Pros and Cons of Being a Music Video Producer
Music video producers supervise the financial and business aspects of a music video production. Read the following pros and cons to decide if a career as a music video producer is right for you.
|Pros of a Music Video Production Career|
|Excellent earning potential for the most successful producers (top 10% earned more than $187,000 in May 2014)*|
|Work on location (travel anywhere in the world to sites where videos are shot)*|
|Opportunity for self employment (roughly 15% were self employed in 2012)*|
|Variety of outlets for distribution (new technologies, wide exposure online through sites like YouTube.com)**|
|Cons of a Music Video Production Career|
|Extremely competitive, can take many years to 'break in' (more applicants than jobs; predicted growth for producers and directors was 3% from 2012-2022)*|
|Highly stressful (producers are under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines, stay within budget)*|
|Jobs are short and hours are long and irregular (work nights, weekends and holidays)*|
|May have to hold a second job to earn money between projects*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **College Foundation of North Carolina.
Job Description and Duties
The majority of music video producers work either for production companies or on a freelance basis. Those who work for production companies spend much of their time looking for the next project to take on that is in line with the focus of the company, while those who are self-employed typically have the stress of constantly trying to locate new projects.
Producers are responsible for hiring everyone involved in a video, including the director, crew, production staff, choreographer and cast. They oversee the creative interpretation and direction of each project, develop a production schedule, set up the location(s), negotiate contracts and appropriate funds. On set, they provide leadership throughout the filming and production process, which includes managing the set, lighting, sound and editing. Ultimately, the producer is responsible not only for completing the video on time and staying on budget, but also for the quality of the final product.
Career Prospects and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in this extremely competitive field where applicants outnumber available jobs, producers with strong business skills and a track record of producing successful projects will likely have the best prospects. The BLS did not publish data specific to music video producers, but employment for producers and directors across all industries (music, film, television, radio and the performing arts) was only predicted to grow 3% between 2012 and 2022. That's slower than average for all occupations. The number of self-employed producers and directors was listed at 15% in 2012. There are likely to be more opportunities for those who take advantage of Web and mobile platforms.
The BLS reported in May 2014 that the median annual salary for producers and directors in all industries was around $69,000. Salaries can vary widely though, because individuals employed by the motion picture and video industries earned about $106,000 per year on average, while independent producers often get paid by the project and may have to take on multiple jobs to make a living.
What Are the Requirements?
Although a degree isn't required to become a music producer, many hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant area, such as music production, technology, business or video production. Experience is also vital to securing employment. Producers often start out as interns in the office of a production company and work their way up to assistant producers then producers. Building a solid reputation is the key to advancing to higher-profile, higher-paying jobs.
Music video producers often possess both business acumen and creative abilities. Some of the skills music producers typically have include:
- Leadership abilities to manage a production team
- Communication skills to work with a variety of personalities
- Management abilities to hire a production crew and keep a project running smoothly
- Financial skills to raise funds and properly allocate them
Job Postings from Real Employers
Employers are looking for music video producers with demonstrable experience who are able to show clips of previous work and who can work with different video formats. Important qualities include musical and creative abilities and business management and communication skills. There were few openings for music video producers during May 2012; the following represent actual employer postings found on job boards:
- A Los Angeles, CA, production studio is in search of experienced YouTube.com music producers to work part time on videos featuring original and cover music. Work is from home, the schedule is flexible, salary is based on experience and all videos include production credits.
- A media company in Pittsburgh, PA, is seeking a music video producer for an upcoming 4-day shoot. The ideal candidate will be reliable, passionate and creative, as well as be able to hire a crew, create a budget, raise funds and market the production.
- A Los Angeles, CA, global digital commerce and media company is looking to hire a video producer with at least three years of experience to work in several genres, including documentaries, live events, commercials and music videos. He or she should have strong verbal and written communication skills, leadership abilities, creative vision and the ability to manage all aspects of the digital production process.
How to Stand out
The music video industry has changed significantly because of decreased funding from record companies and a lack of airplay on traditional outlets like MTV. Music videos are increasingly moving online to sites like YouTube.com, where artists have their own channels. Additionally, videos are being released exclusively on mobile devices through applications. You can stand out to employers by learning to create videos for these new delivery platforms and keeping up with the latest technological developments.
Produce Multiple Types of Media Content
According to the College Foundation of North America, more than 67% of the music video production companies in the U.S. have closed in recent years. This means that it can be increasingly challenging to locate work in this area of production. Producers can keep their skills sharp and expand their career opportunities by producing other types of content, such as short films, commercials and documentaries.
Other Career Paths
If you want to make music videos, but would rather not have the responsibilities of a producer, you may want to consider becoming a video editor. Editors use software programs to construct a video out of the footage that was shot and collaborate with producers and directors to finish the final product. They typically have a bachelor's degree in film or a related area and years of experience as an assistant editor and editor.
Similar to producers, editors often face stiff competition for the few jobs available - the BLS predicted employment growth for film and video editors would be just 5% between 2010 and 2020. The median salary of these professionals was about $53,000, as of May 2011. However, during the same reporting period, those working in the motion picture and video industries earned an average salary of about $75,000.
Individuals who prefer to work purely on the business side of music and who are willing to work for a considerable amount of time for record or production companies, could consider careers as music executives. Top executives may be responsible for everything from setting and achieving organizational goals to overseeing finances to negotiating contracts and improving productivity.
They often possess at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, music or a related area, and some may hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Years of work experience in the music industry and management experience are also common. According to the BLS, in May 2011, chief executives earned a median annual salary of roughly $167,000. However, those involved in the management of companies and enterprises averaged about $209,000 per year.