7 Key Steps to Becoming a Music Producer

If you ever thought that learning how to be a music producer was difficult or confusing, well then draw up a chair and pour yourself some hot chocolate…

Together we’ll clear away the mysterious cloud which separates how people get started in their careers as a producer, from you, the who wants to know.

It’s very simple and anyone can do it, it just takes a few steps to understand and accomplish.


See more helpful articles:


How To Be A Music Producer

Here, I lay out 7 of these key steps that should get you started. If you have just this, mix in a little bit of faith, you shall surely receive what you want.

If you want to turn your hobby or passion into something that makes a living, then this simple guide is for you.

1. Get The Right Tools

This is placed first because it’s what everyone wants to know starting out. When we get interested in music production, the first thing we search for is usually for the big G….

GEAR.

And after that, software.

It’s natural, we look at producers and see their gear and wonder about the stuff they use.

We’re curious… We’re like a kid that has seen a shiny new toy and want to play with it, even if we probably don’t know how it works.

Yes, gear can be fun and can seem like toys, but you should have an understanding of what are the right tools, and how to use them.

The right tools can take you a long way. Starting out, you do not need many, or to even spend a lot. Simply a laptop, a pair of studio headphones, and an audio interface should be sufficient. Add to that a studio microphone if you know you will be recording anything, and an instrument (like a guitar if you play), which you may already have, or a MIDI controller (to compose your tracks and beats) and you’re pretty much complete, gear-wise.

But know that the most important tool that you’ll be using is your digital audio workstation. This is most essential, as a DAW will become the hub of all your creative work. And you don’t even need to pay for your first DAW, you can try some great DAWs for free, then move up to the pro level DAWs when you’re ready.

Not only having the right tools, but knowing how to use them, is important. A true music producer would be fascinated about the technical side of music making (engineering), not just the “artsy” side. One of the things that you will find appreciation in is that music production itself occupies that fascinating intersection of art and science.

Read: What you Need to Produce Music

2. Get An Education

Once you have the tools, you now need some skills!

Some people learn how to become a music producer out of sheer passion and joy, and so they organically and intuitively figure out how to use the equipment and software available to them.

That is one way. But the most beneficial way to streamline your abilities is to take some time learning your craft.

Luckily, there are several resources. There are many online courses and YouTube tutorials that will provide opportunities for learning on your own. Or, if you’re aiming for a career in the music and media industry, and want to immerse yourself in the music production world, you could apply to go to schools like Full Sail University or Berklee College of Music, and become professionally and certifiably trained by the best in the industry.

As I said, schools like these are great places to be fully immersed in your craft. Otherwise, you can learn on your own through the resources available online.

Read: Best Music Production Online Courses and Schools

3. Have Passion

You have to have a strong desire to make music or to work with music. Figure out where your natural interests lie, because not all producers are the same. Wherever your natural abilities and interests are, though, you’re going to want to live it and breathe it, grow with it, and nurture it.

What does passion look like?

Well, do you follow some of the best and most producers today? When you listen to music, are you so immersed in what you hear, that while others are dancing to it, you’re thinking about how you could integrate a groove, a beat, melody, idea, or hook, into a track that’s worming its way through your brain, seeking its expressive output? Do you spend some time researching how a producer achieved a certain sound or arrangement? It’s  not just about making music, it’s about taking the ideas and sounds in your head and giving it to the world. And your passion will drive you to learn as much as you can, everyday, for a long time to come.

Passion is key. It’s like the saying goes, “If you can do what you love for a living, you will never need to work a day in your life.”

4. Know The Business

Music production is a business. And as a business, you should have a business model as to how you will be making money for your skills and abilities. In other words, how will you be compensated for your work, or otherwise how will you compensate yourself for your work.

Learning how to become a music producer also involves learning something about the music business, even if it just starts out as a hobby, as it’s good to get to know the business side of things in whatever you do. And just the basics will do.

Certainly, the idea of a “business” can be daunting to some, while others find it fascinating. But it can and will become exciting once you get the hang of it. There is nothing like seeing the thing you’re doing for fun being of value to others, and that that value is expressed financially.

To guarantee success, realize that, in this business, you are not just making money for yourself, you are making money for a whole host of people. For in helping others to achieve their goals, you are earning for what you contribute to them. That’s awesome! Here are a couple examples that work:

Be a Beatmaker or Composer

For instance, you can use your music and your skills to create instrumental arrangements for a vocalist, which will be effective in his or her career. You can compose film scores for filmmakers or video game music creators. There’s a lot of money in that. You can also write advertising jingles for TV and radio.

If you want to make beats, you can sell your beats through online music marketplaces such as BeatstarsAIRBIT, Beat Brokerz, and Rocbattle. These sites already take care of much of the legal stuff for you already. All you have to do is register copyright for your music with the US Copyright Office, or, if you’re not in the US, your local copyrighting office.

If you want your music to be in film, video, or video games, you can sell royalty free licenses for use of them many times over on Audio Jungle, Premium Beat, TuneFruit, or ccMixter.

Start a Record Label

Yes, you can start a label for yourself. You can even start one for other artists to join your label. You can produce songs, EPs, or albums for yourself or for singers you know, and release the music online. There are resources such as CDBaby, TuneCore, and Label-Worx, which distribute your music to all the online music stores and streaming services required to monetize your music, including the ability to monetize your music on sites such as YouTube.

As you begin, you’ll need to learn a few things about things like copyrighting and licensing. Luckily, the resources mentioned above cover a lot of the licensing details for you. If you plan on starting a Label, you’d naturally have to register it as a business with your local government (not a difficult process). This simply legitimizes your business to places like BMI and ASCAP once you start getting into that.

5. Secure Your Creativity

This was alluded to above. There are certain things you can do to protect your music and to ensure that you collect whatever income that is being generated from its use, especially if and when it’s being used without your knowledge.

Besides copyrighting your music, you can sign up for a service like Audiam, which “license, police, audit, research, collect and distribute interactive streaming mechanicals and YouTube royalties”. Once you’ve published your music on TuneCore or CDBaby, you can join the performance right organizations (PRO) BMI and ASCAP which, together, will give you 100% performance royalties on your music as songwriter/composer and publisher.

These organizations monitor the use of commercial music (not royalty free music), ensuring that musicians get paid for the use of their music in certain venues and events, on radio or otherwise. After you’ve done that, I’d suggest registering for the streaming monitoring services such as Nielson/BDS Radio and Mediabase Charts. While the PROs mentioned make collections on monies for public use, which include radio, the latter two monitors online streaming sites and internet radio.

For those just starting out, I’d suggest these 3 steps:

1. First, copyright your stuff, then release your music on CDBaby, TuneCore, or Label-Worx (more advanced option for those interested in starting a label).

2. After you’ve released your singles or albums, you’re free to upload to YouTube, SoundCloud, Audiomack, whatever…

3. Now, sign up as a publisher and songwriter/composer to PROs BMI and ASCAP,  then register to the streaming monitoring services Nielson/BDS Radio and Mediabase Charts.

This whole process may seem a little daunting, but it’s covered in detail and in a easier to understand way our other post. Check it out at the link.

Read: Start a Music Publishing Company in 5 Steps

6. Be Social

The best way to secure success as a music producer is to get people to hear what you are doing. Go on social media and share your music when you release them. Over time, you will build a following, and you can even give away some of your music to those who are loyal fans, creating incentives to follow you.

This works whether you’re an artiste-producer or a beatmaker producer. This is how Chance The Rapper found fame without the need of a major music label. A solid fan base can bring you all the success you need. And if you’re just interested in making and selling your beats, having a following of singers and songwriters on social media will get you continuous business, as there are always people who want to buy music to make songs with.

A very good service to use in ToneDen,  a social media managing platform designed specifically for musicians and producers. It’s free to join and use.

7. Have a Website

If you want to be successful in many businesses, especially when it comes to media, you need not only a social presence, but a website. You can use services like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. These are site building platforms with beautiful themes, online store options, and other options where musicians that want to display their music can do so beautifully on the internet. You can build a site in minutes using these, I recommend them.

Read: How to Build a Successful Music Website


Final Thoughts

As you can see, learning how to be a music producer is not difficult. You simply need the tools, the skills, a passion and to decide on what sort of business you want to secure your creativity, then you can implement these steps and set yourself up to be ready to share your music to the world.

That’s all you need. Starting with a little, you can gain a lot and reach far, making your interest, hobby, or passion become rewarding for you, and for others.

3 Comments on “7 Key Steps to Becoming a Music Producer”

  1. Currently, I am looking for a system that I can put several instrument and vocal tracks down on with a percussion software that sounds good – the PreSonus maybe.
    Once I fine tune the art of recording, I would want to begin producing local musicians. Though I would need a to set up a studio with additional audio equipment for bands I suppose?
    I like the idea of a record label.
    Thanks for the info.

  2. PreSonus Studio One is a good option. You can take a look at some more options here.

    There are a number percussion VSTi’s out there. If you’re talking drums, the best ones that we’d recommend are Addictive Drums and EZ drummer.

    If you’re recording more people like local bands, then yeah, you’re going to need more than the basic equipment. A good USB mixer should do it for you.

    All the best!
    MPN

  3. It was so good to see that you’re motivating people to have passion but also making them aware of the business side. Not many people out there impart such wisdom and it’s so important to do that.

    Also, I loved the ‘Secure your Creativity’ section. Budding musicians are mostly in a hurry to release their product without realising that it might end up going viral. They should know the process of releasing a song in the right and secure way and you’ve managed to do that in a structured manner.

    Kudos on such a great job!

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