What It Takes To
Become A Music Producer Part II
3. Studying Music And Music Production
To become a music producer, studying a musical instrument is the most valuable tool you can bring to any recording situation if you want. If you do not study an instrument you should begin studying one as soon as possible. Unless you have an attraction to particular instrument I would suggest studying piano because it is the most functional instrument in the modern recording studio environment. USB and MIDI keyboards are the primary way producers create and program music in a computer.
Much of the previous exercise involves some degree of knowledge of music and music theory. You don't have to be a great musician to become a music producer and make great productions, but you must be aware of the theory and use of music terminology. Studying an instrument is the best way to learn because you are experiencing the music theory in your practice. If you don't understand song form, scales, key signatures, rhythm and meter and chord structure, you will be speaking a different language than the people you are producing. It will be far more difficult for you to become a music producer and be taken seriously if you don't have a good foundation in music.
4. Communication And Networking
Now that you have your roadmap to become a music producer, it's time to make connections. They way that you connect with people in the music industry is to put yourself in a place where those people do their thing… The recording studio! As mentioned in my article
Becoming a Music Producer
, you must get a job in a recording studio. This is the place you will meet your future clients. This is the place where you get to witness professional music producers making music. The best way to learn anything is to witness it first hand and become a part of that process in whatever way that you can. In the recording studio, actions always speak louder than words.
Making connections is not about shaking everybody's hand and introducing yourself, it's about handing that person what the need before they have a chance to ask for it. The more you pay attention, witness and participate in the recording process, the faster you will grow your knowledge and skills. You will become valuable to the client and they will welcome your help. When an opportunity arises, that client will look to you for help because you have created a bond of trust that no handshake alone ever will. You must think of the time you spend in the studio as an investment in yourself. It is an education and an opportunity to meet and establish you future clients.
If you want to become a music producer, you must keep an open mind. Every time you work with someone in a recording situation, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, you must be a professional. Never turn down an opportunity to make a connection! The other people working on the project may be thinking the same thing you and may have bigger better projects in the works that you could be part of. Developing artists are often great projects to work on because they force you to develop your skills faster. Make your mistakes with developing artists so you don't make them with paying clients. If your focus is always on making them sound like a world class act, your professionalism will shine through. If you do a good job, they will have more money the next time they call.
You will get many phone numbers, email addresses and business cards when working in the studio. Most of them you will never contact again. The reason? They didn't make an impression on you. I never needed a business card when I was working in recording studios full time. I never needed one! All the connections I made were through hard work. I tried to make a positive impression on everybody I met in the recording studio. The results, twenty five years making my living entirely from the music industry.
5. Keeping A Fresh Perspective On Your Productions
The most important job of the producer is to make sure that, at the end of the day, the target audience will get it. To become a music producer you must understand what people like and what they respond to. DJs quite often make great producers because their job is to make people dance. They understand what people want, because they have firsthand experience of what makes people dance and what makes them stop dancing. They lend a fresh perspective to the recording studio where people are often locked up for hours creating music instead of out in the world experiencing it.
You can keep an open mind and a fresh perspective on what is out there by listening to lots of music, going out to clubs or live performances and listening to other peoples work in the studio. The more open you are to new ideas, the more likely you are to have solutions in the recording studio that work.
If you want to become a music producer, you must keep a fresh perspective as if you are hearing the song for the first time. A person hearing a song for the first time may know nothing about the artist or any of their previous work. The production must make a strong first impression because it may be the only one you get. Remember, people listen with with their gut not their head. They either like it or they don't. It's instantaneous. If you find yourself trying to explain to someone why they should like the song, you've lost.
If you can maintain a fresh perspective at will, you will save yourself an enormous amount of time in the studio. If your goal is to become a music producer, this point is critical. Over thinking is the greatest problem you can have when making music. If the strategy you are taking for a music production is not working , you must do something different. Sometimes, completely different! Don't waste your time beating the same drum if it doesn't draw a reaction. Try new ideas, it keeps everybody involved focussed and, more importantly, keeps the music fresh.
6. Thinking Like A Consumer
Consumers of music basically respond to one thing. Feeling. If they feel something from the music, they are more likely to buy it or the product it represents. To become a music producer, you must listen to your productions from a consumers' perspective. If you do so, you will go a long way in this industry. Just because you can pick apart all the minutia of a music production doesn't mean you are making great one. All simplicity aside, this is an extremely difficult thing to achieve. The farther you endeavor into the trees of your production the more difficult it is to see the forest.
So how do you overcome this obstacle without spending twelve hours a day on a meditation pillow? The best advice I ever got from a producer regarding this was to watch people who come to the session. He said, "never, ever ask anybody who is not directly involved with the project what they think about it". The reason? If they are friends of the artist, they will typically give you a BS answer because they are trying to be supportive. Even people who are hearing the music for the first time will usually give you a polite answer. They may be caught up in the excitement of being in a recording studio. You're not going to get clear insight from them. The best thing to do is watch and observe. Notice if their foot or body is moving to the music. Notice their physical reactions. The body never lies! Unsolicited body language will tell you everything you need to know about your production.
The next closest thing you can do is to just feel the music when you are trying to judge it. Let your body react naturally to it, just like a consumer would. Notice when it stops reacting or loses attention. these are clear signs that something is not right or missing. This is so important because, otherwise, you will be wasting endless hours working on something that you are only going to throw away the next day. The philosophy is simple, you can fix almost anything audio in a computer except for one thing. Attitude! If you don't feel it, nobody is going to buy it. To become a music producer, this understanding is key. It is just that simple!
Establishing a Music Production Career
Become a Music Producer Part I
Become a Music Producer Part II
The Music Production Process
Return to Home From Become a Music Producer