Music producers oversee the entire process of music production. Not only do they manage all recording and mixing sessions, but also schedule studio time, secure funding, negotiate contracts, monitor budgets and handle talent. Though average salaries are far from the seven figures of the top talent in the industry, a music producer’s earnings are nothing to sneeze at.
Earnings of Music Producers
A survey by Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts found that record producers started out at $25,000 a year, or roughly $2,083 a month, as of 2010. Those at the top of the industry, however, brought home seven-figure salaries, which works out to more than $83,000 a month. As far as averages go, salaries were closer to $68,710 a year, or almost $5,726 a month, in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was a decrease of nearly 15 percent from the previous year, when the average salary was $80,720, or $6,727 a month.
Earnings of Technical Producers
Assisting music producers in the recording process are technical producers. Also known as sound engineers, these sound engineering techs generally operate the soundboard during recording sessions. According to the Berklee survey, starting salaries are similar to those of music producers, with an income of $25,000 a year, or $2,083 a month. With experience, salaries can reach upward of $150,000 a year, or $12,500 a month. On average, however, salaries were closer to $45,340 a year, or $3,778 a month, as of 2012, reports the BLS. This was a decrease of almost 19 percent from the previous year, when the average was $55,670, or $4,639 a month.
In general, producers and engineers enter the field with some level of training under their belts. Some learn their craft through an associate's or bachelor’s degree in music production, where they’re exposed to recording and mixing techniques, as well as audio and vocal technologies. Others refine their talents in another area of music production, such as an assistant engineer, who sets up recording equipment and assists in mixing tracks. The latter, of course, provides some earnings as aspiring producers gain practical experience, in the range of $18,000 to $25,000 a year.
The BLS expects employment for music producers to grow by as much as 11 percent from 2010 to 2020. With a reported 650 working in the sound recording industry, the 11-percent growth rate works out to more than 70 new jobs over the course of a decade. Prospects for sound engineers aren’t nearly as bright, with an expected job growth rate of just 1 percent though 2020. Though an estimated 2,880 currently work in the industry, the 1-percent growth works out to just 28 new jobs during the same period of time.
- Berklee College of Music: Salary Ranges for U.S. Music Positions in Performance, Writing, Business, Audio Technology, Education and Music Therapy
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Producers and Directors
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates – Sound Recording Industries
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2011 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates – Sound Recording Industries
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