What Does a Music Producer Do?

Music producer entrepreneur sitting at mixing board

Are you interested in what a music producer does? Becoming a music producer and entrepreneur can be fun and rewarding. A music producer may start their own label, find songs, find artists, raise money, and distribute music. Find out who are the top producers in the industry are and become a music producer that successfully shapes the future of the music industry.

What Does a Music Producer Do?

They are the visionary behind the sound of an album. The music producer oversees the creation of a song or album. They choose the artists, pick from songwriters, and choose the instruments that will be played. The music producer understands every aspect of the music production.

What is an Entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur has vision, is willing to take risk, and has the networking skills to bring a diverse group of people together. In addition, it also takes diligence, dedication, passion, and drive. Anyone can run a business, but an entrepreneur leads a business.

Starting a Label

Not all music producers will start a record label, but those entrepreneurial music producers will take ownership of the label and make it part of the overall music creation process. When starting a label, it is important to find the right music to promote. Having a passion for a music genre is important. This passion will get you through those long nights of recording and hours of pitching songs to A&R executives.

The barriers to entry are lower than in the past. Starting a record label has become easier with lower costs, large audiences into niche music, and the ability to distribute music on streaming services rather than creating tangible vinyl or CDs. Social media has also opened up the ability for record labels to promote their music to fans, without spending thousands of dollars on traditional marketing.

Finding a Song

Lyricists focus their time and energy on writing songs. They have a way with words and understand the formulas for success in song writing. Some artists still write their own music, but most look to their music producer to vet songwriters that are known for their quality work. Some people are good at writing lyrics and creating the main melody and others are good at singing the songs. The music producer identifies the right person for each responsibility.

Finding Artists

There are an endless number of artists looking for a record label or music producer to take them under their wing and turn them into a household name. Artist selection factors in genre, talent, and the potential of a musician. A music producer must use their ears to really listen to an artist and feel like the artists fits the vision of the music producer. Some music producers are looking for pop stars, others look for indie or underground artists to promote. While there are an endless number of artists, there are fewer record labels. A music producer needs to understand what they are looking for in an artist and then be persistent until they find it.

For many record labels, it is a numbers game. A music producer can work with ten artists in the hopes that one is successful. That one successful artist will help the music producer invest in other lesser known artists in an effort to break the newest sounds into the industry.

Raising Money

Raising money to start a label, pay for equipment, get recording time, pay for business licenses, and other startup costs can be challenging. Many music producers will start their record label on hundreds of dollars, creating their studio in their bedroom or garage. Some music producers will ask friends and family members to buy into their vision. Very few will have the connections to network with music executives and famous artists to start a large recording label with top notch talent with the budget to support it.

Distributing Music & Online Streaming

Only decades ago, music producers and record labels had to distribute hard copies of their music to music stores, retailers, and DJs to get their music to the masses. Although, some record labels and music aficionados still prefer the sound of vinyl, most music is consumed online. Many different online streaming sites have entered the market in the last few decades, notably Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. These streaming services allow any music producer or artist to play their music in front of millions. Further, sites like YouTube, SoundCloud and Last.fm have provided a social framework to allow fans of any genre to find their favorites and discover new music.


This service allows subscribers to find music by genre, collections of artists, or create a radio station to listen to favorites and be exposed to new songs. Spotify also offers podcasts and video streaming giving their subscribers access to millions of songs.

Apple Music

Similar to Spotify, this media player and media library streams more than 60 million songs to a user’s app across various devices.


Pandora is a music streaming and automated music recommendation service that allows users to find new music through algorithms that play songs based on similar music traits. The user creates a custom station that is personalized to their tastes, and the algorithm automatically picks a new song that it thinks the user may like based on previous choices.


YouTube is a free service to watch videos and is used by many music artists to distribute music videos. These videos can get millions of views and promote stars like Justin Bieber into the mainstream. YouTube is also a great platform to get analytics to better understand who is watching videos and where they are located.


an online audio distribution platform and music sharing website. Allows users to upload, promote and share their music. This platform can allow artists to upload up to 180 minutes of audio to their profile for no cost.


a social network for music enthusiasts that allows users to build a profile and connect with friends based on music preferences. Last.fm will track what users listen to and allow those users to create their own music charts and get new music recommendations.

With the help of streaming services and social media, music producers and artists not only get their music to the masses, but they get analytics to understand who their fans are and where they come from. This allows them to better plan concerts and distribution to reach their target market more completely and accurately.

Entrepreneur Music Producers

There are many famous music producers that have started their own label and signed artists that have made a splash in the music industry. They include Rick Rubin, Berry Gordy, and Quincy Jones.

Rick Rubin

As the co-founder of Def Jam, Rick Rubin changed the world with iconic artists and a trademark sound. Starting with bands like the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC, Def Jam produced for many artists and built a legacy in the hip hop community. Rich Rubin later started American Recordings and went on to produce legendary acts like Tom Petty and Mic Jagger.

Berry Gordy

The famous producer of Motown acts like Marvin Gaye and the Four Tops, Berry Gordy brought forth his own classic sound to many singing groups in the industry. Not only producing their songs but also writing their hits and influencing their public image.

Quincy Jones

Most famously, Quincy Jones produced for the likes of Michael Jackson and Ray Charles. Over the years, Quincy Jones has worked with countless record labels including Warner Bros, Epic Records, and Columbia Records just to name a few. With over 18 Grammys, he is one of the most celebrated music producers in music today.

Starting a record label and becoming a music producer entrepreneur is challenging, but still harder is finding the artist and making a memorable song that gets listened to on streaming sites and social media.

Want to Learn More?

Interested in learning more about what a music producer does? 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 programs and starting a rewarding career.