Wednesday, March 01, 2000

What Does a Music Producer do?

I’m going to spend the next few posts writing about the skill set demanded of today’s music producers.

Most people hear the job title 'Music Producer' and think of someone who works for a record label and makes sure bands rock. George Martin, who I think everyone knows as being famous for being the Beatles producer, is the archetypal model of being a music producer. Martin is called ‘the fifth Beatle’. He didn’t write the songs, but a master arranger, he certainly enhanced them.

Martin also represents a classic model of music producer, i.e., one who works with an artist to create not just a good recording, but a complete entertainment experience.

I am a different kind of music producer. Call me a Commercial Music Producer. My job resembles the producer of a film score when I'm working on a TV commercial. But when trying to brand a multinational corporation with sound; produce navigational sounds for games, websites and devices; or package theme park environments with audio; it becomes something else altogether –in fact, many things altogether.

Regardless of whether one produces entertainment or the kinds of audio experiences that I work on, there are many kinds of people –with varying skill sets– that make up this professional community. Audio –like Film– is all encompassing, and while some careers are market by multi-skilled masters, most projects are managed or directed by niche specialists.

People who wear the ‘Producer’ moniker might be producers of the George Martin sort. Or they may be music supervisors, radio programmers, software specialists, artist/DJs, engineers, composers, multi-instrumentalists, sound designers, project managers –or simply, just person who owns the most gear– and more often, the person who controls the finances. Master Producers fulfill several, if not all of these mentioned roles, and then some.

Today’s music professionals may also accumulate an additional interactive skill set, and some advertising savvy; in my own case, less of the former, and much of the latter.

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