Becoming a music producer is not that difficult, however, achieving real success in the industry is very challenging. Being a good producer requires a high level of skill, patience, perseverance, and a pulse on what the next big hit may sound like.
The music industry, like many others, is oversaturated, meaning it’s really hard to break through, and the chances of becoming a successful producer are pretty low. Don’t let this demotivate you from pursuing your dreams though!
There are still many opportunities, and those who are passionate about music and determined about what they want to achieve will eventually become accomplished professionals.
Internet and social media have made music production tools more accessible and easier to get started with. There is a ton of resources available online teaching you how to become a music producer, how to use the software, and then promote your music.
However, besides, knowing how to use the tools, you need to have the right skills, patience, and dedication, be ready to do hard work, use your talent, and have a bit of luck.
Is It Hard To Get Into The Music Industry As A Producer?
A simple answer to this question is, no, it is not hard to become a music producer. However, finding success in that career is a whole different process. It’s not enough to tinker with music on weekends, a career requires you to know all the nuances and tricks of the industry.
The main difference between these so-called music fans and the ones who want to make a successful career comes down to education and experience. A starting producer should always know how to navigate the various engineering techniques, obtain and understand intricate software and equipment, and constantly train their ears to differentiate good and bad sounds.
Equipment You Need To Get Started
Never overlook the strength of proper equipment. Your career won't strive just because you have great equipment, but it's surely an important component. While you might have personal preferences, some equipment became an industry standard for new producers.
- MIDI Controller. A musical instrument digital interface is a universal technical piece that works as the communicator between physical hardware and digital audio workstations.
- Studio Headphones. Specially designed headphones for professional work, have specific tuning to meet requirements. Even the best consumer/gamer headphones won't work since they don't have the proper neutral sonic balancing. The principle of studio headphones is that they give out the least colored sounds possible.
- Audio Interface. The proper tool is required to translate the nuance of the acoustics into a digital audio file. It’s the bridge between traditional analog sounds and digital audio.
- Recording Mic. A special microphone is used to capture sounds and afterward convert them into digital signals. Professional studio microphones are wired, fixed-in-position in a studio room or recording booth.
- SPAN Signal Analyzer. A tool to sculptor and filter out specific tones from your tracks. Using the SPAN, a producer can also check if precise frequencies are present in a mix, isolate undesired tones, and reduce or remove problematic bands of sound.
A Musical Background
Even though you can become a music producer with no experience, it will be much easier if you come from a musical or technical background. The following will give you a headstart in your career:
There are tons of tutorials, courses, introductory lectures, and other resources to learn music theory, music production, and composition. These can be college music courses, a degree program in music production, musical courses online, YouTube videos from other producers, and more.
Music Production Software You Can Use
- DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). It’s a software application for editing, recording, and creating audio files. As observed DAWs are the foundation, the most important part, of electronic music production, without it you’ll just be recording on audiotape records.
There are several popular programs, such as Logic Pro X, and Cockos Reaper, however, these are rather advanced and complex. If you’re a complete newbie, you can start with Garageband, free software by Apple, where you can make beats and generate some cool tunes. You can also use online software like Soundtrap from Spotify, which is also completely free and gives you a great opportunity to start from scratch to then further move to more advanced tools.
- Sample services. These services provide samples of existing sounds, recordings, audio clips, etc. We recommend getting a subscription since it's much more cost-efficient than purchasing a sample pack and you’ll get the ability to try more sounds or loops. The most common are Noizz, Splice, or Loopmasters.
- Serum Synthesizer. This instrument often comes with most DAWs. But if you are more serious about the sound of your music, you should look into Serum. It's a wavetable synthesizer that usually comes with presets and wavetables.
Key Skills Required To Become A Successful Music Producer
It takes a special kind of talent to succeed in the music industry, it's generally not enough to know one or two key skills, even if you are the best at them, they won't get you far. The music industry is demanding, one needs to be creative, artistic, administrative, managerial, and business-minded.
To become a proficient producer you need to practice skills in five different areas, which include music skills, technical, skills, people skills, business and financial skills, and personality traits. Learn everything about the craft and implement these skills.
It is no surprise that a music producer needs to know the fundamentals of music, like rhythm, music theory, instrument knowledge, etc. Here are the skills required:
- Basic understanding of music. Having a basic understanding of music for successful producers is key. Even a producer who doesn't write songs should know the basic music notes, music intervals, elements of music, elements of rhythm, and song structure.
- Trained ears. All professional music producers constantly train their ears. Different exercises available help out with music recognition, dynamic change recognition, phasing issues recognition, frequency spectrum recognition, etc.
- Playing an instrument. This isn't such a mandatory skill to acquire, but a very helpful one. When a producer knows how an instrument works, and what sounds it produces it's much easier to connect with the artist and give advice on sound production.
A music producer should know how the music equipment works and what an organized workflow looks like. Even with audio engineers on the team, a basic understanding is paramount for success. Skills to acquire:
- Tracking and Recording. The various instruments in a song are recorded separately this process is called tracking. This process is one of the tough and long-lasting kinds, a producer must be well-versed in technicalities and techniques to record high-quality music.
- Editing and Arranging. A well-skilled producer knows how to edit and arrange stages, and make alterations like removing unwanted noise, removing unwanted parts, rearranging, editing outtakes, and normalizing the overall sound.
A music producer's job depends on collaboration with artists, musicians, managers, and teams. These people skills need to be top-notch:
- Communication. Communication doesn't mean you need to be a people pleaser, it's the ability to get your ideas through to others. Without that, you can forget about success, the disability to agree on something will get to you.
- Working in a team. A music producer is a team leader! The main team player that's responsible for leading others and producing major projects. As the leader, you should have a vision, work for it, and at the same time be humble, respect your team players and enjoy the process.
Business and Finance
Many starting producers tend to forget about the business side of music. Yet, a successful producer became one because he paid attention to the business aspect as much as the creative and technical one. A music producer needs to understand how a music industry business works and what skills are implied:
- Marketing and Branding. In the internet age, an effective branding and marketing plan will get you far. Even though professional producers hand this job to the marketing team, as a starting producer that will cost you too much so you need to take on the job.
- Cost management. Whether it's an at-home project or a studio production, you'll meet cost-related decisions every day. Learn how to efficiently reduce costs and manage resources better.
- Viability analysis. Always analyze all projects! A failed project will never be left in the past, so it important that all projects are effective and viable before they air.
- Negotiating. Practice your negotiating skills. It will save you money when negotiating with clients and third parties.
The music industry is very energy consuming, a producer should always remember self-growth and care. The following personality traits will act as helpful skills:
- Discipline and Organization. In a commercial studio environment, discipline and organization lead to success. An on-time producer is much more respected rather than one who shows up late or extends due dates.
- Creativity and Curiosoity. Creativity only happens when you are curious. While it's key to keep up with new music technology, you should also focus on other hobbies, explore the world, research things, meet new people, and do whatever your heart asks for.
- Logical reasoning. Remember that all problems can get resolved if you stay logical and make weighted decisions.
- Self-awareness. Music is bigger than one might think, when you get lost in its aspects, slow down and try to understand yourself, remember the bigger picture.
How To Make Connections In The Music Industry?
As we all know it’s can get intimidating to enter a music industry networking situation unarmed without an instructor, especially when you need to make impressions on high-profile people.
Connections with significant artists, record labels, or publishing companies can seem impossible. But we are here to tell you that any connection is possible with the right intentions. Here are four tips that will help you network in the industry.
Use social media
Social media is the most accessible platform to start your networking journey. Before you start reaching out to random people, identify those that you would like to work with, someone within your field. The point is to start with someone that has a similar career level or just above.
Next, you'll need to engage with them, don't be too pushy. Start small, try to accord with their conversations, ask or give opinions, and consistently engage so your name becomes recognizable to them.
Attend professional events
While you keep connecting online, find events where you can make personal connections. There is a whole list of places where you can connect with other music industry people, some examples are conferences, festivals, workshops, open mics, charities, local fairs, etc.
Just like with social media, you should make connections and conversations before pushing your work at them. Eventually, when you enter the stage of exchanging works, make sure all your projects are clean and up-to-date, a bad first impression won't follow.
Stay in touch
When you've connected on a personal level and exchanged projects, don't forget to exchange contacts. No matter how interested they are, sometimes they just forget to follow through. Your connection is up to you, so take the initiative and contact them.
Give and receive
Don't forget, that no relationship works when it's just about giving or receiving. Especially in the music industry, it all works on mutually beneficial relationships. Before ever asking for a favor, think of what you can do for a person, and how will you be helpful to them.
Relationships built on mutual benefits tend to last longer. One free charity performance can seem like a waste of time, but in the long run, they can feature you in commercials that will bring you a big auditory.
With all these disciplines coming into play, it's hard to imagine how one can become a successful music producer. However, if you have the passion and drive to learn, everything is possible. With the right tools and skills, almost anyone can become a music producer, so never give up and strive to become successful in the music industry.
Whilst conducting additional research to write this post, here are some of the resources we found great information from: