What’s the Difference between a Producer and an Audio Engineer

A common mislabeling that occurs is thinking the producer and an audio engineer are the same person.  The 2 have become synonymous since today, a lot of producers actually engineer and vice versa.  It’s often overlooked that they hold different roles.  A lot of young people getting into the business, say they just wanna be a producer, make beats and release an album.  The truth is that it is very difficult to perform both roles on a project.

What does an Audio Engineer do?

Although we have covered this in other blogs, when it comes to the Producer/Engineer relationship it’s best to lay out boundaries.  The Engineer acts as the producers hands.  They take the responsibility off of producer so the producer can listen rather than worry about monitoring the levels and technical side of things.  The engineer is extremely important and a good one is extremely valuable.  This means working two steps ahead of a producer.  Often producers will work with the same engineer when they find one the work well with.  The less work a producer has to do, the better.  The engineer is in charge of setting up the gear, maintaining signal flow, monitoring levels and outboard gear.  The producer may tweak things themselves, but when an engineer understands a producers language and thought process the smoother a session will go.  After the session, the producer decides what needs overdubbed and redone.  The producer may have the engineer master the final mixes or send it to someone else, but they stay involved in the project where as the engineer’s job has probably been completed.

What does a Producer do?

The Record Producer is like a director of a film.  They direct the artists, engineers and other teams involved in a project.  It is the producers job to make sure things keep moving, but sound the way they should.  Producers are involved in a project well before the engineer is brought in and well after the recording is done.  The producer often lines up the studio, engineer and other people involved all well keeping a project under budget.  A producer has to have a vision of the final product and hearing in their mind what the project should sound like when it’s complete.  The Producer however should have a knowledge of the engineers job.  Most producers were once engineers themselves.  In fact, you will be a better producer having this experience.

How do I become a Producer from being an Engineer?

This can happen many ways, but the most common is working with smaller bands and producing and mixing their projects.  After you have a firm grasp of the musical function and all necessary steps in releasing an album, you can then focus more on producing.  You will also need to study the business side of music as well as music theory and arranging.  So if you are interested in producing, first perfect your work as an engineer, continue to learn all aspects of the process of the music industry as well as the musical side.  These are all great traits producers have and traits you should build.



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