How to Become a Music Producer in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a music producer. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Music Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Music Producer?

Music producers help to shape and mold musical talent to make it marketable. They work with musicians to get the most optimal sound available, and make sure each record shines and shows the artist's prowess. Music producers also may assist in composition and arrangement. They may be hired by studios or musicians, often collaborating on production ideas with artists themselves.

The table below provides a brief outline of this career.

Education Required High school diploma may be sufficient, though college coursework is suggested
Key Responsibilities Prepare and record musical arrangements, market music and artists, book artist performances, select appropriate songs
Job Growth (2012-2024)* 3% for all music directors and composers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $49,820 for music directors and composers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Music Producers Do?

As a music producer, you help new and established artists produce tracks and record a sound that appeals to a certain audience. Your main role is to find, develop and refine musical talent so that it can be marketed to sell. You choose songs and find the best way to produce them while maintaining the artist's vision. You may also book tours and concerts, make decisions on song arrangements and manage the budget for a recording project.

Step 1: Research Music Genres and Recording Styles

As a music producer, you'll eventually have to make the decision of whether you'd like to specialize in one type of music or work with a wider range of musical genres. Specializing may help your production style become better known, while working many genres may allow you to work with more artists. You can learn the basics of software programs used for audio production to keep current with the industry. You may also want to familiarize yourself with some of the older production technology for artists who prefer vintage recordings.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Music

Music producers know the music business, which production techniques work and what listeners like and dislike. This means you'll need to research why music does or doesn't sell. As an aspiring music producer, you can familiarize yourself with music and gain experience by going to concerts and clubs or by playing in a band. You may also work under more experienced music producers as an audio engineer or a sound technician.

Step 3: Record for Free

You need connections and revenue-generating records to succeed, but recording your own band's music and offering to record demos for amateur bands can get your foot in the door and provide practical experience. These services can include preparing arrangements, looking for new talent and marketing the music. You may find that musical artists are eager to work with you if you provide your services for free or at a reduced cost.

Step 4: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

While no required education levels are established for music producers, you may find a bachelor's degree program in music production, recording arts or a related field to be helpful for getting started. As a student in one of these programs, you may take coursework in music theory, business administration, composition, recording software, music production hardware, songwriting and music genres. You may also accumulate studio experience and work with local recording companies.

Step 5: Find and Promote New Artists

Becoming a music producer involves recording and producing music for a fee, scouting new bands and promoting the artists. You can choose from a variety of promotional approaches, such as keeping up with word-of-mouth trends, making use of social networking sites or hiring promoters to inform potential audiences of your artists' upcoming events. Your success as a music producer can rely heavily on the music you release; moreover, each satisfied band or artist may lead to additional referrals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 3% job growth is projected for all music directors and composers for 2014-2024, which is slower than average. In 2015, the median salary for the same group was $49,820.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Since music producers are in the business of composing and arranging, another job of this sort involves working as a conductor. These professionals lead orchestras and other musical performances, and may participate in studio sessions. Conductors help compose and arrange music along with selecting pieces and practicing with the musicians. The education varies, but most conductors hold a bachelor's or master's degree. Another similar career may involve working as a music agent, which deals more with the business side of the entertainment industry. These professionals handle their clients' paperwork and secure them gigs and recording contracts. Educational requirements also vary, though either experience or some college training is preferred.

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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