Music production is demanding and challenging. As a music producer one needs to be creative, artistic, administrative, managerial and business-minded. You have to give it all.
In this article, I have listed the skills required to become a successful music producer.
Skills Required To Become A Successful Music Producer
Music producers need to be proficient not only in music and technical knowledge but also in business, people management and organizational skills. To become a successful music producer, you need to hone and practice your skills in five different areas, which are: -
- Technical Skills
- People Skills
- Business and Financial Skills
- Personality Traits
Let us look at and understand each category.
All music producers require basic music knowledge and skills. Music skills like music fundamentals, rhythm and music theory understanding, instruments knowledge are a must for all music producers.
Here is a list of music skills that are required to become a successful music producer
- Basic Understanding Of Music
- Trained Ears
- Playing An Instrument
Basic Understanding Of Music
As a music producer, one must know the fundamentals of music and songwriting like music notes and intervals, elements of music, elements of rhythm and song structure. Having a basic knowledge of music theory and songwriting helps a lot in writing and producing good music.
Music Producers need to train and develop their ears. Ear Training for music producers include exercises like instrument recognition, dynamic change recognition, phasing issues recognition, frequency spectrum recognition etc.
Playing An Instrument
Even though it is not mandatory to know how to play a musical instrument as a music producer, but it helps a lot/ music producers who can play any musical instruments connects and understand other artists needs a lot better. They are also able to compose and translate productions more easily.
If you wish to understand music theory fundamentals, check out this post. For Rhythm Fundamentals, check out this post.
Understanding how studio equipment works and studio workflow is a must for music producers. A music producer should have fundamental technical skills in:
- Editing and Arrangement
- Mixing and Mastering
A music producer can always hire and work with audio engineers, but having a basic understanding of these technical areas is paramount for your success. If you are a Home Studio or A Small Studio Music producer, you must be technically proficient.
Recording Or Tracking Skills
Tracking is the process of recording the various instruments that are used to perform a song. In the tracking stage, all different instruments and sound sources are tracked/recorded separately on a separate medium or channel. Music producers must be well versed in technicalities and approaches to recording music.
Editing and Arrangement Skills
Music producers must be well versed in the skills required to edit and arrange music. In editing and arrangement stages, alterations like removing unwanted noise, removing unwanted parts, rearranging, editing out unwanted takes, normalizing sound etc. are done.
Music Mixing and Mastering Skills
Mixing music is an art. In mixing, engineers work with recorded sound using consoles, workstations, eq's, compressors, limiters, effects like reverb, delays etc.
If you are a home producer, you will have to dedicate thousands of hours working on your mixing skills. If you are working for a studio, you should understand all the technical aspects of mixing music so that you better communicate with your audio engineers.
Mastering Music requires great experience and ears. As a music producer, one should understand all the technical aspects of mastering music as well.
All music producers need to collaborate with artists, other musicians, managers and teams. People skills like good communication, team player, understanding and empathize etc are a must for all music producers.
If you are not good at communicating your ideas and understanding other people needs, you will never be able to succeed in any industry.
To communicate better, you need to work a lot on your skills and abilities as a music producer before anything else. Most people shy away from working hard and feed their egos to hide their insecurities. Do not be like that.
Make sure you work hard on all other aspects of music production, and most definitely communication skills will follow.
As a music producer, you will be often leading projects. This is a responsible job that requires you to lead others and work as a team. So, ensure you are someone people love to follow. Have a vision, work for it, be humble, respect your teammates and enjoy the process.
If you are a home or small studio producer, you will still find yourself working with your friends and other artists. Make sure you respect others and stay honest. Teamwork is all about building trust and respect.
Business and Finance
Most music producers ignore the business side of music. On the other hand, a successful music producer works on his business skills as much as his creative and technical skills.
Music producers must understand how the music industry works, how money flows and can be better managed. As a music producer, it is your responsibility to make financial decisions in coordination with your executive producer to make a project commercially viable. Business areas that every music producer should understand are:
- Marketing and Branding
- Cost Management
- Viability Analysis
Marketing and Branding
We are in the internet age and nothing is more effective than a good branding and marketing plan.
If you are a commercial music producer, you will have a team at your disposal for marketing. So this might not apply to you. For home and small studio producers, there is no way out. You have to learn to market and brand your music.
“Everyone loves their music and music is an art, which needs no selling.” If you are still living with this dilemma in 2022, you need to analyse and research.
Here is a fact, record labels spend nearly USD5.8 Billion every year on artist development and marketing. ~Source IFPI
So, gear up your marketing game if you are an independent producer or a small studio owner.
Music Marketing for the DIY musician is a great book to help you devise a marketing plan. Every independent artist, home studio producer, small studio owner must read it, implement it and upgrade your game exponentially.
Whether you are a commercial studio music producer or a home studio producer, you will make cost-related decisions every day. You need to understand and implement how you can effectively reduce costs and better manage resources.
No one hires a music producer who has failed projects in the past. For any project, it is your responsibility as a music producer to ensure that the vision you have is viable and comes to life. You should analyse a project's time effectiveness and viability before committing.
You will need to negotiate with your clients, third parties regularly. So practice and study about it. Learning how to negotiate will make you save money and earn more. With all the saved money, you can always buy yourself that fancy new gear that you dreamed of.
The music industry evolves continuously. Self-growth and care is a must. You need to stay proactive, competitive and in good health. The following personality trait is a must to become a successful music producer:
- Discipline And Organization
- Creativity and Curiosity
- Logical Reasoning
Discipline And Organization
If you had two music producers to choose from, which one will you choose? One who promises he will show up at 5 pm and shows up at 8.30 pm, or the one who promises will show up at 5 pm and shows up at 5 pm.
The choice is simple, everyone will choose the one who values other times and is disciplined.
You have been reading this article and by now you can guess I am a music producer who believes in discipline and organization. Staying disciplined will help you unlock and achieve areas that you never imagined.
In a commercial studio environment, organization and discipline lead to a successful career.
Stay consistent, organized and put in the work.
Creativity and Curiosity
The music industry evolves like crazy. There is a new technology every other month. You have to stay up with the pace.
You need to constantly learn and create. Creation and learning only happen when you are curious.
Explore the world, research things, meet new people, do whatever boosts your creativity and curiosity.
All music producers will face problems in their careers. If you stay logical and make logical decisions, it will all resolve easily.
All musicians work on developing their creative skills, but as a music producer, you will need to develop your logical reasoning skills on purpose.
Oxford Languages English Dictionary meaning of self-awareness is
“Conscious knowledge of one's character and feelings.”
I need not say more.
Know yourself, understand yourself. It helps your mental health, physical health and also helps you grow as an artist.
Understand that music is bigger than our tiny little egos. Try to give your best to whatever you do. Go back to the bigger picture whenever you feel lost or low.
I hope you will implement something from what you learned. If you have anything to add and share, please do comment below. It is always a pleasure and one amazing experience to learn from you.
If you wish to learn how to become a music producer, check out this article.