Songwriting vs Producing: What’s the Difference?

Songwriting Mini-Course
Click the image to get your FREE Songwriting Mini-Course!

Songwriting and producing are two different but related creative processes. Songwriters create lyrics and melodies, while producers work on the technical and arrangement side of a song, such as recording techniques and instrumentation. In this post, I will discuss the differences between these two creative roles, highlighting their similarities and how they complement each other to make great music!

Songwriting Vs. Producing: What’s the difference?

Songwriting and producing are two different but related creative processes.

Songwriters write the lyrics and underlying music of a song. Producers, on the other hand, work on the technical and arrangement side of a song. This includes recording techniques and sometimes even playing additional instruments on the recording.

Similarities Between Songwriting And Producing

Both songwriters and producers have a critical role in creating a successful piece of music. A good producer needs to understand song structure and melody, as well as how the arrangement of a song will impact its overall feel. A good songwriter must be aware of what is possible technically when writing music for an artist or band to record.

Many Producers are Also Songwriters:

Many producers are also songwriters. This is because the skills required for both roles overlap considerably. A good producer needs to have a strong understanding of melody and chord progressions in order to create appropriate arrangements, while a good songwriter must be aware of what is possible sonically when writing music.

A songwriter might have an idea to use a certain effect, for example, using a lot of reverb or echo. A producer would know how to pull the effect off technically during recording.

A trend in music now is for sound design to form a big part of the song. The technical skills to use sound effects, production techniques, samples, et cetera are combining to create a new form of songwriting.

That’s why many producers today are getting songwriting credits. Producers are being featured as artists instead of simply being technical assistants during the songwriting process. A producer does not have to be a songwriter to be great at their job, however, these roles seem to be overlapping more and more.

See also: Songwriter VS Composer

You might also like: Songwriting VS Poetry: The Same But Different

A Songwriter Needs To Have An Understanding Of Music Theory

While songwriters do not necessarily need a music degree, it’s helpful for them to have an understanding of theory and how chords work together in order to write melodies that harmonize with each other.

Many producers lack this knowledge, but it’s not necessary because they are more focused on the overall technical aspects of the recording.

A Producer Must Have Technical Skills and Understanding of Recording Techniques:

A producer must have a strong understanding of recording techniques and how to get the best sound out of musicians and instruments. They also need to be able to use production software, such as ProTools, Logic, or Cubase, in order to create the final mix of a song.

The producer is responsible for making sure that all the musicians, instruments, and singers are in tune, that the levels between all tracks are consistent (i.e., drums should be louder than vocals), and that there is space in between different elements of a song to create an interesting arrangement.

The producer also needs to know how the final mix will translate on all types of speakers so it sounds good on a car stereo, computer speakers, or headphones.

A songwriter does not necessarily need to know how to use recording software because they are writing the lyrics and music of an existing piece of music, but it is helpful if they have some understanding about how the arrangement will impact listeners’ experience with the finished product.

Producers Have People Skills

Producers are often the ones responsible for inspiring the best performances out of the artists in the studio. They must be able to communicate exactly what they want out of musicians and singers, which can often mean asking for multiple takes until the perfect one is recorded.

This means that producers need people skills because it’s their job to coax stellar performances from others. They also need critical thinking skills in order to know how factors like musical key will impact a performance.

A songwriter does not need to have people skills, but they do need a strong grasp of what makes a great melody and how the lyrics can fit into that idea.

Producers play a very important role in the music-making process by shaping the sound of a track. They can make or break a song, and their skills are in high demand in the music industry. A great producer can take a song from good to great, or even transform an average track into a hit!

A songwriter can take a commonplace idea and turn it into a moving and meaningful piece of music. They know how to create a melody that people will want to sing and lyrics that they can relate to on an emotional level.

A producer’s main task is recording the musical performance, while songwriters are responsible for writing original music with meaning behind it. The skills required in both positions overlap quite often today, which is why the lines between these two roles are becoming more and more blurred.

How are songwriters and producers similar? How are they different?

Songwriters and producers are both creative professionals, but they have different responsibilities and skillsets. Songwriters create the lyrics and melodies for a song, while producers work on the technical and arrangement side of a song, such as recording techniques and instrumentation.

Producers are often responsible for ensuring that a song is technically sound and radio-friendly, while songwriters are more concerned with the artistic elements of a song. However, there is some overlap in these roles, and great producers can also be great songwriters, and vice versa.

Both songwriters and producers are essential to making great music, and their skillsets complement each other to create songs that are both musically interesting and commercially successful.

Why It’s Important for an Artist to Know about Both Roles

There are a few reasons why it’s important for artists to know about both songwriting and producing. Firstly, it gives them a better understanding of how the music-making process works and how each role impacts the final product. This knowledge allows them to be more involved in the songwriting and producing process, which can result in better songs.

Secondly, knowing about both roles makes artists more versatile and marketable. A producer who can also write songs is more likely to get work, and a songwriter who can produce their own music will have a better chance of getting their songs heard.

Working knowledge of both songwriting and producing is essential for any artist who wants to make great music that stands out from the crowd. By understanding the similarities and differences between these two roles, artists can create songs that are both musically interesting and commercially successful.

Producers Often Work with Multiple Artists

While songwriters typically work with one artist at a time, producers often work with multiple artists simultaneously. This is because they often have their hands in many different aspects of the music-making process, including recording the musical performance and ensuring that it has radio appeal.

Producers are also in charge of selecting which takes will make the final cut for a song, as well as making sure they have multiple options to choose from when they start laying down tracks. This is why working with an experienced producer can be advantageous for artists who want their music to sound polished and radio-friendly.

A songwriter’s responsibility is often limited to writing the lyrics and melodies for a track, although there are some exceptions. Some producers get involved in collaborating with or coaching singers during the recording process, while others may write instrumental parts that will become an integral part of a particular record. This can be beneficial for artists who are looking to take more creative control of their music.

Should producers get publishing and songwriting credit?

Producers can get publishing and songwriting credits for their work on an album. This is often for producers who have established their own careers as artists. Many producers collaborate with artists and bring songwriting ideas to the table. Producers who take on this role can get songwriting and publishing credits.

The amount of credit (and royalties) that producer is entitled to depends on what they can negotiate. However, the credit and royalties typically go to the songwriter who wrote the song. A producer would get credit for the specific recording they helped to create.

If a producer is just responsible for making sure a song sounds good and doesn’t contribute any creative ideas, they may not get publishing or songwriting credits. In this case, they would get a flat-fee upfront for their services.

To wrap it all up…

Songwriters and producers work hand-in-hand to create amazing music. They both contribute to the songwriting process and they are both involved in the production of a final product.

I hope this has been helpful in understanding the differences between songwriting and producing. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below!

Recent Content