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Do you have to go to college to become a Music Producer? What do you major in if you can't play any instruments and therefore can't major in Music?

Hi! My name is Anina and I'm a high school senior interning at CareerVillage. I have a classmate who has this exact question in mind. They can't play an instrument, but they want to go into music management. I find the idea interesting. Is it possible to be a music manager and not know music theory or how to play an instrument? #college #college-major #music #music-management

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Stevie’s Answer

Hello Anina,


Music Manager and Music Producer are two different fields. Being a Music Manager does not require actual music training. The role of a Music Manager is in business affairs, money management, deal negotiations with record labels - concert promoters, and various other entertainment/music industry realms. It would be best to obtain text book knowledge for entering into Music Management.


Regarding Music Producer, although having proper musical training or background, coupled with music business knowledge is an extremely valuable asset, it isn't actually necessary to be Music Producer.


A music producer is in charge of the management and supervision of artists recording sessions. The full scope of a producer's role would be like writing a long thesis, so I shall itemize in brief and share with you several of his or hers key responsibilities to maybe help determine if you possess the necessary core skills:




  1. Creates an "all-in" budget for a recording session for presentation to a record label, band or solo artist, then is responsible for paying all expenses relating to the session from the allotted budget. In terms of a budget for a record label, the money allocated to the producer is viewed as an advance against future artist royalties.




  2. The producer is responsible for conducting pre-production meetings of which a producer plays an integral part. Pre-production refers to the process of selecting songs the producer feels is most appropriate for an artist and the preparation of the songs before the artist goes into the studio to record the final takes. This ensures the songs are the right fit for the artist, and that each song and performance will be the best it can be. At the pre-production stage, the producer will listen to the songs to be recorded and make suggestions about changing the arrangement or instrumentation. The producer might also be involved in the songwriting aspect, which will generally be more in the area of critiquing rather than actual writing. However, it is not uncommon for a producer to receive writer credit and collect royalties from the production of an artist's project. In some cases, pre-production may involve recording demo versions of the songs to enable the producer and the artist can hear how the arrangement and performance sounds and where modifications might be necessary. In a nutshell, pre-production is making certain the artist is ready and that each song is as good as it can be before arriving in the studio for the main master sessions.




  3. The producer selects and hires the session musicians, background vocalists and arrangers. A great producer will hire those he or she "knows" will be the right choice for any given song to be recorded. With regard to the musicians and backing vocalists, many are niche specialists in certain genres of music, e.g., a guitarist might be proper for one or two songs on an album, but other guitarists may be best suited for other songs on an album. Hiring the right musicians ensures that a song will have the proper feel, groove and emotion. Hiring the right creative personnel also saves time and money in studio rental, and recording engineer fees, because the musicians and/or vocalists will need very little guidance from the producer. A "great" producer has a knack for marrying the right musicians and vocalists to the needs of the song and with the artists style and genre, in turn, causes the production to be heartfelt, believable and marketable. Quincy Jones is the epitome of a great producer in this sense, especially for the Michael Jackson sessions that he produced.




  4. The producer chooses and hires the engineer and recording studio for any given project. Studios vary in sizes, equipment availability, and room acoustics. For instance, if recording a Hip-Hop session, a small studio with a professional DAW (digital audio workstation), professional outboard/rack gear, good microphones, and tight room acoustics would work efficiently, because live instrumentation use is minimal in those productions. On the flip side, for a large band or orchestra, a large, fully equipped studio with tunable room acoustics would necessary.




  5. The producer personally supervises and is involved in every step of an artists' recording process to include; engineering, overdubbing and mixing sessions, selection of microphones, approving or disapproving the various steps with the goal of ensuring everything is right. The producer may also collaborate with mastering engineers regarding the final audio master, or oftentimes, the producer will act as the mastering engineer.




  6. The producer acts as a liaison to the record label. Among other things, the producer reports to label executives and A&R, ongoing updates on artist project progressions, commercial and marketing potential, and budgetary expense disclosures.




  7. The following is an area that isn't touched upon often by those relaying information about what a producer does. That area is "psychology". A producer must know how to attain the best from the artist, musicians and vocalists, and oftentimes that means utilizing psychology to achieve that goal. There are many problematic physiological scenarios a producer will face in the studio such as; personality clashes, nerves, drugs, drinking and fatigue, so the producer must have the means and ways of defusing those scenarios. For instance, having trouble performing a certain part of a song, by, which creates anxiety or a mental block, might frustrate an artist. The producer needs to have the ability to help the artist overcome that frustration quickly by analyzing their mood and cause(s) for the trouble. Then, use a psychological approach like telling a joke, coaxing, conveying positive affirmations, etcetera, keeping the artist comfortable anyway possible. The producer must keep the smiles going and keep a good vibe going by being enthusiastic.




Being a music producer is a calling, it is a passion, it is fun, and it is an infinite creative challenge. Being a music producer requires vision, dedication, extreme focus, an ongoing positive attitude and outlook. No two artists, songs, or recording sessions are alike. Each is unique to itself, which poses the challenges to your imagination and innovativeness. The rewards of gratification are seen in the success of the artist, the reception of the artist and the songs by the public, your own sense of creative fulfillment, and getting paid for doing what you love.


Anina, I encourage you to pursue your dreams whether as a producer or whatever your chosen path may be. Wishing you all the best in life and success.

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Matt’s Answer

NO. A foundation in music is important, but you can get that working as a musician. The key to being a musician is staying at it. You will fail many times before you succeed, so you had better love it. Many community colleges do have electronic music and recording courses that can help you.

Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! Anina H.
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Gloria’s Answer

My nephew went to Belmont University for a degree much like what I believe that you have described here.

Here are some links to learn more about it:
https://www.belmont.edu/curb/undergrad/music-business/index.html
https://www.belmont.edu/curb/about/accreditation.html
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Ken’s Answer

Congratulatoins on being interested in such an interesting and challenging and entertaining field!


Here are two sites that will give you some helpful information:


https://www.berklee.edu/careers-music-business-management


http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Into-Music-Management


Talk to your music teacher at your school (even though you do not play an instrument) and ask them if the know of people in music management that you could meet and visit to learn more.


Send thank you notes to those who help you. Please keep me posted. I would like to follow your friends progress! Follow your dreams!!!!!

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