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Can Anyone Become a Music Producer?

Music producer sitting in their studio in front of a drum set.

It might seem like the path to becoming a music producer is mysterious and only for the lucky few. From the outside, music producers can appear to have special knowledge and skills that they were simply born with, or born into, for those who come from extremely musical and industry-connected families. It’s the reason why many thank that if you aren’t either imbued with natural gifts or music business connections, you’ve already missed your shot of having a thriving career in music production.

The truth is that music producers, audio engineers, and sound designers alike all go through some form of training and education to obtain the skills that enable success in their career paths. While the specific curriculum requirements of their music production journey aren’t set in stone and don’t necessarily apply in the same way to all music producers, there are many core fundamentals that all aspiring music producers must be familiar with. It takes this combination of fundamental knowledge combined with the right kind of experience to make a successful career in the music industry.

Can Anyone Become a Music Producer?

It’s absolutely true that anyone who’s willing to put in the time, effort, and resources can become, and officially call themselves a music producer. However, finding success in such a career choice is a different matter entirely. It’s one thing to casually tinker with audio software on the weekends just to see what sounds you can create; it’s another thing to learn all the nuances and tricks of the trade that every industry professional has at their fingertips.

The difference between these casual tinkerers and the ones who make their hobby into something more comes down to education and experience. Learning to navigate the various engineering techniques, deciphering how to operate the intricate software and equipment, and training your ear to pick out what sounds good and bad, all these things don’t usually come naturally to a person. You are arming yourself with knowledge when you build from the information available, specifically in a music production program.

What Does it Take to Become a Music Producer?

It takes a special type of person to succeed in the music industry, and music producers are no different. It’s generally not enough just to be exceptional at one or two key skills; even if you’re the best composer in the world, that can only get you so far. Audio production is a highly multifaceted career, and you have to learn everything about the craft to have hope for success.

Passion

This is a quality that everyone who pursued a career in the arts must have. Since there are no guarantees that you’ll find the kind of success that you’re hoping for, artists and producers of all sorts must rely instead upon their own inner voice that resiliently tells them to keep pushing forward. If you truly love what you do, it won’t matter whether others around you are providing encouragement and validation. You’ll be able to find all the validation you need coming from within, and this internal passion is a critical part of what keeps even the most successful music producers persevering through hard times and inspirational dry spells.

The “Ear”

It’s common to hear someone say that they have an ear for music, but it’s not always clear to those on the outside what that means. Having a fine-tuned musical ear is certainly something that can be trained, although some seem to have a natural advantage over others. In most cases, those who seem to be innately gifted at picking out melodies and making musical decisions are that way from a lifetime of listening to and analyzing music. Anyone can train their ear by actively engaging with the tracks on their favorite playlists; it’s a way that you can turn your listening routine into actual research.

People Skills

Very few music producers manage to successfully work in a vacuum. If you’re not collaborating with others, finding like-minded people to bounce ideas off and mixing different individuals’ talents together on any given project, creating music becomes an uphill battle. The ability to work well with others and the willingness to share your ideas with other people in the industry can only serve to enrich your career. When you’re open to letting other people in on what you’re working at, they will provide feedback and suggestions that you might have never come to on your own.

Organization

It might be the tendency of many creatives and artists to be chaotic and disorganized in the way they work, but those who manage to get things done in an orderly and concise way have a much easier time. Any successful music producer is going to have multiple projects in the works at any given point in time, and it’s up to them to keep the projects separate and developed independently of one another. On top of that, each individual music production job comes with numerous layers of complexity, and a highly organized methodology is the best way to prevent yourself from spending hours searching for one specific file at the worst possible time.

What is the Best Way to Become a Music Producer?

Like most careers related to the arts and entertainment, there are often no hard-and-fast rules for the background or education requirements. But you can make your life a whole lot easier and improve your chances for finding success by attending an audio production program at a creative arts college. This is still the best way to give yourself all the knowledge you’ll need to get your career started.

In today’s information age, there are numerous ways to gain knowledge in any given field. You can give yourself a crash course in music production by perusing a plethora of online sources and absorb a vast amount of information. The main issue with this approach is all the discrepancies that exist with online sources; it’s the reason why this era is also known as the misinformation age.

You can spend weeks studying from one source online, only to find out later that most industry professionals don’t agree with the techniques and guidelines that you’ve learned. Taking part in an accredited program gives you the reassurance that what you’re learning the same industry standards that are required.

Building Confidence

Completing a music production course also gives you a sense of confidence that allows you to go forth and make bold decisions in your career. When working all on your own, it’s too easy to fall prey to imposter syndrome, the feeling that you’re not actually good enough to be attempting what you’re doing. Even those who already have the talent and skills to produce a hit record might never actually do it if they don’t receive the confidence boost that a musical education brings them.

Networking in the Industry

Music production programs are an invaluable means of networking and making industry connections that are necessary for success. When you attend a music school or arts-related program, you will be exposing yourself to different people and influences, making friendships that might even last a lifetime. You’ll be able to learn from people who are already doing what you strive to do, giving you prime examples of how to shape your future career and what your next big steps might be. Once you’ve completed your program, it’s practically a given that you’ll have countless more connections in the industry, and it’s likely that you’ll have an easier time finding job opportunities after graduation.

What Do You Learn During an Audio Production Program?

The skills that you learn during a course in audio production are important as they are the disciplines you’ll need to know every day as a music producer. Everything from engineering, editing, mixing, and mastering are all key components of a music producer’s day-to-day life. To successfully navigate these working parts, you’ll need an intimate familiarity with several different digital audio workstations, Pro Tools above all else.

Business & Management

Beyond the technical aspects of production, there’s also the business management side of things, where you have to leverage your work to give it the greatest impact in whatever setting you’re producing in. Good management skills are key to making a project into something that’s real, particularly with all the individual pieces that must come together. You’ll learn about working with artists and record companies to other music producers, giving you the knowledge to see where your work fits into the big picture.

Learn Different Equipment & Systems

Music producers often work with systems outside of strictly creating music. Sometimes these are lighting systems, which enhance the experience of a live event and are coordinated closely with the rhythm of the music. Sound reinforcement systems are important to know because, without them, large-scale events simply wouldn’t be possible. Music producers who work live events need to know how to program and run these types of powerful systems.

Final Thoughts

With all these disciplines coming into play, it’s hard to imagine how one could pick up all the information on their own. An audio production program is a surefire way to give yourself all that expertise and more. If you have the passion for music and the drive to learn, you too can become a music producer.

Audio Production Program

Want to learn more about becoming a music producer? The Audio Production and Engineering Program  at the Institute of Production and Recording is an occupational degree program designed to train producer engineers who are entrepreneurs, musically and technically creative, and proficient in modern recording technology and technique. Throughout the program, students are involved in hands-on exercises and real-world studio projects that enable them to apply their knowledge and refine their skills.

At the end of the audio production and engineering program, each student presents a portfolio — a selection of his or her best work to date. This serves as a demo reel for potential employers and clients — an audio resume with professional content that highlights the graduate’s talent and skill.

Contact us today to learn more about the audio production programs and starting a rewarding career.