Music Producer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a music producer career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a music producer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Music Producer

Music producers tend to learn their trade through experience rather than academics, and many have a bachelor's degree at most. Find out more about this career by reviewing the pros and cons below.

Pros of a Music Producer Career
Little if any formal education required *
Potential for high wages (over $90,000 in May 2014)*
Opportunity to combine business with creativity *
Job duties offer variety *

Cons of a Music Producer Career
Fierce competition for jobs *
High stress position *
Erratic work hours *
Very few producers earn top salaries *

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Music Producers

Job Description and Duties

This is a lead management position in creating a final music product. They oversee hiring, budgets, deadlines and other administration duties. Producers also have input and veto power over possible production changes. Some jobs may require you to work with your resources on a micro-management basis, by taking charge of tasks such as ensuring the supplies in the green room meet the artist's demands.

Music producers may find jobs in a variety of venues and events, including concerts, recording, films and even video games. This can be a project-centric career with long periods of unemployment between gigs, which may also create a great deal of stress. Irregular hours are the norm and the position may require you to travel.

Salary and Career Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places media producers and directors in the same classification so the figures will include both occupations. The BLS reported an annual mean wage over $90,000 for producers and directors as of May 2014. Some producers work for a percentage of the proceeds of the production, which can mean a cut from record sales, for instance. Few producers earn exceptional wages. The BLS also predicted that producers and directors could see an 3% increase in job opportunities between 2012 and 20220, but competition will be fierce. Independent producers can expect to be in greater demand.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Music Producer?

Education and Training

Since music production degree programs are rare, many producers have a bachelor's degree in a field that can be applied to the career's ability and knowledge needs such as music, music management or business management. Experience is a large factor and producers may begin their careers by working in smaller roles in management offices, as musician managers or in recording studios. Some of the key personal qualities for this job include communication and leadership skills, creativity and management skills.

What Do Employers Look for?

One of the largest factors that you'll consistently find in job postings is the requirement for experience in a specific venue. Leadership abilities and communication skills are also among the high-priorities. The job postings below were located in November 2012.

  • A Texas college-radio station wanted a producer to oversee live music events. The producer be responsible for coordinating bands, representatives and record companies for performances in-studio and in other venues. The producer would also be involved in many aspects of studio production including meeting input, attending events, equipment management, social media and program coordination. The position required a bachelor's degree and five years of experience in radio and/or television production and knowledge of the local music scene. The ideal candidate would have experience as a live production music host.
  • A California video game company was looking for an audio producer with team leadership experience to provide production management for a next generation project. The producer would be responsible for coordinating schedules, department resources and personnel, as well as acting as the project administrator. The position required three years of producer experience, team management skills and proven leadership in at least one completed project. This position had no education requirements.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Get Educated

There may not always be an education requirement for this career, but considering the breadth of duties involved, you might consider tailoring a degree program to cover as many aspects as possible. There are over a hundred schools in the U.S. that offer music management programs. Starting with that framework (or a comparable program) and filling your elective slots with courses in financial management and marketing may prepare you better for the field. You may also boost your people skills through courses in communications and psychology.

Get Experience

In this industry, there doesn't seem to be such a thing as too much experience. Whether you're helping set up equipment as a roadie, playing an instrument or running errands for an actual music producer, you're taking another step in acquiring the hands-on knowledge you'll need to succeed. You can also find internship positions with record labels that are willing to let you shadow music industry professionals and learn many aspects of the business. Some companies will even give you college credit for your intern work.

Alternate Career Paths

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Another music industry career that will allow you to work with the production aspect is the job of broadcast or sound engineering technician. You may need a high school diploma or an associate's degree, but more important is technical training. The job duties include operating audio equipment, such as mixers and soundboards for television, radio, concerts and recording studios. The BLS predicted this career would see a ten percent increase in job opportunities in the 2010-2020 decade. Sound engineering technicians earned an annual mean wage of about $56,000 as of May 2011 according to a BLS report.

Singers and Musicians

If you're daunted by the scope of responsibility required of a music producer, you might consider exploring a career making your own music. The BLS predicted a ten percent increase in job opportunities for singers and musicians between 2010 and 2020, but noted that competition could be fierce. In general, there aren't any advanced educational requirements, but most opera and classical music performers have a bachelor's degree. The BLS reported that musicians and singers earned a mean hourly wage of about $32.00 as of May 2011.

Popular Schools

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    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

      • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
      • BS - Music Production (Campus)
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      • BS - Music Business (Campus)
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      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
      • B.S. - Music Production
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    2. Regent University

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      • M.A. in Communication
      • M.A. in Film & Television
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    3. Liberty University

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      • DBA: Strategic Media & Digital Content
      • MA: Communication
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    4. Penn Foster High School

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Featured Schools

Full Sail University

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

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Regent University

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Liberty University

  • DBA: Strategic Media & Digital Content
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Penn Foster High School

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