Being a music producer in 2023 means you have to wear a lot of hats. While there's definitely been a shift in the definition of what a music producer is, from someone who works in a studio directing other musicians and bands to someone who works solo producing their own music, we can learn a lot from what the traditional definition of a music producer is.
Back in the day, music producers would be people who worked in a music studio, and it would be their job to get the best out of the musicians, ensuring the recording goes smoothly, and making sure the final product of the music is as good as it can be.
So, while there are many obvious skills you need to be a music producer, in this guide we are going to talk about some of the more unexpected skills you need to be a successful music producer in 2023!
Thinking on Your Feet
Communication & Collaboration
While many producers work solo these days, after all, bedroom producers have become ubiquitous, an absolutely essential skill for a producer who wants to make it professionally is the ability to collaborate and communicate with other creatives.
No man is an island, and no producer is either. Even if you do produce your own music, you will eventually need to work with or for other people.
To be efficient and successful, you'll eventually need a team around you. This might be booking agents, PR people or visual or graphic artists. It may even be other music producers or recording musicians.
The point is, you'll need to be able to communicate properly and efficiently with these people to ensure you're getting the best results.
If you're working with a team, you'll need to be aware of your team's individual strengths, and with the rise of remote communication over the likes of Zoom and Teams, excellent communication skills are critical.
In the end, having good communication skills ensures the creativity keeps flowing, and projects get finished efficiently and without delays.
Probably one of the most important things in music production is being able to get things done efficiently. Cutting down on wasted time gives you a higher percentage of your production time spent actually producing, and less on figuring out where you are.
Important if you're a solo producer, absolutely crucial if you're working producing other musicians' music, are the skills of organisation and efficiency.
You need to have plans and systems in place to make sure you're getting the most out of your production potential. This means planning ahead on projects that require it, ensuring any deadlines are taken into account, and making sure your talent and resources are at the right place at the right time.
If you're working with other musicians, making sure you have a clear and detailed plan is of paramount importance. It makes sure everyone is on the same page.
Spreadsheets are actually an amazing resource when it comes to organising, especially if you're working with a budget. So though it may seem the domain of office administrators, don't underestimate the power of a spreadsheet to help keep your project organised and efficient!
Being a Good Listener
Your ears don't only need to be trained to listen to the music. You also need to be able to listen to other people who you're working with, and take on board their ideas as well as your own.
This could be relevant in a whole range of situations, from sending your music to labels, or even working with artists whose work you're producing.
This links to our earlier point about communication; you need to be able to listen to what people are saying so you can ensure you're understanding the creative direction of projects you're working on.
When an artist chooses you as a producer to work with them, whether you're mixing, mastering or doing full production, they won't want to work with you again if they felt you didn't listen to any of their ideas.
So make sure you are an expert at listening to other people, and really hearing them.
Learning from Criticism
The final point I'll give you is a super important one.
Being able to listen to, and learn from criticism, is one of the most crucial skills you can have as music producer.
In the creative industries, as long as you find good people and get a good vibe from them, everyone just wants to help everyone out. It's a friendly industry, and people will give constructive criticism in order to help the project reach its best potential.
It's a difficult thing to be able to separate your ego from your music. After all, it's such a personal reflection of us as individuals, it can be difficult not to take criticism personally.
But remember, if someone is working with you, and they're giving you criticism, it's because they want you to be able to get better. As music producers we should always be striving to improve and learn, and someone giving constructive criticism is a way to get there.
Also, it's inevitable that we will encounter failure in our lives. But remember, failure is one of the best teachers, so instead of letting failures crush your ego and your motivation, you need to be able to take failure and criticism on the chin, and look forward to improving yourself and your craft.
So, that was a round up of some skills you need to be a music producer that you wouldn't necessarily expect of think of right away. It's important to be a well rounded producer, and having all of the above skills will help you on that journey.
As always, thanks for checking in with us here at Top Music Arts, and be sure to check out our collection of Ableton Live Project Templates. We have an international team of producers who recreate chart topping tracks in professional levels of detail, and you can purchase these and really dig into what makes a professional track tick. While you're here, check out the rest of our blog for more tips on becoming the best music producer you can!