Career Options In Music Production and Audio Engineering

Whenever you say the word music producer, most of us think of someone who produces and releases music. Well, this is true, but there is a lot more for music producers that the industry offers. Even if your dream is to become a Platinum Selling Music Producers, you should still understand the different job roles that are available for music producers and engineers.

In this article, I am sharing with you different career choices for music producers and engineers. Most of these career choices are either creative, technical or managerial. Few jobs are administrative roles. I am not going to list any jobs that incorporate skills/knowledge other than what music producers develop over time. E.g. jobs like A&R manager, Musical Journalist, Publicist, etc.

Career Options For Music Producers And Engineers

Jobs for music producers can be divided into four main categories:

  1. Performing Artist
  2. Freelance Work
  3. Entry-Level Jobs
  4. Experience Based Jobs

These categories can include different types of work and career choices. Let us look into each.

Music Production Career Options And Jobs

Performing Artist

The first and most preferred career choice for most music producers is to make their music and release it. You get to create, produce and perform. You are your own master.

Beginning as an independent artist takes capital, effort, discipline and hard work. You create and produce tracks consistently. You put in the time and money to get started. Once you have a portfolio and a brand created, it gets easier and rewarding.

With experience and a strong portfolio, you get to sign up with labels. Signing up with a label have its own merits and demerits. Labels can provide you with better exposure and help you grow exponentially. On the downside, you might end up with a bad contract or irregular payouts.

Every artist lives their journey when they decide to take this road. You make your path and live it.

Type Of Work: — Artistic, Technical and Management

Suitable For: — All Levels of Producers

 Barrier To Entry: — Easy. One can start from home with a small budget.

Competition Level: — High

Freelance Work For Music Producers

List of Freelance work for music producers:-

  1. Freelance Music Producer
  2. Freelance Audio Engineer
  3. Freelance Sound Engineer
  4. Freelance Beat Producer
  5. Freelance Editor/Arranger
  6. Freelance Sound Designer

Freelance Music Producer

Other than producing music for yourself, you can produce for others and sell your work as a freelancer.

A freelance music producer can opt to offer what they feel comfortable with. Work offered can be compositional, beat making, editing arranging, studio design, workflow management, session management etc. It all depends on the skills and expertise that you have.

You can offer your services to individual clients or can even work as a freelance producer with several studios.

Type Of Work: — Artistic, Technical and Managerial

Suitable For: — All Levels of Producers

 Barrier To Entry: — Easy. One can start from home with a small budget.

Competition Level: — High

Earning Potential: — Earning as a freelance music producer completely depends on your skillset, experience, and type of services offered.

  • Beginner Music Producers — USD10-USD100 per hour
  • Advanced Music Producers — USD100-Thousands per hour

Freelance Audio Engineer

Freelance audio engineers offer services like mixing, mastering, session tracking etc. All the aspects of audio engineering are offered to individual clients and studios.

Type Of Work: — Technical and Artistic

Suitable For: — All Levels

 Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You will need an acoustically treated studio space to offer better quality mixes and masters.

Competition Level: — Medium

Earning Potential: — Earning as a freelance audio engineer completely depends on your skillset, experience, and type of services offered.

  • Beginner AE — USD20-USD100 per hour
  • Advanced AE — USD100-Thousands per hour

Freelance Sound Engineer

Freelance sound engineers work with event management companies, film studios, corporates or small event venues/pubs on a contractual basis or per-event basis. They provide services like system design, FOH, on-location sound, etc.

Type Of Work: — Technical, Managerial and Artistic

Suitable For: — Proficient Engineers

Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You will need a proficient understanding of sound engineering, as live sound is all about keeping calm and fast reflexes. Management skills are also required to work with teams and crowds.

Competition Level: — Medium

Earning Potential: — Earning as a freelance sound engineer completely depends on your skillset, experience, and type of services offered.

  • Beginner SE — USD25 — USD100 per hour
  • Advanced SE — USD100 — Thousands per hour

Freelance Beat Producer

Beat producing is the most fun and easy aspect to get started as a freelancer. It is fun, creative, and rewarding. One can easily work using a small setup.

Beat producers work with individual clients and studios or corporates.

Type Of Work: — Technical, Managerial and Artistic

Suitable For: — Proficient Engineers

Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You will need a proficient understanding of sound engineering, as live sound is all about keeping calm and fast reflexes. Management skills are also required to work with teams and crowds.

Competition Level: — Medium

Earning Potential: — Earning as a freelance Beat producer completely depends on your skillset, experience, and type of services offered.

  • Beginner BP — USD25-USD100 per beat
  • Advanced BP — USD100-Thousands per beat

Freelance Editor/Arranger

As a freelance editor, one will be editing recordings and sounds. You can work with individuals, sound studios, film studios and even game studios.

Type Of Work: — Technical, Artistic

Suitable For: — All Levels

Barrier To Entry: — Easy — You need a basic setup

Competition Level: — High

Earning Potential: — Earning as a freelance sound editor completely depends on your skillset, experience, and type of services offered.

  • Beginner Editors — USD5-USD50 per hour
  • Advanced Editors — USD50-Hundreds per hour

Freelance Sound Designer

Sound Designers are in high demand as media consumption is increasing day by day. Sound designers design sound using samples or synthesizers. Sound designers can work with game studios and film and television houses.

Type Of Work: — Technical, Artistic

Suitable For: — Proficient Producers and Designers

Barrier To Entry: — Easy — You can start work with a basic setup.

Competition Level: — Low — Very few people are proficient sound designers and demand is more.

Earning Potential: — Earning as a freelance sound designer completely depends on your skillset, experience, and type of services offered.

  • Beginner SD — USD15-USD50 per hour
  • Advanced SD — USD50-Thousands per hour

Entry-Level Jobs For Music Producers And Engineers

If you wish to enter into the music industry and leave your mark as a music producer, you will probably start with an entry-level job and move your way up the hierarchy. A lot of famous music producers, engineers started as boom operators, sound technicians, clerks, and other entry-level jobs.

Studio Technician/Assistant

As a studio technician or assistant, your primary duties involve operating audio equipment within the studio. You set up equipment and ensure that all devices, microphones, instruments, amplifiers, racks etc. are operating correctly and signal flow is as per the session needs. You also make repairs, troubleshoot, or adjust equipment when necessary.

Type Of Work: — Technical

Suitable For: — Freshers

Barrier To Entry: — Easy — You can easily get a job with basic skills and an understanding of a professional studio.

Competition Level: — Low — There is high demand for studio technicians all across the world.

Earning Potential: —

  • Beginner ST — Work as an intern for free - up to USD45000 per year
  • Experienced ST - USD45000-USD70000 per year

Sound Crew

Sound crew involves several roles like assistant mixers, assistant recorders, boom operators, stage techs, backline technicians etc. The sound crew is responsible for equipment functioning on a live set or an event/concert.

Recording all sound on set or location is the work of the Production Sound Crew which includes Production Sound Mixers, Boom Operators, and Sound Assistants; on bigger films, Sound Trainees may also be employed.

Type Of Work: — Technical

Suitable For: — Freshers

Barrier To Entry: — Easy — You can easily get a job with basic skills and an understanding of a professional studio.

Competition Level: — Low — There is high demand for sound crew all across the world.

Earning Potential: —

  • Beginner ST — Work as an intern for free — up to USD45000, per year
  • Experienced ST — USD45000-USD70000 per year
  • Contractual Earnings — 8-15USD Per Hour

FOH Tech

FOH tech acts as an assistant to FOH engineers in events/concerts. He/she is responsible to support and assist FOH engineers with sound setup and live sound.

Type Of Work: — Technical

Suitable For: — Freshers

Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You will need to network and build links to find someone willing to take you in as an assistant.

Competition Level: — High — Many fresher wishes to apply and work as FOH Tech, but few find good engineers to work with. A lot of experienced engineers have also worked as FOH tech for years, so not many good jobs open up.

Earning Potential: —

  • Beginners/Freshers — Generally none. This role is more about link building, gaining experience and building a portfolio.
  • Experienced — USD 45000 — USD125000 Per Year.

    Studio Manager

    Studio managers handle the daily operations of a studio and oversee the scheduling and invoicing of clients. As a studio manager, your job duties include hiring and training employees, maintaining and troubleshooting equipment, and arranging client use of the studio.

    Type Of Work: — Administrative

    Suitable For: — Freshers/Experienced

    Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You will need to network and apply to various studios to end up as a studio manager.

    Competition Level: — Medium — It is easy for producers with some experience to get into administrative work.

    Earning Potential: —

    • Beginners/Freshers — Generally none. This role is more about link building, gaining experience and building a portfolio.
    • Experienced — USD 40000 — USD115000 Per Year.

    Sound Editor and Arranger

    A sound editor is a creative professional responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mixing or mastering of a television program, motion picture, video game, or any production involving recorded or synthetic sound.

    Type Of Work: — Technical and Creative

    Suitable For: — Freshers/Experienced

    Barrier To Entry: — Easy — You can learn editing and arrangement easily.

    Competition Level: — High — A lot of producers apply for this job.

    Earning Potential: —

    • Beginners/Freshers — USD 30000 Per Year
    • Experienced — USD 30000 — USD75000 Per Year.

    Career Options For Experienced Music Producers and Engineer

    For music producers and engineers with experience, the sky is the limit. You can get as creative as you want, make your own rules and lead the world. You can get paid millions for your work and unlimited royalties. Here are a few roles for a music producer with experience and a strong portfolio: -

    Music Director/ Music Producer

    There is no bigger role in the music industry than being a music director or music producer for a big film or music production. As a music director, you are the visionary creator and the captain. You are responsible for creating and managing projects from scratch. You lead a team and you are the captain.

    Music Producers play different roles in different scenarios. There is a difference between what commercial studio music producers and home studio music producers are also known as small studio producers or freelance music producers do. Check out this article to learn more.

    Type Of Work: — Creative, Technical, Managerial

    Suitable For: — Experienced

    Barrier To Entry: — Difficult — You need a high skill set and a strong portfolio. It takes time, mastery of your craft and good people skills to get to this position.

    Competition Level: — High —You are competing with established music producers at all times.

    Earning Potential: — The Average salary or your earnings as a music producer depends on a lot of factors. The producer of a chart-topping artist is going to make a lot more than a producer working for a small independent label. There are payouts, royalties, shares and a lot of other forms of payments. Here I am listing how much can a music producer earn based on different projects or roles.

    • Indie Projects — Nothing to USD 25000
    • Small Scale Projects — USD 1000 — USD75000
    • Commercial ADs - USD500 - USD10000
    • Big Budget Movies - USD75000 - Sky is the limit.
    • Big Budget Albums/Music Projects - USD 50000 - Sky Is The Limit
    • Residential Music Producers Average Salary - USD25000-USD75000

    Executive Producer

    Executive producers work with music producers, taking on the financial, administrative and also some legal roles. Keeping the production of an album or project on track working along with producers and other team members is the main area of focus for the executive producer. Executive producers schedule recording time in a studio, supervise the production of music videos, manage project budget, coordinate with A&R teams, etc. 

    Type Of Work: — Technical, Managerial, Administrative

    Suitable For: — Experienced

    Barrier To Entry: — Difficult — You need a high skill set and super amazing public skills.

    Competition Level: — High —You are competing with established people at all times.

    Earning Potential: — The Average salary or earning of an executive music producer depends on a lot of factors like project type, kind of work, terms etc. The average earnings of executive producers in 2020 were USD 78,252. - Source work chron.

    Tracking Engineer

    A Tracking Engineer or Recording Engineer is responsible for carrying out the studio recording session. The tracking engineer works with recording equipment like microphones and consoles. Tracking engineers collaborate with artists/performers and record their performances. Tracking engineers are well versed with session setups, miking techniques and recording workflow. 

    Type Of Work: — Technical

    Suitable For: — All Levels

    Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You need a high skill set.

    Competition Level: — High —You are competing with established people at all times.

    Earning Potential: — The Average salary or earning of a recording engineer depends on a lot of factors like project type, kind of work, terms etc. The average earnings of recording or tracking engineers are between USD35000-USD65000 per year.

    Drum Engineers

    Dum engineers are a subset of tracking engineers. Drum engineers are also known as Drum Technicians. Drum engineers specialise in recording drums.

    Type Of Work: — Technical

    Suitable For: — All Levels

    Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You need a high skill set.

    Competition Level: — Low — A specialized field with less competition.

    Earning Potential: — The Average salary or earning of a drum technician depends on a lot of factors like project type, kind of work, terms etc. The average earnings of recording or tracking engineers are between USD10000-USD45000 per year.

    Mixing Engineer

    A mixing engineer is responsible for balancing, panning, equing, adjusting dynamics and adding effects to the recorded sound. Mixing engineers work with recorded sound using consoles, workstations, eq's, compressors, limiters, effects like reverb, delays etc. 

    Type Of Work: — Technical

    Suitable For: — All Levels

    Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You need a high skill set.

    Competition Level: — Medium— A specialized field with medium competition.

    Earning Potential: — The Average salary or earning of a mixing engineer depends on a lot of factors like project type, kind of work, terms etc. The average earnings of recording or tracking engineers are between USD30000-USD165000 per year.

    Mastering Engineer

    Mastering Engineer ensures that all tracks are made to sound as part of an album and adjusted for loudness and accuracy. If you wish to learn more about the type of engineers, check out the article on who is audio engineers and what they do.

    Type Of Work: — Technical

    Suitable For: — All Levels

    Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You need a high skill set.

    Competition Level: — Medium— A specialized field with medium competition.

    Earning Potential: — The Average salary or earning of a mastering engineer depends on a lot of factors like project type, kind of work, terms etc. The average earnings of recording or tracking engineers are between USD40000-USD130000 per year.

    FOH (Front Of House) Engineer

    FOH Engineer, (sometimes referred to as sound guy/girl) is responsible for mixing the sound for the audience at a concert. FOH Engineer controls what the audience hear coming out of the PA speakers. FOH engineers also control the mixing console for a live event.

    Type Of Work: — Technical

    Suitable For: — All Levels

    Barrier To Entry: — Medium — You need a high skill set.

    Competition Level: — Medium— A specialized field with medium competition.

    Earning Potential: — The Average salary or earning of a FOH engineer depends on a lot of factors like project type, kind of work, terms etc. The average earnings of recording or tracking engineers are between USD40000-USD130000 per year.

    Here is a list of jobs/roles that you can pursue as an experienced music producer or engineer

    • Music Director
    • Executive Producer
    • Tracking Or Recording Engineer
    • Mixing Engineer
    • Mastering Engineer
    • FOH
    • System Designer
    • Monitor Engineer
    • Stage Director
    • Radio Programmer
    • Film And Television Composer and Scoring
    • Concert Technician
    • Sound Designer
    • Studio Design And Acoustic Adviser
    • Music Supervisor
    • Drum Technician

    Overview Of Music Industries

    The global recorded music market grew by 7.4% in 2020, the sixth consecutive year of growth, according to IFPI, the organisation that represents the recorded music industry worldwide. Figures released today in IFPI’s Global Music Report show total revenues for 2020 were US$21.6 billion. ~ Source IFPI Website

    Top 10 Music Industries In The World In 2020

    1. USA
    2. Japan
    3. UK
    4. Germany
    5. France
    6. South Korea
    7. China
    8. Canada
    9. Australia
    10. Netherlands

    So now you have an idea of how big the music industry, what are the top markets and what career options for music producers. I suggest do go through the IFPI global music reports and getting a better understanding of the music industry revenue and growth.

    In the next article let you will about skills required to become a successful music producer.


    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    Udeeksh Sood Image

    Written By

    Udeeksh Sood on

    Udeeksh is an Audio Engineer and Co-Founder of learnmusicproduction.in. He loves to produce music, research music gear, play guitar, go on treks and road trips.