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How to Become a Music Producer with Top Online Degrees

Learn how to become a music producer with online education

Music production is one of the most exciting, most interesting, and most unique industries. It involves science, art, business, style, craft, talent, and more. It includes musicians of all types, from classically-trained pianists to school-of-life hiphop artists. Country fiddlers, heavy metal drummers, blues guitarists; all are part of the music industry. Music producers plan recording sessions, operate the recording equipment, lay down digital sounds, and improve the overall quality. They also book supporting musicians like bassist and drummers, reserve studio time, market the final production, and encourage music sales. If this career sounds like a wonderful opportunity for you, keep reading and learn how to become a music producer.

How to Become a Music Producer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Want to know how to get into music production? Although there are many paths to this engaging career, these are the steps for how to become a music producer.

  1. Learn to play an instrument (optional)
  2. Enroll in one of the top online music production degrees
  3. Learn and use current music production software
  4. Land a entry-level role with a music label or studio
  5. Enhance your music engineering skills with a certificate

What Does a Music Producer Do?

What is a music producer any how? Are they musicians? Composers? Song writers? Managers? Directors? As it you’ll learn, they are all of the above…and more.

A music producer has one of the most far-reaching and all-encompassing careers, not just in the music industry, but in the job market as a whole. Careers in music production bring a wide variety of responsibilities; as the cliche goes, you’ll have to “wear many hats” when working in this profession. Because of this, it’s extremely hard to define the role and outline the specific duties. If you are wondering what does a music producer do, the answer, unfortunately, is far from simple.

In many ways, it’s less about how to make music and more about how to organize musicians and musical productions.

To put it bluntly, a music producer is responsible for making sure music gets produced. This can mean everything from taking a hands-on approach to the actual creation of music, or more of an overall managerial role. Their work can be closer to that of a musician, or their work can resemble a movie producer, who aligns financing, arranges supporting services, books time on the studio, and performs countless other tasks that result in a final musical product.

A music producer may, at any given time, be responsible for recording songs, scouting talent, crafting musical themes, and more.

With so many duties in a music producer job description, the work could also resemble a marketing professional. They may need to promote artists and their music, identify target audiences, build awareness for an upcoming concert, or even act as a public relations manager for musicians.

Much of a music producer’s work revolves around the music studio. Whether or not they are operating the sound boards and recording devices themselves, they are often present during a recording session. Depending on their musical background, a producer could provide guidance to musicians that help create a stronger product.

So what is a music producer? While the music producer job description can be complicated, they are the people that keep the music industry moving forward, continuing the long tradition of world-class sounds from talented musicians.

Best Online Music Production Degrees

There is no single path to becoming a music producer; there are actually many different ways that you can work your way into this career. Although there are no music producer education requirements, the career often requires a mixture of education and experience, and the leading producers often attend music production colleges.

Music Production Education Requirements

A passion for music, regardless of your education, is fundamental. But it never hurts to have an education that helps improve your chances of landing the best music production jobs. An online bachelor's in music can greatly advance your career opportunities. Fortunately, you are not limited to just one or two educations to become a music producer. Almost any education will help, but here are a few majors and academic concentrations that can help in your journey…

Online Bachelor’s in Music Production

The most obvious is music production. Like all degrees, the specific classes and subjects you study will depend on the courses and the school. But when studying music production, you can expect to learn the basics of music theory, sequencing technologies, and songwriting. You may also learn development techniques and creative writing, which helps you create world-class music and lyrics. Classes could also include commercial music practices, which are essential for successful careers in music production. This is a broad, all-encompassing degree that helps you understand the music industry as well as how to be a better musician.

Online Bachelor’s in Music Composition

If you want to know how to make music, this could be the top degree for your future. These degrees offer courses in the composition and orchestration of music, and it’s usually focused on the tasks of creating a song, performing the music, and making it as precise as possible. Learning to play instruments, such as the piano or violin, is often part of this education option.

Other Useful Education

Music Performance
This degree is all about the physical performance of an instrument. In most schools, students will have to declare a principle instrument, which can include guitar, trumpet, percussion, violin, piano, trombone, and more. You’ll learn to recite music and participate in performances, while developing an understanding for a successful music production.

Digital Music
Digital music is considered a narrow field. It’s a highly respected part of the overall music industry, an area that requires skill, talent, and often an education. A digital music degree focuses on creating music and sounds through the use of computers, a skill that is used not just in the music industry but also in film and television. Audio engineering schools sometimes offer an education in digital music.

Music History
There are many options for a music production degree that you can pursue, including a degree in musical history. Music history helps you understand the cultural and historical impact of music and its role in society. It can help you form ideas from classic music and incorporate principles of music that are important to the human experience.

Music Theory
Another excellent music production degree is music theory. This degree helps you understand that basic principles of music, and it includes everything from scales, harmony, melody, rhyme patterns, and beat. Essentially, it’s the study of the bare elements that create music. This career is a great solution for how to learn to produce music.

Art & Production Management
This degree is especially helpful if you want to pursue a career in music engineering, although it’s usually focused more on the management of teams and resources, the organization of musical or artistic efforts, than the music itself. It’s more of a management and organizational education, but it’s extremely helpful for becoming a music producer.

Music production, in many ways, is a business. Just like movie producers are not actors or directors, music producers are not necessarily musicians. They need an understanding of basic business practices, including management, project leadership, accounting, budgeting, and marketing. Successful music producers often have some kind of business background, and studying this topic could lead to a successful career.

Music is often tied to the law. There are copyright laws, royalty contracts, contract negotiations, and many other legal issues that need to be discussed. Having a grasp on the legal issues that impact the music business could help you compete in this industry.

Learn to Produce Music with a Certificate

Becoming a music producer requires a variety of skills and talents, and while music production schools offer four-year degrees and even two-year associate degrees, you can bolster your career potential with a certificate. These certificates, which often require only a few months of studying (or less) can give you a variety of skills in music production.

You can find select certificates in a variety of areas, including music engineering, entrepreneurship, business, and the legal issues that impact the music industry. (Of course, a certificate would not make you an attorney, but it helps establish a fundamental understanding.)

In just a few short months, you could complete a certificate and meet the basic music producer education requirements.

How Much Music Production Experience Do You Need?

A music producer needs to be an expert in the music industry. Not just in how to write and play songs (in fact, that’s not a requirement), but in how the industry works, where the money comes from, what expenses are included, and what types of issues impact the successful production of a song or album.

Because the industry is so complex, music producers often need at least five years of experience. This is an essential part for how to become a music producer.

This experience can come in many different forms, but it usually starts with an internship at a music company, such as a record company or music studio. You could also work for a music theater or any type of organizations that works with music.

Careers in Music Production: Pros & Cons

The life of a music producer often requires long hours and late nights in the recording studio or arranging a special project. There are many advantages, especially for people who love music, but there are downsides as well. You can earn a strong income, enjoy relative stability, and work in some of the most popular places and exciting cities in the country, including New York City, Nashville, and Los Angeles.

The Life of a Music Producer

Understanding how to get into music production is only part of the process. You should also understand the lifestyle after becoming a music producer, including the pros and cons of this profession.

The life of a music producer is often marked by periods of almost endless work followed by periods where there is little to do. You may spend a month or more working 80 hour weeks to finalize a recording, then spend another month with little to do. You have to fill multiple roles, which can be complicated and sometimes frustrating.

One of the downsides to working as a music producer is the inconsistent work schedules and unique hours. You will likely have to work evenings, weekends, early mornings, and everything in between. This is not something that most people enjoy, although some thrive in this atmosphere; for many, it’s a motivation for becoming a music producer.

On the positive side, music production allows you to work in an interesting field, one that has elements of art and creativity, as well as the chance to earn a strong music producer salary. It’s a career that allows for creative collaboration, and gives you the chance to impact the music that people listen to. You could, quite literally, change the songs that people hear everyday. For many, that is a big motivator for becoming a music producer.

Music Producer Salary

Most people don’t complete an online music production degree and enter this career solely for a music producer salary. Frankly, the typical pay is not so high that income is the main motivator.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is generally regarded as the best resource for salary and career information. However, they do not have a profile on music producers. They do, however, have information on a few related careers. Music directors and composers, for example, have median salaries of $49,130, while the top 10% earn over $123,000 annually. Producers and directors, who work in the performing arts and film sector, have median annual salaries of $79,000.

These numbers provide a strong indication for the salaries of a music producer. According to PayScale, the average music producer salary is $51,411, while ZipRecruiter says the average salary is $70,326.

So while you may not earn a salary that brings opulent wealth, you can certainly earn a strong income, especially if you work hard and connect with the right musicians. Your potential salary could also increase if you enroll at one of the top music production schools.

Music Production Career Outlook

Overall salary is important, but for many job seekers stability matters just as much, if not more. Like salary, career growth can be difficult to predict because there is no BLS profile on music producers, but most music careers show strong expected growth.

Musicians and singers are expected to see an overall career growth of 11%, adding over 17,000 jobs between 2020 and 2030. Music directors and composers are expected to see a 6% growth during that time, which is right alongside the expected growth for all jobs across the entire country. Dancers and choreographers are expected to see a growth of 31%, which in part (but not entirely) will be a recovery from reduced numbers due to COVID.

It seems fair that if these careers will have such strong growth, the job outlook for a music producer should be strong as well. After all, if there are more musicians, there should be an increased need for music producers.

However, there could be an issue that impacts growth: technology. As music production software improves and becomes more widespread, the need for experts could diminish. In other words, advancing software will help people who want to find out how to learn to produce music with no formal training and little experience.

Software could make music production easier for less experienced users, thereby diminishing demand for highly-trained music editors and producers.

Where are Music Producers Working?

The music industry, more than many other careers, is regional. Other careers don’t have this issue; as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or software expert (to name a few), you can work in just about any state, city, town, or remote location. The music industry, however, has a reputation for being concentrated in three areas: Los Angeles, New York City, and Nashville.

This reputation appears to have some legitimacy. The New York metro area, for example, has the highest concentration of musicians and singers, followed by Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville. If you are starting the process for how to become a music producer, you can likely expect to live in one of these areas.

However, with today’s digital world and work-from-home environment, it seems entirely possible to work in music production jobs from any location.

How to Get into Music Production

If you are ready to improve your education and launch a successful career in music production, online education can get you there quickly. From online audio engineering schools to music production colleges, there is an online music production degree to help you become a music producer and thrive in your new career!

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