Digital Recording Artist: Job Description & Requirements

The work of a digital recording artist is similar to that of a traditional musician in that both professionals record instrumentals or vocals for consumers and home audiences. To learn more about required education and skills, employment prospects and earnings for digital recording artists, read on!

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Career Definition for a Digital Recording Artist

A digital recording artist creates recorded music, either vocally or instrumentally. The music is usually generated into compact disks or MP3 files.

Education 2-year or 4-year degree in music
Job Skills Ability to sing or play an instrument, able to read sheet music, good communication and interpersonal skills
Median Hourly Wage (2015)* $24.20 (for musicians and singers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (for musicians and singers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A background in music is important for a career in digital recording. A degree in music or recording arts isn't necessary, but it is helpful, whether it's at the 2-year, 4-year or graduate level. There are also recording arts schools, where students can gain recording studio experience and work with instructors who have experience in the industry. Classes focus on mixing and editing music and producing sound effects, commercial production, digital audio, sound synthesis, sound studio projects and audio technology basics.

Skills Required

The ability to sing or play an instrument, as well as a feel for timing and rhythm, are important skills for recording artists. They should also be able to read sheet music and have good pitch. Communication, computer, interpersonal and promotional skills can also be helpful, along with the ability to compose music and complete recording and production tasks in a timely manner.

Career and Salary Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report employment outlook and pay figures for digital recording artists, it does provide statistics for musicians and singers, as well as broadcast and sound engineering technicians. According to the BLS, musicians and singers nationwide should see an increase in employment of just 3%, or slower-than-average, between 2014 and 2024. During the same 10-year period, broadcast and sound engineering technicians across the country will see a 7%, or fast-as-average, growth in opportunities. As of May 2015, musical and vocal performers earned median wages of $24.20 an hour, while sound engineering technicians were paid a median annual salary of $53,330 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Careers that are similar to a digital recording artist include:

Music Directors and Composers

Music directors and composers direct and lead bands, groups and orchestras while they are performing, either on stage or for a recording. Educational requirements vary according to the position. For example, while a formal education is not always necessary to compose contemporary or popular music, choir and orchestra directors will most likely need a bachelor's or a master's degree. Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS has projected a 3% increase in employment opportunities nationwide for music directors and composers, a slower-than-average rate in comparison to all other occupations. Professionals employed in this field in May 2015 received median yearly salaries of $49,820, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors oversee the budgetary, casting and production aspects of live or recorded performances, including films or television episodes. Academic and professional requirements include a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study, such as arts management, business, cinema studies or film, as well as significant experience in the industry. Employment prospects for producers and writers across the country are expected to increase by 9% from 2014-2024. In May 2015, producers and directors earned median annual wages of $68,440, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

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