Difference Between DJ & Music Producer

Have an ear for music and the desire to create something sonically pleasing? This describes both DJs and music producers. While producers craft the sound of a recording, DJs take these recordings and curates or reworks them in a way that best suits their performance environment.

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Comparing DJs to Music Producers

Having a knack for music and developing sounds are traits shared by both disc jockeys (DJs) and music producers. While DJs select the music that will be played in various settings, sometimes implementing their own songs or reworking the preexisting work of other artists, producers sonically shape the sound of artists that they are working with in a studio setting. Differences and similarities between these two careers are examined further below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)** Job Growth (2014-2024)*
DJ No Requirements; Some Training May Be Useful $28,849 -11% (for all announcers)
Music Producer High School Diploma; Some Postsecondary Training $49,610 (for all music recording engineers) 7% (for all sound engineering technicians)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com (2017 salary)

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Responsibilities of DJs vs. Music Producers

Producers and DJs both work with and manipulate sound, but most day-to-day job responsibilities are quite different. The primary responsibility of a music producer is to use the sound equipment in a recording studio to produce the best recording they can of the artist they are working with. The responsibilities of DJs depend on their work environment. Radio or wedding DJs act as the curators of what songs will be played and in what order. DJs that work at clubs or other music venues will do the same, but may also play their own songs or the songs of others that they have reworked.

DJ

DJs are in control of selecting the music and providing a fun atmosphere on the radio, at weddings, or at music venues. In some cases, DJs may remix the songs of popular artists, blend songs together to create a consistent flow, or create their own music. Outside of the world of broadcasting, the majority of DJs are freelancers that are not required to have an advanced education. It is also common for DJs to provide their own equipment, possibly including PA systems, computers, speakers, and microphones. Working late nights and traveling is also common for some in this field.

Job responsibilities of a DJ include:

  • Communicating with their audience
  • Being knowledgeable about past and upcoming trends in music
  • Procuring a relevant inventory of music
  • Being proficient in music-related technology and software

Music Producer

Music producers are the audio engineers that shape the sound of a recording using the equipment of a recording studio. The music that is produced may be for albums, television shows, movies, or advertisements. Producers tend to have a great ear for pitch and tone, and how these can be affected through instruments and software. Music producers are not required to have a postsecondary education, though many receive some sort of specialized training in audio engineering.

Job responsibilities of a music producer include:

  • Communicating with artists to understand and create the desired sound
  • Maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of recording equipment and technology trends
  • Overseeing the post-production process to ensure that the final product meets standards
  • Repairing and maintaining studio equipment
  • Cultivating a library of effects and sounds

Related Careers

Those interested in becoming a DJ or music producer may also be interested in other options in the music industry. For those with a preference for the business and communication side of things, you may look into becoming a music manager. Those that want to flex their creativity may find work as a professional musician.

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