The Difference Between a DJ and a Producer


People often ask me how I “make my music”. I always respond by saying that I do not produce my own music and that I only “mix” music. While the difference between a DJ and a producer may be obvious to some, it can be confusing to someone who is new to electronic dance music and with the amount of technology DJs have at their disposal the line is slightly blurred. The key difference is that a producer creates music in a studio and a DJ takes already-created music and mixes them together. Let’s examine the differences further:
DJ
A DJ plays and mixes music together. A DJ may use effects, looping, and other techniques to change the sound or structure of a track. However, they are not creating the music as they play in a club or festival.
Producer
A producer creates music in a studio using a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Such programs include Logic, Pro Tools, Cubase, and Live. They produce their own original works and also remix other producer’s tracks when they are provided with remix stems. Once a track is completed a producer sends it to a label to be sold commercially.
DJ/Producer
Many DJs are producers and many producers are DJs. This creates much of the confusion. A DJ/Producer is simply an artist who produces music in a studio and also DJs.
Live Act/PA
Live Acts are producers who create their own music and perform it live. Unlike a DJ, who mixes completed tracks, a live act will create the mix out of parts of their own songs. While a live act may sound similar to a dj mix, they will often only include the producer’s own music and remixes.