Music Producer

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Music Producer


Life without music would be silent and dreary. Life without music producers would accentuate this melancholy. Music producers produce all of the music we hear on the radio and buy from music stores. They are responsible for planning and coordinating the production of musical recordings. They often "schmooze" and bump elbows with musicians and music industry gurus. Music producers contract musicians to sign under their label and direct them during rehearsals and recordings. They are also in charge of the technicians who duplicate, dub and master these recordings. They create and record music within a period of time and usually on a strict budget.

The music industry is a multi-billion dollar global business entity. It is diverse and highly complex in activities and requires educated producers with intensive, specialized knowledge, skills and training. Becoming a successful music producer can be both challenging and rewarding. Since the producer is responsible for the sound and "feel" of the music, they must make sure that it will be successful and marketable to listeners and buyers. If the sound will not capture the market or does not appeal to a wide range of listeners, than it is probably not a good idea to continue with such a project.

The production process can be a long and arduous endeavor. In pre-production, the producer will meet with the musician(s) and rehearse in the studio. When the producer feels they are ready, the recording begins. Every instrument and voice is recorded separately onto individual tracks. Once the recording is complete, the producers must work with the engineers and technicians to fuse the tracks together and create polished and perfected music. They raise and lower frequencies on each track according to the sound the producer is ultimately aiming to achieve. This takes hours of careful listening and engineering to produce the sound and feel that will make the music successful to audiences. The post-production will involve marketing, sales and distribution.

Most producers begin in music editing or engineering and then move into the production side of the business. Since the production side incorporates business, marketing and finance, music producers will have a background in both the technical side and knowledge of music along with a good business sense. Music producers can also work for television, film and computer software companies. They consult with television and film producers and incorporate their music skills when producing a film score or background soap opera music, for example.

Those working strictly in the record producing side of the business are usually paid through royalties. Therefore, in order to make more money, producers must promote their artists and hope for their success. It takes many producers years to become successful, but when that happens, they reap the benefits of their hard work and perseverance.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Since music producers are looking to promote both an artist and their music to stardom, they must possess good judgment and a good ear and eye for talent. Natural stars have charisma along with talent therefore a producer should be able to see something special in those they record and promote.

Technical knowledge is very important along with tact and good communication skills. Producers will have to deal with music agents who can be very conniving and pushy. Therefore, they must be strong in their decision making and beliefs. Music producers should have the ability to work under pressure and have an extensive understanding of music and new trends.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Scout out musical talent for potential recording
  • Find financial backing for the venture
  • Help musicians and band throughout the rehearsing and recording stages
  • Oversee budgets, schedules and plans
  • Coordinate the day-to-day production in and out of the studio
  • Negotiate with distributors and radio broadcasters
  • Promote the musician or band through various advertising techniques
  • If working on a film, discuss the film's music requirements with directors and composers before they select music for a film
  • A typical day for a music producer will vary. Some days will be spent on the phone or in meeting with clients and musicians whereas other days will take place in the recording studio. Sometimes hours will be irregular and long as recording must be perfect, no matter how many takes it takes. The job is stressful sometimes due to the deadline nature of things.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Most music producers own their own private record companies or producing labels. Therefore, once they build a reputation for themselves and generate a list of successful musicians attached to their record label, they have literally struck gold. Other producers work for major record labels or companies such as Sony, Island or Warner Brothers, and produce music from artists already contracted within the company.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Advancement for music producers within the recording industry is quite difficult, as the producer is usually one of the top positions one can obtain. They run the show, from the idea to the product, so unless a career change is what one has in mind, advancement or movement could be to other positions in music.

Also, since it costs so much to produce a record, unless one is independently wealthy, people do not immediately become record producers. They must make the right connections in order to build trust with potential investors. The most successful music producers have spent years in various jobs in this industry.

  Educational Paths  
Although there is no specific required educational path for becoming a music producer, most have an undergraduate degree or college diploma in audio engineering or music management. Producers need as much education and experience as they can attain to become a producer, including an extensive knowledge of the music industry combined with a technical background. Many are musicians as well, which is a good starting point for knowing where and how to find talent.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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