Understanding the Role of Producers in the Music Industry

Until recently, audiences haven’t given much credit to the production teams behind their favorite artists’ top hits. Sure, die-hard fans used to read the fine print on their LPs or page through CD leaflets to see who produced an album, but it was mostly a mystery.

Thankfully, through social media and a growing interest in music production at large, the people behind the scenes are finally gaining mainstream recognition and appreciation. 

It’s time that producers got the love they deserve. Here are some of the keys to understanding the role of producers in today’s changing music industry.  

Creative and Technical Leadership

Not to be mistaken with audio engineers, who are tasked with the pure technical aspects of recording music to digital or analog formats, producers have a far more creative role in the process of making a track or album.

Names like George Martin and Brian Eno come to mind when thinking of the 20th-century producer, providing artists with incomparable creative input toward the final product and concept of a record.

Some producers are technological innovators, with significant leaps in sound quality and effects attributed to them. Phil Spector, for example, was responsible for developing the Wall of Sound formula popular in the 1960s, while Lee “Scratch” Perry pioneered dub in the ‘70s.

Artists who may not have reached widespread popularity or acclaim have leveraged brilliant producers to bring their studio sound to the next level, and create a mystique that could not be replicated on stage to the same effect. 

Entrepreneurial Evolution of Production

While old-school producers and artists once played distinct roles in the studio, today’s production teams often have a more direct musical influence. 

In fact, some of the world’s most beloved artists, such as Kanye West, Dr. Dre, and Diddy, began their careers as producers and later moved into vocals and instrumentation. It’s not uncommon to see one person appear multiple times on a production credits list. 

Now, music producers and artists work more closely than ever, and the lines between the two roles have been blurred as digital production techniques become the norm.

To be a successful artist in today’s music industry, especially in the realms of rap and electronic, artists need to have a wide range of production knowledge to properly express their creativity and market themselves in a profitable way.  

Music Managers as Creative Advisors

Now that we have easy access to digital audio workstation technology on our phones, tablets, and laptops, music production is a widespread hobby accessible to more people than ever before. 

While professional studio time used to be reserved for the most talented artists in the world, anyone can now affordably set up a home recording center and create amazing music with just a bit of knowledge and effort.

This shift has helped skyrocket young producers to the top of the music industry far more quickly than in years past and created a more even playing field for aspiring creatives in spite of geography or economic background.

As a result, entertainment managers are now tasked with a new challenge: identify up-and-coming producers and put them in the best position to succeed in the music industry, even if they have less formal training than is traditionally expected. 

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Music managers now play somewhat of a creative consultant role for young producers with potential for greatness, whether that means pairing them with other rising stars or putting them in the spotlight on social media. 

British entertainment entrepreneur Mark Gillespie is a prime example of someone who can spot a promising producer and position them for success with the right connections and thought partnership. His company Three Six Zero has an impressive roster of artists who have done just that. 

The fundamental role of the music producer hasn’t changed drastically over the years, but producers have certainly carved out more opportunities for success with the fast-paced meritocracy of the internet.