How Do I Become a Music Producer?

Explore the career requirements for music producers. Get the facts about education requirements, job duties, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Music Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Music Producer Do?

Most professional musicians who have been working for decades have favorite music producers they work with on a regular basis because they know how to bring how the best in the artist and the compositions. Music producers work with singers, choirs and other groups to select music, make musical arrangements, work with musicians and recording engineers and sound technicians to produce live performances or digital recordings. Most new artists work very closely with a music producer who can use these skills to help make an artist sound better, choose the right songs, and help with arrangements of the music to bring out the artist's best qualities.

A music producer, also called an audio producer, oversees the music-recording process from start to finish. Duties may include helping choose songs, arranging for studio time, and making sure projects stay on budget. The table below lists the general requirements for a career as a music producer.

Degree RequiredAssociate or bachelor's degree in music-related field recommended
Master's degree can improve job opportunities
Other RequirementsStrong background in music
Well-trained musical ear
Music portfolio
Job Growth (2014-2024)9% (for producers and directors)*
Median Salary (2015)$68,440 (for producers and directors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Background for Aspiring Music Producers

A background in music is a requirement for most degree programs in music production. While you need not be an expert performer, a high level of musical acumen is necessary to demonstrate that you have a well-trained musical ear. Many colleges, universities and technical schools require you to demonstrate your skill on at least one instrument; however, some schools will allow you to provide other proof of your ability. For example, you may demonstrate your ability to read sheet music or provide sample recordings from a home studio.

Associate and Bachelor's Degree Programs in Music Production

To prepare for a career as a music producer, you might consider getting a 2- or 4-year degree in audio production or a related field, such as music technology. Associate and bachelor's degree programs in audio production tend to focus on music theory and technical aspects of production, such as recording, mixing and editing. Many schools also require you to take general education courses like speech communication and psychology, skills that can be beneficial in a music production career.

In addition, most programs require that you complete a variety of projects, not only to learn, but also to build your portfolio. Placement in internships where you gain hands-on experience is also quite common, especially in bachelor's degree programs. Upon graduation with an associate or bachelor's degree in audio production, you may be qualified for positions in recording and post-production of music for CDs, television, film and other media.

Master's Degree Programs in Music Production

A master's degree is not required to find employment as a music producer; however, it can help separate one aspiring music producer from another. Master's degree programs in music production or music technology tend to focus solely on music and audio, skipping general education courses. Specific classes you might encounter include contemporary composition, film scoring and legal rights in the music industry. Given the nature of music production, master's degree programs in this area generally don't include written thesis papers, but most require you to complete a final project that shows what you've learned.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2015, producers and directors earned a median salary of $68,440. The job outlook for the years 2014 to 2024 is listed as an increase of 9% for producers and directors.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Most related career fields revolve around the entertainment industry and only need bachelor's degrees to start. Producing video or film is a viable career area. Working with scripts, writers, actors and other producers to create music videos, television shows or full length movies are also options. Other alternative career fields could include video, film and music editing, camera and sound operators, and even being an executive for a recording company. All of these alternatives work directly with engineers and performers to create a work of art.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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