Our guide to music production
Alistair Stafford

Our guide to music production

First published date February 26 2014 Amended date April 17 2015

Ever wondered how modern music is produced? Want to learn how to be able to turn your music recordings into professional sounding tracks?  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a budding producer dreaming of being the next Calvin Harris or just a music fan wanting to get a behind the scenes insight into how your favourite music is made, a music production course could be just for you.


The sound of music

When you’re buying your favourite artist’s CD or downloading their latest single on iTunes, you may not appreciate just how much work goes into getting that track from the recording studio to your headphones. While you may assume it’s just a matter of a singer or musician standing in front of a microphone and pressing record, there are actually several stages and lots of people involved in the production process. On a music production training course, you’ll discover how a studio is set up depending on what instrument or sound is being recorded, as well as find out all the various computer software available to mix all of the sounds together.


What to expect

Although there are music production courses open to budding producers of all abilities, some programmes are categorised based on the amount of experience you have, to ensure you’re getting as much out of the classes as possible. Not every course teaches the same content, with some music production programmes introducing the basic DJ’ing skills, while others will specialise and focus on producing specific genres of music.

Even if you can’t commit to studying music production during the day, there are courses that run part-time in the evenings, or alternatively an online music production course will allow you to learn from the comfort of your own home at a time to suit you.


Making it as the next musical mogul...

While we can’t guarantee you’ll forge a career as a household name, taking a music production course opens up plenty of potential avenues to break into the music industry. The skills you’ll have built up learning in a studio environment working with a range of audio software means you’ll have all of the credentials to work as part of a musician’s production team, whether that be as the main producer or behind the scenes as a sound technician or sound engineer. Who knows, perhaps all the time spent working with music will make you want to take up playing music yourself.


But it’s only the performer that becomes famous...

That’s not necessarily true. Although traditionally it’s usually the artist or band that receives all the recognition for any singles or albums released, there are plenty of producers whose hard work didn’t go unnoticed. Just one of those is Sir George Martin, dubbed by many as the “fifth Beatle” for the large amount of work he did with the band, who either wrote or produced 30 number one singles during his long-running music production career.

Not only that, but a technological shift has seen even more producers getting accredited for their work, as computer technology plays an increasing part of how modern music is produced. DJs are frequently shifting their mixing skills from the stage to the studio, with the likes of David Guetta and Avicii regularly collaborating with some of the industry’s biggest names to produce chart-topping music. It’s not just the DJs turning to production, with musicians and rappers like Timbaland and Will.I.Am just two examples of performers who have produced music they’ve appeared in.


What happens next?

Once you’ve completed a music production course, there are various options you can explore. The industry contacts and experiences you’ll have built up during your time on the course could help you get your first job in music, although vacancies can be few and far between and are hugely competitive.  Most roles will expect you to have previous experience and some kind of formal qualification, so you may have to continue learning to reach your musical goals.

Depending on how serious you are about music production, you may wish to study for a music production degree, which will cover the theoretical side of producing music in more detail and give you more comprehensive tuition on the different production techniques. Even if you decide after taking a musical production course that the music industry isn’t for you, the studio skills you’ll have acquired would make you a valuable asset to a broadcast production team, so you could always switch to a career in the media and work as a broadcast engineer.

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