Record Producer Music Industry Career Profile

Female sound engineers watching a band playing
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The role of the record producer is a varied and important one. The producer works with the band, session musicians, and the studio engineers to "produce" the sound of the recordings. Often the producer's job is to provide an extra set of ears to aid in the creation of a certain sound or to provide experience. In the modern recording studio, this doesn't necessarily mean a physical record as it once did, but the name has stuck.

A record producer may be involved with arranging parts of the track or even writing it. In smaller studios, the role of engineer and producer may be combined, and the band may produce or co-produce the recordings with the engineer.

Here are a few different facets of the job and different types of record producers.

In-House Record Producers

An in-house producer works in a particular studio, and his fees will usually be included in the cost of renting the studio, although they may also receive "points." Studios can often be keen to retain in-demand producers as they can be a major draw for new artists to come to the studio. Some producers own their own studios. When booking a studio, if you want to work with a particular in-house producer, make sure that they are available and booked in for your session.

Independent Record Producers

An independent producer will be employed by a band, or by a record label on the band's behalf.

 Usually, this is an established producer who has a good professional reputation or someone the band really wants to work with. This kind of producer's fees will be separate from the studio rental fees. The producer will usually oversee the recording sessions as well as the mixing and the mastering of the recordings, but make sure this is made clear before the work starts, and that the overall fees are clear.

Bedroom Record Producers

The availability of computers and sophistication of home recording equipment and software has led to a rise in home studios and the rise of so-called bedroom producers.

How Do Record Producers Get Paid?

Most producers will be paid a flat fee or an advance for their work. Some will also receive points, which are a percentage of the dealer price of a record, and/or a share of the profits made from the recordings. It's common for producers to receive both. A producer may work for a reduced upfront fee in exchange for some points or may secure a fee plus points if they feel their production will be important to the record's success. If you're involved in the songwriting process, you can expect royalties on top of your production fees.

How to Become a Record Producer

Traditionally producers begin work as engineers in studios, or sometimes as session musicians, gaining experience in the studio environment. Then they begin working as an in-house producer until they gain a reputation. As a producer, you'll probably be working with a studio engineer, but you'll be expected to know your way around a mixing desk. Working at your production skills in the bedroom is a good way to start, and try and gain work experience at a local recording studio.

Record Producer Contracts

As with all aspects of the music industry, contracts are important, because they let everyone know where they stand and what is expected of them. A band may expect the producer to oversee recording, mixing and mastering but the producer may be only be expecting to work on the recordings. These issues, along with fees and point are more easily discussed before recording begins, and a contract can clear up any misunderstandings.