Skills Needed to Be a Music Producer

By David B. Ryan ; Updated September 15, 2017

Music producers oversee every aspect of a recording session, including song selection, musical arrangements, contracting of session or studio musicians, recording, mixing and budgeting. The hours are long and the required skills many. While college training programs in music production do exist, many great producers have been virtually self-taught. Every producer has a unique background.

Work Ethic and Drive

Those wishing to break in to the music production business must be prepared to work long and hard for little or no money at first. Relentless ambition and the ability to self-promote are prerequisites.

Networking

An aspiring producer must become proficient at developing relationships and personal contacts. Securing an apprenticeship with an established producer, even unpaid, can be an important early career move.

Musical Training

Producers need a background in music theory and harmony as well as experience in playing or arranging music. Advising and coaching professional musicians requires a level of authority that is rooted in one’s own career experience.

Knowledge of Recording Techniques

Producers must be familiar with studio techniques and a wide range of both digital and analog recording equipment. A recording engineer is present on professional recording sessions but only to handle the technical details and not the creative ones. Devising new sounds is part of a producer’s job.

Budgeting

Producers, while not serving as investors or fundraisers, are responsible for managing the budget for a project. Equipment purchase and rentals, as well as hiring of studio musicians and engineers, must be kept within this budget.

Collaborative Ability

Dealing with creative egos and artistic temperaments requires an unusual degree of patience and ingenuity. A producer who can smoothly manage the clash of wills between musicians will develop a solid reputation as a leader.

About the Author

David B. Ryan has been a professional writer since 1989. His work includes various books, articles for "The Plain Dealer" in Cleveland and essays for Oxford University Press. Ryan holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University and certifications in emergency management and health disaster response.