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Music Editor: Career Information and Requirements

Sep 23, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a music editor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and training information to find out if this is the career for you.

Working in the film industry, music editors create soundtracks for motion pictures in order to enhance the mood of specific scenes and production. These professionals should have a solid understanding of concepts related to musical theory and sound technology. While there is no educational requirement for this career, many employers might prefer to hire entry-level candidates with an undergraduate degree in music composition or theory.

Essential Information

Music editors in the film industry blend music tracks with each scene of a movie. As a liaison between parties, music editors relate the director's vision to the composer and offer insight about the desired musical mood and effect. Their professional experience usually includes music composition theory and sound technician equipment training. Formal education requirements vary, but employers may prefer applicants who hold related degrees in fields like music theory.

Required Education No standard requirement; undergraduate degree may be preferred
Skills Requirements Knowledge of music theory; familiarity with sound technology and related equipment; strong communication skills
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% for all music directors and composers
Average Salary (2018)* $59,790 for all music directors and composers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

In the film industry, music editors gather and edit soundtracks to correspond with the action and mood of the production. According to the Motion Picture Editors Guild, music editors are also responsible for creating temporary soundtracks to accompany film scenes, which give the director and producers an idea of what the final product might sound like. During screenings, music editors take extensive notes to verify if the current temporary soundtrack meets the director's vision.

While creating a temporary soundtrack, music editors work closely with the composers responsible for writing the actual musical score that accompanies the film. They provide the composers with guidance on what musical styles the director envisions for the individual scenes. After the score has been completed and professionally recorded, music editors blend the music with the visual components of the film. During the blending process, music editors often work with other sound professionals, such as mixers and technical engineers.

Job Requirements

Although there are not many programs specifically in music editing, related undergraduate degree programs can provide adequate training for entry-level positions. Music theory and composition degree programs, for example, provide coursework that covers advanced theory, score composition and multimedia music software programs. Other related majors could include film and video with a concentration in either post production or audio effects.

Music editors share similar duties with both sound engineering technicians and composers and may have similar job requirements. According to O*NET Online, sound technicians, like music editors, must be organized and able to maintain a system with hundreds of soundtracks per production. Both composers and music editors require a strong sense of hearing to detect tonal changes. Likewise, they each need effective communication skills to instruct musicians and discuss ideas with senior staff.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that music director and composer jobs will increase by 1% from 2018-2028, which is slower than the average expected for all jobs during that same time frame. The average annual salary earned by these workers was $59,790 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Music editors work closely with directors and composers to ensure a soundtrack fulfills its desired expectations. They must also work with technical engineers and mixers when adding a soundtrack to a film. It is therefore important for these professionals to have solid communication skills.

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