What’s The Difference Between a Music Producer and a Beat Maker

A music producer and a beat maker are ultimately two different things, although, they’re definitely related to each other. For instance, a music producer could be a beat maker and vice versa, but for the most part, they’re quite a bit different, especially if you’ve taken the other meanings of music producer into account. Ultimately, what separates them the most has to do with specificity, so what is the difference anyway?

The difference between a beat maker and a music producer is that the beatmaker makes hip-hop and rap beats, whereas a music producer is less specific and can make any kind of music. The word, “music producer,” can also refer to someone who helps develop an artist and their musical projects. 

A big part of the confusion surrounding some of these terms has to do with the ubiquitousness of the word, “producer,” which is used all over the entertainment industry, the TV and film business, and the music scene as well. This article switches back and forth between the meanings of record producer, and just a producer, so keep that in mind. We’ll explain more about what this person does later, but for now, let’s talk about some of the differences and similarities between beat makers and music producers. 

Music Producer versus Beat Maker – What’s The Main Difference? 

Music Producer and Beat Maker

1) Music Producers and Beat Makers Create Different Music 

As it was just noted above, music producers and beat makers make different types of music. The beatmaker is someone who is almost always associated with rap music and hip-hop, whereas the music producer is less associated with a specific genre, although, some people might think of it as being related to electronic dance music. 

Regardless, a music producer can make all kinds of music, including metal, pop, EDM, rap and hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and pretty much any other genre, whereas “beat maker” specifically refers to people who make beats, as the title suggests. Some people might even call a beat maker a “bedroom producer” which is its own thing on Instagram. Click this link (to IG) to see what I mean. 

Other Differences Between Music Producers and Beat Makers 

1) A “Music Producer” Can Refer to Someone Who Helps Develop An Artist’s Musical Projects

Music Producer with Band

We briefly talked about this at the start of the article, in fact, I also touched on it in my article on the differences between music producers and DJs. A music producer, like Rick Rubin, for instance, is quite a bit different from the other type of producer who is mostly thought of as someone who makes beats but doesn’t actually produce anyone’s records or projects. 

A producer, in this regard, and more specifically, a good producer, is the person who oversees the band or artist during the creation of their record. They’ll have good ideas on what direction to take the album, how things could be improved, etc. It’s not uncommon for record producers – (record producer also refers to a music producer) – to be compared to directors, in the sense that they’re kind of like the leader of the project. 

Record producers, because of their leadership role, can also serve many different purposes as well. For instance, it seems like the best record producers can do a multitude of things including audio engineering, mastering, mixing, and so on. Like when I looked up Brendan O’Brien, who has worked on many of my favorite albums, he has worked not only as a producer but also as a mixer and engineer on dozens of projects. 

All of this is quite different from a beatmaker, who operates just the DAW, MIDI instruments like the Akai MPK 249 (on Amazon), records in a home studio, etc. My intention isn’t to degrade or diminish what beat makers do, because it’s also an art in itself, and many people are very good at it. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for a beat maker to actually become a record producer over time, especially after having worked with a lot of artists.

Some of the greatest examples of record producers include the aforementioned Rick Rubin, Phil Spector, George Martin, Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Quincy Jones, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Max Martin, Dave Jerden, Brendan O’Brien, and many others. A few of these guys are not only producers, but excellent musicians, songwriters, engineers, and mixers.

2) Music Producers and Beat Makers Are Associated With Different Equipment

MIDI Keyboard, Studio Monitors, and Drumpad

Due to the fact, their jobs are ultimately different from each other, there is also a separation between what kind of equipment they’re using, more specifically, the DAWs and recording gear. For instance, beat-making is very commonly – and very heavily, I might add – associated with FL Studio which is probably the digital audio workstation of choice among hip-hop producers (grab FL Studio here from Plugin Fox).

If social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram are any indication of general trends related to beat-making, FL Studio, and Logic Pro X are probably the leaders in this regard. Both of these DAWs can be used for any kind of music, but FL Studio is more heavily associated with hip-hop producers for some reason, compared to Logic Pro X which isn’t tied to any one genre. 

For example, Logic Pro is the DAW of choice for all kinds of people and across many different genres like metal, EDM, rock, R&B, and more. Another popular DAW for all kinds of music is Pro Tools, but there are many others on the market too, so don’t just think that Logic, Garageband, and FL are the only ones. 

In fact, according to the book from Bobby Owsinki, The Engineer’s Handbook (on Amazon), Pro Tools is more commonly used in professional recording studios. If you take the time to read the interviews with the engineers, many of them will say that they use Pro Tools almost exclusively in the studio.

3) Beat Makers Often Work On Their Own and Not With Artists Like Music Producers  

Beatmaker on his own

Beat makers are often paid on a beat-by-beat basis, and it’s not uncommon for them to not come into contact with the artist that uses their songs/beats. For instance, one common practice these days is for record labels to hire beat makers to make beats and songs, and then they’re used for artists and rappers. 

Additionally, a rapper or a hip-hop artist of some kind might request a beat be made by a specific beat maker like Mike WiLL Made-It or someone like that. Speaking of which, Mike WiLL Made-It is kind of like the textbook definition of the beat maker who has made it big time in the industry because everyone knows who he is as an artist. 

Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that beat makers often create the musical “bedrock” so to speak, on which the rest of the song is built. For example, a beatmaker might make the foundational rhythm section, melodies, and instruments, and then the beat is given to an artist who develops it completely and to its full potential through the addition of interludes, pre-choruses, and other arrangements.

4) Beat Makers Often Sell Their Beats Whereas Music Producers Don’t 

Beatstars

The difference in this regard has to do with hip-hop culture compared to the subcultures of other genres. For instance, it’s not uncommon at all for beatmakers to simply sell their beats on a beat-by-beat basis – as was suggested above – to anyone who is willing to pay for them. The beats are often licensed to rappers and other artists who then have the right to use them for their own work, but they don’t necessarily own the tracks.  

This is a real industry that is growing a lot, and will only continue to do so over time. Websites and service providers structure their business around this practice, including places like BeatStars, and a few others. This is quite a bit different from a music producer who makes music either for themselves entirely or they work with other artists on their music.

While there is probably a small market for metal and EDM producers to sell ideas, riffs, or maybe even full songs to other artists, for the most part, this practice is far more common in hip-hop, R&B, pop, and rap. Some of the lingo related to these two things are different too, however, this isn’t a big enough difference to be mentioned as its own separate section.

For example, beatmakers use terms like “cooking up” to refer to the beat-making process, which is kind of funny. Beat makers will say they “have one in the oven” or something similar to that, or they’ll post emojis and memes of chefs making beats as if adding in the 808s and kicks are the special ingredients to their magnum opus dish. 

I’m sure producers have their own secret lingo, but the ones related to beat makers are more visible on the internet due to social media, and just because there are way more beat makers than producers which brings me to my next point.

5) There Are Way More Beat Makers Than Producers

This one should go without saying, but I think that’s worth touching on anyway. If you think about it, a good music producer is someone with a lot of experience in the music industry which means there are going to be way less of them, compared to a beginner who just bought a copy of FL Studio 20 from Plugin Fox and they’re now making beats during class instead of listening to the teacher.

Simply by design, there will be more beat makers than music producers, because a limited amount of people have the experience and expertise to actually develop someone else’s project. On the other hand, if you’re referring to someone who is more of general producer and not a record producer, there will be more of them than beat makers. It ultimately depends on what you mean by producer.

Important Things to Note About the Differences Between Producers and Beat Makers

1) Popular Terminology Doesn’t Always Reflect Reality

I’m sure there are musicians and artists who read an article like this and sigh, just because their experiences don’t match up with what a producer is known for publicly. From what I understand, different producers have their own way of developing a project, and some of them are going to be more effective than others. Additionally, I imagine there are producers out there who maybe aren’t very good engineers, beat makers, etc.

YouTube Video Tutorial 

What's The Difference Between a Music Producer and a Beat Maker

Gear I Mentioned 

1) FL Studio 20 Signature Bundle (from Plugin Fox)

  • One of the most popular Digital Audio Workstations.

2) The Engineer’s Handbook 4th Edition by Bobby Owinski (on Amazon)

  • Probably one of the best books on music production that I’ve read so far

3) Akai MPK 249 (also on Amazon)

  • This is a MIDI keyboard and drumpad combined.