Music production is an all encompassing practice that ensures a song ends up sounding as good as it possibly can. It's perhaps one of the most underappreciated aspects of the creative side of music. With solid production, you can make sure everything that's supposed to hit hard does so in spades, but without being so abrasive that the listener can't deal with it! You can also give another pass to the overall arrangement and dynamics of a song, making sure it has just enough twists and turns to make each reprise or chorus as satisfying as possible. It goes on and on! Here are some of the most important elements:
1 - Directing The Overall Sound
If you've ever checked out enough different covers of your favorite songs, you should be well aware of how many different moods the exact same song can be presented in. As a music producer, you're essentially in the director's chair, helping to guide the exact atmosphere of a song. You can really rein everything in to make sure each song and performance within it serves to create a cohesive, impactful statement that will leave the listener both satisfied and also wanting to hit "repeat" as soon as the song is done!
There are various ways to shape songs, from crafting the tones of the instruments through different equipment, EQ settings, effect filters, and even mic placements, to noticing when certain elements of the performances need to be changed. For instance, you might be working with a guitar riff that just doesn't groove the way it's being played, but all of a sudden it really hits the sweet spot once the tempo is dropped down a bit. With a good ear, you can use music production to bring out the absolute best in a song.
2 - Sound Quality
This is perhaps the most commonly known aspect of music production, although the duties are also shared with engineers and the like. Even so, as a producer you're going to need to know what you're doing behind a console or mixing board. There's a lot more to good sounding music than just having the artist perform well and recording it. Every single instrument needs to have its own perfect place in the mix for it to all come together in a pleasant manner. As an extension of the directorial duties, producers must listen closely to see where each piece of the song needs to sit and what needs to be done in order to make everything both pop and work together.
3 - Non Objective View Points
While many musicians these days are serving as a one-person bands and their own producers to boot, the traditional role of someone that only works as the producer is to be a mediator that reins in all the egos. The guitarist is going to want things their way, as is the drummer, the vocalist, and so on. Producers are there to help them all come together to serve the song, once more making sure the end result is as good as it can possibly be.