Music Production: What Does a Music Producer Do?

Music production is the process by which music is created, captured, manipulated, and preserved so that it can be distributed and enjoyed. All of the recorded music that you know and love exists because it went through the production process, no matter how well-known or underground a recording may be, and no matter how minimalist or maximalist it sounds.

Professional music production is creative and technical.

It requires well-developed listening skills, a good handle on recording technology, a deep musical knowledge, and effective project management and leadership skills by a music producer, also known as a record producer.

What Does a Music Producer Do?

The role of a music producer has always been a somewhat nebulous one. Increasingly it can mean a number of vastly different things. Is someone who programs a beat a producer?

A music producer holds many roles, but here are the four most vital:

1. Schedule and Budget

First, the producer’s responsibility is to schedule a recording session within the appointed budget and then lead the musicians through that schedule in an efficient manner. Additionally, they guarantee the successful technical and artistic completion of the project.

2. Shaping the Music

This second responsibility revolves around the question of how a producer takes the raw material of an artist’s song and transforms it into a finished recording. This function is both artistic and commercial. It must express the artist’s musical and emotional intent, but must also reach a broad audience.

George Martin opined that the producer is the person “who actually puts the frame around everything, presents it to the public, and says ‘This is what it is.’” It’s the producer’s taste that makes it what it is.

3. Supervising Performance

The producer must know how to identify and obtain the best performances from the individual members of the group. There is an assumption that, if it moves you, it can move other listeners. For the producer, trusting this emotional response is a quintessential function. The confidence to say, “I like this one,” is at the heart of a producer’s role.

They apply the same critical function at virtually every stage of the recording process. From the decision that a particular backing track performance has the right feeling and energy, to the approval of a guitar solo, and the sound of the various instruments coming through the monitors, all come back to the producer, who must make that judgment.

4. ‘Work vs. Play’

The producer must maintain the subtle balance between the demands of the work and the creative elements that make up compelling music. The skilled producer creates a balance between these two oppositions, and does so by manipulating that amorphous idea musicians love so much: The Vibe.

The first thing to do when creating a vibe is to pretend that you are there to play, and record the results. (This also involves making the recording process as invisible as possible.)

You, the producer, are of course very aware of the work that needs to be accomplished in each session, but you keep those thoughts to yourself. (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”) So with that in mind, here are some ways to establish the all-important vibe:

Positive vs. Negative

A playful and fun session rests on a foundation of positivity, optimism, and team spirit. As the leader (or more accurately, the “Coach”), the positive vibe begins with you. A generally affirmative state of mind is infectious, if you and the musicians agree that “fun” is the goal. Conversely, a negative vibe can stop a session dead in its tracks.


Once again, a music producer’s leadership role is to inspire, and instill in the team the feeling that “everything will work out fine.” If a producer is well-prepared, experienced, and keenly aware of what needs to be done at each stage of the recording, they’ll have the confidence necessary to . . .

Keep It Moving

All great producers know that constant forward motion is essential to the production process. (The idea that a shark must keep swimming or risk death is a myth, but an amusing one to consider here.)

Moving quickly from one musical task to the next can create its own momentum that lends itself immediately to an uplifting vibe.

The Joy of Recording

Yes, making records is work, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable jobs you can imagine. Never lose sight that every recording session is a privilege; a grateful attitude can give rise to fun and laughter.

How is music produced?

A musical idea can take many forms. It can be a simple drum and bass pattern to a complete song with melody, lyrics, and chord changes. How the final product sounds has a great deal to do with musical arrangement and the tools used to produce it.

The steps involved in producing a piece of music are:

1. Musical Ideas

The song you’re going to produce and the instruments you’ll use in the arrangement. As a producer, you’ll decide the parts that will be recorded and who will play them.

2. Recording

The performances that make up our musical arrangement are recorded to any variety of hardware devices and software as audio or MIDI data.

3. Editing

When we use MIDI sequencing or hard-disk recording, the performances we’ve recorded can be edited in a variety of ways to change either the individual performance or the entire arrangement.

4. Mixing

The individual tracks that make up a multitrack recording are combined and processed using effects to create a final stereo recording to our song.

5. Mastering

Where we prepare our finished stereo mix for distribution as an audio CD or a digital file by making final adjustments to the overall sound of the recording.