A music producer is the creative leader of a recording project. This is the person who envisions what the finished song should sound like since hearing the demo for the first time. In the traditional music industry, the role of the music producer would usually start and end during the production stage of a song. Nowadays, with the rise of bedroom music producers to the mainstream stage, it is very common that the music producer is also the songwriter, guitarist, singer, and sometimes even mixing engineer and mastering engineer.
The lines of division between various roles in the music industry have eroded and music producers are no exception to this. Today, we can find music producers taking on many other roles, and sometimes even being a one-stop shop for making a song. However, the role of the traditional music producer also very much exists today. So, in this blog post, we’d like to identify and outline the major differences between a commercial studio producer and a bedroom producer. See which one you fit in the most!
A commercial music producer typically has four qualities:
- Hired by a major label to make a record with an artist
In the traditional music industry scenario, there is a label who signs an artist with a number of songs and they would like to make a hit record. The label usually has a list of producers that they typically work with for the sound/direction that they would like. Consequently, the label picks and hires the producer to work with the artist in the studio, book the studio time, bring in the musicians, coach and direct the artist during the recording process, and make a record.
- Typically they studied in a music school
A lot of traditional music producers have industry credit, and there is no easier way to get industry credit to have educational credentials. Consequently, a lot of the traditional music producers have studied music and have extensive knowledge of music theory. A quick look at the legendary list of pop, rock, and jazz producers should give you the idea.
- Works in a commercial music studio with expensive equipment
One of the upsides with being hired by a major label is that you typically have a good budget to work with, which covers time in a large commercial studio. This consequently gives the opportunity to work with expensive equipment and you have access to an audio engineer etc. All of this comes with the expectation that you make a huge hit record that’s going to make a lot of money for the label of course: No pressure!
- Role is strictly defined with production of a record
In most cases, the role of the music producer is defined and they are only in charge of being the creative leader of the recording project, running the recording sessions, directing the artists, hiring the musicians, and making arranging decisions. Usually, you do not see the producer intervening in the mixing or the songwriting process. However, there are cases of producer/engineers or producer/composers. But in the traditional sense the role of the producer begins and ends with recording.
A bedroom music producer has these four qualities in comparison:
- Independent, self-managed, books own shows, and usually no label or small label
A bedroom producer is usually an independent artist and does not have a major label. The bedroom producer is also usually self managed and books their own shows.
- Typically they are self taught
While it is very possible that a bedroom producer studied in a music school, it is more likely that they are self-taught through YouTube or other online schools.
- Has minimal equipment
As opposed to the commercial studio producer, the bedroom producer works with equipment within their budget. This does not mean bedroom producers do not have expensive equipment. Moreover, with the digital versions of almost every instrument and plug-ins, it is possible to simulate almost every sound you can get in a commercial studio with the fraction of the price. There are of course things that can not be replicated, but with the availability of home equipment for recording today, a bedroom producer can definitely make a competitive hit record for the commercial music market.
- Role can also include songwriting, performing, mixing, and mastering
As opposed to the traditional music producer, the bedroom producer can also be the songwriter, performer, mixing engineer, and mastering engineer of a song. One could even argue that in certain cases this speeds up the process. Of course, it does not replicate the expertise of each of these roles, but depending on the type of music you make, being a one-stop shop can really create an efficient setup for you as a producer.
You might find that the borders between a traditional music producer and a bedroom music producer are not so rigid, and you find people who have aspects of both. For instance, you could be a bedroom music producer who went to a music school. Or, you could be a commercial studio producer who prefers to work with minimal equipment to get a specific sound. The best way to go forward is to discover your path and define the role of a music producer based on your personal goals, skills, and aspirations in the music industry.