Music Producers: What They Do and How to Find One

by Robin Frederick

If you’re an artist or band making an Indie CD or EP, or a songwriter recording a master to pitch to film and TV, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about hiring that magical, mystical creature called “The Music Producer.”

So… how does that work? What does a music producer do? How do you know if you’ve found the right one? Where do you find one? Let’s begin with the most basic question and go from there.

What do you want from a producer?

Start by asking what it is you want a producer to do for you. There’s probably a range of things. Among them, maybe you want a producer to…

  • Help you define your style and find your genre
  • Make your song sound like a hit
  • Co-write a hit song with you
  • Advise you on the music business
  • Walk your song into a record label, publisher, or music supervisor when it’s done

Is this realistic? Is there any producer who can really do these things for you? Probably not, at least not now. A producer can add to your effort but cannot replace a solid foundation, laid down by you, before you ever start looking. Without that foundation, there’s no way to know what kind of producer you’re looking for.

 Lay your foundation

There are several things you should do before you start the hunt for a producer. Unfortunately, too often we hope that someone else will do them for us. But these are a crucial part of your job as a songwriter or artist.

➤ 1. Know your market and audience

Who will you be playing these songs for? Will you be pitching them to a music publisher for established artists? Pitching to film and TV? To a label as an artist? Are you building up your fan base on YouTube? Selling this CD or EP at live gigs?

Of course, you could be doing all of these, but one or two will be more important than the rest. Think about that audience and what appeals to them right now. Make a list of  artists or bands that are successful in those markets. Continue reading “Music Producers: What They Do and How to Find One”

What to Do AFTER You Write Your Song

Your song is finished. You like what you’ve written. You think it has commercial potential. Now what will you do with it? You’ve got options. You can start by pitching it directly to music publishers or, in today’s Internet-driven music business, you might decide to create a buzz around your song on a site like YouTube.

Here are six tips for increasing your chances of finding a home for your song in the music business.

1. Know what GENRE you’re writing in. For the best chance of success, write your songs in a contemporary style that you hear on the radio or on film and TV. Music publishers and music supervisors look for songs that appeal to an established audience. If you fit in to a style with proven appeal, you’ll have a better chance of a successful pitch.

This doesn’t mean you should write a song in a style you don’t like or don’t feel comfortable with. Stay true to your emotions and themes, but you can make small decisions as you go along that will steer your song toward a more marketable sound if you keep a genre in mind as you go along.

For the best result, ask yourself what genre you want to write in BEFORE you write your song. Then you’ll be able to shape your song as you go along. Then, when a music publisher asks you what current style you’re writing in, or what artist do you sound like, you’ll have your answer ready.

Find out how to break down a genre and study it.

2. Aim your song toward a USE. Will you pitch to film & TV music libraries? Or pitch to other artists through a music publisher or personal contact? Or perform it in your own live shows? Each of these songs has to perform a different job. This will suggest, for example, how big and catchy your chorus needs to be. For an artist looking for a hit single, think big, irresistibly hummable chorus. For a film & TV song, you can keep it more low key and intimate.

A great song that works for one type of use may not work well for a different use. Just because a song isn’t a hit single, doesn’t mean it isn’t a great song. Maybe it would be perfect under a scene in a prime time TV series.  Study songs that are successful in the market you want to write for and learn from them.

More about writing songs for movies and TV shows.

3. Know which contemporary artists are similar to you. The first thing the music industry will ask is who do you sound like (if you’re an artist) or what style/artist do your songs sound like. This is standard shorthand for the industry so be ready with an honest, accurate answer. It’s not that they want you to copy or sound exactly like someone else, but they need a ballpark so they can quickly assess whether you fit into their current needs.  Continue reading “What to Do AFTER You Write Your Song”

Which Genre Is the Right One?

I got a question recently from a songwriter who is torn between two very different song genres – Pop and Contemporary Folk. He loves both and sees the strengths in both. But because he can’t decide which to focus on, he’s having trouble getting started and working on a song. Which style is it going to be?

Which genre am I writing in?

The whole question of choosing a genre can be frustrating, especially if you’re drawn to a couple of the big ones – like Pop and Folk. Every style – from Pop, Country, and Rock to R&B, Folk, and Blues, etc. – has a different approach to melody, lyrics, and production. Veering between two styles within a single song can be a disaster. And working on a Pop song while wondering if maybe it should be a Folk song can distract you from the things you should be focusing on. Continue reading “Which Genre Is the Right One?”

Break Through to Songwriting Success

Seems I’ve heard from a lot of songwriters and composers lately who are feeling frustrated.  Their careers haven’t gotten off the ground or they’re stalled at a level that isn’t really satisfying. Over and over, I hear things like…


  • I’m not getting the kind of response from the music industry I deserve.
  • I spend hours on my music but I’m not making any money.
  • They keep telling me my music is dated.
  • I’m doing the best I can. I guess I just don’t have enough talent.

I know how awful it feels to be in that place. But there’s really a very straightforward process for getting beyond these problems. It takes focus, determination, and effort. But If you’re willing to do that then you can get where you want to go.

So let’s cut to the chase… Everything you need to know to be a successful songwriter is right in front of you. If you study successful songs and instrumentals and use them to help you discover new techniques and choices to use in your own songs, you’ll break through.

Once you know what’s working for today’s listeners and the music industry and you can create original, authentic material in one of these styles, you’ll find you have an open door into the offices of music publishers and Film/TV music supervisors. They need this music and you’d be surprised how many ways there are to get it to them. But you need to have the goods first, before you approach them. Continue reading “Break Through to Songwriting Success”