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How Do I Get into Audio Production?

audio producer working on audio production

Many people dream of being a big-name record producer the same way that others fantasize about being rock stars, movie stars, or pro athletes. You can generally divide these fantasy future dreamers into two categories: those who want to be in front of the cameras, in the spotlight, and those who want to be behind the scenes, making everything sound just right. So, why do people become audio producers?

Why Do People Become Audio Producers?

There are many reasons that may have influenced you decide to become an audio producer. You may have a passion for music, you may have grown up listening to music with family and friends, or you may be creative, and music is your outlet. What is the reason you are interested in becoming an audio producer?

An Innate Passion for Music

There are some people who are clearly just born with a musical gift. A common expression among students in any disciplined craft is that hard work beats talent, and talent hardly works. It cannot be overstated that achieving success in the production business takes a huge amount of effort and dedication and cannot be reached through talent alone. That being said, there are those who are born with the predisposition, and even for those that aren’t, they may be born with such an unquenchable love for music that it drives them to work as hard as possible to be the best that they can be.

Grew Up Listening to Music

In many households, music is a key part of life. Whether that comes from cultural background or heritage, church culture, or having a musical family, having music of any kind around the dinner table or during social events makes a huge difference in shaping someone’s musical interest and passion later on in life. A person’s environment and upbringing have a profound effect on how it shapes them into the person they become, and an audio producer’s musical taste and passion is no different.

Sometimes, a person’s musical upbringing can help guide them into the decisions they make later in their career, if their upbringing and familial influence was positive. Other times, a strict and repressive household can lead a young artist to rebel in any way possible, and that often includes the type of music they listen to. Even when created out of defiance, choices in musical preference always shape the way an audio producer hears the world around them and can spark a lifelong passion.

A Desire to Create

There is something very gratifying about creating something and being able to stand back and appreciate the fruits of your labor. Whether it’s a house or a sculpture, everyone seems to share this instinct for creation.

A creation isn’t always something you carve out of wood or hammer together with nails. People can get the same type of gratification out of making something a bit more metaphysical, like a novel or a song. When you put your time and effort into crafting a piece of music, it doesn’t just sit in a room like a shelf or a statue. Rather, it enters into people’s mind and hearts whenever it’s played, heard or recalled. Of all the things a person can create, music is one that is incredibly rewarding.

An Interest in Computer Programs

Whether you like them or not, digital tools are things that modern audio producers have to use on a nearly constant basis. What used to be achieved through analog technology and physical tools is now almost entirely done through a computer screen on a powerful processor. These tools help to manage and maximize workflow efficiency, store massive amounts of data, and generate beats and melodies in ways that producers of yesteryear probably never even imagined.

If you start out with the predisposition of loving technology, you’ll be at an advantage over those audio producers who label themselves as “old school” because they enjoy doing things the traditional way. In certain, increasingly rare cases, you can bring a unique vibe and add energy into your recordings by shunning digital technology, but in the vast majority of cases it will be your best friend.

What Do You Need to Get Started in Audio Production?

It used to be that without a near lifetime worth of investment, you couldn’t even hope to acquire the skills and tools necessary to break into the audio production world. Nowadays, it takes surprisingly little money to acquire a basic setup and start producing from your own basement or living room. While you may spend plenty of money along the way, if you’re looking to start a serious career, it doesn’t all have to happen on the front end. Without such restrictive startup costs, the music production industry is open to more people now than ever before.

Computer/Laptop

When shopping for a computer setup, start by considering what your processing needs will be. In order to get the most out of some of the heavier DAWs, you’ll want plenty of RAM and a decent amount of storage. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck looking at a screen that lags, glitches, or locks up whenever you start to layer multiple tracks and complex effects on top of each other, the kind of things that make a great record. The worst-case scenario is that your program crashes completely and you lose hours of potentially irreplaceable creative work.

When in doubt, always talk to a tech expert before investing thousands of dollars into your hardware setup. If you don’t know anyone personally, there is an endless wealth of knowledgeable people from around the world who can be found on internet forums.

Tools and Equipment

Beyond just your basic computer setup, audio producers need tools specific to their craft in order to make professional-quality music. The gear that you’ll need depends on what type of music you plan to create, but there are a few basics that no producer’s setup would be complete without.

Quality speakers are a must, and for those with roommates and neighbors, so are quality headphones. A USB audio interface can eliminate the need for a full mixing board, which is a huge cost saver since many DAWs double as a mixing board anyway. Things like drum machines, MIDI instruments, and effects pedals might then be considered to suit the taste and needs of the producer.

Software

Once you have your hardware setup, you’ll need to start thinking about software. A DAW, or digital audio workstation, is the main tool that any audio producer works with and is an absolute must. It’s amazing that DAWs now have such powerful and broad functionality that you might be able to take care of all your production needs using one program. Pro Tools is an audio producer favorite and the industry standard, but other programs with specialty functionality sometimes serve the needs of genre-specific audio producers.

Social Media and Livestreaming

Even during the current environment, when people can’t leave their homes or go to live events and have had to change much of the way they live their lives, audio producers are still able to get their work and their names out there. While audio producers have been impacted by the pandemic just like everybody else, social media presents marketing, promotional, and networking opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible in previous decades.

Although some associate the multitudinous social media platforms as notorious time wasters, there are many ways that audio producers leverage these apps to their advantage. Using them as a tool to reach fans puts your name and latest album cover in front of the eyes of a much broader pool of potential listeners, which leads to getting your music into the ears of potential fans.

Social media is also the way to meet new artists and audio producers. Networking is essential in any competitive business, the music industry particularly so. Besides making lasting friendships, you could get valuable advice and even land a collaboration that helps to put you in the studio with people who will help you get where you need to be professionally.

Livestreaming has taken the internet by storm and artists high and low are presenting their talent in this new versatile format. An audio producer can stream and connect instantly with listeners around the world. This intimate and accessible experience is helping new producers gain traction and giving existing producers a unique way to stay relevant.

What is the Best Way to Become an Audio Producer?

The short answer: Attend a diploma program at a creative arts college.

While there is a wealth of information at your fingertips via the internet, it’s not always easy to actually leverage that information and use it to jump-start your career. Those who go the route of figuring it all out on their own often end up overwhelmed by the information rabbit hole or confused by conflicting information. The ones who find their way to a successful career in audio production are those who get their information and training directly from the source.

Attending a diploma program at a creative arts college is still the best way to advance in the production business. These programs have been stringently tested and are designed to put you on the path to becoming exactly the kind of audio producer you want to be. By learning from skilled and experienced educators and receiving hands-on training, you’ll be fully prepared to face every kind of real-life studio and performance situation, getting stand out audio product and the most out of your career.

Audio Production Program

Ready to get into audio production and start creating 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.