Before we start, let’s define what a music producer actually is. The term music producer (or record producer) came from the beginnings of the music industry (professional recordings) and the role became truly recognized in the 1950s. The boom of vinyl.
A music producer is generally ‘employed’ by a record label or a songwriter to creatively lead the project, organizing studio time (including hiring musicians and engineers), as well as coach the artist in order to have a successful record at the end of the process. Which in the music industry means, making money (or having a no. 1 hit).
As the music industry continues to develop, and at a very fast rate might I add – the term music producer has developed and expanded into other variations of the music business. Such as:
The A&R Music Producer
This role consists of developing the artist they work with and acts as a liaison between the record label and the artist themselves. They might not necessarily help the recording session, but they do definitely have a big part in how the overall end product will sound and how it will be contextualized as a release.
These are the type of music producers that not only overlook the recording process of the record, but also helps develop the song in its entirety. And when I talk about songs, I mean the combination of the lyrics and the melody. This role automatically gains them huge recognition from an artist and songwriter’s perspective, as the person can speak and work in their lingo.
There have always been artist/music producer types, such as Prince for example – these music producers believe that only they can actualize the vision and overall sound of their records. They usually write, record, and produce the track from beginning to end, with the occasional hiring of external musicians, vocalists, or a mixing and mastering engineer.
The Vocal Coach/Producer
Much more common in the pop genre, especially for any track in the top-40, these music producers can SANG! They understand the vocals and vocal production to a science, whether this is comping vocals, tuning vocals, or helping the artist externalize their vocal range, tone, and personality. They even provide vocal training to get the most out of the artist or singer they have to record.
Now, this is not a debate of whether or not beatmakers are actually music producers, so let’s save that discussion for another day. These are music producers who solely focus on the instrumentation (or backing track) of the song. Much more common in the hip-hop scene, where beatmakers focus on the music (not the song) and hand it over to a rapper who will write lyrics over it. Most productions as of 2020 are driven by beatmakers, and generally, they always get points of the publishing too.
Traditional Music Producer
These are the OGs of the recording industry. They have paved the way to what a music producer’s end goal is. To make a record that will connect to an audience, build awareness of the artist, and make money. They overlook the recording process from beginning to end.
The Entrepreneurial Music Producer
And now we are seeing more entrepreneurial hybrid music producers, who not only focus on creating great music with the artists and songwriters in their circle – but who are driven by making their skill an actual business. They have a mindset of creativity and business in everything they do. They love music creation, just as much as the financial rewards and development, they can get with every opportunity they receive. So if you’re looking to monetize your music, these are the cats you want to jam with.
In any case, as an independent artist looking to develop their own sound, find their artistic identity, and market their song and project to the masses – finding the right music producer that fits your context is important. By choosing the wrong music producer, you can lose motivation, time, money, energy, and your creative juices in the process. So choose wisely.
For me as a music producer, my only goal is to serve the artist and the song. That’s it. Everything else is secondary. Here are some notable music producers I aspire to be like.
So, how do you go about finding the right music producer for your artist project? Before I answer that, I’d like you to go through these points and be realistic about your answers to them. This will help you practically define what you need from a music producer, and amplify who you are as an artist.
What are you hoping to achieve by working with a music producer?
Do you know the genre and sound elements you want your song to sound like?
Do you have a list of artists and songs you want to use as a reference for the project? If so, who?
How much funds are you willing to invest to hire a music producer?
Where are you currently at in your independent artist career? What timeline do you have in place for the next 3, 6, 12 months?
Do you know your artist project inside and out? Can you explain it to a record label or A&R?
What type of music producer do you need?
Once you’ve had some time to self-reflect on the previous points. Here are places you can find the right music producer for you. Keep in mind, I’m not associated with any of these platforms and they are certainly not paying me to promote them.
A place where you can hire the world’s best mixing & mastering engineers, singers, songwriters, producers, and studio musicians for hire.
There are loads of music producer littered around Facebook, I have met some pretty cool music producers that I can respect on the platform.
I know. This is like saying you should eat when you’re hungry. But honestly, Google has thousands of music producers in their search engine. If you put in the time to go through every link and person it recommends, I’m 100% sure you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.
Three platforms where you can hire freelance music producers, and scan through their portfolio and profiles within seconds. Keep in mind, you always get what you pay for. The cheaper the music producer charges usually speak volumes of the quality of their work. And that’s from personal experience. Remember, this is your career you’re building. Not theirs.
Similar to SoundBetter, the site boasts that you can hire the ‘worlds’ leading audio talent. This is a new platform I came across, and they do seem legit.
Ask a friend (Word of Mouth)
Still the best form of finding a music producer that is already in your circle. Why spend hours looking for the right person, when your friend or another artist you know already has worked with one successfully? It’s a no-brainer. Having a sense of social proof and being recommended by someone in your circle, it’s more likely this music producer might fit the bill. Maybe.
Social Media (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube)
Oh, the glorious platforms of uninspired and unoriginal pitches and spam DMs. Either way, I’ve virtually met a few music peeps that I would love to work with one day (and a few I already collaborated with). These social media platforms are oozing with music producers looking to collaborate with artists. You can try searching for a particular hashtag or keyword that you find is related to your artist project e.g. Indie-pop Music Producer.
Now this wouldn’t be an honest blog if I didn’t mention some dangers and caveats to working with a music producer. The fact is, creative collaboration is a lot of emotional investment (as well as financial of course), so here are some important questions or pointers to discuss with your music producer before you sign on the dotted lines or pay the invoice they’ve sent.
– Am I ready to work with a music producer?
– What are other artists saying about you? (Testimonials, Reviews)
– Who will own the master recording of the finished product?
– What royalty (publishing split) will be allocated to individual parties?
– Will I be working on a new song idea or finished songs that just need production?
– How much do you charge per song/client and do you offer a refund policy?
– How long does it usually take to go through the entire process of music production?
– What timeline do I have in place to achieve my end goal with this collaboration?
– How will the process work, is it done remotely (online), or in-person (studio)?
– Where are you based?
– Do you have a portfolio of clients and tracks that you’ve worked on I can check out?
– Are we realistically going to enjoy working with each other? Can I get to know you more through a call or video meeting?
– What is your production style, quality, and genre specialization?
– Do you include mixing and mastering (including the session and WAV files) once the production of the song is finished?
– How many revisions do you provide if I want changes in the track?
– What else do you offer apart from music production services?
– How much influence and decision making do you as the music producer have over the song and artist project?
– What DAW software, equipment, and instruments do you primarily work with?
– Are you connected to music industry people? And do you have connections that can potentially be a fit for me?
– Are you willing to get to know me as a person, and as an artist before we commit to a final decision to collaborate on my project?
– What isn’t included with your music production services?
– Do I have a list of reference tracks and songs I can provide you to use as a guide for our collaboration?
In conclusion, the process of choosing the right producer and the timing of when you do decide to create music with them is a decision that you should not take lightly (unless they offer free services). I, as an entrepreneurial music producer, try to balance my admiration and support for independent artists, with the fundamentals of making sure that I elevate their music and career in the process. That’s the mission Soundprise was founded on.
As we head into 2021, I am currently offering a limited (FREE) amount of artist consultation calls to help support your goals and projects. You can get to know more about what we do at Soundprise HERE. So jump on it while you can!
Soundprise is a game-changing music production platform that specializes in supporting independent artists through contextualizing their projects and assisting them in building the foundations for a successful music launch.
Thank you for reading the blog (and if you’ve watched the video), I hope this will help you as an artist contextualize your next steps in hiring a music producer and further develop your career. If you want to get in touch with me, I’d love to get to know more about you and your music. Contact or follow me on social media at:
And here’s to more music and success, till next time…
Author: Jonathan Milanes (Founder of Soundprise)