If you’re interested in a career in music, you’ve probably heard the term music engineer and music producer used interchangeably. This has probably brought you some confusion. So what’s the difference? In just a moment, you will learn what the difference is between a music engineer and a music producer.
Music Engineer VS. Music Producer
Music engineers and music producers are often seen working together as a team alongside music artists. While there is some overlap between their skills and roles, there are critical differences between these two disciplines. To quickly summarise the difference between a music engineer and producer:
- Music engineers run and manage the soundboard and all the other technical aspects
- A music producer is in charge of what sounds are included in compositions and songs
What Does a Music Engineer do?
Music engineers manage the technical side of music production. This includes understanding the science of the recording like managing acoustics and
A music engineer’s responsibilities include:
- Preparing and operating sound equipment
- Edit recordings using different tools and software
- Prepare and treat the recording environment
What does a Music Producer do?
A music producer’s job is mostly managerial. Producers are responsible for making almost all of the decisions when it comes to creating music. Some of these decisions include the choice of instruments, where and when those instruments will play, what notes will be sung, and where the recording will take place. A producer can be compared to a director of a film. They work behind the scenes, and their decisions are everywhere. Responsibilities include:
- Building the team
- Mixing tracks
- Organizing finances and budgeting
- Making financial decisions
The music producer’s vision is the final product, so they must competently convey their vision to their music production team. This includes the music engineer.
Producers wear many hats, and it seems like every year, they have to throw another one. Today’s producers are handling things that were handled by 10 different people no 15 years ago. So, it’s likely that these lines will continue to blur between engineers and producers.
What a music producer is not.
The term producer has become very distorted with the rise of music editing software such as fruity loops, logic, and Ableton. So it’s common to hear anyone with a laptop and logic pro call themselves a producer.
But the truth is people who make beats on their laptops are called beatmakers, not producers. A producer must be more than just a beatmaker, a producer must be a business person. Someone who makes the decisions necessary to make a track marketable to their target demographic.
Despite what you may have heard from your parents and school counselors, no formal education or training is required for either career path. A degree is always a good thing to have, and it might land you a job at a studio faster, maybe. But the truth is most producers and engineers get training through internships and apprenticeships. This is a career where your skills determine your employment. A client will not ask to see your diploma. I promise.
If you’re just starting out, you are probably the music producer, and the music engineer does your project. But over time, your responsibilities will be much more apparent.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the differences between a music engineer and a music producer, what they do, and how they come together to create the music we love.