The 7 types of electronic music producer: which are you?

Home recording studio
(Image credit: Future)

Spend any amount of time in electronic music-making circles online or in real life and you’ll quickly realise that all producers can be neatly pigeon-holed into a mere seven categories. 

Here’s our guide to all of them, featuring extremely scientific analysis of their vital stats, distinguishing features, and habits.

1. Trap Kid

DAW: FL Studio
Location: Everywhere
Age: The entirety of Gen Z

Armed only with zero understanding of music production and a laptop recently stolen from a homeless person, Trap Kid knows the only way to avoid being eaten alive by rampant late-stage capitalism is to make a beat that catapults them to super-star status. 

A mere three hours after beginning their production odyssey, the Trap Kid will start making their own tutorial content.

Naturally, the highly-motivated Trap Kid is eager to learn, and has two basic questions they need answered: ‘Why can’t I get my 808s in tune?’ and ‘Where can I download synth plugins for free?’ 

A mere three hours after beginning their production odyssey, the Trap Kid will start making their own tutorial content, and after a few weeks will be making no less than thirteen beats per day on top of their three day jobs. 

While it’s easy and fun to deride the Trap Kid, they are the only category of producer whose music is capable of bringing genuine joy to another human being. 

Good luck Trap Kid, you’ll need it!

Modular synth

(Image credit: Future)

2. Mid-life Synth Crisis Man

Location: Suburbia
Age: A cool 45

DAWless and, indeed, wifeless, Mid-life Synth Crisis Man’s newly single status means he has plenty of time and money to devote to a new passion: synthesizer hardware. 

He may generate his hefty disposable income working in the marketing department of a company that develops facial recognition systems for pre-schools, but Mid-life Synth Crisis Man has the soul of an artist: there’s nowhere he’d rather be than surrounded by an array of music-making hardware and houseplants, jamming out another lengthy ambient drone session.

When you spend all day staring at Excel spreadsheets, the last thing you want to do is look at a computer screen in the evening, meaning Mid-life Synth Crisis Man has never seen or heard of Audacity. As such, he has only ever recorded his $60,000’s worth of synth hardware on his phone, which only adds to his lo-fi/hi-cost aesthetic.

3. Trackerman

DAW: Renoise
Location: Europe
Age: 30+

Although fully aware of the availability of proper DAWs, ‘90s throwback Trackerman doesn’t have time for their accessibility, attractive design and array of convenient features. Preferring instead to stare at an indecipherable alphanumeric stream like something out of The flippin’ Matrix, Trackerman creates his intricate breakcore Amen edits by fluttering his fingers over a computer keyboard in the manner of a cyborg.

Trackerman creates his intricate breakcore Amen edits by fluttering his fingers over a computer keyboard in the manner of a cyborg.

What’s fascinating about Trackerman is his duality: he’s intelligent enough to wield a piece of software that looks as if it’s designed to be operated by gifted robots, yet is dumb enough to keep using it.

Hearing this savant’s presumably astounding music is a tantalising prospect, but he isn’t about to reveal his subversive activities to any shadowy extra-governmental agencies so doesn’t have a SoundCloud.

4. City Ambience Uploader

DAW: Zoom H4n
Location: Southeast Asia
Age: Quarter-life crisis

Almost certainly running from something dreadful in their past, the City Ambience Uploader is permanently living in far-flung metropolises and has no kit, though they certainly seem to have an awful lot of time on their hands judging by their regular 50GB+ sample pack drops. 

If you’ve ever needed an atmospheric urban soundscape then you’re in luck, buddy, because City Ambience Uploader will be uploading comprehensive recordings of every street vendor in Chiang Mai every fortnight for the next 23 years. That is unless they manage to get some gear together, in which case they’ll start uploading bumper volumes of Sad Guitar Loops instead.

5. Linux Producer

DAW: Ardour
Location: The imagination
Age: N/A

There’s probably some kind of music software available on open-source operating system Linux, but no one really has any concrete proof of this because there’s zero recorded evidence of anyone using the OS to make music.

Sure, you spoke to an Autechre fan at a party once who told you about Linux’ legitimacy as a music-making platform, and who argued that it offered some kind of vague advantage over mainstream operating systems, but did they play you any of their music? Of course not, because it never existed.

This archetype poses us with something of a koan: If someone has a laptop full of music-making software that they’ve tuned to perfection, but has never actually made anything with it, are they still a producer?

We would apologise to any Linux Producers reading this, but bearing in mind the Schrodinger's Cat-style uncertainty over their existence, it feels like a waste of time.

6. Reaper Evangelist

DAW: Reaper
Location: Reaper
Age: Reaper

Ask almost any question related to music production online and you can be sure that, before too long, a helpful Reaper zealot will pop up and strongly suggest trying out their favourite DAW. 

So why not give it a go? It’s free, after all, except not really, though in the inevitable event you don’t make any money from your musical endeavours, you can get a cheaper license.

What’s more it has a low resource footprint, can be run from a USB drive, it’s cross-platform with an (of course) experimental build available for Linux, it’s super-customisable, and developer Cockos is always putting out updates and listening to community feedback, etc, etc, etc.

Sure, it’s all very enticing, but the thing the Reaper Evangelist doesn’t realise is that not everyone wants or needs that much DAW power, especially not our final type of producer...

Home recording on iPad

(Image credit: Future)

7. The Normie

DAW: GarageBand
Location: Anywhere there are MacBooks
Age: 20s

Proof the neurotypical can produce too, The Normie is a singer-songwriter who just wants to record their songs without having to get a computer science degree, and thanks to GarageBand, the only thing standing in their way is their inability to grasp what an audio interface is.

The owner of a USB microphone, The Normie’s musical aspirations are advanced by modern music-making software’s accessibility, and they’re happy to use compressor plugins that feature only thee knobs, blissfully unaware how or or even why anyone would use anything more complicated. 

The Normie has more social media followers than you by several orders of magnitude thanks to their human face, and as such, their music will be listened to by actual people rather than the same old collection of three bots.

That said, they’ll never make a physically-modelled accordion in Reaktor, so you can safely continue to consider them your inferior.

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects… image
Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine