Music is a part of our lives. We listen to it, think about it, and some of us want to make our own music. Music excites, cheers, and soothes us. It brings us happiness and peace. Music producers are the main people responsible for creating music that makes us feel so many emotions. It is not just a passion project or a hobby but a full-time paid job. So many people make a career out of music. So let’s learn how to become a music producer!
Becoming a music producer is a dream for many music lovers. Are you one of them? Do you want to create your projects in recording companies and release your albums? Do you want to become a successful music producer and sign up with the leading establishments in the music industry?
If your answer is yes, here’s what you need to know. You can become a music producer by joining the music school or learning independently. Investing in digital audio workstation (DAW) software is just a small aspect of the process. It takes years of hard work to become a successful music producer.
Let’s check out what you need to do to establish your music production career.
How Hard Is It to Become a Music Producer?
A music producer is a person who creates music. This is a very simple definition and hardly talks about the various responsibilities of a music producer.
From mixing the tracks to planning sound design and arrangement, a music producer has a lot of work behind the scenes. Luckily, technology has simplified some of the heavy work and reduced the need for extensive hardware and infrastructure. Good digital audio software can take care of most things if you have the other equipment.
So is it easy or hard to become a music producer?
Well, it is hard if you want to become successful. There’s competition even in the music industry, and new artists need to work hard to make their presence felt.
Whether you want to work from your home recording studio or join a professional studio, you should have the following skills to impress others with your music.
You can’t become a music producer without the knowledge of music theory. Music theory is a collection of practices and applications involved in music. Melody, rhythm, tone, orchestration, tuning, scales, etc., are elements you should know to make music. Fortunately, learning music theory is possible even if you don’t join a music school.
No one can become a music producer in a day or even a year. Instead, be patient and continue to learn. Practice by creating music and improvising it. Rather, music producers don’t create a new piece of music at once. They work in stages and spend a lot of time listening, mixing, and editing the track until they are satisfied with the result.
The music industry is a creative field. You have to create something fresh, exciting, and attractive if you want people to take an interest in your music. Having the desire to create good music and putting effort into it will help you grow your career.
A professional music producer doesn’t work in isolation. You may not like to talk to others when making music, but you have to interact with many people to build a career. Artists working with each other have a better chance of gaining more opportunities from music houses. You have to deal with sound engineers, technicians, managers, agents, etc., and create and sell your record albums.
In today’s world, technology plays a key role in music production. Using digital audio workstation software, knowing sound editing techniques, and working with various equipment and tools are compulsory to become a music producer. Some music directors even write their own lyrics.
Would you say you have a good ear for music? Can you identify different genres? Can you spot the minute errors or gaps in pitches, frequency, notes, etc.? No one is perfect, but you need to do your best to get as close to perfection as possible. Concentration is essential to fine-tune your listening skills.
Become a Music Producer: How Long Does It Take?
Although there is no standard time frame to become a music producer, it takes about three to six years to call you a professional music producer. This depends on the hours you spend each day creating music and the effort you put into the process.
It’s not uncommon for aspiring and new artists to feel frustrated about the lack of progress in their music careers. Too many people face this issue, and that’s because mastering the art of producing music comes from practice and repetition rather than simply learning the craft.
It takes years to tune your ears to catch the subtle jerks and errors in the tracks and correct them before releasing the record label. Recording studios offer the best acoustics and technology, but they also demand high-quality results from the music director.
Another aspect to consider is sound design. Though you can use synthetic presets, learning how to make your own sounds will give you an advantage over those who don’t. If you observe successful music producers, you’ll see that each has a signature sound. They create and mix sounds in a way that sets them apart from others. You just need to listen to a track for a minute to identify its creator.
Attaining this level of expertise takes years of hard work. Aspiring music producers should be prepared to dedicate their lives to making music.
How to Become a Music Producer Without Attending School?
You can become a music producer even without going to the music school. Rather, most music directors don’t go to school to learn music. They pick it up and learn from others or through practice. Passion is most important to becoming a music producer. If you cannot listen to music for hours every day and talk about it, you aren’t cut to be a music producer.
While music industry links help build a career, they cannot help if you don’t have the fire in you to create music. You also need to invest money in setting up your home recording studio to learn music production independently.
Here’s how to become a music producer without going to school:
DAW Software and Relevant Plugins
Music production software is a must for every artist who wants to become a music producer. With so many options in the market, you can surely find software within your budget. Check out the best music production software to decide which one is the best for you.
Hardware and Equipment
Naturally, you also need to invest in hardware, such as a computer/laptop (that can handle DAW software), a good pair of headphones, an audio interface, studio monitors, a speaker set, microphone, a MIDI keyboard, and other instruments (depending on the music genre you prefer). Here is a list of all the music production equipment you will need!
Consistency in Creating Music
Irrespective of what industry you are in, consistency is the secret. The music business is no exception. You have to keep producing music and attending recording sessions to observe, learn, and fine-tune your skills. You have to understand the process and tweak it to suit your style.
Audio Mixing and Editing
Don’t hesitate to compare your music with others’ tracks or change your original tune. The more you edit, the more ideas you’ll get. Watch tutorial videos and read blog posts about how to mix audio and edit your tracks. Talk to other music producers and take their advice. Whether or not you implement everything they say is up to you.
This is crucial for every sound engineer, lyricist, music producer, music director, singer, etc. Be open to criticism and accept that there can be flaws in your music. Understand what experienced and successful music producers say when listening to your tunes. Trust your intuition to determine how much of their criticism is helpful for you to succeed.
Additional Musical Skills
It’s always an advantage if a music producer has additional skills. Many music producers who enter the industry without going to school, start from scratch. They join recording studios as technicians and rise the ranks by learning at work. Playing multiple instruments (or at least two) will further help you understand the intricacies of the musical notes. Try to write lyrics for your own projects. While some music producers sing their own songs, others hire upcoming or professional singers.
Marketing and Promotional Skills
It’s not easy being a music producer like hundreds and thousands of others in the same field. Future music producers should start early and present themselves as worthy contender capable of working with recording studios. Talk to other musicians often and stay in the loop. Your music production career is built on your talent and marketing/networking skills. Use your links to take your tracks to influential people in the music industry.
How to Become a Certified Music Producer?
A certified music producer is the one with a recognized and authentic certificate that proves the musical knowledge and skills of the person. In short, certification comes either with a degree in music or an internship at the recording studios. It acts as a stepping stone to entering the music industry. However, it’s your talent that will determine your success.
Get a Music Degree
Although there are no set requirements to get a degree in music production, many universities offer various music production courses. For example, an associate degree in audio production deals with the basics of mixing music (analog and digital).
There are a few bachelor’s degrees like the Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts in Audio Production, or Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Production. Most courses are 4-year programs that cover a range of topics, theories, and technologies a music producer needs to know. History and development of music are also taught during the courses.
You can continue to study further and join the master’s degree program in audio production and audio technology. The courses teach you the finer aspects of making music, electronic music production, audio engineering, etc. Every student who completes a course gets a certificate from the university.
Go for Internship
An internship opens the door to the music industry. Start by contacting the local studios to see if they are looking for part-timers. Internships in universities can be typically unpaid or offer only a minimum pay. You gain hands-on experience in a recording studio and learn from music industry professionals.
Record labels like the Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, etc., offer internships to music students. You need to make a list of record labels and studios you want to work for and approach them. A recommendation letter from your faculty or established music producers can make it easy to get an internship in this competitive world. Depending on your talent and performance, you can convert the internship into full-time employment at the record label.
How to Become a Freelance Music Producer?
We know it feels great to work with a record label and be associated with it. But not everyone wants to stick to one music house/company. Some musicians prefer freelancing to have more freedom to choose their projects and work with various record labels.
A freelance music producer can build a successful career over the years and even open their personal record label. It involves a lot of communication, liaising, and working with individuals and groups of artists/other musicians, etc.
You need to have the following skills to become a freelance music producer:
- Learn at least one musical instrument and play it professionally. It’ll give you a better chance of attracting projects you like.
- Be flexible enough to deliver music as per the clients’ requirements. Remember that it is ultimately their decision, even if you are not happy with the results.
- Get letters of recommendation and appreciation from your clients. These go a long way in establishing your credibility and expertise as a successful music producer.
- Design a business website and update your portfolio regularly. Upload samples and past works on the website. Mention your rates and provide multiple contact options.
- Continue to learn and improve your skills. Stay up to date with the latest trends and genres in the music industry. Gain access to advanced software/equipment and learn how to use it.
- Maintain good relationships with upcoming musicians, other producers, new artists, industry professionals, and aspiring musicians. You need to support each other and work together.
- Constantly market yourself as a freelance and flexible music producer. Highlight your specializations, and don’t be afraid to accept complex projects. Project management is a must-have skill.
Professional music producers who work with movies, shows, and albums earn good pay for each project. Freelancers have varying incomes, depending on their expertise and clients. A freelance music producer can earn anything between a dollar and five hundred dollars per project. The more projects you complete, the higher your chances of increasing the rate.
Freelancing is a natural trend in the music industry. Most music producers and sound engineers start as freelancers. While some settle down for top positions in leading record labels, others continue to freelance and work with recording studios and music production houses. Become a freelancer only if you don’t mind the uncertainty of work and can collaborate with various people and teams.
What Does It Take To Be A Hip Hop Music Producer?
Hip Hop music works hand in hand with technology. It is a famous music genre and offers great exposure and success to artists and music producers. Hip Hop music producers and rappers are now in the same league. They are signing contracts with leading record labels and earning millions. But how do you become a music producer in one genre? How do you establish yourself as a Hip Hop music producer/director?
Get a Mentor
Hip Hop music is different from classical or jazz. There are no specific institutions to teach this genre. But what you can do is contact a Hip Hop musician and ask them to mentor you. Whether online or offline, get one-to-one sessions with the pioneers in the genre to teach you the finer aspects of Hip Hop.
Sometimes, it’s not possible to find a mentor. In such instances, use your connections and network to meet Hip Hop artists and interact with them. Watch their performances and make notes.
Breakdown the Classics
Take classic tracks and break them down. Deconstruct the notes and rework them to create something new. This is a learning experience where you can understand why a certain musical instrument was used or how a beat changed the song’s tone.
Join the Hip Hop Community
Every music genre has a community where like-minded artists interact with each other. Join the online and offline communities and talk to other musicians. Many of these communities and support groups help and encourage artists and cheer for each other. It’s a good place to learn, help, and form bonds with others from the industry.
Invest in Technology and Instruments
Hip Hop originated sometime during the 1970s in New York. The genre has always been aligned with technological advancement and is famous among the US audience. Equipment like a sampler, synthesizer, multitrack recorder, drum loops, etc., should be a part of your music production setup.
Share Your Knowledge
Learning and implementing your knowledge isn’t enough. You ought to share it with others and do your bit to promote the genre. Educate aspiring music producers, and talk about your struggles without glossing over or exaggerating them.
Hip Hop will always have a dedicated fan base. Present and promote yourself as a Hip Hop music producer in the industry and on social media. Take up projects from the genre and build your portfolio.
How to Become an EDM Music Producer?
EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, is a hot favorite in today’s world. With EDM topping the charts, it’s no surprise that new subgenres are created in this genre. Musicians looking to become EDM music producers have a bright future.
Learning music theory is a must, no matter which genre you choose. So, electronic music also requires knowledge about the sounds, rhythms, tones, etc., when compiling music tracks.
Then you need to learn about music arrangement, structuring, and mixing. Mixing is where the different tracks come together to create the final output. It’s easy to find courses to train yourself properly in these important skills. Joining short-term courses will help you feel confident using the latest technology to produce electronic music.
Software plays a vital role in producing EDM/electronic music. You need to be at ease in using the DAW software to create your own music, and mix tracks the way you want to. Remember that it is just as important to finish the tracks you begin. Editing and fine-tuning tracks can take a while. Stay focused and complete the pieces before sharing them with other musicians/friends for feedback.
Final Words – How to Become a Music Producer?
Becoming a music producer is not difficult if you have the passion and zeal for it. Join a university course or learn on your own through online courses, tutorials, or working in a record company. You can also join as an assistant recording engineer or mixer in a music producer’s team.
Be persistent, consistent, and practice creating music every day. Established music producers earn great pay and continue to work in the field they love. Success and satisfaction are possible if you truly love music and want to make it your career.
Share your experiences in the music industry with us, and drop a comment below!