Difference Between DJ and Producer: Everything You Need To Know

While the average career musician or artist will understand the difference between being a dj or producer, the common every day person who just loves music may not.

What is a dj and what does he do? What is a producer and how does he create a career for himself in the ever challenging music industry? How are the dj and producer different when it comes to their careers?

Read on to discover all about the dj vs producer in the music world.

dj vs producer

All About The DJ

The DJ’s primary job is to entertain. You will find a Dj at different venues that include; radio stations. night clubs. weddings. parties. private events or concerts just to name a few. The term DJ can be traced back to 1940 when the dean of the profession Bill Randle stated that it was record executive Jack Kapp who began calling the on air presenters as “record jockeys.”

According to the book, Where the Memory Lingers. Walter Winchell was the first to use the term “disc jockey” after listening to WNEW;s Martin Block.. The disc jockey would get on the airwaves expecting to create a “Make believe ballroom* experience for his radio listeners.

A DJ uses pre-recorded tracks by artists to spin music that his patrons love. He must understand the relevant songs for each event and will often meet with the event planner to discuss popular songs needed to play. The DJ and the event planner will write an outline of the music genres needed for the event. The DJ is a master in songs and has a knowledge that is uncommon to the average lover of music.

A DJ standing in front of DJing equipment
A DJ standing in front of DJing equipment.

The DJ must have charisma and a magnetic personality to draw people into his music. He must be able to use his vocal abilities to get people on the dance floor. have people laughing and enjoying the music. He must be persuasive while he is trying to sell his music.

A loud, bold personality will usually work best for becoming a DJ. He understands that performing well at one gig could get him called to perform for another. He is his own business man and must continue to draw the crowd. Some popular DJ’s have their own code name and websites on twitter. Instagram. Facebook and other social media sites.

Expert Tip: An associate degree in Radio Broadcasting is usually required to begin a career as a DJ. This will teach him about the computer software and equipment needed during performances. One of the most important pieces of equipment is the DJ mixer which allows him to mix his tracks.

However a complete set up can be a controller. CD player. vinyl turntable and the mixer. This will allow the DJ to play records. CD:s and mix his tracks to keep the music flowing..

The average salary for a DJ will depend upon his experience and the size of the event. Radio DJ’s will often be salaried for their expertise. Salaries range from 18000 to 102000 with the average salary for a DJ being 40000 dollars. Freelance DJ’s can do quite well if they have built up an elite clientele.

A DJ is pumping up the crowd at a party attended by hundreds of people.
A DJ is pumping up the crowd at a party attended by hundreds of people.

Popular DJ’s often produce their own music in hopes of bringing something new to the music scene. They also want to grow their fan base with hopes of making it to the next level. Popular DJ’s also have many connections in the music business as they venture from venue to venue working the crowd.

When one event planner hears a DJ he likes, the word is passed around about the DJ and his connections and fame in the music business begin to grow. Word of mouth is one of the best ways of growing a freelance DJ’s career.

Deciding to become a DJ or disc jockey is an important decision in your life. Having connections in the music industry is important. The saying “it is not what you know. but who you know’ is important in the music industry.

If you are starting from scratch and have very little connections. then work on social media and other outlets to build musical connections and your fan base. Show your fans something interesting on a regular basis. so that when you become a working DJ, you will already have a following.

James Hype DJ Set at Electric Nation, Graz, Austria 2019.

All About The Producer

Finding the best producer for a career artist is one of the most important steps in developing a music career. A well known producer has been known to take an artist to the next level very quickly in the business. A producer is important in the music studio because time is money. Studios charge by the hour which can be very expensive when you have to pay for studio time background artists. mixing. mastering and the producer.

He must be able to bring out the best in an artist in a short amount of time. However. some producers have their own music engineer. a studio in their home and charge a one time special fee for the entire studio session. Still. time management is an important asset for any producer to have.

There are many roles the producer must play. The producer writes the musical arrangement and lyrics. He will help the artist understand the song interpretation that is needed. If there are mishaps in the vocal recording. the producer is the one that requires the artist to continue the recording session until it is done to a satisfactory level.

A producer playing audio mixer

He understands that the music will eventually be distributed or placed on sites like youtube where the listening public will determine their level of interest The producer will work with the engineer to ensure that sound quality is right for radio.

He will stay during the recording of background vocals, as the artist performs, for the engineer to master, while ensuring that everything is of top quality before going out for the world to hear. And if there are live instruments, he will mix the instruments with the background vocals and artists performance.

Many producers have studied music in college and have a bachelors. masters or doctorate degree in music production. recording arts or a related field. They have mastered music theory. chord progressions and are often musicians of at least one instrument. Some producers have studied voice with the hopes of helping an artist understand tone and technique.

And while these are often top notch platinum producers. there are also producers and artists who do not have extensive musical knowledge. Technology and the evolution of time have brought out what are known as pre-recorded beats. These beats can be done by self taught producers to implement music that can be used by any artist.

A producer working late at night
A producer working late at night.

These beats contain a rhythm that includes enough to write a traditional song of 2-3verses. a chorus and bridge. just like a handwritten song from a trained musician. Producers are involved in every aspect of the studio life for the song they created for the artist. They are the motivator and inspiration for the artist and the master coach of the studio team.

Producers are paid through music royalties. BMI. ASCAP and others pay producers when their song is heard on the radio. sung in a concert or used in a movie or commercial. Usually the artist will pay the producer for the song depending upon the terms of the contract An artist can either buy the song outright from the producer or work out a deal where the artist and producer get a share of the music royalties.

When the artist buys the song outright the artist owns the song exclusively but must give credit to the producer on any works done on an album. youtube. etc. There are many lesser known producers who use sites like freebeats to get their beats out to artists around the world.

Expert Tip: Salaries of producers will vary according to their experience and popularity. Image is everything in the music business. Getting a song written by a platinum producer could mean thousands or millions in royalties to an up and coming artist.

He could be an ovemight sensation with the right producer and song. An average salary for a music producer is 55000 and an executive music producer is around 70000 dollars. However. an experienced platinum music producer can earn hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for creating a song or album for an artist

A music producer can work for a record label. music studio. film studio. advertising agency. media company. tech manufacturer or scientific institution just to name a few. You can write your own orchestra composition or music for a video game. Music is the universal language and is being used no matter where you go.

As a producer, you will never grow tired from lack or variety of work needed in the music industry. Make a plan and talk with music producers if you are interested in the field. If you have a sample of music that you have produced. then let a trained producer listen and critique your music. There are sites where well known producers and record labels will critique your music to let you know if you have talent Wait on a response and continue to build relationships in the industry.

As you grow, your music will grow and hopefully eventually get noticed. Remember that the greatest producers are always evolving according to what is relevant in the music industry. They are constantly learning something new about their craft that they can use with an artist.

A side by side comparison of DJ and Producer
A side by side comparison of DJ and Producer.

A DJ is often out front in many different venues while a producer is often limited to working with an artist in a music studio. A DJ is often seen out front with hundreds or thousands of people in the venue while a producer is often alone with the artist. background singers and an engineer.

A DJ uses pre-recorded music in his job while a producer creates musical arrangements and lyrics for an artist A DJ may or may not have songwriting abilities while it is the essence of what a music producer does for an artist. A DJ may not understand music theory. chord progressions or how to play a musical instrument while producers are often musicians and understand music and voice.

A DJ will not work closely with an artist in his career while a producer works intimately with artists to understand who they are as a person before creating songs for them. A DJ works a specific number of hours, particularly if on the radio. while a producer has odd work hours writing music late at night and in the music studio for days creating one song or an album for an artist. A DJ does not have to be a professional musician while it is an important aspect of the job as a music producer.

How to start producing music for beginners.


This article is meant to help the average reader and lover of music to understand the worlds of being a DJ vs producer. It details information of what a DJ does. the salary of a DJ. the equipment used by a DJ and what are the career options. It also describes what a producer does. how a producer gets paid. the salaries of producers. the education required and how a producer works with an artist in a music studio.

You must have a love and passion for music. extensive knowledge of songs in different musical genres and a will to want to learn about your chosen career path. You will need a minimum of an associates degree in Radio Broadcasting to become a DJ and a bachelor’s degree in music production or recording arts to become a producer.

Please comment below if you have any questions about the topic of this article.

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About Jayden Buckley

Hi, my name is Jayden and I am author/editor for PlayTheTunes. I remember the first time I hopped on the drums, I was hooked. Music has played an enormous part of my life, and I'm honored I get to share my experiences with you!