Is it Hard to Become a Music Producer?

picture of an analogue mixing console

There are some people who have been born to work behind a mixing board. It might not be obvious until they’ve had the chance to play around with some of the complex equipment that a music producer deals with every day, but once that discovery is made, it’s usually something that sticks with them for the rest of their life.

When Did You Know You Wanted to Be a Music Producer?

Others discover their love of audio and create new mixes before they’ve ever even laid hands on a mixing console or sat in a professional studio. Even if it’s something as simple as adjusting the sound settings on a stereo or assembling the perfect seamless playlist for a party, the rewarding feeling of hearing the results of your own tinkering and experimentation is what leads to many people discovering that the life of a music producer is the perfect fit for them.

If you have a naturally creative mind, perhaps you’ve dabbled in numerous other creative endeavors before discovering music production. In many cases, people who bear the urge to create are not limited by any single medium, their life’s mantra is simply to create, and that might mean using whatever tools are put in front of them. Whether it’s painting, sculpting, or creative writing, the endorphin rush of generating something new, that the world has never seen, heard, or experienced before is similar among all artists.

In some other cases, new music producers emerge when a composer or songwriter wants to find a way to create their finished product themself from top to bottom. It’s hard to hear how a song should be arranged, mixed, and mastered without having the knowledge and skillset to make those choices yourself. Artists who can self-produce end up with much more freedom to create the type of music that they want to without navigating through countless gatekeepers at the controls, constantly explaining what they’re hearing in their head. If you’re able to cut out any obstacles and do it all yourself, it can give you a huge advantage as a music creator.

Is it Hard to Become a Music Producer?

Just as the saying goes, “there is nothing worth doing that comes easily.” There are undoubtedly challenges associated with breaking into the field of audio production. It may come easier to some than others, whether it be an innate gift, environmental factors such as growing up around music culture, or having family and friends already in the business who give them a foot in the door, but it’s rare that someone just automatically knows the finer points of producing music without rigorous training. It’s a challenging yet rewarding journey, and anyone can do it with the right training.

The most important thing for anyone hoping to become a music producer is to have the passion for the work. Without the unquenchable desire to create new things that nobody has ever heard before, it’s difficult or impossible to sustain yourself over the long and arduous journey that every music producer must undertake.

There are countless steps full of success and failure at every turn, and no matter how talented or skilled you are, there are going to be long stretches when your left wondering if this is really a tenable career path for you, or if you’ve really got what it takes to produce new music that people will want to listen to. To find the fortitude to push onward when things are at their toughest, an aspiring music producer must have the confidence, audacity, and no small measure of passion to drive themselves ever forward towards their goals. Regardless of what any other discouraging voices, including the ones in their own head, have to say.

For those who are gifted, or afflicted with this passion for music, production, and creativity, the journey to being a music producer will be an extremely enjoyable and fulfilling life. While there are certainly other career choices with much more of a guarantee for success, most people who are bitten by the bug of creativity and are truly passionate about it don’t find themselves happy or fulfilled in these more mundane roles.

The good news is there are countless ways in which your creative music production skills can be employed in the professional world. Once you have undergone the training and picked up enough experience, the most passionate creators can often find some way of using their skills to push their career forward and make money while doing it.

What Does Someone Need to Do to Become a Music Producer?

There are many important steps to becoming a music producer. Whether it be creating a home studio, attaining the music skills and theory from a formal education or simply trial and error, you can become a music producer with passion, creativity, and the drive to succeed in the music business.

Home Studio

Becoming a music producer is an investment. You should expect to spend some money on equipment and systems to start producing music, but you shouldn’t expect to start making money until later down the line.

This underlines the importance of not breaking the bank and putting yourself into debt by buying the flashiest, most expensive equipment and hope to pay it all back with the hit single you’re going to make from it. It’s great to have those high hopes and dreams but staying realistic about your goals and being financially responsible is just as important for any successful music producer.

Skills and Theory

Besides the physical equipment that you need to make your music a reality, music producers also need the mental tools to make the right musical decisions. It’s critical that you have an intuitive and intimate understanding of how music theory works as well as an artistic ear for how to fill in a mix cleanly, while creating hooks that people will have on replay in their mind. This confluence of technical and artistic skills is what helps the best music producers come out with new ideas that challenge and expands the world of music itself, pushing new creations to even greater heights.

Getting an ear for music is the process of listening deeply to tracks and analyzing them until you can hear every nuance that’s presented. This includes listening and discussing with others or reading professional analyses of different types of music. There’s a wealth of ear training that you can do on your own with a pair of headphones and a robust music library, but you’ll usually find interesting and enlightening ideas are brought forth when doing analytic listening with others, ones that you might never have come to independently. So, how can you attain all of this knowledge? Fortunately, this knowledge can be gleaned from an audio production degree program at a creative arts college.

Trial and Error

In the arts, most great ideas come with a bit of trial and error. For anyone working in music production, regardless of their skill level, a bit of tinkering and experimentation is needed to push through the mediocre ideas onto those that makes people take notice. If you’re just starting out, the majority of your time will be spent trying things out and seeing what works, and just as importantly, what doesn’t work.

What are the Benefits of Getting a Degree in Audio Production?

It is true that some music producers manage to make it all the way to the top without a modicum of formal academic training. These self-taught and independently minded individuals are certainly out there, but it cannot be stressed enough that they are the exceptions to the rule. The vast majority of successful music producers chose to enter into an audio production course because of the complex and interdisciplinary wealth of skills and knowledge that can be gained there; and for most of them, their academic experience had a dramatically positive influence on the trajectory of their careers.

When studying for your degree in audio production, you’ll have access to all the latest tools and technology. With this wealth of technology, you can have the same experience as professional music producers working in the industry. It is prohibitively expensive to invest in everything needed to have a full-fledged up-to-date studio for your own personal use, so taking part in these programs provides the opportunity for you regardless of your financial status.

Going for your audio production degree also gives you the assurance that your education in theory and practice is full and accurate. It’s hard to know if you’re gleaning all the right knowledge when studying independently using just online resources. Receiving your education directly from experienced and learned educators who break everything down for you into a comprehensive curriculum gives you peace of mind and confidence to produce.

One of the best things about going to school for music production is the likelihood that you’ll find your way to a stable career in exactly what you’ve been studying. Career services not only prepare you for what to expect when you get into your dream music producer job, but they’ll also help you find it. This career-based guidance and assistance is a big part of what separates the aspiring music producer from the professional that is mixing up their next hit song.

Audio Production Program

Ready to get into audio production and start creating your own music? 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.