Record Producer: Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 22, 2019

Record producers require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and salary potential to see if music and record production is the right career for you.

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Someone who's fascinated by the idea of the music recording process, including arranging songs, guiding musicians in the studio, and managing the whole operation may want to contemplate a career as a record producer. Record producers usually have a bachelor's degree in music or audio production from programs that provide hands-on experience.

Essential Information

Record producers work with musicians in a studio environment and offer assistance in the arrangement and writing of music. They also have knowledge of common studio equipment and musical instruments. Many colleges and universities offer degree programs in music production or audio production, often at the bachelor's level.

Required Education Bachelor's degree is typical
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% for all music directors and composers
Median Salary (2019)** $51,157 for music producers

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Record Producer Education Requirements

Aspiring record producers have the option of enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in audio production or a closely related field. These degree programs typically last four years and can allow students to access fully equipped recording studios and mastering, digital audio and research laboratories.

Many of these bachelor's degree programs encourage students to learn by hands-on exercises. Some of the coursework in a bachelor's degree program includes recording studio techniques, music technology, music ensemble, musicianship for engineers, and recording theory. A senior capstone project may also be required.

While there is a strong emphasis on music production techniques and engineering theory, many bachelor's degree programs also include courses in other aspects of the field. For example, some courses cover issues like marketing, management, copyright law, accounting and legal issues in the recording industry.

Career Information for Record Producers

The role of a music producer is not unlike that of a conductor or music director. All three professions are responsible for getting the most out of their musicians. However, music or record producers aim to capture a performance and record it permanently. Often times, these producers will call for multiple takes until they are satisfied with the final product.

The process of recording can be time consuming and may take place day or night. In essence, whenever inspiration strikes, a music producer must be ready to record. Additional responsibilities of a music producer may involve overseeing the recording budget, collaborating with musicians to create songs, working with studio engineers, and hiring additional musicians.

Salary ranges for a music producer can be quite extreme. Beginner music producers may need to supplement their income with other work. As of September 2019, reported that the median annual salary for music producers was $51,157. Most music producers earned salaries from $29,013 to $124,156 at that time. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, from 2018-2028, music directors are expected to see a 1% growth in employment, which is slower than the average for all occupations. These professionals are responsible for directing musicians during live performances and recording sessions.

Being a record producer can be tough, as they are responsible for a multitude of tasks, such as supervising the recording and audio mixing process, proposing new ideas, and collaborating with musicians on songwriting. The record producer must be skilled in time management and organization, interpersonal communication, and creativity. Most complete a degree program, especially if they want to be more successful in their career.

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