How To Make Money as a Music Producer

how to make money as a music producer

Image credit: Matt Moloney

Indie music producers are thriving today. This is thanks to the ability to work remotely and having access to platforms focused on helping them make money.

So how can you get in on this niche market?

Here’s how to make money as a music producer…

Prepare To Service Clients

Before you go out and get your first production clients, you have to make sure you’re ready. Here’s how to do that…

Know Your Equipment and Space

You first need the essential pieces of equipment and have your space set up properly. This guide will get you started.

The basic equipment you’ll need is:

    • Desk and office chair
    • Laptop or desktop computer that can run your chosen DAW
    • Microphone, XLR cable, and mic stand
    • Audio interface
    • Monitors and headphones

Then you’ll want to make sure your space is both sonically appealing and comfortable for clients. This means you’ll need a couch and a second comfortable chair for the client to use during recording. Also, make sure you have plenty of water and snacks on-hand.

Figure Out Your Rate

How much does a producer make per song? Well, it depends on the producer, the project, and the artist’s budget. So you have to figure out your rates.

The first step to figuring out your producer rates is knowing how much you want to make per hour. Consider both your time and your value as a music producer.

Once you have your hourly rate, estimate how long a production job will take and multiply the number of hours by your hourly rate. Then quote the client this flat rate.

For example, let’s say an indie artist wants you to produce a song for them. If you want to make $30 an hour and you estimate the whole job will take about 10 hours, you’d quote the client $300 flat.

Obviously, it will take some time to figure out your workflow and how quickly you can produce a song. And if you’re just starting out, you’ll want to produce a song for first-time clients for free (more on this below).

Get Ready To Collect Royalties

On top of your upfront music producer fee, you should also be earning backend royalties.

Most of the songs you work on may not generate that many royalties. But if you produce a song for a client that blows up, you’ll be glad you figured out the rights holders beforehand.

Every recording has two copyrights attached to it:

    1. The composition
    2. The sound recording (what you’ll earn royalties on)

Typically, producers will ask for 15-25% of the sound recording royalties. And the smaller the upfront payment, the higher the royalty percentage can be. So if an artist can’t afford to pay you, you could offer a 50/50 royalty split on the sound recording side.

How do you collect music producer royalties?

SoundExchange pays sound recording royalties for digital radio in the United States. And according to Ari’s Take, the artist (your client) needs to send SoundExchange a “Letter of Direction” stating what percentage of royalties you’re owed.

As for streaming royalties, the artist will need to either 1) manually send you the royalties you’re owed or b) use a distributor who does payment splitting and list that you get a percentage of the royalties.

Where To Make Money as a Music Producer

SoundBetter

You’re probably wondering how to become a music producer that actually makes an income. Here are the best places to connect with potential clients…

SoundBetter

SoundBetter connects producers, engineers, musicians, and songwriters with each other for work. Specifically, it’s a great place to find clients as a producer.

I’ve found work on this platform, and producers like Tom DuPree III get tons of SoundBetter jobs.

DuPree s a professional drummer and producer on SoundBetter. As of this writing, he has more than 200 verified, positive reviews on the platform.

And DuPree says one of the most important paths to success on SoundBetter is to fill out your profile in detail and show why you’re unique.

“Everything you put on your profile is a way for a potential client to get to know you before the two [of you] ever speak,” he wrote in a Medium post.

This includes:

    • Your bio (mention your credits/highlights) and header photo
    • The services you offer (SoundBetter gives you options)
    • Your go-to genre(s)
    • Tracks that show your skills
    • Q&A section
    • The gear you use
    • Your turnaround time and number of revisions

To get started, ask previous clients or fellow musicians to leave positive reviews on your profile. This will help you get your first clients, who will then leave verified reviews after you work with them.

With a free account, you don’t get access to the job board, but potential clients can invite you to apply to their project. As of this writing, I have a free account and have gotten three jobs since I joined in 2019.

To get a premium membership, you’ll need to complete an application, which puts you on the waiting list. The SoundBetter team will then review your profile and either 1) deny your application or 2) schedule an interview with you.

Although it’s annoying you don’t get immediate access to the job board, this vetting process is smart. That way, clients only get the best producers, and you know you’ll have a good shot at making more money.

Upwork

Upwork is a platform that connects freelancers with those looking to hire them. It’s not specific to musicians, but there are plenty of music producer job postings.

For example, through Upwork, I’ve gotten jobs where I wrote and produced jingles, did audio editing, and even wrote topline melodies.

There are also lots of job postings by songwriters/artists who are looking for music producers.

It’s free to create a profile, and then you can buy “Connects,” which are required to apply to projects (although they do give you some to start).

Social Media

As DuPree said, “When it comes to remote work, trust is the name of the game.” And that’s why social media is an effective way to find music production clients.

If you’re on Facebook, join music-related groups, especially if they’re local. I landed a production client through a Facebook group after I posted my music.

Pick your go-to social media platform and share your music. Comment on other people’s posts. Join the conversation. Add value.

People will see you’re professional, you’re easy to work with, and you create pro-level productions. If your music is great, people will hire you as their producer, or connect you with someone who needs your services.

Success is not only about what you know, it’s also about who you know.

Getting Your First Music Production Jobs

So how do you use these platforms to get music production jobs? The basic process is the same regardless…

First, produce your own music

If you’ve never produced any music, how will clients know if you’re any good? You have to start out recording your own songs (whether you sing in them or not) to show what you can do.

Even if you won’t be charging your initial clients, you have to show them your skills. They want a professional production and they don’t want to waste their time. So if they have no idea whether or not you’re a good music producer, they’re not going to bother even getting a free track produced.

Produce as many great tracks as you can, but you should have at least 3-5 songs you can show potential clients.

Second, set up a page on your website

Create a “music production” page on your music website and direct all potential clients to it. What should you include on this page?

I’d suggest mimicking the features on SoundBetter profiles. So on your music producer page, make sure you include:

    • The genre(s) you work within
    • Why someone should work with you
    • Your production credits
    • Streamable songs you’ve produced
    • Reviews from clients or fellow musicians you’ve worked with
    • Your equipment/software
    • A contact button/form

Third, do it for free

Once you’ve got some of your own songs produced and your production page set up, offer to produce 1-2 songs for your first clients for free.

Doing this benefits you in two ways:

    1. You and the artist will learn if you work well together
    2. You have a better chance of landing the gig

And if you do a great job, that client is more likely to tell others about you.

Once you’ve got a decent portfolio showing your work with clients, you can start charging.

These basic steps are how to make money as a music producer. Start with these tips, stick with it, and you’ll have a good shot at producing paying clients.

One Response

  1. Johnny

    If you are much older than twenty-five and still trying to make it as a musician, your chances just went from .01 percent to .00001 percent. Maybe digital news could start ALL their articles about the chances of making any money in the music business. Most people HAVE NO CLUE with 800 MILLION artists now going into the biz thinking they can get rich!! Even GREAT MUSICIANS lose money making quality music in 2021

    Reply

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