Something we often don’t take into consideration when choosing a music producer is their age. We simply don’t see this as important information, though the age of a music producer can bring a lot of pros and cons to the equation.
Here are some age-related points you want to consider:
Experience & speed
Let’s start with the obvious: age brings experience. It’s more likely that an older producer that managed to build a career in music has simply spent a lot more time producing and thus has a bigger toolbox, smoother workflow, and more tricks. They’re usually faster, have bigger sample libraries, and they usually a bigger selection synths and plugins.
Who is more original?
There’s no concrete answer. I believe younger producers bring more originality to the table simply because, unlike older music producers, they don’t have a solid go-to process—and because of that, they’re not going to bring their music to the same obvious places an older producer will. That’s because a lot of the time, younger producers don’t have solid procedures in place.
Older producers, on the other hand, will usually default to what they are comfortable with and what has worked for them in the past, which intrinsically makes them less original. On the other hand, though (yes—there are three hands), since older producers have more tricks in their bag, and possibly more experience with different genres, they might be able to mix between different genres and concepts better, assuming they’ve been keeping themselves updated with what’s hot. Make sure that if you choose an older producer, they aren’t stuck in the past with their sound.
I would say the more established you are as a producer, the more you charge. But I do believe that in general, an older music producer will charge more even if they have the same credentials as a younger one. Older people have a lot more responsibilities in life, and you as a client will end up absorbing that price.
As I mentioned under the originality point, younger producers are usually more current sounding as they were born into what’s hot today. At the same time, they might lack the ability to integrate retro sounds in their music (unless they use samples, which means it’s not original). Older producers have the opposite problem: they might get stuck in the past and won’t connect to what’s hot today.
My personal recommendation is that you find someone who’s been producing music for a while but makes sure they keep themselves current with the latest sound, work with current artists, and keep their production relevant—with a touch of retro sounds if that’s what you’re looking for.
As I discussed in a previous blog, music producers are usually not mixing engineers, even if they sometimes think they are. But older music producers usually do have a lot more knowledge in mixing since mixing requires a lot of experience and they are more experienced.
If you’re looking for a hybrid music producer that can also mix, your best bet will always be an older producer. If you love a younger producer’s work, you probably want to look at mixing their work somewhere else.
Who is easier to work with
Older producers tend to be easier to work with when it comes to production in my opinion, as younger producers tend to be more prideful, stubborn, and insistent on having it their way. Young producers are more passionate about their productions and get attached to them, while older producers are usually more relaxed and open to working with the artists. They understand that they’re there to bring the artist’s vision to life, not their own.
Younger producers bring a lot more passion to the table. They’re new and fresh and usually need to prove themselves more. They are slower, but for that they compensate with their ability to sit for much longer hours excited about a project. There’s also more chance that your sound is new to them as opposed to an older producer who has heard it all and worked with everyone.
Being a musician
I might be generalizing here a bit, but a lot of the younger producers aren’t musicians, which can make things harder in some respects if they’re limited to loops, samples, and random improvisation. Sometimes, those constraints might lead to more originality, but it does present a challenge.
Overall, I think young producers bring originality and passion, while older producers bring speed and knowledge, are generally easier to work with, can cross genres, and can usually engineer better.