What does it take to become a music producer as a career?

So you love producing music and you’re pretty damn good at it. Then what does it take to do this full time? Here are our tips for making a career out of music production.

The ultimate dream of many musicians and creators around the world is to make a living doing it, earning a wage from their passion. It’s an achievable goal but that doesn’t mean that it is easy at all.

In fact, one of the main pieces of advice we give to creators – particularly those just getting started – is not to rely on music production or creation as a full-time career. It may become reality at some point, but it is often best served as a secondary income.

With that in mind, here are some of the steps you can take to start monetising your music and spreading your reach enough to make a career from it.

Release Your Music

It may seem obvious but many musicians don’t achieve this point to their maximum potential. When we say release your music we mean send it out into the world everywhere.

Listeners can be found in so many different places and use so many different services and formats to consume music that for each place you release your music you have an entirely new audience available.

With us at RouteNote you can distribute your music to all of the biggest streaming services and music download platforms in the world. Choosing all of our partners gives you a global audience from Spotify’s 350 million listeners all the way to over 700 million people in China using Tencent’s music platforms and beyond.

Whilst physical formats are a much bigger investment and may seem to be a forgotten realm of music, there is still a lot of potential here. If you have enough of a following people will gladly buy vinyl records of bands they love, in fact vinyl records are only increasing in popularity though CDs have less appeal.

TL;DR: Get your music out in as many possible forms as possible digital and physical to make sure your potential reach fits all music fans.


Promote Yourself

You’re not going to get anywhere in music if you’re not willing to put yourself out there. Promotion is key to reaching new audiences and building a fanbase. You only have to hit the right ears once to gain a fan for life.

Promoting yourself can feel like selling out for many artists but the truth is, it’s 100% necessary in nearly all cases. People are very rarely going to stumble on your music by chance, and to find new listeners you’re going to have to put yourself out there.

We’ve written plenty of articles before on promotion to explore the ways to reach out without necessarily having to pay for a big marketing push. The biggest thing you can do easily is have a solid online presence. Create social media pages for your music and be regular on there. This ensures audiences stay in touch with what you’re up to and allows an easy route to share and consolidate your content.

Our partners at PUSH.fm have also launched a new website with a bunch of great tools for artists to start pushing their music out there. You can discover what they’re offering to find some more unique tools to promote your music online.

TL;DR: Make your voice heard and put your music anywhere you can so that eyes and ears find it.


Work With Others

Connections are a huge part of the music industry. It’s how you’ll get features with bigger artists, signed to bigger record labels, and meet inspiring musicians and industry people who will help you along the way.

This can be as small an effort as reaching out to your local music community and your peers. Linking up gives you the option to collaborate and consolidate your fanbases on any joint releases and opens up the opportunities to play sets (more on this later).

The more connections you make the more you’ll be in touch with managers, agents, and industry heads who can help to link you up with better deals. Of course, you can work your way up independently but a push from a well connected label head can make the difference between a release’s success or flop.

TL;DR: The music industry is a community and playing a role in that is key to finding bigger opportunities.


Play live

Playing live is a crucial source of income for most artists. Once your name is big enough to move beyond playing bars with 10 people in the audience you can really start racking up the cash from gigs.

A few hours of playing and arranging getting there and back for the chance to earn hundreds, even thousands depending on the scope of the gig, is the reason many artists can make a career out of their music. Much more so than just sales and listens.

Of course, you have to build yourself up in this realm to start making the big bucks. That’s where connecting with your community really helps. You can get guest spots on much bigger acts which also give you the potential to expand your audience with someone else’s fanbase.

And that is another swell thing about gigging. Wherever you play you have the potential to expand your audience. You often won’t be playing to exclusively people who are already fans of your music and new ears enjoying you live offers the potential to gain a new listener for life who streams and buys your music, buys merchandise, and gets tickets to your shows.

TL;DR: Playing concerts is one of the main sources of income for full time artists, so get playing.


Sell Your Music

If you’re a music producer, you might not necessarily be bothered about releasing the music yourself or under your own name. Many successful producers have made a career from creating the music for other artists whether it’s selling their beats for rappers to spit over, melodies for pop singers to croon over, and so on.

There are plenty of websites where you can put up your beats and productions for other artists to browse and purchase the rights to at your price. This can be a great way to easily find buyers though the best way to make a career out of it is to sell them on your own terms so you can set the price and establish the relationship with each artists personally.

Having a SoundCloud profile and a website where people can explore your productions and request a partnership is the best way to make a career off of beat producing. Establishing one on one relationships with the artists you produce for is hugely valuable.

However, beware; many producers are sadly ripped off. Ensure that you have legal contracts sorted out between yourself and any other parties to ensure that your music isn’t illegally used without your permission and that you receive payment for your work.

TL;DR: If you’re happy not to be the face and name of music then sell your beats for money, but beware of dodgy characters.


We hope that you found this advice useful. If you have any tips that have helped you long away then leave a comment below and start the conversation with other musicians.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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