Music producers are really the heart and soul of any recording. They’re the great, unsung artists working behind the scenes. Bad production can make a great song sound terrible, while great production can elevate songwriting. Becoming a music producer and spending all day working on music in the studio may be your life-long dream. If so, here are some pointers.
Start at the bottom. Most producers start off as engineers, or even setting up mics around a drum set – not actually giving a lot of input on an actual recording. In this capacity, you might be able to be an apprentice to a top-flight producer.
Get a degree in music production. A music production degree is not necessarily a prerequisite for getting a job in a studio, but it helps. It also helps to know about the different technologies – both analog and digital – that you’ll learn about in a degree program. But “street knowledge” – actual recordings – can be just as good as a degree.
Set up your own studio. If money’s an issue, you can record using software rather than buying up a bunch of rack mounts. You may start recording your friends’ bands first and work up from there. You might have to charge a low fee or even charge nothing to bring in new bands. The more equipment you have, the better. One band might only want to use vintage equipment, so if possible it’s a good idea to have it on hand.
Network. Once you’ve got some recordings under your belt, you need to network. Create a mixed CD of a number of different kinds of recordings so listeners can get a sense of your range. That is, unless you want to create a niche for yourself – like being the top metal producer in the area. It depends on what you enjoy doing most of all. Recording a wider number of genres is a good idea because it will bring in more business. Don’t be a snob about certain types of music. Work will improve your resume, bring in money and you’ll likely learn something new.
Make a website for your services. Go to social networking sites, forums or blogs to get the word out. Always have business cards and even CDs on hand. This also means networking with musicians who might play on a recording in the future. It’s not always easy to find an oboe player on short notice. Also very important – network with A&R people, managers and publishers so they’ll hire you in the future.