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How to Get Started in a Music Production Career in 2021

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If you are passionate about music, then becoming a producer is a dream job. However, as with any dream job, it can be extremely difficult to find success as a music producer.

This is due to a number of reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, everyone wants to follow in the footsteps of legends like Quincy Jones, Rick Rubin, and Dr Dre. Therefore, competition for any music production job is fierce, and the skill level is sky-high.

Secondly, the music industry exists as a famine or feast economy. You are either enjoying a great deal of success, or you are struggling to make ends meet. This makes it tricky to carve out a stable living as a music producer, especially when you’re just starting out.

Having said all this, just because it is hard to become a music producer, it doesn’t mean it is impossible. In fact, as long as you stick to a logical plan, there is no reason why you can’t forge a career in music production.

Here’s how you can get started:

The best place to start is by investing in the right equipment

If you want to pursue a career in music production, the best place to start is with your equipment. As a producer, you need the right tools to do your job. Without them, you can’t do anything. 

As a result, if you’re going to hone your craft, you need equipment such as a computer, mixing desk, turntables, microphones, recording software, and music making software.

Of course, which items you specifically opt for will depend on the type of music you want to produce and your budget, but at a minimum, you will need a computer and mixing software to get started. 

In terms of What is the Best Computer for Music Production, it will depend entirely on your budget, but it is safe to say that both Mac and PC are good options for sound mixing. Although many people think music producers stick to Apple Macs, this isn’t actually true. PCs can be just as powerful (if not more), so don’t let this misnomer put you off if you have a PC.  

Learn an instrument 

Another great approach for honing your music production skills is to learn an instrument. It sounds strange, considering producers don’t usually play instruments, but one of your key skills will be the ability to create and keep a rhythm and understand the different components of music. 

If you have never played an instrument, you are severely limiting your ability to produce music. Instead, aim to learn at least one instrument before you start your music production career in earnest. It will be a huge help when it comes to putting a song together. 

Furthermore, playing an instrument regularly will give you the musical inspiration that you can take into the studio with artists. Usually, a producer’s greatness is only apparent when they take an artist’s song and pair it with a completely different sound to create a more rounded song. You can only do this when you have an ear for instruments, so focus on honing your musical ability because it will be a great help later on.

Play in a band

Similarly to playing an instrument, it could be worth joining a band in the short term to hone your musical talents, build songs and albums, and learn how to work with a group of musicians. It is a cliché, but producers spend a lot of time mind managing their artists, getting the best out of them using basic people skills rather than anything musical. 

It is the same when you’re in a band. Half the battle is won when you get everyone pulling in the same direction rather than arguing over whose ideas are better. It is an underrated quality of a great producer and one that can only be developed when you work with artists. Rather than jeopardizing your music production career by going in with zero experience of working with bands, join one of your own and build up your experience levels. 

Collaborate with a wide range of artists

If you’re thinking of starting a career in music production, you’re going to need to expose yourself to a wide variety of sounds. A bit like an author who doesn’t read books, you can’t be a successful producer if you don’t work with a wide range of artists of varying genres. 

This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You don’t have to seek out established stars; you just need to get in contact with local musicians and offer to produce a few of their songs. By working with different artists, you will gain a more rounded understanding of musical genres, new instruments, varying personality traits, and people skills. 

By building strong foundations, you will have a richer pool of experience from which to draw when the time comes to step up to a professional role.

Consider gaining experience as an understudy at a music studio

Another way to gain experience is to apply for work experience at a music studio. Although these placements are not easy to land, they can be incredibly useful if you are inexperienced.

There’s no substitute for working in a professional studio, and just being able to watch producers and artists working together, and having the ability to contribute in a small way, would massively boost your skill level and bring you to the attention of the studio bosses, who may be looking to hire someone like you.

It is best to remember that no one knows who you are. Opportunities don’t magically fall into your lap. You have to go out and make them happen, which is why getting face time with musicians and producers is so vital.

Above all else, practice

Overall, the best approach you can take is to practice continually honing your skills in a variety of environments. This means practicing mixing songs, learning different instruments, collaborating with artists and other producers, and gaining front-line experience at studios. 

There’s no way you can waste your time if you are improving your musical skill set. It will allow you to jump on any opportunities when they come along and make the most of them.