If you are pursuing a career in music production, it is important that you understand each of the roles involved in the process. Music producers and sound engineers are two roles that are essential to the music production process, although it can get a little confusing as to which roles each person is responsible for.
What does a Sound Engineer do?
Sound Engineers take care of the technical side of the production of the track. The sound engineer is the technician that operates the soundboard and other recording equipment during a recording session, as well as set up studio and recording equipment. Their main job is to work alongside the artist and the producer to develop sounds that will turn the track or the album into what the artist or the music producer is envisioning. The sound engineer is often employed by the studio, meaning they have an intimate knowledge of the recording space, and know exactly how to get the best sound out of it. In addition, the sound engineer is often responsible for mixing recording tracks and making sure the final recording is free of any unwanted sounds or noises.
What does a Music Producer do?
A music producer is generally the creative lead on all musical recordings. The music producer generally operates as the project manager, as they are responsible for the entire production process as well as managing all the individuals involved in the creation of the record. The music producer oversees the recording, mixing, and arranging of all tracks and songs, from beginning to end. As many music producers are also good sound engineers and have a deep knowledge of music composition, so they are able to give the artists advice on the direction he or she should take the track.
So what is the difference?
The main difference between a music producer and a sound engineer is the managerial responsibilities that are required of music producers. While many music producers are good sound engineers, and understand that side of the production process, there are not many sound engineers who could also double as a music producer. The producer takes on a much more creative and managerial role, as they are responsible for managing the team that is creating the track or album and they also dictate the creative direction of said production.
Sound engineers are highly skilled in the technical portions of music production, and know exactly how to create and manipulate sounds to produce the final product both the producer and the artist are looking for. They are not as well-equipped to manage the team or the creative direction of the track, as this is not their job or skill-set, so they rely on the producer for that and work to deliver the producer’s creative vision for a track or album.
In addition, there is also no one who knows the recording studio like the sound engineer. They will know exactly how to work within that space to create the best sound possible for the artist.
So, although their roles may overlap, music producers and sound engineers do hold very distinct roles in the recording studio. The music producer manages the team and dictates the creative vision for the track, and the technically-skilled sound engineer works with him or her mix the track. Both roles are essential in the music production process, though!