The music industry is a hard one to make money in, but once you get a foot in the door it can be quite lucrative. So, how much do music producers earn? We thoroughly researched it to find out what the average music producer salary is and which roles provide that money.
How Much Do Music Producers Make on Average?
The average salary for a Music Producer in the UK is £20,442 per year. However, the pay scale can go from as low as 15k right up to 63k. There are producers earning outside of this scale as well and the average music producer salary can vary massively.
The average music producer salary is difficult to calculate because producers can freelance, work for a company, or do both. On top of this they can have income streams from different areas like film and TV alongside popular music, making it harder to calculate the actual salary of a music producer.
Having this varied amount of work is becoming even more common with the possibilities of remote working. This allows producers to work with different artists, and on many different projects simultaneously from one place.
Producers can also find work outside of making music for artists as artist development consultants, sound designers, from commercials or ad money on YouTube.
For example, we personally make money from offering mixing & mastering services, selling sample packs, posters, (been offered money for sound design for another company but decided against it), displaying ads here, money from music streams etc.
In the example of a big producer, they could be earning money from streams, live shows, producing for other artists, ghost production, sound designing, brand deals, YouTube video views/blogs. For example, Mark Ronson is a music producer. His income comes from, both his production for other artists, as well as his own work. He also has worked with Apple in creating his own sounds and templates for Logic Pro X.
Decap makes money from YouTube, sample packs, his own music, producing for other artists and more.
So, we can see that while music producers’ average salary is £20,442, this can be much more if producers diversify their income streams, start a business and build a community – which many people do.
How Much Can I Earn Per Track As A Music Producer?
A new music producer – who is still building their reputation – could earn anywhere between $0-$1,000 per track sold. A professional music producer with a good portfolio and reputation can earn between $1,500-$5,000. If you’re a big-name music producer in the music business you can earn over $10,000 per track.
These are estimates based off sites like SoundBetter, BeatStars, and Songbay. (We also have a friend who, although is at professional production level, isn't very well known and recently sold a beat for £800).
These sites, have high level producers available for projects and they offer a variety of different services for different prices.
There are packages offering hands on production, mixing, and mastering, as well as services like songwriting and artist development. Alongside this, these websites all offer fully licensable tracks which are available for purchase – with additional costs depending on the package.
These tracks can be licensed in different ways. For example:
- Non-exclusive: Licensed to multiple artists for limited release.
- Exclusive: Removed from the store after purchase. This is enabled for broad commercial use but the music producer usually gets an additional cut on top for royalties. You own the song.
- Buyout: Where you own all the rights of the song and get complete use and licence.
You will make the most on Exclusives due to the royalties attached. If a song blows up and you get a small percentage of the royalties, you will make a lot.
For TV, Film and Radio, producers are usually contracted to make music with a certain brief and don't sell a beat like they would on Beatstars. The rates for TV & Film are usually quite different to beats.
Because producers offer different services (production, song writing, mixing, mastering) and different models of payment (upfront, negotiated, royalties) it is difficult to work out how much a music producer makes per track. But what this means is producers have flexibility over how they value themselves and how they get paid, meaning they can find a way of being paid which works for their own particular style and makes them more money overall.
Who are the Highest Earning Music Producers?
Here's a quick list of the highest earning music producers:
- Dr. Dre – net worth $800 million. Dr. Dre has produced albums with superstars like Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Snoop Dog, as well as starting his own Beats by Dre empire.
- Max Martin – net worth $260 million. Martin has produced a string of pop hits since the 90s with the likes of Taylor Swift, Brittany Spears, and Katy Perry
- Rick Rubin – net worth $250 million. Alongside producing Rubin also founded Def Jam Records.
What Kind of Jobs Can I Get As A Trained Music Producer?
Here's a brief list other jobs you could get as a trained music producer:
- Studio Engineer (average annual salary £24,949)
- Film & TV Composer (average annual salary £25,025)
- Sound Designer (average annual salary £27,918)
- Education (average annual salary £29,882)
These earnings are estimates calculated using Payscale.
Even if you’re a trained music producer it is unlikely that you’ll get a job exclusively making beats or composing and you're more likely to end up working as something else within the music industry. If you want to be a music producer, it might be better to freelance.
This is one of the reasons why salaries vary so much and are hard to calculate. Because some people may work on a contract basis (independent contractor) or earn more because of skills they have acquired (either through industry experience or qualifications).
How Many Hours Will I Work As A Music Producer?
Alongside an unpredictable and irregular income, music producers often work unusual hours. These are often unsocial, with long shifts that are unscheduled. Due to the nature of working on a piece of music – often for a deadline – producers tend to work intensively until a project is finished and this will often be followed by periods of downtime or inactivity.
It's a lot of solitude and hard work becoming a freelance producer. If you're more social, this role probably isn't for you. Unfortunately you're not going to be surrounded by musicians in a large studio at first.
Once you progress you may get into more daily situations where you collaborate with people and have those social experiences, but at the start it's very lonely. You can remedy this by joining discords and making friends in communities with other producers.
What Qualifications Do I Need To Be A Music Producer?
You don't need qualifications to become a music producer, but they may help. Experience and having a portfolio of past work is much more beneficial when getting a job in music production. This is more so the case with a music job, rather than a music related job like marketing for a record label etc.
Having a music production degree behind you can help you get a job in a music related company, which can keep you constantly surrounded by music, inspired and connecting with other like-minded people.
It's all well and good to only focus on music production to make it as the next big DJ or musician. But, if you could have a day job related to what you love – rather than working somewhere you hate only to come home and have 1-2hrs max to work on music – why wouldn't you?
For instance, it's possible get apprenticeships in the music industry and learn the ins and outs while you're making your own music.
While a qualification is really only a bit of paper, you get a lot more with it. Educational institutions provide you with skills, experience, networking opportunities, job offers and the opportunity to build your portfolio.
I have personally benefited a lot from going to music University, and I can't say that I'd be in the same position I am in now, if I didn't go – so keep that in mind.
Of course, you can be self-taught and still have the same opportunities. There are many self-taught music producers that do much better than those with degrees. You don't need tutors when there are loads of resources online – YouTube tutorials for example. The best way to improve your music production skills is through practise.
It's really all about how hungry you are and whether it is really your life's purpose.
While gaining a qualification in music production may be useful, a large portfolio, network, and skillset are definitely the best means of gaining music production roles.
Is it Better To Be A Freelance Music Producer or Seek Employment?
Being a freelance music producer carries higher risk, but the potential for higher rewards. If you want to earn more money and are ok with bigger risks, it's better to be a freelancer. If you are risk-averse and want professional-grade tutoring while being paid, get a job.
It might be just as difficult to land a job as a music producer or engineer, as it is to start a business. You need to be extremely skilled to even get a foot in the door. This is because most major record labels rely on a small group of studios and producers to do most of their recording. Therefore, only a very select group of highly skilled people are given the opportunity to work in these environments.
However, especially in the age of easy and instant communication, it is becoming easier for independent producers to establish themselves and make a name as freelancers.
The music industry is really competitive as it is, especially with the increasing number of artists now able to put their music on streaming platforms. This means the payoff for a business can be much greater, but you'll experience more doubt, fear and anxiety through the process.
Additionally with the access social platforms like TikTok, Twitch, YouTube etc. it really is possible to build a large audience and monetise it doing what you love. You may have to do some video editing, marketing and learn a little bit of design stuff that you're not so interested in, but you'll likely have to do stuff you don't like in a regular, salaried role too.
REMEMBER: different people follow different paths. This is only advice. Some people will get a job and learn, then start their own freelance path later on. Some will start straight away. The decision is up to you and what you think is best.
This is one of the main things about music production, and the music industry in general, it is very subjective and there is no clear way that is more successful than another. The best path to being successful is to work as hard as you can and to follow the path that is best for you.
How Do I Get a Job in Music Production?
Making Your CV Stand Out
It is important to mention relevant experience to the music production role you're applying for. You should also make a CV tailored for each individual position you apply for. So, your CV for a sound design role should be different to a CV for a composition role, or for a marketing role within a bigger company.
Here's two CVs that landed me a few music production jobs:
(some info has been blurred for privacy)
A good CV should stand out from others without being over-the-top. This is especially important if you’re applying for a design role, or any role which requires you to be good with software and is related to music. Designing your CV in Photoshop will help it stand out and will show your skills instantly.
Including any other useful skills for the job is always good, especially when working in music production. You should definitely list all the DAWs you are proficient with and any other software or musical skills you have. All these things add up and give you an edge over other candidates.
Writing A Cover Letter
It is good to make a cover letter feel personal. Address how you came to know about the job, and that you understand the job you're applying for. You should be enthusiastic when writing to them and explain a little bit about yourself and what you can bring to the table. Provide any links to portfolios here and put any relevant experience in as well as in your CV – to really emphasise your skills and suitability for the role.
Here's my cover letter:
You need to really sell yourself to the person. It may be hard to talk about yourself in this way, but you need to learn to do it.
Creating An Online Portfolio (Electronic Press Kit)
You can create an online portfolio using web designers. It's best practise to do this because employers just want a link where they can see your work. Platforms like Linktree are also useful as they allow potential employers to quickly navigate through your previous work, your website, your social media pages, as well as any other useful links.
Volunteer at A Studio/Become a Runner
Being a runner or volunteering at a studio can get you a paid position in music production. You may have to do boring work like getting coffees for the team at first, but as time goes on they will get you to help with mic setups and you'll get to sit in on mixing sessions. This is a good way to gain experience and skills, and to network.
Apply For A Different Position At A Music Company
If you have different skills they can be useful for you to get a foot in the door. Once you make music connections people are more likely to recommend you. For instance, if you're good at marketing, you could get a role in marketing at Warner Music. From there it's easier to switch roles in a job once you’re inside.
With over 8 years of hands-on experience in the music industry, Harry has run successful raves, played alongside industry heavyweights such as Max Chapman, DJ EZ, DJ Zinc and more (pictured below), had music played on national radio, DJ'd on live radio, produced until he hated every song, mixed until his ears bled, created sample packs from scratch using just a Zoom H1n and some sound design skills… and pretty much anything related to music production – he's done it, tested it, tried it.