4 answers

What do I have to major in if i plan to have a career as a music producer

Asked New York, New York

HI I am a senior who is a couple months away from starting my first year as a freshman in college. I have a passion for music, and it is something that i really want to pursue. I was wondering about what would i need to take to be able to qualify to become a music producer. #music #producer

4 answers

Charlie’s Answer

Updated Chicago, Illinois

Hi Tamyra, That is a good question. I do agree with Mr. Luna on the basic premise of his post. The golden years of the music industry are mostly gone, true, though from my perspective the cause was/is the non-self-sustaining nature of the business. However that is besides the point. I still believe you can make a living at whatever it is you really want to do, assuming you have the winning combination of work skills, people skills, and luck.

To address your question, I recommend getting an education in music. The best producers are musicians, period. If you don't already play an instrument, now is the time. I'm guessing you do though, since you mentioned your love for music. For my career and life, getting a degree at a four year university was absolutely what I needed. You can go whatever route suits you best - perform on your instrument, record music, administer music therapy, become an arts administrator, teach music, etc. Any of these majors will give you a solid background and the skills you need to take whatever career path feels right.

That four year education can help with everything from advanced job skills to interpersonal skills. I didn't love the English, math and science classes, but the electives I took gave me a much broader understanding of the world. On the flip side there are plenty of shorter-term programs out there (trade schools) that will teach you the basic skills you need. In the case of producing, you'd be going to a school to learn audio engineering. I've worked with many engineers who went that route and find they lack a well-rounded education. At minimum they come out not knowing musical terms which hampers their ability to communicate with musicians. You need to be able to speak their language if you want their respect.

Along the lines of communication are interpersonal skills. This should be your biggest focus as a producer. You simply have to be good with people. The more social you are the better! If you don't want to major in music, consider psychology. I can't tell you how many recording sessions I've watched fall apart because the producer didn't know either how to listen and interpret what the band was saying or how to speak to the band members so that s/he was clearly understood. It seems basic, but these skills are extremely important.

If you've got a solid music education, excellent people skills, and tenacity, the rest will fall into place. As Mr. Luna alluded to, it can't hurt to learn the technical side of things too so you can speak to the engineer in terms s/he will understand. Just as with musicians, developing a good relationship with engineers will only help you. Please let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime I wish you good luck! Cheers, -Charlie

John C.’s Answer

Updated San Marino, California


To be totally honest with you, the job of music producer isn't a very good one anymore. I literally just got out of lunch with a bunch of producers and engineers who were all just let go from Universal Music. The problem is theft. Did you know that 77% of all music is now being heard for free? There's no business to be had that way.

So learning to produce is fine if your passion is music. That said, don't go to school for it. Most Grammy winning producers didn't and they've earned a Grammy.

Go get the free version of the best industry DAW Studio One. https://shop.presonus.com/products/studio-one-prods/Studio-One-3-Prime Get yourself a good VSL22 interface and a pair of good yet inexpensive mics and a midi keyboard controller. Then start producing music. There are tons of totally free videos on youtube to learn Studio One, so no need to go to school and learn how. Self study and immediate application is the ultimate education anyway.

So go to school for something worthwhile like lawyer, finance, physician, accounting etc... so you don't have to live in your mom's house the rest of your life. Enjoy a good career and just produce music on nights and weekends. Start small like a single singer and instrument and then expand as new opportunities happen. It may sound funny, but that's how everyone has ever done it.

The problem is there are a bunch of people who got suckered into profit schools like full sail and SAE which don't really qualify you to do anything. They just sell you false hope and take tens of thousands of dollars from you for a 'degree' worth a tad less than toilet tissue.

So you can start producing music tomorrow and the only real test given that there's no business left is, do people like your work. Yes, you're a superstar. No, nothing lost, just get back to making new music they do like. It really is that simple!

I gave you the link for the free baby version of the big professional DAW I use here in Hollywood. Get busy! When your first recordings are ready to go, go set up a soundcloud account and shoot me a link in email through my website; Recalcitrant.Media.

Morris’s Answer

Updated Detroit, Michigan


Becoming a good music producer requires a lot of patients and creativity. I teach a free music production class in the Detroit area, and I find that many of my young students don't have the patients to challenge themselves to become creative.

There are many computer programs on the market that will enable you to create some quality material without years of musical training. Please do not spend thousands of dollars trying to take obtain a certificate or degree to produce music.

Many great producers find that 1 artist or group that they believe can deliver a hit song. Remember, you only need 1 major hit, and all of a sudden, you are in demand. Learn the business side of the music business such as publishing's and copyrights, and never sign a contract with a unknown company or even a major without a sufficient advancement $$$.

Make sure you own your works so that when you get that hit song or rap, you can keep control of it. Never negotiate your masters without the advice of a reputable music attorney. Music Producers income is generally self employed income. Learn the business so that you can keep your taxes in order. Please know that music production can be a fun business, but it has to be a true passion. I wish you the best of luck.

Morris Porter

Mikal’s Answer

Updated Park Forest, Illinois

Your best major would be in music and video business so that you have covered the basic bases for the music industry.