5 things a producer needs, being a music producer is really cool, right? Some say yes, some say no. But let’s look at what you actually need to be one.
This seems obvious but it’s so, so true. To be proficient, good at, known for or a specialist at anything, you have to know what you’re doing. For anyone wanting to be a music producer, this is where it gets really interesting.
With music being such a broad spectrum, you have to have knowledge about the area you intend to work in. A good example would be a producer, such as David Foster (Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, J-Lo) who has an immense knowledge of composition and musicianship because that’s exactly what he needs for his job.
Then we look at Timbaland (Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Kanye West) who has an insane knowledge of rhythm, percussion instruments and audio manipulation, again, because that’s the knowledge he needs for his job.
Learn about where your strengths are. Learn about where your weaknesses are. Learn about the area of music you want to work in and then use what you have learnt to learn more! After all, knowledge is power.
2. A Good Ear
Hopefully, you’ve heard the expression “It’s not the gear, it’s the ear!”, which is true, to some extent.
A good ear can be defined in a number of ways, but there two are two definitions that are the most important.
Firstly, a good ear for music. The best producers will always hear things in a different way to most other people, whether that’s for a drum pattern that might be even better with a slight change, or one vocal syllable that’s off and should be locked in.
This isn’t something that is completely learnt, many producers will argue that they have had this ability since a young age, but have learnt to embrace this talent and grow.
Secondly, a good ear to listen. Hearing what artists, bands and writers are trying to put across is one of the most important things for a producer to do. So you need to be able to listen and interpret. If you can’t slow down and take time to really listen to the directions, ideas or criticisms coming your way, how do you think you’ll move forward? You won’t.
Learn to trust your ears, then you’ll be able to use them properly as a producer.
Don’t end being a sheep, following other people’s ideas and moves when you could be working to define your own. Without your own aims, your own work and progress will suffer.
What aims can a producer have though? Too many to count, but here’s a couple to start you off:
Do you need some equipment to boost or start you off? Set a budget and prioritise what you need.
2. Dream collaborations or clients.
Set aims about who are your dream clients, then work to get to them.
3. Work/Life balance. Workaholic or part-time alcoholic?
Whichever one you are, you need a productive and proactive work/life balance. Too much either way and you’ll start to suffer.
There’s only one thing left for you to do to achieve these aims. Action them and work your a** off!
4. A Workspace
Some people need an office, some need a warehouse, some only need a laptop!
Think about how you work, what gear have you got? Do you like minimal spaces or full spaces?
Looking back at point 1, once you know what style you’re going for, you’ll be able to decide what workspace you need. For example, a beat maker may only need a laptop/midi keyboard and/or an MPC or drum machine whereas a producer/writer may need keyboards and more.
No matter what style you want to produce, respecting the fact that you need a workspace is key. The best move for your brain and your work is to have the room to think bigger and move better.
This one is obvious right? In the music industry, some producers can be more concerned with the thought that client should find THEM and not the other way around.
If you’re a Grammy award-winning producer with credits up to eyeballs, the likelihood is that you don’t have to go out and find clients, but as newbies or even professional producers, often the process isn’t easy. Clients are your bread and butter, they make you tick, they bring the money, they are what and who you need.
Different clients respond to different things, but ultimately, you should be their no.1 port of call for production. Whether that’s because your personable, have an awesome studio, you’re amazing at what you do or you just know them, it. Doesn’t. matter. Without those clients you don’t do this job and you don’t earn money.
Being a producer is as much about producing music as it is creating a connection with clients and people. Always remember that.
To round this off;
Know your limits and your expertise. Trust your ear and treat it like your mind. Aim high and everywhere in-between. Work in a productive environment. Get the clients and then keep the clients.