The audio industry has so many exciting roles to choose from. Maybe your niche is in live sound. Perhaps you prefer a studio setting. If the music studio is your dream environment, would you rather go for the production side or the engineering track?
I know what you are probably thinking: “isn’t an audio engineer and a music producer the same thing?” Someone can eventually be both, especially with how modern recording sessions are now being done in home studios, but there are big differences in responsibilities. Music producers and sound engineers work together to create their sound. The titles are not interchangeable.
Now that I have opened you up to the conversation, let’s explore the differences between these two professions to see which would be the best one for you.
The Audio Engineer
The audio engineer is the one calling all the technical shots. This person knows that time is money and will prepare everything needed to have the session going on schedule. In the recording booth or room, the engineer will set up the microphones for recording instruments and vocalists. Scripts and sheet music are placed on staff stands. The engineer also has the DAW open and the tracks ready.
During the session, the engineer has control of the board and equipment. The sound can be adjusted using EQ or compression. The engineer collaborates with the producer and talent to bring the project to life during the mixing process. Sometimes effects and extra tracks are added. Audio engineers are allowed to provide input for the talent to feel more comfortable. Leslie Ann Jones, Simon Torres, Susan Rogers, and Angela Piva are amazing engineers who worked with legendary talent like Prince and Tupac.
The Music Producer
The music producer takes on more managerial and leadership responsibilities. Producers are in charge of the entire creative process during the recording session, directing the talent when needed and working alongside the engineer. A producer usually has full knowledge about the audio equipment in the studio and uses it to their advantage to help the talent achieve the sound they want.
Producers do more behind-the-scenes work such as selecting the tracks that go on an album, logistics, and musical direction. Well known producers include Pharrell, Daft Punk, Dr.Dre, and Quincy Jones.
Music production and audio engineering are not easy careers, but the time and effort put into it is worth it. Both can lead to life-changing opportunities and you might discover a new role in the audio industry you love along the way.