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How to Become an Audio Producer

Audio producer sitting at computer

Interested in becoming an audio producer? Want to know what an audio producer does? If you want to become an audio producer, it is important to get a degree from a college of creative arts. With the degree in hand the experience gained from your education, you’ll learn the ins and outs of audio production. With the help of the mentors, faculty, and IPR’s Career Services team, you can network to find a job in the music industry.

What Does an Audio Producer Do?

An audio producer oversees the entire process of recording a song. Over the years, the scope of this responsibility has changed, and now producers can cover multiple roles during recording. There can be confusion between the role of engineer versus producer, and the lines are blurred more than ever before.

The audio producer can compose songs, arrange vocals and instruments, pick the sonic style of music, and set up musical equipment. An audio producer may also manage contracts, copyrights, and finances. The audio producer can also work with a team to help with marketing and distribution. It is ultimately the producer’s job to take all the various audio sources and craft this into the final product, with varying degrees of involvement. Some producers still work in a more traditional team with engineers, assistants, and songwriters, while others fill these roles by themselves.

How Does One Get into Audio Production?

The best way for you to get into audio production is by attending a creative arts or technical college that offers an audio production program. Not only do you get the benefit of being surrounded by industry professionals, but you will become well-connected after working with mentors and the assistance of the Career Services department.

How Does an Audio Producer Create Music?

The easiest way to become an audio producer is to start making music. There are lots of online resources and cost-effective options to try music production even before attending an audio production program. Nearly anyone can begin recording music on their home computer using an affordable MIDI controller keyboard and freeware digital audio workstations. During an audio production program, you will learn what equipment and software you will need to make music. Professional programs such as Avid Pro Tools and Ableton Live have steep learning curves, and practicing within a classroom setting with expert instructors is a great opportunity.

Create Your Space

You can create a space in your home to start creating music. Initially you can work anywhere, provided you have a laptop and a decent set of headphones. It is important to hear songs and individual tracks clearly, and without significant distractions. Audio producers are detail oriented, so developing an ear for these small details is vital. Many home studios will include some sound dampening and acoustic treatments to control reverberations and outside sound, but can be expensive to install.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice is important: come up with some interesting beats, test out knobs and settings, and play with all the bells and whistles. Explore advanced settings and try out obscure instruments to broaden your sonic palette. Listen to other music and try to mimic the sounds you hear. Cover a favorite song in a new style, or practice sampling to bring new life to previously recorded material. Even writing some lyrics will get you thinking like an audio producer.

Start Playing an Instrument

Nothing trains your ears better than playing an instrument. Start by picking an instrument. Get to know different genres and styles and consider how certain tracks are put together. Many audio producers learn either guitar or piano as a way to test out chords and hear what a progression of notes will sound like. This will allow you to understand scales, notes, and rhythm. Learning common chord progressions will allow you to make music with your computer software, giving you a starting point for a new track.

Active Listening

A great way of studying music is simply through listening. Streaming services offer instant access to millions of songs, so an aspiring producer should take advantage of this. Sitting in a quiet setting with a decent pair of headphones opens up countless details, embellishments, and tones that truly bring a song alive. Active listening will reveal how songs are arranged, which instruments are used, and how a song progresses across its duration. Great artists study art that inspires them, so revisit old favorites with a discerning ear to further build your style.

Help from an Audio Production Mentor

You can find an audio production mentor any time during your career, but right after graduation a mentor can help introduce you to the industry and real-world experience. In most cases, you will find a mentor in creative circles, online, or through mutual relationships. Start looking for a mentor early, to get a head start in the industry. A mentor could be an audio producer you work with during an externship, a faculty member at your creative arts school or even a colleague you meet while you are attending school.

If you are seeking a mentor, you need to let others know you would like some guidance. The mentor is not obligated to give this assistance to you, so it is best if the mentor relationship develops naturally.

A mentor will help you during easy and difficult times alike. They are someone who can read and listen to everything the you have made, and give solid feedback. All of life’s changes and challenges can be filtered through a mentor since they are a trusted person in your life.

How an Audio Producer Networks

The people you work with in a recording studio are people that are introduced through your network. Being a part of the music industry makes networking even more important, as more connections can lead to work. Before your music can speak for itself, it is important to build rapport with your networks. For example, this includes your peers in audio production, local artists and musicians, and even those working in local venues.

Social Media for Audio Producers

Although face-to-face networking for audio producers cannot be understated, there are also digital tools that all producers should use to market their work to potential clients. There are great advantages of creating an online presence to promote your work.

Where Should You Be Active?

There are many social media networks that you can turn to for networking purposes. Bandcamp, YouTube, and SoundCloud allow you to post your music for others to listen. Not only do these websites allow you to share with listeners, but your audience also includes artists and other audio producers. Creating a network online gives you the ability to meet new people in the industry. Networking events can be a great place to meet others in the industry. However, building a social media presence allows more people to learn more about your talents without having to give them a demo.

Finding a Job

There are many different places to find jobs, but nothing beats the assistance that you will receive from your campus. Job boards and employment search engines are a great way to start looking for a job. Remember to contact your network to find out if they know anyone that is looking for a new audio producer. Work with your mentor to find a job in the industry if possible.

What are Your Goals as an Audio Producer?

Next, identify a list of music industry companies you would like to work for. Create a resume and tailor a cover letter directly to the opportunity you are looking for. Continue to stay in touch with key contacts at the company until they have an opportunity that suits your skills. Although every company you want to work at will not have a suitable position, with persistence you may get an interview for a new position. Make the most of this opportunity, making a good impression, as they may become a member of your network and alert you to new opportunities in the industry down the road.

Online Opportunities

Another great way to find a job is to put your music online and allow artists and audio producers to better understand your style. Although it is rare for a new audio producer to be contacted through this channel, if you have a specific or unique style you may find others asking to connect with you. These new connections will open up your network to new people and new opportunities.

Final Thoughts

For those with a passion for music, becoming an audio producer can be exciting. You get to be creative and innovative. Building a network of colleagues and working with a mentor can get you started down the path of a career and a life-long music adventure.

Want to Learn More?

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.