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Q&A - Music Production Jobs & Careers

Where will I work in my music production career?

Depending on your specializations, you may hold many different music production jobs during your career. Like academic programs, which can differ in their emphasis on technical, musical or business skills, music production jobs can focus more on 1 particular element of the music business. However, a single company is likely to offer jobs that cover every area of the industry.

Students who focus on the business side of traditional or online music production programs may work at record labels or broadcasting companies, dealing with budget constraints and other requirements of producing musical entertainment content. They may also work directly with local talent in a project management capacity or market new content to key publics.

Students who work in the technical or musical areas of the field will deal more directly with talent during their music production careers. These careers may involve recording and producing audio entertainment content, writing songs, editing songs and keeping talent focused on the task at hand. They are usually found at the same companies as music business careers, though the responsibilities are different.

How long does it take to find a job in music production?

Jobs in music production are growing about as fast as jobs in other fields and in some cases slightly more slowly. Most related entertainment positions, such as producers and sound technicians, are growing at a rate of about 10% between 2010 and 2020, not far below the average rate of 14%. Many of these positions are self-employed rather than at major entertainment organizations, as independent entertainment production is becoming more viable. The cost of recording equipment has gone down, and with online distribution it is much easier to cheaply sell an album.

As such, finding a music production job with a major company may be difficult. You can work for local bands, churches and other organizations that need sound production experts on a limited basis as a freelancer while pursuing more stable employment. Working for local bands is a great way to develop a portfolio of work, as these bands will often put out albums or singles online. This will also help you develop a more practical understanding of the creation and publishing of entertainment content.

How have music production careers changed over the years?

A music production career is now as much about composition as it is about the mechanics of production. As popular music has shifted, the role of the producer has become more like the role of a movie producer. Music producers now cut and manipulate the sound much like a movie producer would, so rather than merely acting as an organizer of people, the producer is just as involved as the band members in the creation of the music. Today many artists serve as their own producers, ensuring that their creative vision is adhered to every step of the way.

The technology involved in music production has also changed. Digital distribution and recording tools make the creation of a commercial album much easier than it was during the early days of the music industry. Careers in music production now require producers to be technologically and financially savvy as well as knowledgeable about music and management in order to get the most out of an album or other project.

What are the top employers for music production jobs?

Music production careers are common at top record labels and other entertainment companies. Many of these companies have recently merged, and only 4 major music groups remain. Most labels are part of these larger organizations, though independent producers are gaining traction through digital distribution.

A career in music production may lead you to work at labels owned by Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, EMI Music or Sony Music Group. These 4 companies are the top music production employers as they control most major record labels worldwide.

Self-employment is also becoming increasingly popular, especially for bands or producers who are just starting out. Producers who do not yet have the portfolio or connections necessary for a major label will often work with bands or independent labels for a while to network and create a body of work that demonstrates their abilities. Producers with great musical talent may create, produce and promote their own albums, building the diverse skill set necessary for long-term employment in the field.