How to become a professional music producer

This forum is for discussing Propellerhead's music software. Questions, answers, ideas, and opinions... all apply.
changnoi
Posts: 50
Joined: 31 Dec 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

In the same vein as my other post about Reason users below, I have been asked to advise a youngster how to enter the profession properly not just by the self taught wannabee route

There must be professionals working in Recording studios who might have some pointers from their own experience

As we all know there are many facets to this calling eg formal instruction on music theory, keyboard skills, analog machines, digital synth techniques, signal processing, drum tempo, DAWs, sound recording, mixing desk, album production, sufficient maths skills - A level std, PC s/w skills eg Excel, Word, Soundforge, Production criteria to connect with Studios and so on - I daresay Ive missed out some important areas

I am NOT a professional. I come with an innate musical aptitude backed up by a formal engineering training so I understand many of the attributes above on a scale of 1 to 10 in competence. Professionals would easily leave me standing :lol:

You cant just be self taught out of a book or suck it and see (too much of that BS around)

What would you advise the fruit of your loins :shock:

PS I suppose its a bit like the film industry and learning about film production (Pinewood courses, London film academy, Australian film school etc)

User avatar
QVprod
Posts: 2131
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

For music production, the only thing that makes you a professional is whether or not you have clients that pay you to do it. It's not that complex at all. I think you have some things crossed with Audio Engineer, to which there can be some crossover, but they're two different fields. There's no formal training needed to be a music producer. Sure knowing music theory, having some keyboard chops, and audio engineering knowledge is an asset, but there are plenty of people making a living without all that. Being self taught doesn't make you a wannabe and Youtube is full of people you can effectively "shadow".

User avatar
guitfnky
Posts: 761
Joined: 19 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
You cant just be self taught out of a book or suck it and see (too much of that BS around)
I think someone looking into audio production SHOULD seek out formal training, but I disagree that you can't possibly make a successful career by learning on your own. I took some courses at a local recording studio, and interned there for a few years, and it was absolutely invaluable. a lot of that same information is available on YouTube now, but it's not the same thing as being in the room with a professional, showing you how to set up mics, use a console, and being able to have a dialog with them when they're explaining different mix techniques.

I almost think the business side is as (or possibly even more, these days) important to learn than the audio side. back when I started getting into audio, if you wanted a professional sounding recording, you pretty much had to go to a professional-grade studio, where they have a staff...a secretary, the owner, and engineers...so if you wanted to work as an audio engineer, you really only needed to learn the audio side of things; other people would handle finances, and the business side. with everything so democratized, now you're usually going to expect to have to do all of those things yourself--at least while you're starting out, but probably for your entire career.

User avatar
selig
Moderator
Posts: 7577
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
In the same vein as my other post about Reason users below, I have been asked to advise a youngster how to enter the profession properly not just by the self taught wannabee route

There must be professionals working in Recording studios who might have some pointers from their own experience
Those are the folks I sought out when I was getting started. Tried school, but was dissatisfied in the quality at the time (early 1980s, things are better now, IMO).

I moved to a studio center (Nashville, TN) and weaseled my way into assisting a full time working engineer who was making records. The key here is to find the folks doing what you want to do, at least generally. For my first few years I worked on country music records, which was not at all my genre of interest but it taught me the basics of relationships, etiquette, hierarchy, time-frames, budgets, project workflows, etc.

From there I somehow managed to get a full time position at a studio doing more electronic/pop/rock music with the tools I wanted to learn (SSL, digital multitrack, CMI, synths, drum machines, vintage gear, etc.). My 3 years at this studio prepared me for all that followed, allowing me to look over the shoulder of seasoned pros who came through the studio, and watch each one use the gear in different ways to different ends. For me that was better than any school experience, BUT I still read and studied the basics to better understand the technology behind the gear I was using.

Each person learns differently, and each has different goals. First step would be to find a professional who's willing to take an hour and connect you to the right folks for your personal goals (offer to take them to a nice lunch, for example - don't just ask for a handout!!!).

That's all I got, hopefully something in this thread will give you the answers you need!
Selig Audio, LLC

User avatar
selig
Moderator
Posts: 7577
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
In the same vein as my other post about Reason users below, I have been asked to advise a youngster how to enter the profession properly not just by the self taught wannabee route

There must be professionals working in Recording studios who might have some pointers from their own experience
Those are the folks I sought out when I was getting started. Tried school, but was dissatisfied in the quality at the time (early 1980s, things are better now, IMO).

I moved to a studio center (Nashville, TN) and weaseled my way into assisting a full time working engineer who was making records. The key here is to find the folks doing what you want to do, at least generally. For my first few years I worked on country music records, which was not at all my genre of interest but it taught me the basics of relationships, etiquette, hierarchy, time-frames, budgets, project workflows, etc.

From there I somehow managed to get a full time position at a studio doing more electronic/pop/rock music with the tools I wanted to learn (SSL, digital multitrack, CMI, synths, drum machines, vintage gear, etc.). My 3 years at this studio prepared me for all that followed, allowing me to look over the shoulder of seasoned pros who came through the studio, and watch each one use the gear in different ways to different ends. For me that was better than any school experience, BUT I still read and studied the basics to better understand the technology behind the gear I was using.

Each person learns differently, and each has different goals. First step would be to find a professional who's willing to take an hour and connect you to the right folks for your personal goals (offer to take them to a nice lunch, for example - don't just ask for a handout!!!).

That's all I got, hopefully something in this thread will give you the answers you need!
Selig Audio, LLC

User avatar
moneykube
Posts: 1730
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

make money

changnoi
Posts: 50
Joined: 31 Dec 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

selig wrote:
10 Jan 2019
changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
In the same vein as my other post about Reason users below, I have been asked to advise a youngster how to enter the profession properly not just by the self taught wannabee route

There must be professionals working in Recording studios who might have some pointers from their own experience
Those are the folks I sought out when I was getting started. Tried school, but was dissatisfied in the quality at the time (early 1980s, things are better now, IMO).

I moved to a studio center (Nashville, TN) and weaseled my way into assisting a full time working engineer who was making records. The key here is to find the folks doing what you want to do, at least generally. For my first few years I worked on country music records, which was not at all my genre of interest but it taught me the basics of relationships, etiquette, hierarchy, time-frames, budgets, project workflows, etc.

From there I somehow managed to get a full time position at a studio doing more electronic/pop/rock music with the tools I wanted to learn (SSL, digital multitrack, CMI, synths, drum machines, vintage gear, etc.). My 3 years at this studio prepared me for all that followed, allowing me to look over the shoulder of seasoned pros who came through the studio, and watch each one use the gear in different ways to different ends. For me that was better than any school experience, BUT I still read and studied the basics to better understand the technology behind the gear I was using.

Each person learns differently, and each has different goals. First step would be to find a professional who's willing to take an hour and connect you to the right folks for your personal goals (offer to take them to a nice lunch, for example - don't just ask for a handout!!!).
I quite understand where you are coming from and sure back in the 80's thing were like that and it was all that was available so being an intern in a studio was the only way and hope that professionals coming through would have the patience to speak to you shavers.

I started out as an apprentice and leanrt a huge amount from traditional old craftsmen, but I could see that would only ever get me so far. I would be stuck in tramlines and never get to jump up levels to get to be a full professional engineer
no matter how much self taught experience I gained. I could see the look of despair disappointment in older men approaching their 40's knowing that was as far as they would ever get. I took the unprecedented step at 25 to jump into a 4 year gruelling engineering course. From there on doors opened and finally I became a chief systems engineer for an oil major

So what I am saying is that tech has moved ahead at astonishing speed. For me everyday was a solid learning experience
learning new skills. The Oil major I was with didnt have a PC in their design office, I had to make myself unpleasant with the fossilised management to get them to lash out $500 for a Commodore PET. Needless to say that my peers were hugely impressed and quickly learnt how to use it. All my career I have had to battle with old farts being Luddites

So we dont want our youngsters getting put down and boxed in (too much of a threat to seniors 10 years older)

See what I mean? We have seen how the system tends to slap down talent. IMHO if a lad is young talented and committed, he could be so much better if he gets formal training and then does the intern route because he will have gained vision and the ability to marshal his energies and not end up in tram lines

If I had M$ money I would set up such a college for Music Production for bright young talent Worldwide

Robin :|

changnoi
Posts: 50
Joined: 31 Dec 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

Just to drive home the point - hero of mine George Martin - see what trained talent can do
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Martin

User avatar
selig
Moderator
Posts: 7577
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019

If I had M$ money I would set up such a college for Music Production for bright young talent Worldwide

Robin :|
That's great for the folks who learn like that. For folks like me, I needed a different path. As I said, there are different ways of learning that appeal to different folk's mentality.
I don't believe there's one method that works for every person, but that's just me.
Selig Audio, LLC

User avatar
selig
Moderator
Posts: 7577
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
Just to drive home the point - hero of mine George Martin - see what trained talent can do
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Martin
Indeed, a man after my own heart - his piano and oboe performance studies were enough to prepare him to be a world class record producer, so in his case there was no need for a music production class. As he says in that link, "After that, Martin explained that he had just picked it up by himself."
Selig Audio, LLC

changnoi
Posts: 50
Joined: 31 Dec 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

But sadly, that was in those days of flower power - I was a flower child

These opportunities just arent available today. In my apprentice years and pitiful wages I could afford to get a licence, and insurance run around on big bikes and get a van for romancin. These days it cost £20/hr expect 50 hours min and insurance on a base mini is £300pm for an 18yr old. You gotta have a rich daddy. The minimum wage is £6ph . a studio flat is £500pm

changnoi
Posts: 50
Joined: 31 Dec 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

If you want a cringeworthy sidesplitting insight to the morally bankrupt public service broadcaster BBC go for W1A

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c ... 8TH8XDEHCF

Thats what our kids have to fight against - all about the runup to the London Olympics

Shows that the Beeb was too stupid to see its own trousers down

WarStar
Posts: 14
Joined: 17 Oct 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

Desire is where it all starts.

I'm self taught for the most part but I also spent about 5yrs working at a studio as well. I'd suggest finding the types of music and bands or producers, ie identifying the local "scenes" you gravitate towards, and hanging out where they do and going to shows and venues and meeting folks in the scene.

All the while you should be spending a considerable amount of time on your own educating yourself and practicing on your DAW or hardware or choice. They say it takes 10,000 hours of experience to become a expert so.

And if you've cultivated your efforts in finding out who's who in your local scene and attempted to make friends then find out what studios they go to or record at and try and sit in on a session. That's exactly what I did and right off the bat I made friends with the owner of said studio. After the session I chopped it up with him about gear and techiniques and asked if he ever needed any help or would be open to me shadowing him during sessions. He invited me back for a sit in and didn't have any open paying positions at the time but I stayed in touch and a month later he offered me a job.

So all in all I'd say that if your friend is looking to become a professional then he/she needs to get involved and make connections while at the same time practicing and educating your self on all things audio.

Being able to talk "shop" with professionals is also invaluable in this regard.

User avatar
QVprod
Posts: 2131
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 10 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
Just to drive home the point - hero of mine George Martin - see what trained talent can do
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Martin
I think the takeaway here is his talent is what took him far. The thing about talent is you can’t teach it. You can teach techniques and you can coach but talent has to already exist. I went to school for music and audio, and can definitely say music theory knowledge helped be a proficient keyboard player which in turn affected my production abilities. Audio mainly helps for audio tasks like recording. Otherwise, I had to unlearn few things especially with creative routing in Reason.

User avatar
Boombastix
Posts: 253
Joined: 18 May 2018
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post 10 Jan 2019

Probably best to start by defining "producer". People use the term for many things nowadays.
1. Traditional producer, the person who books the studio, manages the recording budget, bring in musicians and arrangers, work with the artists to capture the best performance, oversees mixing and mastering engineers so the end result is the desired result.
2. "Bed room"/DJ producer, someone who composes music, does basic engineering, mainly using a daw as the main tool, not really having lots of musical training and perhaps is drawing in notes, but use sound design pretty extensively.
3. Composing producer, someone who is fairly articulated in chord structures and able to play and arrange a composition.

Then to add you probably need to know genre too because there is a lot of difference how you do classical vs rock vs EDM.

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk


changnoi
Posts: 50
Joined: 31 Dec 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

QVprod wrote:
10 Jan 2019
changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
Just to drive home the point - hero of mine George Martin - see what trained talent can do
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Martin
I think the takeaway here is his talent is what took him far. The thing about talent is you can’t teach it. You can teach techniques and you can coach but talent has to already exist.
Yes indeed, I do stress that some native musical talent and intellect must exist in the first place. Sadly the DAW apps let a uselss numpty turn out techno shite that passes for (what?) maybe intended for an audience out of of it on whatever chemicals. I have no interest in that genre :twisted:
But for those budding George Martins addressing todays scene - where can they get fundamental training that gives basic skills and also trains the mind to become a mental athlete and gives the ability to learn. You also go to college to meet and interact with other gifted students. Its enlightening to recognise your peer level and also see guys who are 10x smarter than you will ever be. You dont get that from self taught or suck it and see. That approach will leave you very blinkered in life. Also remember you are surrounded by hoards of wannabees. You need the tools to enable you to stand head and shoulders above this competition

Perhaps we can crowd fund a young music producers college

Robin

changnoi
Posts: 50
Joined: 31 Dec 2018

Post 10 Jan 2019

Bombastix you make a very good observation

BTW it was brought home to me how the whole music scene has changed drastically due to social media (of which I dont do - i havent a smart phone)

My neighbour - single mom - showed me a video on her i pad. it was made by schoolfriends of her daughter. It was a vid in the rapper/techno style by 15 year olds. This is no way my bag but I watched amazed at was clearly some bursting talent and energy. The whole video was shot outside in engaging locations, edited and compiled on said i phones and the result was very agreeable and an amazingly professional product - good enough for tv. These kids made this themselves and spread it round social media complete with their own marketing promo, completely bypassing the bloodsucking music promoters and publishers

I must find out how they got on

Think - the Beatles would never have happened without the genius of Brian Epstein
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Epstein

estuary
Posts: 25
Joined: 09 Apr 2018
Location: tokyo

Post 10 Jan 2019

Boombastix wrote:
10 Jan 2019
Probably best to start by defining "producer". People use the term for many things nowadays.
1. Traditional producer, the person who books the studio, manages the recording budget, bring in musicians and arrangers, work with the artists to capture the best performance, oversees mixing and mastering engineers so the end result is the desired result.
2. "Bed room"/DJ producer, someone who composes music, does basic engineering, mainly using a daw as the main tool, not really having lots of musical training and perhaps is drawing in notes, but use sound design pretty extensively.
3. Composing producer, someone who is fairly articulated in chord structures and able to play and arrange a composition.
...
:thumbs_up: :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:
Truth is hidden in silence

jlgrimes
Posts: 297
Joined: 06 Jun 2017

Post 10 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019
In the same vein as my other post about Reason users below, I have been asked to advise a youngster how to enter the profession properly not just by the self taught wannabee route

There must be professionals working in Recording studios who might have some pointers from their own experience

As we all know there are many facets to this calling eg formal instruction on music theory, keyboard skills, analog machines, digital synth techniques, signal processing, drum tempo, DAWs, sound recording, mixing desk, album production, sufficient maths skills - A level std, PC s/w skills eg Excel, Word, Soundforge, Production criteria to connect with Studios and so on - I daresay Ive missed out some important areas

I am NOT a professional. I come with an innate musical aptitude backed up by a formal engineering training so I understand many of the attributes above on a scale of 1 to 10 in competence. Professionals would easily leave me standing :lol:

You cant just be self taught out of a book or suck it and see (too much of that BS around)

What would you advise the fruit of your loins :shock:

PS I suppose its a bit like the film industry and learning about film production (Pinewood courses, London film academy, Australian film school etc)
I think it is perfectly fine for a producer to be self taught and I recommend spending like a year just making tracks, songs without worrying about money.

From that point, start finding local musicians to work with.

Formal training, I would just focus on your weak points or areas you have interest in.

Maybe piano/guitar/singing lessons. Joining a band helps too.

I think with mixing, synth programming, experience is the best teacher. Not saying dont get training but I think most producers learn from trial & error and finding a mentor.

User avatar
DiZo
Posts: 122
Joined: 20 Jan 2015

Post 11 Jan 2019

big artist i know its not all pro, or "semi/pro" ... the important, is the network

for a pro 1 the music and 2 the network (human not only FB...)
or 1 the network & 2 the music

human communication skill is the key for money

music is an other story, its better for succes but not the key

oups and respect and trust and work, you have timeline or show, make it !

User avatar
Marco Raaphorst
Posts: 2301
Joined: 22 Jan 2015

Post 11 Jan 2019

I feel like the the most important question is to ask yourself why you want to become a professional producer. If you know the why, not only might it help you continue going for it, it might also show you the way how to do it.

There are so many producers, it's hard to say there's a common rule for all of them. Some don't know theory, some do.

For me everything you do should be a balance between feelings and knowledge. Knowledge causes feelings in my book, so I am also trying to understand what I am thinking. So that's why I think the WHY is most important. And most difficult.

Never do it for the money, that's not a good why (you can make money way more easily). Don't do it for succes, that's external, look for internal satisfaction. Try to find a why that challenges you. Understand that it won't be easy but that the best things are like that. They are hard, you will need your whole life and never will be totally satisfied. But you understand that, and keep on going.

There are many reasons you can think of. Maybe make a list and put numbers next it, for importance?

Just a few ideas.
Marco Raaphorst

Music & soundware https://melodiefabriek.com.
Check out my new ReFill Rockmen: https://melodiefabriek.com/blog/rockmen ... available/

User avatar
QVprod
Posts: 2131
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 11 Jan 2019

changnoi wrote:
10 Jan 2019

But for those budding George Martins addressing todays scene - where can they get fundamental training that gives basic skills and also trains the mind to become a mental athlete and gives the ability to learn. You also go to college to meet and interact with other gifted students. Its enlightening to recognise your peer level and also see guys who are 10x smarter than you will ever be. You dont get that from self taught or suck it and see. That approach will leave you very blinkered in life. Also remember you are surrounded by hoards of wannabees. You need the tools to enable you to stand head and shoulders above this competition
That's the thing. I disagree that college is the answer for this. I took a production course in college. While granted my major was Music and Sound Recording and not Music Production, my actual production ability comes from experience. Mind you, my professors had production credits with Blue Oyster Cult and Cool and the Gang. It wasn't taught. I don't think anyone's production ability is taught. George Martin didn't go to school for production. And self taught doesn't mean don't watch other people. Study your inspirations of course, but the best way to be great at creating music is to create it and keep creating it. Listen to modern and older music and learn how to replicate the aspects that you want to apply to your own music. There are plenty of online courses that teach the basics of production (far cheaper than college), as well as plenty of free stuff on YouTube where even if all you do is watch someone build a song, its a similar experience to looking over someone's shoulder in a studio. No textbook is going to tell you what musical decisions to make in the creation process. That simply comes down to personal taste.

jlgrimes
Posts: 297
Joined: 06 Jun 2017

Post 11 Jan 2019

Genre and what type of producer matters as well.


If you are doing Rock, then you need experience with working with bands and people skills, and mic techniques, instrument maintenance setup.

For EDM, you want synth programming, DAW functions.

Executive Producer, business, project management skills.

Music theory, basic studio engineering skills helps too.

You can get it with experience, books, online training though.

User avatar
napynap
Posts: 66
Joined: 08 Sep 2017
Location: Palmdale, CA

Post 12 Jan 2019

I remember taking an 'electonic music' class in HS where I learned multitrack audio recording (analog). Of course, the days of learning elective skills in HS are long gone. With today's internet and technology, it's become easier for newbies to not only learn more easily, but also to just start doing it. We've seen this happen in other industries like journalism. Considering a music producer entails so many skills learned over years, it's good to just start self-learning any one of the many aspects of that undertaking. Over time, new avenues will open up to meet established producers and maybe learn the next step to becoming them.
visit http://www.napynap.com to learn more about me. Thank you.

  • Information
  • Who is online

    Users browsing this forum: CommonCrawl [Bot], MrFigg and 4 guests