Careers in the Music Industry
By Daniel Hubert
The music industry is evolving faster than ever before. Many services which could once be provided only by a record company, now can be handled by almost anyone in their own home. Faster, cheaper methods have replaced traditional, more costly recording practices. This has caused many occupations to merge together. When starting out in the music industry, it is best to be proficient in several areas. It is nearly impossible to tell where one’s next opportunity may come from. Take every job possible, you may be chosen simply because you are available. Once a certain level of professionalism is reached, however, focusing in on one area and becoming recognized as the best in that field is key to sustaining a career.
There is no definite job description for a music producer. Their responsibilities may vary between recording, engineering, writing and arranging for artists, as well as coaching performers or even performing on an album themselves. While producers may choose to take on any or all of these tasks, their main objective is to bring to life the vision of a songwriter. For prospective producers, is a good idea to develop skills in, and gather knowledge of every stage of production. Stay up to date on the latest advancements in equipment, software and techniques. Be familiar with a variety of musical genres and styles to better assist in the songwriting phase. Know how to give constructive criticism in order to help an artist achieve their best performance in the studio. Be familiar with the instruments being recorded and the best ways to record them. An understanding of recording equipment, such as mixing consoles and microphones, and how they function, is vital. Proficiency in Digital Audio Workstation software is necessary to be as efficient as possible.
Due to the nature of this profession, there is a wide variance in how much one typically makes and how it is made. Producers are usually contracted by independent artists or record companies to work on specific projects. They are sometimes employed by a record company to work with artists in their catalogue. They can be paid per hour of their time, by the number of songs they produce, or by a single fee per project. A label may also pay the producer a percentage of money earned from record sales in addition to their fee. If they have assisted with the writing or arranging of one or more songs, the producer is entitled to mechanical royalties from the record company just as the artist is. A producer’s salary is often related to their notoriety. Top tier producers who work with big name artists can bring in six or seven figures annually, while those less reputable may make under $50,000. Many beginners will start off taking unpaid jobs to become established. If working for a record label, the size and reputation of the label will also influence one’s paycheck. Very few producers are salaried employees, therefore, they are almost always responsible for providing their own healthcare.
Music producers and live sound engineers have many things in common. Both deal with similar mediums and clientele. Unlike a producer, however, live sound engineers have a more straightforward job description. Their job is to facilitate the amplification of instruments and voices in a live performance or broadcast. They are responsible for setting up and operating sound equipment in live venues and creating a good live mix. Mixing consoles, microphones, musical instruments and other equipment, as well as performers are dealt with in both occupations. Some knowledge of electrical engineering is necessary to fully understand the function of sound equipment, should it be necessary to troubleshoot or repair equipment on the road. Being able to work with other professionals is essential to functioning efficiently. An understanding of acoustics may be beneficial especially when having to adapt to different venues and rooms. Live sound engineers often travel with large acts on tour, covering every performance. They can also be employed by venues as resident engineers. Job opportunities may also arise in other areas like radio or television broadcasting, theatre productions and sporting events. The pay structure of a live engineer is similar to that of a music producer in that they are often payed per hour of their time. Reputation of the engineer and of their employer also has influence over pay. Annual salary ranges from $40,000 to $120,000 or higher.
Delbert Bowers – Discussion