Music producers help turn a rough idea into a finished, polished and marketable product. Because of the vast array of music production roles available, this career is one of the most economically stratified. The most successful producers may make millions every year, while the newest and least successful producers might not make anything at all.
About Music Producers
Music producers help to organize music into cohesive songs, and this often involves adding, removing and editing elements of the piece. A wide variety of industries employ producers. Some work with recording artists to improve the quality and marketability of their music. Others work to ensure live productions are of a high quality, and some work on television and movies. Some jobs demand significant computer skills so the producer can use computer software to edit music. In other cases, producers research market trends and produce music that conforms to those trends. For example, a television music producer might edit the film's soundtrack to sound more like popular music.
According to Indeed, the average overall salary for a music producer in July 2014 was $79,000. These figures are based on jobs posted on Indeed, so do not reflect the earnings of independent producers. Because the industry is so stratified, these figures also do not mean most music producers can expect to earn this sum. Instead, the high earnings of some producers help to inflate the overall average salary.
Experienced Music Producers
Experienced music producers who have a stable of successful clients can make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars every year. These producers represent a very small segment of the industry, though. Like beginning music producers, their earnings may be tied to their clients' success, so successful clients will yield a skilled producer even more money. A music producer who works on a major movie production, for example, may get royalties if the movie is successful, and these royalties may come in addition to the producer's salary or hourly rate.
Novice Music Producers
Novice music producers might not make any income at all, since many people break into the industry by offering free work or apprenticing under a skilled producer. At the early stages of a career, a producer's earnings may be heavily tied to the success of her clients. Since novice producers struggle to land good clients, this means that a young producer's earnings are often limited. Some novice producers work on a salaried basis with production companies, but these producers will still earn less than seasoned producers.
Other Earning Factors
A career as a producer requires a hefty dose of luck; skill alone won't get you a job. No matter where a producer is in his career, many factors affect his earnings. Producers who live in locations such as New York and Los Angeles, where the recording industry is active and successful, typically stand to make more than those living in remote regions. The producer's reputation and education can affect his eligibility for jobs, and producers who are excellent at marketing themselves -- or who have many industry connections -- are better situated to earn a good living.
- Indeed: Music Producer Salary
- Celebrity Net Worth: Music Producer Salary
- Berklee College of Music: Salary Ranges for U.S. Music Positions
- United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2013 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates
- Recording Connection Audio Institute: What Does a Music Producer Do?
- Photo Credit Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Getty Images
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