows what a singer like Tom Jones or Aretha Franklin does. They sing. They perform. It’s easy to understand and process what they do. You witness it. You hear it. What many people aren’t aware of is just exactly what a music producer does.
The term “music producer” can mean many things. It can mean someone who literally writes the music for the artist to sing. It can also mean someone who is aware of the literal physics of sound, who builds a sonic foundation for the artist upon which to perform. A producer can also be the person with the feel, the ear, and the ability to make things work during the production process. Of course, a music producer can be a mix of all three.
In a nutshell, a music producer is gives oversight on the recording and production of a song or album. They make sure it’s mastered correctly, that it tells the story it’s supposed to sonically, and that it fills a void in the music landscape. Producers are responsible for managing time and creative efforts. They’ve got to be amazing at organizing and categorizing. They need to be able to see the micro and the macro all at once. A good producer has both a keen business sense and intense creative acumen.
Being a producer means that you also need to interface with artists, help them achieve their vision and refine or direct that vision if necessary. You also need to minimize conflict or inefficiency throughout the production process. Because of the amount of communicating you will have to do, you need to be well-rounded and able to communicate with an array of people from different backgrounds. Lastly, you need to work hard and grow your experience, your intuition, and style in how you approach everything the job demands of you.
While a great many people want to be involved in making music, most don’t have the wherewithal and gumption to see it through. Genuine music producers will find the artists they want to work with, they’ll find the resources, they’ll make what needs to happen, happen. That’s what they do because they’re insanely passionate and dedicated.
Being a music producer is a calling for the few, not the many. Producers are compelled to produce and play a key role in bringing music to the world. We need strong producers to facilitate creative growth, to handle the business-side of things, and to communicate and work through conflict. Ultimately, musicians need the talent of a solid producer to help them take that once-imagined sonic dream and turn it into something everyone can experience.