Music Production Career
We all want a music production career. So what separates the part timer from the person who wants to produce music for a living? Dedication. How dedicated are you to making a career producing music? How willing are you to change the way you live your life? Are you willing to quit your job for a production gig? Are you willing to commit the extra time it takes to make the necessary connections to get gigs? How willing are you to sacrifice your spare time to achieve the goals you have set for yourself?
In the following article, I will talk about what that extra effort is and why some producers succeed where others fail. I will talk about the biggest blocks to success in in establishing a music production career and how to assess and rearrange those priorities to support your music production goals.
How Bad Do You Want It?
Ultimately the path to a music production career involves a simple self examination about your priorities. We will start by making a list of all of the jobs, chores, tasks and recreation time you spend each day. Do not include time you currently spend making, recording or producing music, we will address that later.
Download this PDF as a guide.
Download and print the pdf file and take a close look at each day of the week. List everything for each day that you spend time on no matter how small it may seem. This list should include time spent on your job, chores and recreation such as time spent online, talking or texting on the phone, playing games, etc… This is not about taking away all the things you love to do. This is a tool to help you assess the way you spend your time.
Once you have a list for each day, use the four columns to the right of your list and fill in each one of these four aspects starting with hours per day.
- Hours per day
- Priority (how important is this in your life right now)
- Enjoyment (how much do you enjoy doing each task)
After you list the hours per day for each item, rate them in terms of priority. In other words how important is each item to you in your daily life. Rate each on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is a high priority. For example, if you have a job that pays your rent and feeds you, that's obviously going to be a high priority. Playing video games 4 hours a day should not be a high priority. To help determine whether something is a high priority in your life, take note of how you feel after doing it. If it is good for your health or state of mind, then it should be a high priority in your life.
Once you have assessed your priorities, go back and rate each item in terms of enjoyment. Use the same 1-10 scale. Which of the things on this list do you enjoy doing most. Be really honest with yourself! Don't equate something that has a high priority in your life as necessarily enjoyable. You may hate getting up early in the morning to go to work but it's obviously a high priority in your life if it is paying the bills.
Assess Your Goals
Finally, close your eyes and think about having a music production career. Imagine yourself being successful in that roll. Imagine yourself achieving whatever level of success you feel is possible. It is very important to only imagine what you believe is possible. Otherwise, you will be imagining a pipe dream. This process is not about pipe dreams, this is about achieving realistic goals. Is holding up a Grammy for best producer a reality for you? If you can really feel that, great! A more realistic goal may be maintaining a successful music production career. Can you imagine yourself doing this full time? Hold that feeling, whatever it is, and then look at your list.
Look at each item on the list and put a check next to anything on your list that supports your goal for a career in music production. Put an X next to everything that does not support your goal. Keep in mind two things as you make your checks and Xs. 1. Does the item support your health or well being. This is not about working twenty hours a day in the studio, sometimes that is necessary, but it is not healthy. 2. Does it support your goal to become a music producer even if you hate doing it. A part time job waiting tables may help you with your goal if it offers you some stability while you are establishing music business connections.
Personal Assessment Time
If you rate your desire to have a music production career higher than most of the items on your list, then you have a chance at a music production career. Not everybody is cut out to make a career in music production. It is a highly competitive field of work. There is nothing wrong with doing something you love part time if you enjoy it. If you have a good stable job and are happy with your life situation then you can still have loads of fun making music and recording. Not everyone thrives off of the pressure to do it for a living.
Now it is time to make an honest assessment of your available time and how to best manage the things you don't like or don't serve you in your goals. Look for items on your list that are not a high priority and are not supporting your goals. Think about how you could better use that time to support your goals. Could you be working in a studio? Researching and studying music production techniques? making phone calls to set up production jobs?
The idea here is for you to become consciously aware of how you use your time. It's very important to become conscious of where you are wasting time. Are you wasting countless hours surfing the net instead of making music? Find a way to better organize the high priority things in your life so that you can spend time in the studio producing music or studying to increase your music production skills.
Once you have assessed your time and how best to manage it, the time has come for you to make a decision. How committed are you to a music production career. What lengths are willing or able to go through to get to that goal. If you come to the conclusion that music production is only a part time possibility for you then make sure you are at peace with that decision. There is no right or wrong answer here, you must be honest with yourself.
When I was at college many years ago a guest music producer came in to give a lecture for one of my classes. He was late for the class and scrambled to get himself together, but when he spoke it came from a place of truth. After a long speech on the art of music production that he very cleverly laid out with audio examples of before and after productions, he said something that stuck with me to this day. He said: "If you can do any other kind of work other than music and be a happy person, do it." In other words, if you are not completely committed to having a music production career then don't attempt to make a living out of it.
Although this brief story aptly fits the music industry, I believe this is true of any kind of work. Why would you ever decide to something as a career that you do not love. One of the many reasons I tell people to get a job or internship in a recording studio is that you will find out if you have the stomach for it. Not everyone does. But one thing is for certain, you MUST be committed 100% to succeed.
Admittedly, it's not easy. Nobody is just going to hand you the keys to a big record company project. You have to be willing to go the extra mile until you have established a music production career deserving of special treatment. Every successful business starts with an owner and an idea. The ones who succeed are the ones who find answers to the problems that arise. They spend the extra time to develop and promote what they are selling. They spend countless late nights finding ways to make their business better.
You are no different. Make a goal for yourself. Remember, you are the business, and the person you are investing in is you. Every time you go that extra step to get it right, you establish reputation as someone who does not accept "good enough". As your reputation grows, so does the quality of people you work with. The more demand there is for your services, the more you will be able to charge for them. The closer you are to having a music production career
Establishing a Music Production Career
Become a Music Producer Part I
Become a Music Producer Part II
The Music Production Process
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