Defining exactly what a music producer is can be quite difficult as the term encompasses a variety of different interpretations. What one music producer does another might never do and so the precise nature of the job is different from individual to individual. This said, the basic gist of what falls within a music producer’s role is to project manage the recording, mixing and mastering of an audio track. They can also be responsible for artistic direction, song selection, the arranging of session musicians and many more tasks. So let’s have a look at some of these responsibilities and what is involved.
A music producer will oversee or personally arrange the recording of the audio. Nowadays this will involve a lot of work done on computers. The producer will usually have their own studio or have arranged one in which the recording will be done alongside providing all the rest of the necessary equipment. Obviously the quality of the recording itself will be very important to the quality of the final result so the top producers will have or be able to source very expensive state of the art stuff. All of the separate parts of a song will be recorded as individual tracks at this stage and labelled accordingly
Once all the separate tracks have been compiled they will need mixing. Hence the name, they need to be mixed together to create the full song. At this point sound levels will be normalised to make sure they are equal. The tones will be worked on to make them sound their optimum next through EQing. The principle behind this is so none of the track’s frequencies interfere with one another. Numerous effects can be put on each track at this point such as delay and reverberation and so the initial tracks can end up sound very different once having been mixed. After experimenting with all of the different effects and having successfully mixed everything it then passes on to the stage of mastering.
This last stage is where the final touches are made. Fades at the start and end of separate tracks on an album will be added, last minute tweaks to the EQ, levelling adjustments made and more. It is like the final look over everything and involves polishing everything up. The tracks will also be laid out into the appropriate order for an album, along with naming each track and encoding them. The idea is to not make major alterations as these will have been done whilst it was mixed but rather to make the mix sound its absolute best in terms of quality.
Like stated at the start some music producers will do all aspects of this themselves whilst some might do one and not the others and some will even just supervise the whole process. What people class as music production does not generally differ but what you literally do as a producer is entirely up to you.