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How Music Producers Work

The Training Involved in Becoming a Music Producer
Being a music producer usually requires skill as a performer like Mark Ronson who produces and plays.
Being a music producer usually requires skill as a performer like Mark Ronson who produces and plays.
John Shearer/WireImage

Becoming a music producer probably starts with a love of music and a skill at some type of musical performance. But to make it as a music producer, you also need to know a lot about music off stage -- how songs are written, how music and sound production works, et cetera. You also need to understand the set-up and operation of audio equipment and the roles of the engineers and others who work to produce recordings. And, as part of your job, you may help the audio engineers in the mixing, mastering and recording process.

You also need to know how the recording industry works, including the legal aspects of contracts and copyrights as well as the business aspects of working with musicians. Beyond that, you need to be skilled at project management, including the ability to work with creative people and to complete a recording on time and within budget.

To do all that, you'll need training and experience working in the recording industry. You can obtain music training by obtaining a degree in music from a two- or four-year college. George Martin, music producer for the Beatles, for example, studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London and played oboe professionally before going to work for a studio as a producer of classical music [source: George Martin Music].

You may be able to get a degree with a concentration in music production, music business or sound engineering, but you'll need more than that. Here are some subjects you may study:

  • Musical history and theory
  • Composition
  • Songwriting
  • Ear training
  • Copyright law
  • Artist and product management
  • Music publishing and distribution
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Finance and accounting
  • Entrepreneurship

[sources: and Full Sail]

You'll also need to be familiar with the latest digital equipment and computer software used to record, mix and master music.

Music producers often start as sound engineers. While sound engineers don't need a college degree, courses in using recording equipment, along with sound and music production can be helpful. To succeed as a music producer, you need to know different styles of music well.

In looking for a college or trade school, you'll want to find one that'll help you become a music producer. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Is this school accredited?
  • What courses are included in the curriculum?
  • What will the school do to help me find a job in this industry?
  • Does the school help students to get internships or apprenticeships?
  • How successful have your graduates been?

Once you have the training, the next step is getting a job and working your way up in the music industry. Go to the next page to find out how you can do that.