Becoming a Record Producer: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about a record producer's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a record producer.
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Pros and Cons of Working As a Record Producer

Record producers work with recording artists to create commercially released albums of music. Read on to decide if becoming a record producer is the right career for you.

PROS of a Record Production Career
Producers may contribute a creative vision for a recording project *
A producer's work involves both creativity and marketing **
Producers may work with various media (television, film and musical recordings)***

CONS of a Record Production Career
This field is highly competitive****
Producers must stay updated on technologies and legal issues*****
Recording process can be time consuming and repetitive*****

Sources: *National Association for Music Education, **York College of Pennsylvania, ***Berklee College of Music, ****San Francisco State University, *****Association of Music Producers.

Job Description and Duties

Record producers help recording artists realize their artistic vision and create albums. Producers oversee the recording process and work with artists to capture their best possible performance. Producers will also contract additional music professionals and help artists select songs for the project. In addition to the creative aspects of this job, producers also have a hand in the business side of the recording industry. For example, producers can work to keep a project from going over budget and may also help devise ways to market an album.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Record production is a highly competitive field, but there are also a several different industries that demand producers with a background in audio technology and engineering. In 2012, Berklee College of Music noted that record producer annual salaries might start as low as $25,000. However, based on the scale of a project, annual salaries can also reach as high as $1,000,000. Information published by the college in 2010 notes that these figures are not comprehensive and can vary dramatically based on factors like location and expertise.

Career Path and Education

You will find that many colleges offer programs that can help you prepare for a career as a record producer. For example, some schools offer associate or bachelor's degree programs in music technology or audio engineering that will help you develop your technical skills and provide you with an audio engineering background. Some schools also offer certificate programs that include music business courses as well as audio engineering classes. Many of the programs you find will include internship opportunities that could allow you to work at professional recording studios, television stations or radio stations.

How Can I Stand Out in This Field?

You will find that there are networking opportunities for recording industry professionals that may help open some doors during your job search. For example, you may look into joining an organization like the Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association (MEISA). Membership will permit you to attend workshops and conferences engineered for prospective music industry professionals. The organization also provides scholarship opportunities and will plug you into a nationwide network of industry figures.

Alternate Career Options

Sound Engineering Technician

If you're interested in the technical side of music recording, you might consider becoming a sound engineering technician. These professionals mix, record and synchronize audio in a number of different professional settings, such as in music recording studios or on television sets. In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $47,000. From 2010-2020, the BLS predicted that they would see only a one percent increase in job growth. According to the BLS, most of these technicians have completed at least some college training, while others hold associate degrees.

Monitor Engineer

If you are more interested in working on live sound performances, you should take a look at a career as a monitor engineer. Monitor engineers work in concert venues, theaters and other public spaces where musical performances take place. They make sure a performer has operational microphones and monitors. The Berklee College of Music estimates that most monitor engineers earn between $35,000 and $60,000 per year.

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    1. American University

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American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
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Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Communication

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations

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The Art Institutes

  • Film (MFA)
  • Audio Production (BS)
  • Audio Production (AS)
  • Video Skills (D)

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

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Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • BS - Music Production (Campus)
  • B.S. - Recording Arts

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