The main duties of a music producer include coordination and pre-production, engineering and sound mixing, post-production mastering and, for some producers, songwriting collaboration. Although no formal training is necessary to be a producer, the job requires a wide range of musical knowledge.
Pre-production involves coordinating the logistics of a recording project before the recording sessions actually begin. Producers may help artists choose songs to record, work out musical arrangements, hire session musicians, select a recording studio and oversee the recording budget.
Engineering is the process of actually recording the music. For some recording sessions, particularly those with larger budgets, the producer may act more as an artistic director who offers musical suggestions, while a studio engineer handles the actual recording. For smaller, independent recording projects, the producer typically plays both roles. Engineering involves both recording the music as well as mixing it, which assures that all the instruments and sounds come through evenly. After recording, the project must be mastered. Mastering ensures that all of the recorded tracks have consistent sound quality and volume levels. Some producers master recordings themselves, while others work with mastering engineers.
In many instances, producers may also assist artists with songwriting, especially in hip-hop and pop. Producers who are knowledgeable about songwriting may help artists by collaborating on writing or suggesting ideas to improve a song's commercial potential.