How to Become a Music Producer

Want to make the next biggest dance hit? See yourself as the next big thing? In the second instalment of the ‘How to Become’ series, we look at music production so all you budding producers out there can know how to forge a career in music.

What Do You Do as a Music Producer?

A music producer can have varying meanings, and therefore, their roles can differ depending on the company/genre they work within. Essentially, a music producer is a ‘project manager’ who is responsible for the recording, mixing and mastering process of a record, and some may even be tasked with writing. They envision the direction and goals of the composition, working to produce the finalised sound by incorporating their perspective and expertise to polish the work of artists, often needing to inspire or advise them. Of course, there is no one way to do this – and every producer will contrast in their skills and approach to projects and therefore could produce different outcomes with the same artist and song.

Music producer tasks include (but are not limited to):

  • Project management- everything from booking studio time, planning and overseeing recording sessions, sourcing instruments, finance management to monitoring the progress of the project.
  • Assisting audio engineers with mixing and recording (typically, the tasks of an audio engineer will be appointed to a music producer in smaller record labels).
  • Songwriting or sourcing.
  • Artist-mentoring, advising and inspiration.
  • Business management and marketing.


What Is Your Expected Salary as a Music Producer?

According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for a music producer is £29,000, with entry-level producers receiving figures anywhere between £15,000 and £20,000. The majority of music producers in the U.K. earn anywhere between £20,000 and £40,000, with top earners (and the more experienced) seeing figures of up to £90,000.

Figures are reflective of the area, and music producers can expect to earn more than anywhere in the country, with the average base pay at around £38,000 (4% more than the national average).


What Do I Need to Become a Music Producer?

To begin with, you need to understand and have a passion for music. Without these drives, you will struggle to become a music producer. Consider which genre and labels you would want to work for to ensure that your knowledge encompasses the needs of these.

Your skill sets should not just cover audio engineering and music production, but consider music industry law and business management to boost your CV above other candidates.

While the tasks needed to become a music producer could be self-taught, it might be difficult for those without the educational background to make it in the industry. In essence, the education and career proof needed to become a music producer will vary, but there are specific academic qualifications that will help you gain the skills you need quicker than if you were to learn by yourself; while industry experience will show that you can apply your skills and knowledge to the workplace. A combination of the two will make you desirable to prospective employees, although, those without experience may be able to impress with a good portfolio.

Having your own Mac system throughout your learning is a worthwhile investment. Music projects take time to perfect and having your own MacBook gives you a powerful system that can handle large music files while allowing your work to be portable, so if you’re looking for the best laptop for music production, look no further than the highest spec MacBooks.

Many music producers will use Macs because the systems are used as an industry standard, so getting used to this operating system during learning will ensure you are not struggling with a system switch-over when you get out into the real world.

Like most students, university studies have to be done on a budget. New MacBooks tend to pricey, so, second-hand MacBooks for sale online can be a great option for those that cannot afford a new one; completely refurbished, these systems are as good as new but without the high price tag.


Is Music Production Right for Me?

If you love music and have a keen ear, can envision whole music compositions from scratch, can inspire musicians and have the skills that are covered above, music production could very well be the career for you.

Music production requires you to find inspiration everywhere and anywhere, utilising the extensive knowledge of the trade to bring projects to completion. Music producers must be able to communicate their visions for projects with others (including label owners and artists) so being able to present ideas clearly is a must, as well as having excellent interpersonal and leadership skills. You will need to be highly creative, as well as technical. Most often than not, music producers are patient and motivated in order to drive a project forward.

You don’t have to know everyone in the music business to get ahead, but networking will most certainly see some doors open. But most importantly, expressing your passion and positive attitude, along with showcasing your talents, will win you great entry roles in label houses that will see you climb the ladder.

Steps to Becoming a Music Producer:

  • Build your skills and work throughout university and through self-directed study (there is a multitude of interviews and documentaries available on YouTube).
  • Complete internships to get real-life experience that bolsters your CV and provides you with knowledge, skills and industry connections.
  • Create an engaging portfolio that demonstrates your technical abilities, project management skills and creativity.
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest trends, industry news and production techniques to make sure that you are current, and ensure that you can talk about these in-depth should you be questioned in a job interview.
  • Ace your interview by doing your research, not only on the label and the interviewer but interview skills also (especially taking on the advice of professional music producers. Videos, like this one from Matt Bodi, are readily available to give you insight).


Now, there’s only one thing left to say: Good luck!

If you have any tips, tricks or thoughts about how to forge a successful career in music production, let us know, either in the comments below or by our social media channels. Stay tuned, our next instalment of ‘How to Become’ will be live next month!

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Feature Photo by Gavin Whitner