Beatmakers or Producers. Is there really a difference?
This is a question that is often debated in music studios and online community forums. I’m happy to explain.
Producers can be the visionary for a song, or the director of a project. They can create an idea for a track and create a plan how it will be fleshed out in the studio. Producers can be songwriters, composers, and arrangers of the music and don’t necessarily have to assist with beat production.
An example of this would be the legendary Quincy Jones, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist that often hired other musicians to help craft his masterpieces.
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs is another producer known more for his ability to oversee other producers on projects. He was especially good at creating memorable remixes back in the ’90s and early ‘2000s.
Even Micheal Jackson was known as an incredible producer for his ability to construct abstract vocal ad-libs on the fly and create various instruments with his mouth in real-time. I’ve heard stories of him directing the mixing engineer from the booth while he was laying his vocals. He knew how to acoustically place instruments, and where to place his voice amongst the various frequencies within a mix.
Beatmakers don’t really need to work with artists, engineers, or anybody for that matter. They are generally concerned with the creation of the track and perfecting it to the best of their ability before they get it to artists or labels.
This notion has been magnified in the current era of the “internet producer”. They can often work independently and send out 100’s of beats at a time to be placed. For example, Murda Beatz has talked about sending out tons of beats to established engineers so they could give them to the artists they work with. This was later proven to be a very successful marketing strategy.
Beatmakers generally don’t have any input on the direction of the track. They don’t need to know who the artist will be, how the vocals will be laid, or what the track will be named. They don’t have to be involved with the outcome of the project.
In my humble opinion producers and beatmakers can often share the same roles. Some producers are also well-respected beatmakers with the ability to guide an artist through an entire project from start to finish.
Jermaine Dupree was known for creating a unique sound for many artists (Xscape, Kris Kross, Bow Wow, Usher). Dr. Dre did the same for Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and later on Emenim. DJ Toomp was heavily involved in crafting T.I.’s sound, as was the RZA to Wu-Tang Clan. The same can be said for Jetsonmade and the sound he crafted for DaBaby. In these instances, the producer has various roles, including beatmaker and even songwriter.
While producers and beatmakers can often share the same roles and responsibilities, there can be distinct differences that separate the two depending on the situation.