Is music production a viable career path? Well, it certainly can be! Will you be able to make a good living as a music producer? It really depends!
You may think that there’s a fixed path to becoming a music producer, but that’s not the case. You must have above average talent and skill in at least one domain: sound design, audio engineering, composition, etc. Add to that a fair amount of determination and drive to constantly learn and put yourself out there. You must also be insusceptible to criticism, especially at a pro level, where your work and ideas will often be rejected. This doesn’t mean that success is unattainable, that’s actually very far from the truth. Getting your foot in the door is not easy and you need to be prepared for that.
Music production can be a very rewarding career, however, to get there you need to really grind it out. It is not like other career options where you simply go to school and get a job. Most highly sought after music producers never had formal education. It’s also not a 9 – 5 job, and there is a lot of variance in how much money you can make along with what kind of job security you should expect.
Like every other career in the arts, you need talent and a bit of luck to make it big. It is a creative endeavor and talent alone won’t cut it! You also need to have thick skin and good people skills. Keep on reading to learn more!
What Does a Music Producer Do?
The main role of music producers is to record an artist properly and edit the recordings into a single coherent piece. Producers mix sounds together to create the sound an artist is looking for. Essentially, a music producer is the guide who brings the group or artist’s vision to fruition.
Music producers bring their own perspectives and vision to the table as well. What they do is, in a sense, analogous to what directors do. They use the available tools (e.g., performers, actors) to achieve the required product (e.g., movie, song) while adding a few tweaks here and there.
The reason why bands, artists, and songwriters would rather employ a producer than do the work themselves is that they often want someone to guide them in achieving their vision. They might also want to gain a new perspective or simply want to collaborate with the producer’s available material. In most cases, the producer is someone the artists admire.
In hip hop/electronic music, however, the term “producer” is vaguely defined. It often refers to the person that makes the beat as opposed to the definition we already established. Electronics artists like Skrillex, Avicii, Marshmello, etc. create their own projects from scratch. They make the beats, edit them, and perform the final product. Essentially, they one-man the entire thing.
How Much Money Do Music Producers Make?
Producers with a fair amount of work under their portfolio and good industry credits get paid around 5,000 to15,000 USDper project, assuming their names aren’t recognized. More experienced producers can charge up to 50,000 USD per project, and they may also take a cut of the royalties. For high-end producers, the pay widely varies, but there is often a lot of flexibility in negotiating deals. A 100,000 USD compensation for a single project is very realistic. It really depends on what the producer brings to the table and what their portfolio entails
At an independent level, producers can expect something more around the 1000 to 5000 dollar range. However, deals are heavily negotiable. They mainly depend on the budget of the artist and what the producer is willing to settle for. Usually deals edge towards higher royalties with a lower charge upfront.
What are the Working Hours for Music Producers?
Music production is definitely not a 9-5 type of job. If you’re looking at it that way, then you’re in for a rude awakening. Music production is more of a lifestyle. You should put in several hours of daily practice, promote yourself continuously, and constantly keep yourself updated on the industry norms. You can’t limit your work to a fixed timeframe.
What is the Job Security Like as a Music Producer?
It really depends on how good you are. As long as you have good projects under your belt and good connections, you’re in the game. The music industry is built around credibility and image. There are a lot of fresh producers out there that haven’t had a chance yet. People tend to default to names they’re familiar with. So, if you have good skills and people enjoy working with you, you’ll never run out of job offers!
What are the Requirements for Becoming a Successful Music Producer?
A college education isn’t really essential. But you can certainly go down that path. Formal education could be worthwhile if you value having experienced mentors to guide you. However, every single aspect of music production from mastering, music composition, mixing, synthesis, music theory, etc. is something you could learn by yourself. Plus, you won’t have any time obligations and can definitely understand the concepts on the same level as someone who attended college.
Social Skills / Networking
Knowing the right people is an invaluable currency. You could say that having decent business skills is much more important than knowing specifically how a DAC or DSP works. The people you know might as well launch your career forward. Apply for an internship as a producer to meet new people, even if the pay isn’t great. Get an idea of what working with clients is like and experience how things work firsthand. Eventually, a few opportunities might present themselves to you, so take them!
You have to take any possible chance to put yourself out there. You control whether you get a good project with a well-known artist. Once that happens, things usually snowball. There isn’t one way to go about networking, but mainly speak to everyone. You can go to organized music events, join an online forum, or move to an area where music production is a booming industry. In due course, someone will refer you to someone and an opportunity will present itself. It is all about the grind!
Setting Your Priorities
Are you okay with pulling all-nighters while your friends party? Are you okay with not getting anywhere even when you put in a ton of hours? You should be ready to work on your production skills even if there is no immediate return on your efforts. Basically, you are training yourself to have a mindset where you look at your work objectively and acknowledge that it isn’t worth listening to yet.
. You should know that you are signing up for a lot of hard work, but it is achievable. You shouldn’t expect any instant rewards, you’ll have to be patient. You also won’t have any fixed deadlines to get your work done, that’s why you’ll need to be extremely self-disciplined. Keep in mind that things might not work out the way you intend, but that’s fine as long as you give it your all. You’ll have great experiences and extra skills to show off.
Pick a niche that appeals to you the most which you can specialize in. A lot of new producers dive headfirst into the industry without understanding what areas are profitable and how business works. They ignore the fact that you need people to pay for your skills. You need to know which customers to target and how to reach them to make a living. For example, if you are an aspiring artist, you should work on building a fanbase. As a music producer, you should have a fixed path to follow and a genre to specialize in. You can’t turn a good profit as a jack of all trades. Instead, you should figure out what niche appeals to you and master it.
Becoming the Best at Your Craft
Become the best at your craft by putting in constant work on honing your skills and gain an edge over your competitors. That way you supersede the top producers as they fall off. This only works when you put in several hours to master your craft. Work 12 hours a day 6 days a week! Being satisfied with your skill will take years. However, if you want to make a living out of music, you’ll have to spend twice as long practicing as you would on a hobby. So, give it your all! This is a profession that stems from passion. Even though you are putting in all this work, it’s not like working a desk job. It has to be something you enjoy or you won’t get far.
Developing Good Habits
Don’t spend your time trying to learn everything. There is an infinite amount of information. If you spend your time trying to figure out how everything works, you’re going to get stuck in theory. However, if you want to become a good producer who can actually create good tracks, start working on practical projects. As you are creating a track, you’ll figure out how different parameters affect your mix and how to create a track from A-Z. This should be your primary objective.
Work on building habits that will compel you to work on your skills. If you assign time periodically for a certain task, you’re more likely to maintain it. That’s why, if you want to become a better music producer you need to instill healthy habits that will complement your drive to learn and become a better producer.
While there are certainly a lot of extremely talented kids making their way up really fast, they’re often favored by luck. There are a lot of renowned producers who got a shot at a much later age. That’s why you should plan out a stable career that you can maintain and enjoy. So don’t rush things! Be patient and let time run its course.
Music production can definitely be a good career, and one that pays well! You can also earn a lot of money if you are good at it. However, you will need to have a fair amount of skill, patience and dedication. Don’t focus on getting it right in the beginning. Instead, focus on becoming well-accustomed to your tools. Try to finish tracks fast. Work on creating a track worth listening to within a fixed deadline.
Practice and learn to stay relevant and up to date on the industry norms. It’s a path you have to be really excited about. You should also have a basic understanding of how the business aspect works if you ever want to make a living out of it. Making a beat is easy. Creating good tracks is what gives you an edge over others. Essentially, understanding how the business works while having decent music skills is what grounds you in the industry.
Successful music producers understand that opportunities won’t come knocking at their door, they actively look for them. Better yet, they create their own opportunities! If you want to succeed as a music producer, you must have an upper hand over your competitors (like excelling at a certain niche), combine that with an unyielding drive and passion to constantly improve your skills. Finally, you should get well-acquainted with how the music business works and you will be on your way to becoming a successful music producer.