What Skills Does a Music Producer Need?

Music producer pictured in front of a mixing board.

Are you good with people, enjoy listening to music and have an ear for sound? Becoming a music producer may be the right career for you. If you don’t have the skills yet to be a successful music producer, don’t worry, you can learn these skills at a creative arts college. So, what skills do you need to be a successful music producer?

What Skills Does a Music Producer Need?

There are many skills that would be helpful to a music producer. Some of the more important include tech savvy, communication, leadership, delegation, negotiation, problem solving, organization, patience, teamwork, creativity and ear training. With this skill set you are prepared to work in a recording studio as a music producer.

Skill #1: Tech Savvy

A music producer will not only work with a lot of different recording equipment, but they will need to be fluent in software like Pro Tools. Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation that allows a music producer to create, edit and master their music. Having the ability to transition between different software is also important as each recording studio may have a different DAW. Each recording studio may even have a different sound board and unique studio equipment. Being flexible and having the ability to quickly learn new technology is an important skill of a music producer.

Skill #2: Communication

A music producer spends most of their time, when they are not producing music, talking with people. Whether it is audio technicians, artists, musicians, A&R executives or other studio staff, a music producer must be a good communicator. They must be clear and concise with their communication. The music producer must also convey a unified message to the studio staff in order to create the sound they are looking for. Another part of good communication is listening. If the music producer doesn’t know what is said they can’t respond properly. Body language is also important for communication. Folding one’s hands shows defensiveness and yawning can be perceived as boredom. It is important for the body to speak as clearly as the voice.

Skill #3: Leadership

Most music producers will be in charge of a team or at least have people responding to their direction. It is the music producer’s responsibility to create a certain sound and they must offer advice to sound technicians, musicians and singers to carry out that sound. Being a leader means planning and setting goals. A leader will also need to delegate and trust everyone that works on the team to do their part.

Skill #4: Delegation

Although they may want to, a music producer can’t do everything. To get the job done, they need to delegate work to other people. The sound technician manages the sound board, the singer sings the vocals, and the musicians play the instruments. Good delegation will define the goals of each task and the outcome when the task is completed. The music producer needs to clearly communicate what needs to be done and how it should be completed. They must also trust that the team member will do their job properly and the outcome will match their expectations.

Skill #5: Negotiation

A music producer negotiates with almost everyone they meet. They need to negotiate the cost of studio time, how much they are going to pay artists, and what the royalties will be with the record label, to name a few. A music producer must prepare for their meeting, make sure they clearly and concisely communicate what they want, and reach a compromise that is suitable for all parties. A good negotiator can create camaraderie and build a relationship that facilitates a peaceful negotiation.

Skill #6: Problem Solving

It is inevitable that problems will arise, and the music producer will need to solve them. A music producer who is a good problem solver is innovative and comes with creative ideas. They are able to adapt to different situations and take the initiative to solve problems. The music producer will also need to count on their team to execute the plan. They will not want to micromanage the team as they have a job to do themselves. Part of being a good problem solver is being organized.

Skill #7: Organization

Staying organized is important for a music producer. If even a small aspect of the production falls through the cracks, it can cause the music producer to miss a deadline or create an inferior product. Good organization follows a set of priorities, sets goals and keeps good attention to detail. Organization applies to both physical elements in the recording studio and to people, like setting a series of tasks for the studio staff to meet a goal and managing resources to their fullest.

Skill #8: Patience

Music creation takes time and patience, such as generating endless tweaks to find the right sounds for a track. A music producer must have the patience to create a masterpiece rather than a sub-par song. Patience is about enduring, even with the tedious tasks of a music producer. A music producer needs to stay patient with recording studio staff as they train them. Everyone learns at their own pace and some people need a little more patience than others.

Skill #9: Teamwork

A music producer that is a leader, must also be a good team player. They must be an active contributor to the music production effort. Music producers are not just managing everyone; they are an integral part of the music creation process. A good team player listens to colleagues, shows respect for their ideas and works toward a common goal.

Skill #10: Creativity

Creativity is an important skill for any music producer. They must use their imagination and come up with something that has never been done before, to create a unique song. A creative music producer can see different ways of creating music, come up with new techniques and try new things. Part of being creative is taking risks and trying something new. A creative music producer will need to be patient because greatness takes time.

Skill #11: Ear Training

A music producer will need to focus on ear training. This skill allows them to identify intervals, notes and chords. During ear training a music producer will hear sounds, name them, play them back and sing them. They will train their ears to hear music and be able to transcribe melodies and chords solely by ear. Ear training allows a music producer to hear minor changes in the music as they listen so that they really understand what they are hearing and perfect the mix of the sound.

Final Thoughts

After graduating from an audio production program at a creative arts college, you will have the skills necessary to succeed as a music producer. You will be able to negotiate contracts, be a good problem solver, communicate with the best of them and have a focused ability to hear minute nuances in the music you create. By gaining these skills, you can start creating, editing and mixing music like a professional.

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 programs and starting a rewarding career.