Working as a Music Producer
The music industry is a big and booming business. Total industry revenue for 2016 is equal to $15 billion and continuing to grow. So you might be asking yourself, how can I get my piece of the pie? In this article, I will be breaking down 8 ways in which you can take your skills as a music producer and use them to generate revenue.
1. You’re a Music Producer, Make Music!
Chances are, most of you started out as music producers simply because you wanted to be able to make a certain genre. I know when I first got into it I had big dreams of re-kindling the 90’s boom-bap scene. Things haven’t quite worked out yet. Although nowadays you might be working on different content to pay the bills, you haven’t forgotten how to make that music you started with. Time to apply your professional skills to making music to make money.
The internet is full of rappers looking for beats and singers looking for backing tracks. Use some of your time to produce music for other artists. Whilst this can be a slow money maker to start, once you have established yourself you can easily start to charge $100’s per track. The more you do and the more your music gets around, the more people will seek your skills.
2. Networking with Up and Coming Artists
Exploring our previous point further, networking and collaborating with some of these up and comers can be a goldmine if you meet the right people. The big thing to consider with this one is whether you’re happy to take a cash sum up front or if you could make more long term by being a credited music producer and collecting royalties. Weigh up your options with the artists you’re working with. If they’re in it for the long run, perhaps you should be too.
Whilst the internet is a great place to meet people, it can be a little over saturated. Try to find out about local concerts and networking events and get out there. In my experience, face to face connections and word of mouth are infinitely more valuable than any other form of advertising. Speak to artists, agents, and label representatives. Get your name everywhere you can.
3. Licensing for Sync
Perhaps the most lucrative of all the things mentioned here, licensing music can pay big money. The representative of one of my clients has recently placed a piece on the television program Downton Abbey for a whopping £9,000 along with royalties. The idea here is to find placements for your music in content such as adverts, films, TV, and games. Services such as Tunefind can allow you to see where music producers with similar styles to you are putting their music.
This can be a tricky area to navigate but it’s well worth the time. Make sure that you are represented by someone in a legal capacity before you sign anything. After all, you want to get the best possible deal for yourself. The more you can negotiate out of a deal, the better it’ll be in the long run.
4. Meeting Music Publishers
Signing on with a music publisher would be a progression on the last point. By doing so, you can spend more time working on the music and perfecting your mixing whilst someone else aims to place it. A lot of music producers will openly list their publishers on their social media so finding them isn’t too difficult. Contacting them and getting a response can be harder. As long as you keep your communications brief and to the point, you should see results.
Most publishers are ultimately looking for a pay day, just like you. They are going to take a cut of any profits you make. However, if you can focus on making the best content, more publishers will be attracted to you. If placing your work is easy for them, they get paid and you make money. Once you have these people bidding over what they can offer you, you can negotiate a much better deal.
5. Sample Packs, a Music Producers Best Friend
Sample packs have always been a great option for those who are happy to get out and about. The preconception here is that you need access to a multitude of instruments in order to make samples. However, many sample packs these days are creating using found sound and digital manipulation. Grabbing a Zoom mic, setting it up for recording, and going for a walk can often yield some great and unusual material to work with.
The major consideration here is copyright. Make sure that you own everything that you are putting into your pack so that you don’t run into any problems down the line. Other than that, try to be diverse. With the amount of content available online along with products such as Splice, the best way to be noticed is to be different. Provide something creative and innovative and think outside the box and you will make money.
The old adage is that Those who can’t do, teach. I’ve always preferred to live by the idea that Those who aren’t teaching as well as doing are missing out on revenue! Teaching is not only a great way to make money as a music producer but it comes with a fantastic sense of fulfilment. You can teach anything from using EQ to advanced sidechain techniques.
You have a few options with this one. If you live in a well-populated area, then doing one-to-one lessons is a great way to start. If as a music producer you tend to work on a laptop, even better. The more flexible you can be starting out, the better. Your other option is to grab a camera and shoot a series of videos that can be sold online as lessons. There are plenty of sites online such as Udemy where you can host your content. The biggest thing with this is making sure your content is fresh. You need to ensure that you stand out amongst the sea of others already doing the same thing.
7. MIDI Processing
This one is a little less common to come across but has value. Plenty of musicians will write their music using basic MIDI because they do not have access to instruments or high-quality sample libraries. If you’ve got these at your disposal then you are in a great position to help transpose some of this music. By gathering stems and making MIDI sound more realistic, you can essentially produce someone else’s work remotely.
Usually, this type of work is going to be for a fixed fee, much like mixing or mastering would be. However, if you find a client who is hoping to use this process long term and doing well with releases, you may benefit from agreeing fixed, regular payments as well as royalty options.
8. Make money with YouTube
I’ve saved the best for last. Every day, we seem to be graced by another teenager who has become a millionaire as a result of YouTube. Original content thrives and advertising pays big. This is one of those points where you can begin to merge everything I have already mentioned in this article.
Host your lessons via YouTube, monetise the videos and setup a Patreon account where your regular viewers can support you. Upload videos with show-reels of your productions and tracks available for sync licensing. Network with other channels and commenters to create new, genuine connections for work purposes. Create promotional content for your sample packs and use videos as a way to demo their usage.
As a music producer, you have quite a few avenues available to you. Obviously, time is needed to investigate them all so I would suggest trying one at a time. Find out what works for you and work to secure some regular income streams from a variety of sources. Diversifying your income is the best thing you can do. Avoid the dreaded office job and keep working in the music industry as a successful music producer!