Musicians need producers, and producers have some of the best jobs in the entire industry. They are the artists working behind the scenes that determine what a song will actually sound like when it’s recorded. A producer can make or break any recording, and so musicians everywhere are constantly fighting to work with the best producers. Breaking into this industry can be difficult, but it is also one of the most exciting and rewarding career paths you could choose. Just like any journey, it begins with a single step.
Learn how to play some music. Not all producers are virtuoso musicians; in fact, most of them are not. However, music production requires an exceptional ear and a pretty deep knowledge of music itself. The best way to develop your ear and your musical sensibility is to start playing music yourself, so get behind the keyboard and start learning to hammer out melodies or pick up a guitar and learn some chords. Whatever kind of music attracts you, become proficient at playing it. This will help you develop a solid musical foundation that will carry you a long way in your path to becoming a producer.
Producers need to be tech savvy as well. If you’ve ever looked at a recording studio and wondered how musical professionals can understand how to work those dozens of complex machines and switchboards, you’re not alone. Mastering musical technology requires lots of study and experience, and you’ll need to get started right away so that you can get a feel for how these things work. Learn as much as you can about both the hardware and software utilities that are used in music production.
As you build your foundation knowledge of music and recording, try to find and cultivate as many music industry connections as possible. You might start off as a sound engineer, or even a stage hand setting up microphones and drum sets. Maybe you’ll find your first industry job working at a record store; it doesn’t matter Seize every opportunity that appears. Even if you start at the bottom, any industry job you can find will be worth your time. Experience is invaluable in the music industry, and the opportunity to get to know industry professionals is priceless. Build connections and learn as much as you can.
Always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Talk to your bosses and industry friends about moving up in and taking on new responsibilities. Work as many recording sessions and live shows as you can handle. Get to know local music promoters and find ways to work with them. You could even talk to up-and-coming artists about collaborating on a recording; musicians will come to know you by your past work. You’ll need to be proactive and prolific in the early days of your career in order to develop your skills and experience.
Finally, don’t forget that producers are artists just like musicians. Make music your art and your life. Think of creative ways to combine sounds for interesting audio experiences. Your success as a producer will depend largely on your creativity, so cultivate it. The only way to achieve your goals as a music producer is to work hard every day, and love every minute of it.