Music production is a highly collaborative process. While it consists of distinct positions, teamwork is crucial to keep everyone on the same page and produce a successful project. Furthermore, to foster a healthy and efficient studio environment, each individual must develop character traits that support teamwork and consistently consider the crew’s collaborative goals.
The Music Production Team: Meet the Players
The music production team, much like a film production crew, comprises a diverse array of highly specialized roles. These key players typically have a background in music, though each individual’s experience is unique. Some might be recent graduates of a creative arts college offering a music production program.
As a music producer, you will have the rare opportunity to collaborate with a colorful set of coworkers and play an integral part in the production of a song or album that could be the next Spotify smash. There are seven key roles that are part of a music production team, they include the composer, musician, music arranger, music manager, recording engineer, remixer and mentor.
This individual is the creative genius of the team. They are in charge of writing and directing the music, score or soundtrack for anything from pop albums to video games. They are also responsible for controlling the overall vibe of the project, not such an easy task when multiple minds are involved. Thus, the composer must be an innovative musician and a collaborative team player.
The musician could be considered the Renaissance person of the music production team as this individual is often skilled in multiple instruments and called upon to sing and perform as well as arrange, orchestrate and even compose. This is also one of the more solitary roles since it demands a significant amount of time in the form of individual practice and learning. However, musicians will also spend time rehearsing with ensembles or bands, working with the composer and other music producers.
#3: Music Arranger
This individual’s primary purpose is to arrange a piece of music for a conductor, producer, ensemble, band or soloist. This piece of music is either an original composition or an existing manuscript. For example, Matt Riley turned the age-old tune “Greensleeves” into a stunning arrangement for piano and string orchestra, and The Piano Guys have adapted popular songs and Disney themes for magnificent cello-and-piano collaborations.
The music arranger is full of creative ideas and highly skilled in writing and analyzing music. They are in charge of working with every element of the piece from harmony and orchestration to rhythm and tempo. They must also be sensitive to the desires of the director and the needs of the performers.
#4: Music Manager
This individual, while less in touch with the creative elements, plays a crucial role in managing the logistics of the production process. Great ideas are only ideas until there is a plan in place to achieve them. As Joel A. Barker once said, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passed the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Music managers are the ones who make the action happen, and the vision attainable.
A music manager is in charge of communicating with public agents, event promoters and clients, providing technical assistance, and performing a variety of administrative tasks. A music manager may work in a personal capacity, assisting the artist directly, or as a business manager, dealing mainly with the bookkeeping and finance logistics of the artist or band. “Road” music managers plan and coordinate tours.
#5: Recording Engineer
This individual is the technical expert of the music production team. They operate and set up recording equipment and help modify the recorded materials to align with the vision of the composer or director. This is a diverse role as it relies on a variety of disciplines beyond just music: acoustics, psychoacoustics (a branch of psychophysics focusing on the science of sound perception) and even electrical engineering. Thus, this position demands a unique balance between art and science.
A recording engineer must be competent in using equipment such as digital recorders, mixing consoles and audio editing software. They must also be able to listen and communicate effectively to ensure that they are on the same page as the director or artist. This individual may serve in the capacity of a studio engineer, mixing engineer, assistant engineer, mastering engineer, game audio designer or audio post engineer.
Remixers, also called media or audio remixers, typically work as freelancers. They often have full schedules, working on multiple projects for different artists or companies. The purpose of this role is to provide custom content for clients, requiring constant creativity as well as excellent communication.
This is perhaps the only position that focuses primarily on the vision and values of the music production team. The mentor’s job is to support the artist or band, particularly regarding business matters. Mentors play a key role in providing guidance and advice for major decisions and logistics such as record contracts, patents and legal agreements.
The Importance of Team Collaboration in Music Production
The music production team works within a complex network of both individualized and collaborative tasks. While music producers need solitude to focus on editing and mixing recordings or contemplating ideas for a project, they spend most of their time in a studio working in collaboration with other professionals, artists and technicians. Thus, music production relies heavily on teamwork.
Music itself relies on collaboration. American bassist and musical innovator Victor Wooten described music as a language and emphasized the need for musicians to learn and practice their instruments no differently than how they have learned to talk. Language proficiency requires both reading and speaking, in essence, communication. Wooten observed that the best musicians, without effective communication and collaboration, would sound horrible together.
The same is true for music production. All the talent in the world cannot produce the album of the century; rather, it is the committed collaboration of talented individuals that results in success.
Setting Collaborative Goals
The first step to developing a teamwork mentality is setting a collaborative goal. Without a unified mission, there is chaos. A music production team must regularly communicate to establish and revise the overarching vision and subsidiary goals necessary to bring a project to its successful completion.
Imagine that you are working with a team that is producing a movie soundtrack. The overarching goal might be to publish an orchestral score and develop a recording. The subsidiary goals would include deciding which instruments to use, working with the film producers to define the overall tone of the soundtrack, and selecting a genre. Other goals might include hiring musicians and scheduling recording sessions.
Setting goals ensures that everyone on the team knows what to expect, and what is expected of them, throughout the collaborative production process.
Character Traits for Successful Collaboration
Teamwork is not just a homogenous effort it requires individual dedication and specific character traits. Most importantly, each team member must be able to listen, not just passively but actively. This, in turn, requires compassion to care about what the other person is saying, even when feeling uninterested, bored or tired.
Great teamwork is built on great relationships. This is especially true for the fast-paced music production environment, which requires efficient interpersonal interactions. The more you know a person, the easier it is to understand their needs and motives and, most importantly, avoid the time-consuming and often disastrous results of miscommunication or misunderstanding.
Imagine that you are working in a recording studio as a music producer. The artist you are working with has a particular preference for the way the microphone equipment is set up. Getting to know this individual would help you become attuned to their needs on an intuitive level, so instead of having to ask every time if they want a hand-held or lapel mic, you already know the answer.
The music production team must have the character and team-building traits necessary for productive collaboration and success. Music production is an exciting career with inspiring prospects and opportunities. While life at the studio is no walk in the park, it is a unique experience that will help you grow both individually and relationally.
Audio Production Program
The Audio Production and Engineering Program at the Institute of Production and Recording is an occupational degree program designed to train producer engineers who are entrepreneurs, musically and technically creative, and proficient in modern recording technology and technique. Throughout the program, students are involved in hands-on exercises and real-world studio projects that enable them to apply their knowledge and refine their skills.
At the end of the Audio Production and Engineering program, each student presents a portfolio — a selection of his or her best work to date. This serves as a demo reel for potential employers and clients — an audio resume with professional content that highlights the graduate’s talent and skill.
Contact us today to learn more about the audio production program and starting a rewarding career.