Music Producer vs. Beat Maker: Know the Difference


There so much more to know in music production other than creating music. Composing is one skill that applies to musicians and music producers alike. There are so many terms and professions you can end up when you try to start a music-making career, and one of them is beat making. Apparently, a music producer and a beatmaker are two different things that are often interchanged. Let’s see what the difference is between the two.

A beatmaker is essentially the “programmer” or “arranger,” whose job is to program MIDI patterns, drum machines, synthesizers, and other programmed instruments. A beatmaker does not have to learn to play musical instruments. A producer, on the other hand, is a more general term. A music producer works with the eat makers as well as the musicians to complete the whole track. Therefore, a producer can become the beatmaker and produce the entire song by themselves, while a beatmaker may also do the same to some extent.

BEATMAKER

A beatmaker is like a programmer. The beatmaker specializes in particular aspects of creating a song such as sequencing, using drum machines, and programing MIDI instruments on the piano roll. Beatmakers tend to arrange the whole song and may create a song without a music producer behind it, as long as he can work with musicians. However, if a beatmaker lacks some of the technical aspects that a sound engineer or music producer possesses, he or she might need help from someone who is an expert with recording organic instruments and vocals.

A beatmaker would typically create a song with the use of a laptop and drum machines. With the laptop, a beatmaker will use MIDI and software instruments to create a song and arrangement. If a beatmaker would want to add real instruments and vocals, he or she should know some of the technical aspects of recording with a microphone.

EQUIPMENT

To become a beatmaker, you will need a laptop or computer, a DAW, software instruments, and the required skills. You will need to have a little creativity and an excellent ear. It is common for people in the creative side of the music business to possess these qualities. Some beatmakers are good with beat sequencing with the use of a drum machine or MPC. Here are some of the best equipment that every beatmaker should have:

  • NOVATION LAUNCHPAD

(Price: $150)

This device is a party machine. Great for EDM, Dubstep, and trap music. Play live with this thing by triggering samples that match tempo so you would never miss a beat.

Key Features:

  • Ableton Live connectivity
  • 64 RGB pads with LED
  • Samples pre-loaded
  • Assignable pads
  • Loop machine
  • Volume and pan knobs
  • Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator

(Price: $89)

This tiny sampler module can make samples up to 40 seconds. It is an excellent product for beatmakers and producers alike.

Key Features:

  • Built-in microphone for recording
  • 1/8” headphone and output jack
  • Eight melodic sample slots for triggering samples chronologically
  • Eight drum sample slots for playing drum samples with one shot
  • 16-step sequencer for arranging patterns
  • Ability to create and save complex sequences
  • Built-in speakers
  • Battery efficient
  • KORG Volca Beats Analog Drum Machine

(Price: $150)

The Volca Beats is an analog type of drum machine that creates real analog sounds that resemble classic rhythm machines. The unique keyboard style of this drum machine can be either a trigger pad for samples or use it as a keyboard and press to play.

Key Features:

  • 16-step style sequencer
  • Built-in speaker
  • Optional battery power for on-the-go playing and mobile recording
  • Six editable parts
  • One knob per function for more straightforward editing
  • Stutter function for repeating triggers in different styles
  • Roland Rhythm Composer TR-08

(Price $380)

The TR-08 is the ultra-light and compact version of the classic Roland TR-808 drum machine. This drum machine retains the sound, aesthetic, and overall character of the Roland TR-808, but in a smaller and compact build.

Key Features:

  • Hands-on control of tone, level, tuning and decay
  • Added effects like compressor, gain, tune and Pan for selected instruments
  • Programmable trigger keys
  • Battery operated
  • Ten separate outputs
  • USB output
  • KAOSSILATOR

The KORG Kaossillator is a unique kind of synth where you can produce sound by sliding your fingers on an X/Y pad.

  • KORG KAOSSILATOR 2S

(Price: $110)

The smaller version of the KORG KAOSSILATOR. This tiny device can sound like a synth beast with all the built-in presets and effects.

Key Features:

  • 150 sound programs
  • Loop recorder with overdub, undo and redo phrase
  • Ableton live connectivity for workflow use

SKILLS NEEDED

  • MIDI Programming Skills

One of the essential skills of a beatmaker is programming MIDI on the editor. Without using any instruments or MIDI controllers of any kind, you will need to know how to program the notes on the piano roll. A MIDI editor is a map where you can program notes of particular software instruments when and where you want them to play in your timeline. It is kind of like computer coding and programming, but instead of writing codes and HTML, you are programming notes and beats.

  • A Good Ear

Just like a producer, a beatmaker should possess a good ear. You would not be able to create beats that are good to listen to if you do not like it yourself. You have to know what is good for the ears. Even though this aspect is subjective, in music, there are a majority of listeners you should please.

  • Rhythmic Skills

You should know a lot about rhythm and tempo, as well as style and flow. You should know how to create coherent beats that complement each other. Beginners often program too many notes and instruments that clash with each other. It is nice to have a good sense of rhythm if you want to become an excellent beatmaker.

  • Software Manipulation Skills

Software literacy is a useful skill as a beatmaker. You have to keep up with the latest technology and learn all the ins and outs of your preferred software. You should know how to create automation to enhance your tracks. It is also good to know a little bit of how an instrument is played, so when you program them on a MIDI editor, you can recreate a human element or touch to your tracks.

PRODUCER

A music producer is someone who creates music. A musician, on the other hand, is someone who plays the music the producer has created. A musician can be a music producer and vice versa. The definition of a music producer has changed over the years. Traditionally, a music producer is someone who manages the whole process of recording a song.

SKILLS NEEDED

  • A GOOD EAR

You need a good ear. You need to know what sounds good. You need to understand how to arrange a coherent song with melodies and harmonies that blend perfectly throughout the song. This skill can be learned; however, some of the most successful music producers were born with having a good ear. DR. DRE, for example, had this gift ever since his younger years. He didn’t know how to play a musical instrument at first. However, he has what it takes to pursue his career in this industry. He is just one of many successful producers that has what it takes.

  • CAN RECOGNIZE TALENT

This skill is where you need to have a good gut feeling. As a music producer, you will need to look for musicians who you know and feel to have potential. Remember, if you are choosing an artist, you have to make sure they do have what it takes before putting all your faith and energy before producing their tracks. Well, unless you have a studio for rent. They will pay you in that case.

  • MUSIC APPRECIATION

You need to appreciate music from the heart. You will have a favorite genre, obviously, but try to become more versatile when it comes to the music you are listening to. You need to learn how to bend genres and create new and innovative sounds, which is why I suggest you pop your bubble and expand to get more ideas.

  • SOFTWARE MANIPULATION

This skill is vital if you want to become a music producer. You need to know how to manipulate your music software from your DAW to your VSTs. Without this knowledge, it would be tough for you to become a capable music producer. However, you do not precisely have to be good with computers to know how to work with software. As long as you know, each of the functions and what they do for a track you are creating, you will be able to translate your thoughts into full songs. 

  • DAW

A DAW or digital audio workstation is home base for every home music producer. You will be using a DAW most of the time for recording music and any other form of audio. VSTs, on the other hand, are the instruments you will use to populate a song. Some DAWs will already have tons of built-in tools and effects. But it is better to utilize third-party apps such as virtual instruments and effects.

  • GOOD PEOPLE AND BUSINESS SKILLS

If you already have the technical side of things on lock, as a producer, you will also need t to improve your business and people skills. You cannot make a career being a music producer without working with other people other than yourself. You need to have excellent public relations skills and the right attitude toward other producers and artists in the industry. Expand your skills as well as your network to gain clients and, eventually, profit.

  • CREATIVITY

Having a vast imagination helps a lot in becoming a music producer. How can you create without creativity, right? Sometimes, you have to think outside of the box and be a little unorthodox to come up with new ideas. Before trying to pursue a career in this industry, ask yourself if you have what it takes. If you like the music you are creating, it doesn’t matter as long as you are enjoying yourself without stepping on any one’s toes.

  • RHYTHM

Another useful skill to have is rhythm. You cannot become a music producer if you can’t keep or know tempo. Although because of the automated tools, you do not need to play music in time as the software will do most of the grunt work for you, you still need to understand what tempo and rhythm are. This skill is another aspect of having an excellent ear.

  • LEARNING THE BASICS HELP

Although I said you do not really have to know how to play instruments to become a music producer, it helps if you know a little. If you know how to play instruments, it would be easier for you to translate ideas into songs. You can create the melodies in your head and play it on a piano or guitar before laying them down. I salute producers who can’t play a musical instrument because I imagine how challenging it is for them to create a song without this knowledge. I suggest you try to learn at least the basics of piano or guitar to make things more comfortable in the studio.

RELATED QUESTIONS:

  • What are the other professions in the music business? Aside from the beatmaker and producer, there are a lot more career paths you can choose from in the music industry. You can be a sound engineer who works on the technical aspects of production. The sound engineer works side by side with the musicians to get the sound they want. Here are other professions you can choose from:
  • Studio Technician
  • Studio Manager
  • Sound Designer
  • Instrument Tech
  • Sound Mixer
  • Radio Broadcast Engineer
  • Digital Audio Editor
  • Record Producer
  • What is the difference between a record producer and a music producer?  A record producer is a producer that also takes the role of the beatmaker. In your home music studio, since you do all the work from beat making and all of the other technical aspects such as mixing, mastering, and recording instruments, it is probably safe to say that you are a record producer. However, the term record producer is almost always commonly heard in the Hip Hop and R and B spectrum.

CONCLUSION

No matter what you choose to become, the collective skill needed in any roll is creativity. Without having this characteristic, you will have a hard time creating and producing a song by yourself. Since you are creating your own music in your home music studio, you will be doing most of the work on your own. Any of the other technical aspects can be quickly learned through classes or by reading about it on the internet. However, creativity is the one thing you can improve on your own. If you are not gifted with creativity, you can always learn by listening and loving music.

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