You may be thinking if it’s worthwhile following your music passion and pursuing a music producer career in the US, we all know the risks that music industry has and how hard it is for it to be reliable as a stable income, but let’s see some numbers based on statistics so you can reach your own conclusions later.
Although we can’t provide you a success rate if you become a producer, (because that would be impossible), we can at least show you some important numbers so you can see what you are looking at if you need to make a career decision.. But remember, In the end, it will all depend on your skills, resources, capabilities and… luck.
Describing the job of the Music Producer can be very ambiguous, and all these possible variables affect that actual salary measurements, so let’s start by identifying some common grounds of what it takes to be a producer.
1 – What is a Music Producer?
To some people, music producers are engineers, applying effects and tweaking levels in search for the perfect sound for a track. To others, they are project managers that instead of focusing on the audio engineering aspects, they focus on helping artists achieve their musical goals.
To begin with, the music producer assists different artists and groups in the studio creating recorded music. In general, a producer works closely with the singers and musicians to create a desired tone, feel or expression in the recording.
The Producer also engages with technical professionals required to record the music and supervises studio engineers and mixers in creating the final product.
It is common to see the producer have an artistic input as well, advising on the composition, songwriting and arrangement.
The producer may bring in outside musicians and even suggest material to record. A producer is always seeking for innovation to make what they do unique and special.
The producer in the Recording Process
The producer develops a working schedule based on studio time and budgeting, he or she may also help to keep the artist on schedule.
The producer works closely with studio engineers to ensure that the desired sound and other artistic factors are optimal.
It is a responsibility of the producer to provide input and supervision when a mixer or mastering technician completes the recording through a finishing and compression process.
Most Producers have extensive experience within the music industry, especially in the recording sector. It is common to see producers associated with their own studios or a preferred studio setting.
Commonly, music producers gain experience working as engineers and other lower-level music production employees. This helps them to see every aspect and phase of a song release, therefore have later on, experience and authority to ask exactly for what they need or want.
In modern days, production techniques require outstanding computer fluency and understanding of recording software.
2 – Producers Main Responsibilities and Requirements
Music Producer Responsibilities
- Generating new ideas and inspiration for future projects
- Running Studio and Recording Sessions
- Analyzing Compositions, Suggesting changes or rearranging.
- Managing project budgets
- Handling negotiations with record labels, artists and other people interacting within the project.
- Handling Contracts with all members involved in the job.
- Establishing the vision and developing the direction for each project.
- Communicate and interact with all parts as a pivot person. This requires a lot of communication skills and ability to emphasize with others, In the end, everybody must win and feel satisfied. A good music producer will work hard to build long-term relationships.
Music Producer Requirements
Although the producer’s requirements can vary a lot, especially now that the music industry is changing so fast everywhere. These items below are the most common ones.
- Bachelor’s degree in Music, Music Composition or Music Production.
- Knowledge of industry law and ethics.
- Solid foundation of sound editing techniques.
- 3+ years’ experience using digital audio hardware and software.
3 – How Much Music Producers Make?
The Salary of a music producer varies based on the artists that he works with and the type of music they produce.
Some producers may also be involved in the creation process, therefore, as participant artists also earn an income from music royalties.
Some producers work mostly on a royalty basis, this means that they earn a certain percentage of the profits from the records they produce.
If a producer helps to make a hit single, the earnings resulting from it can often reach the millions of dollars.
Mostly, producers work on a salary basis and are employed by a record label or their recording studio.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salaried music producer in the US earns about $52.000 per year. (Average is 52.000 to 55.000)
The gap between the average salary and that of the industry’s top performers can be really big. Because of how the industry works and behaves you can always expect a great number of producers earning below the average, and then a smaller (maybe tiny) number of music producers earning huge amounts.
4 – Pay by Experience Level
If you are an entry level music producer with less than 1-year experience
You can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $49,246.
- Early career Music Producer with 1-4 years of experience
In this experience level a producer earns an average total compensation of $49,731.
- A mid-career Music Producer with 5-9 years of experience
The average total compensation in this level is $57,228.
- An experienced Music Producer with 10-19 years of experience
Here, the producer earns an average total compensation of $59,997.
- A Music Producer In their late career (20 years or more),
Late career employees earn an average total compensation of $57,325.
5 – Difference by Location
Music Producers in Atlanta, Georgia earn an average of 17.5% more than the national average. These job titles also find higher than average salaries in Portland, Oregon (17.5% more) and Los Angeles, California (15.4% more).
The lowest reported salaries can be found in Miami, Florida (11.9% less) and New York, New York (2.1% less).
Although these income differences by state are a reality, you may want to consider another important element of location as well; in the beginning of a producer’s career, a lot of your success is based on your connections and how other people can propel your work. It’s all about relationships, isn’t it?
Being close to people or organizations of interest, and in even closer touch with other musicians, producers and studios in the industry that you can collaborate with and unify forces may be one of the greatest strengths to put your name out there.
Living in a state or location that makes these opportunities more accessible is a plus.
6 – Can you Become a Music Producer?
This industry has changed a huge amount in the last 25 years, and what once was a perfect path to a career in music production is now a dead-end street. But, new opportunities have emerged for creative producers to enter the industry through unconventional means.
Because of the massive availability of new digital technology, music production software is more accessible than ever and anyone can become a music producer. With the right combination of creativity and knowledge, you can build your own music production career from scratch.
This is especially true in the electronic dance music community. The popularity of websites like SoundCloud, where anyone can share their music, makes it easier than ever before for underground producers to quickly ‘make it big.’
Thanks to these changes, modern music is in many ways a meritocracy. If you have the skills, the sound, and the creativity, you can emerge as a successful producer. With this mind, ambitious producers should focus on learning digital music production skills.
The reality is that the music industry is changing fast and no one can really have all certainty and control over what will happen in the years to come, the one thing that we know for sure is that it is very dynamic.
So, everybody approaching a career as a music producer today should embrace the idea of subsisting in a constant-changing environment. Those with the ability to anticipate the changes and adapt to the turns of the industry will have the better opportunities.
I believe that no one desiring a career related to art pursues it because of the money or salary aspect, it’s true that money it’s more than important, but if it’s the money what is the most important to you, there are other careers with better income rates. You already know…
What we are talking about here is if following your passion and vocation in music allows you to live decently. Well, just like I said, you’ll see. The average income as a producer in the US is 52.000 annually, your cards to play are your skills, capabilities, resources, ambition, time and… luck.
I wish you the best success possible!