My 17 Pros and Cons of Being a Music Producer


A few days ago I wrote an article about the pros and cons of being a musician; Because I was fascinated by the topic, I decided to continue on the same path and explore the pros and cons of being a music producer! Here is an overview of the article:

  1. Various means of income
  2. Highly creative work
  3. Working with various media
  4. You sit in the studio while the artist collects your money
  5. You will learn a lot through collaborating
  6. You Get to work with cool artists
  7. Getting paid upfront
  8. You decide when you’ll Work
  9. You influence others with your music (Emotionally Morally, Culturally)
  10. You get to work with awesome “toys.”
  11. If you want to be the best, you have to work 3x as hard
  12. Repetitive work
  13. Long hours in the studio
  14. Constantly evolving and keeping up with the latest trends
  15. Low starting salary
  16. You’re as good as your next hit
  17. You can quickly spread your work, find clients & collaborate

My aim here is to give you a new and complete perspective on the matter also I’ll try and avoid overlapping information with the previous article.

If you’re interested in discovering the pros and cons of being a musician, click on this link to access the article.

Now, let’s begin with one of my favorite music producer pros; Various income sources…

Pro: Various means of income

As a music producer, you have the advantage of receiving income from various sources. Some of the sources you might consider are:

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  1. Collect Music royalties
  2. Ghost production
  3. Start a youtube channel about music production (and monetize with ads + sell info products)
  4. Start a blog about music production (and monetize with ads, amazon affiliate and info products)
  5. Start a podcast about music production
  6. Write a book about music production (and list it on Amazon Kindle)
  7. Create a course about music production
  8. Promote courses from other producers (and receive an affiliate commission) (Clickbank)
  9. Sell beats online
  10. Produce songs for artists
  11. Compose music for video games
  12. Offer mixing and mastering services
  13. Create and sell sample packs
  14. perform live as a DJ, a band or a solo act
  15. Sell merchandise
  16. Physical music Sales

These are all the means of income I could think of for now! 🙂

Pro: Highly creative work

It’s no secret that artists are creative entities; this is especially true for music producers. You see, and artist has to focus only on themselves and the genre of music they’re creating. 

On the other hand, a music producer must be able to create a variety of musical styles, adapting himself to the artist’s needs.

Certainly, every producer has their favorite genre, the one they know inside out and perform the best at, but you must be prepared to work with almost every musical style, especially at the beginning stages of your career.

You see, if you list yourself at online services such as Soundbetter or Upwork changes are you will be approached by all types of artists. I strongly suggest you grab every opportunity that comes your way. I believe that for every client, you say no to, you lose ten more clients, this is due to the power of word-of-mouth.

Just to be fair, if you get asked to produce a genre that you’re completely unfamiliar with, and you’re positive you won’t get the job done, politely decline your clients offer.

For example, I focus mainly on Pop, EDM, Bass-House, Hip-Hop, and Trap music

Does that mean that I can’t produce Country, rock, or reggae music? Of course, I can, and I have produced songs that fall into that criteria. However, I enjoy more the first group than the second.

Pro: Working with various media

A music industry career that deserves more attention is the film/TV music production career. 

Creating a soundtrack for a movie is vastly different than creating a song for an album. This is because in movies, music is designed to complement another form of art. 

Thats why if you want to produce soundtracks you must shift your mindset from attention-grabbing melodies to interesting-but-not overwhelming-music; As you should be careful not to distract the viewer from the movie plot.

What’s more, technology has made the film-music-producer’s job much easier. As an example if you wanted to include classical music in a film’s soundtrack you first had to compose the music, transcribe it so that every musician gets their part, find an orchestra that is able to perform the music you wrote, rent studio space and put the whole thing together.

Nowadays, most music that is composed for movies starts with a midi controller. Even the great Hans Zimmer combines virtual instruments with real-life orchestras. There are a lot of very realistic options out there that will fool even the savviest classically trained musician.

Pro: You sit in the studio while the artist collects your money

Ok, this is a bit of a clickbait title, but it absolutely has truth in it! After a song is produced, mixed, and mastered, your job as a producer is done. It’s now up to the artist to promote and make money out of the track, and that means that you will get your royalty share.

For every song, you make you should always keep a portion of the royalties for yourself, and you should treat all your songs as small investments. By keeping a percentage of the royalty share, you know that it’s likely you will receive an income from that specific production.

How about streaming services?

I know that streaming services don’t pay much per stream. Even if a song blows up, it won’t make you a millionaire, but the accumulation of songs over time can bring you a significant income. 

Pro: You will learn a lot through collaborating

As we saw above, artists need producers, and producers need the artists, the one cant survive without the other. 

According to recent studies, three to four songwriters/producers will work together to create just one song! This trend is mainly found in the Billboard hot 100 hits. 

As it appears, the days where the performing artists would write their songs by themselves, such as Bob Dylan, the Stones or The Beatles belong to the past.

The way the game is set today, it’s much more complex. It resembles more a well-oiled machine; every piece has its function as they all contribute to the grant result. 

I can only speak for myself when I say that I would rather be the guy behind the track than the artist on stage. 

As a producer, I have the freedom to choose with whom I want to work with, how long I want to work with them, and how much I want to get paid for it.

Of course, it is in my benefit to work with popular artists since my royalty share will be bigger, more fans = more plays = more income.

Pro: You Get to work with cool artists

Do the following names mean anything to you? Max Martin, Drake, Future, Kanye West, Timbaland, Babyface Pharell Williams, Bruno Mars, and Shellback? 

These are Top of the notch producers and artists that have carved and/or performed a significant portion of the biggest hits from the past 20 years! 

Songs such as “Teenage Dream,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “Shake It Off,” “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”, “Can’t Feel My Face,” “…Baby One More Time”, “Roller Coaster,” “Happy,” “Stir Fry,” “God’s Plan,” “Grenade,” have become monstrous hits! Clearly, these guys know something the rest of us don’t…

But, I have got good news for you!… Just keep reading 🙂

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Pro: Getting paid upfront 

One of the great benefits of being a music producer is getting paid upfront; this is whether you’re starting your career or your an established name in the music industry. 

As an unknown producer, you can easily ask for $150-$300 per production. As you progress and build your name, you can go as high as $2000-$4000 per track, we are talking here about full songs, not just beats. 

When you become well established in the industry, your asking price should rise. You may even reach the $100.000 mark; Rumor has it this is the asking price of superstar producer Max Martin.

Pro: You decide when you’ll Work (but stay productive)

I am a night owl. I don’t know why but I often get inspired after the sun is down, this doesn’t mean that I can’t do administrative tasks during the day. But if I want to create an awesome song this mostly happens at night.

One of the excellent benefits of being a music producer is that you have the power to set your own hours, at least to some extent.

If you’re working as an independent professional, you have all the freedom to do as you please, popsonguniversity.com but if you’re hired by a label or a music studio to complete an X amount of tracks per year, there might be some limitations regarding working hours.

If you decide to become a freelancer and work from home, you must be absolutely sure that you have the discipline to stay productive. Recently I read in a study that one of the biggest pitfalls that you can encounter when you have no “boss” is the lack of discipline. As well as the lack of motivation plus the inability to consistently organizing your day productively.

The truth is that in the past, I struggled with the consistency part, but eventually, I managed to find a solution. 

These are some of the techniques I used: 

  1. Have a clear outcome, 
  2. Monitor your progress, 
  3. divide my end goal into smaller steps, and 
  4. Use hypnosis to overcome procrastination (downloaded online)

If you are currently struggling and if you want to know more details on how I managed to solve the “lack-of-consistency issue and the I-don’t-have-enough-time syndrome, you can send me a message here.

Pros: You get to work with awesome “toys”

For me, one of the joys of being a music producer is the opportunity of exploring new gear! I recently bought a new lav mic for my youtube channel which I LOVE, I wanted to buy the Rode Lav mic, but I’m glad I didn’t since the quality of the Lav Mic is much better.

But what gear does a producer need? 

Generally, most music producers will need a keyboard such as the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII , a pair of monitors such as the Yamaha HS5 and a microphone – I use the Shure BETA 58A. Depending on your style of music, you will need VST’s and a DAW.  Click on these links to visit amazon.

Also If you want to know more have a look at this article I have written with title My favorite skill for being a music producer… plus 15 more”, There you will find a lot of useful information regarding gear producers skills and general tips!

PRO TIP: I have created for you a free list with all the essential studio gear you may need!

I must warn you that I haven’t included the most expensive gear, what I have done instead is I have listed the equipment I believe will benefit your professional development as well as your pocket the most!

Visit now my Recommended Gear page and discover everything you need to create outstanding studio recordings and perform-live like a pro!

Pro: You  influence others with your music (Emotionally Morally, Culturally)

I believe music affects us in three major areas:

  1. Emotionally
  2. Morally
  3. Culturally

a) Emotionally

Music is emotion, and emotion can be expressed through music. With music, we have the power to change our mood, set the atmosphere, and flood ourselves with memories.

I believe a song gets big through by demanding an emotional response from the listener; it doesn’t matter if you love it or hate it as long as you feel something. 

It’s not by chance that music is one of the few forms of art that during a live event it can unite thousands of people and bring them together under a feeling of wholness and unity.

b) Morally

Whether we like it or not, we all get influenced by music at least to a certain degree, this happens not only though notes but also through lyrics. Lyrics could encourage us to promote a particular type of behavior; this is especially true for Hip Hop music, where often aggressive and strong emotional language is present.

Teenagers, due to their rebellious character and lack of a robust foundation, is the group that gets influenced the most.

Let’s imagine for a moment what would happen if the songs we wrote carried a more positive message. I know that the phrase “help us to build a better world” sounds cliché, but it is true.

As an example, look at songs such as “Happy” by Pharell Williams, its positive message spread all across the world just in a couple of days!

c) Culturally

Consider the following: classical music from the 1800s, jazz music from the 1950s and rock ‘n’ roll music from the 1960s, what to do all three genres got in common? … They all represent the culture of their day.

Think about it, today’s music reflects the desires, challenges, and dreams of a whole generation, and as you may have noticed, music styles are changing rapidly. 

Almost everything in today’s world is faster paced compared to 100, 50, or even 10 years ago. Trends are constantly emerging, social platforms are getting bigger each day, and the news channels seem to provide us with a never-ending stream of constant information. 

I believe we have transitioned from the information age to the communication age. Just take a look around, and you’ll see most people with a phone in their hands continually texting, checking email and replying on social. I am no exception though I ensure I carve out at least a few phone-less hours per week during a walk in nature or during meditation.

There are songs that are titled “Instagram,” or “#Selfie,” that accurately represent today’s culture -young or old, it doesn’t matter. Technology doesn’t make age distinctions. 

Of course, there are significant benefits that make all of our lives much easier; Internet marketing and the option of releasing music without a music label are just two that benefit us, music producers.

Lets now continue with the cons of being a music producer.

Con: If you want to be the best, you have to work 3x as hard

Recent studies may indicate that it’s not necessary to put in 10.000 hours to become the best-of-the-best in a field or profession. Instead, focused and purposefully intended work that is guided towards a specific goal is more productive compared to long semi-focused hours.

As music producers, if we want to be the best & stay on top of the game, we must develop a high work ethic. 

No more excuses and popsonguniversity.com no more statements such as “I forgot” or “I couldn’t.” If you want to be the best, you have to commit genuinely to your goals and DECIDE to do whatever it takes REGARDLESS if you feel like it or not. I’m saying this because I did make that mistake for many years… 

I had the false belief that I should feel motivated to indulge myself in an activity or task. But if you look at all successful people (popsonguniversity) and more specifically, millionaires, you will recognize at least one attribute they all share… 

The habit of doing what needs to be done regardless of how they feel.

I’ve come to understand that people under the age of 30 struggle more with their motivation issue since when they were children, many of us learned that immediate gratification is the norm. It all boils down to the following statement:

If you want to be recognized as the best in anything, you should give it your everything 24/7, 365 days a year.
No excuses! 

PRO TIP: If you want to know more about how and when we function at our best, read the book “Peak” by Anders Ericsson (Click on the link to see it on Amazon), it is a fascinating book that will teach you how to improve your memory skills and overall performance regardless the subject. Oh, by the way, the author is the same person who popularized the 10,000-hour work rule. I guess he updated his studies!

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Con: Repetitive work

Yes, the music producers’ work can become repetitive and somewhat boring. Every producer has his favorite and least favorite tasks. For me the exciting part of music production is when I create a new song, when a few the rush of combining genres or when I turn a simple chord progression into a full-blown production.

The tasks I don’t enjoy that much have to do with vocal tuning and mixing. Because I’m aware of that; I’m extra focused when I need to perform one of the tasks I dislike, I make sure I complete the job even if I don’t feel like it. 

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My simple chunking technique for maximum productivity

In order to stay productive one of the methods that I use is chunking one big project into bite-size portions.

 Taking mixing as an example, I would divide my working hours into:

a) Listen to the song and take notes

b) Mix the drums

c) Mix the bass

d) Mix the Strings and piano

e) Mix the lead sounds

f) Mix the vocals

g) Mix the Fx’s and transition sounds
etc

The chunking technique allows me to focus on one element at the time without getting overwhelmed by a big project.

What I also do is I remind myself that I can decide if my job is exciting or boring. How I do that is by focusing on the end-result rather on the “boring activity.”

 Let me give you an give an example from the bodybuilding world:

When someone asked Arnold Schwarzenegger why he was always smiling in the gym even after long lifting hours, he responded: “Because every rep every set is getting me one step closer to my goal.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger

You can adapt Arnold’s mindset and use it in your benefit. 

Set clear goals and ensure your working hours brings you closer to them. You will most certainly encounter days where your motivation levels are low, it’s vital during these days to review your outcomes nd overall vison as a music producer, even if you don’t get all fired up right away, push yourself to work. 

Remember, its action that brings you closer to your end goal!

Mark Deniel

Con: Long hours in the studio

I hope you are an inside person that doesn’t mind missing the sun for prolonged periods. Same with a day job, a music producer is expected to make long hours inside the studio and deliver results.

The problem that arises is that music production is a duality, meaning that some tasks are inspiration driven and others are product-driven. 

For example, adjusting the mix of a song requires technique and experience; that is something you can choose to do repeatedly. But tasks such as songwriting, which are also a part of the music producer’s life, require a creativity burst that is not always available. 

There are times that you will find yourself sitting in the studio trying to create something out of nothing; (popsonguniversity) this process can be fast as lightning or very time-consuming. Nevertheless, as you progress and build up experience, you will discover tricks that help you get past the “blank canvas syndrome.” 

Con: Constantly evolving and keeping up with the latest trends

Music changes… The fundamentals of music may always remain the same, but music and the music industry have followed and will always follow new trends, and trends also influenced by music. 

This is true whether we are talking about the 1960s with flower power movement or today with songs such as “Happy” and “Roar” that had a major impact.

Because music changes so rapidly these days; you, the music producer needs to stay relevant with new software, techniques, genres and styles that emerge, even more so if you are producing pop music.

Take as an example the EDM bubble that has finally burst; you can confirm this by comparing the 2019 charts with the charts of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. In the charts of 2019, you will see that even if there are some EDM songs present, the majority gravitates towards RnB, Hip-Hop, and other genres.

Con: Low starting salary

Your income as a music producer depends on your level of experience, how many years you have in the field, and if you choose to be self-employed or seek employment by a studio. 

In 2019, with ZERO years of experience, your starting salary may be as low as $31k, as high as $84k, with an average of $50k per year.

With just TWO years of experience, the average music producer’s salary is $66k; That equals to about $5.500 per month.

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Con: You’re as good as your next hit

There is an excellent documentary on Youtube about Poo Bear, the man who created hits such as “Where are U now,” “Sorry,” and “Peaches & Cream.” 

In this documentary, you will discover his working progress and how important it is to keep bringing out new hits! The soonest a song is out you should focus on the next project and keep constantly evolving continually proving that you “still got it.” You can watch the documentary right here from Youtube.

Pro: You can quickly spread your work, find clients & collaborate

I want to mention one last significant advantage of being a music producer; the fact that with a stable Internet connection, you can work from virtually anywhere in the world -but also find clients, spread your work and collaborate with other artists!

Don’t underestimate the power of the Internet and the luck we all have by living in a modern world which offers us so many options and opportunities to create an income from the convenience of our home!

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Conclusion

I hope you found this article useful and refreshing! Below you can explore recent posts added to this blog and as always if you have questions reach out to me in the Contact Us section!

See you around.

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