What is a Music Producer and What Should Clients Expect?

Occasionally, I post to Quora to help answer questions related to audio production and music business. Here’s the latest:

“As a music producer, what should my client expect me to do?”

This is a solid question!

A music producer is responsible for bringing the artist’s creative vision alive. Music producers need to carry a wide array of skills and have a working knowledge of music business, audio production, songwriting, music theory. Additionally, producers need to have sharp communication skills. If a producer can not accurately communicate and comprehend what the artist needs/wants, the project will struggle to get finished; furthermore, if a producer is unprofessional or unapproachable, the artist will not feel open and honest, which will only cause problems.

As far as client expectations go, much of it depends on the size of the project and how dependent the artist is on the producer. For example, the size of the project can range anywhere from a demo to a full album. The way a producer approaches a project will vary depending on experience, resources, and the artist’s budget. Regardless, clients of all of these factors, artists want a dependable producer who can the job done professionally.

Here are a few things they should expect. Above all, producers make sure the project gets finished within the budget on schedule.

  • Session planning
  • Booking the studio time / personnel
  • Securing instruments / equipment
  • Composing music
  • Supervising the recording session
  • Directing the staff
  • Coaching the artist(s)
  • Providing creative direction

Additionally, producers need to have a good idea of how contract negotiations work and should be prepared to discuss all of the logistics up front (compensation, responsibilities, etc).

Some key skills, in no particular order:

  • Project planning
  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Recording, mixing, mastering
  • Music theory
  • Budgeting
  • Contract law
  • DAWs (digital audio workstations)
  • Songwriting

Keep in mind, plenty of artists take on this role all by themselves, so all of these functions might not apply.

The best advice is to just keep an open mind and be adaptable. Clients like working with producers who are flexible but can still deliver!

Thoughts or questions? Share them in the comment section below!