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University to be a producer Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 19th December 2010
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

University to be a producer

I am hoping to study in the UK for a degree starting 2011.

What is the best degree to become a qualified music producer? I guess I would start engineering and work my way through there as I'd be doing a combination of things to get to the top. So becoming a chartered sound engineer would be an option, are there accredited courses? I would most likely need to do an MEng or MSc to become chartered at the end of it all.... Also production combines science, psychology and the art of music, which course combines all of these? Where could I do this? I guess it's a long shot but learning the basics of acoustics, music/sound theory etc. would be good skills to start....also, where can I find musicians that aren't useless and mediocre? I don't mean to sound blunt but all of those that I find seem unwilling to do anything from a technical and artistic mindset and this industry doesn't exactly benefit that attitude. Many are ignorant of the aspect of production and a few guitars drums and a bad vocalist seem to please them when no consideration has been made for even basic guitar tuning and intonation!!! So many mediocre people I have met, all blaming ''downloading'' for the way the industry has become cornered by people with business minds. So would a business degree give me a shot at marketing myself more than anything?

I guess a top uni would be best for a good music department, seeing as the entry requirements don't favour the type that stay in education for the grants and putting off trying to make it in the real world? Top notch musicians only.

I see ''music technology'' courses but an entire degree for one aspect? They are sometimes (well mostly) single honours only! They seem to teach a lot of theory but their publishings (that I see) are gearing toward psychoacoustics, which seems pointless and snobbery, making plug-ins isn't the best business to get into these days and the maths involved is disheartening when you look at the slim prospects. Very few courses seem to go very technical, which is strange as calling yourself an engineer would suggest that person is top of their game and can apply what they have learned! Maybe I am wrong about going for an engineer? I don't know! That's why I am asking people savvy with the industry right now!

I am stuck for choices right now and have searched the top 15/20 unis! Any advice is appreciated!
Old 19th December 2010
  #2
Here for the gear
 

A degree isn't the be all or end all...

IMO I would skip 4 years of bull**** and go find a business and graft somewhere.. If no one will hire you / jobs shortage. Save the money and start some sort of business angle... Every man and his dog is doing the uni route in this sector.. Start small work your way up. In my experience getting a degree in music related industries only puts you at the same level as a coffee boy / intern.
Old 19th December 2010
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I love the prospects of business, but I do like the fact of not being tied to anyone or anything, just blowin in the wind. The best success stories (Alan Sugar etc.) started off with a van and a mind for selling. Now look at them.

There are bad prospects and from what I am seeing working your way up is not an option, at elast from being hired, you work, get paid, go home, no chance for excess in these times, at the current rate of unemployment Tescos opening a few miles from me was a competitive job to apply for, the whole surrounding area applied, and we all joke about ''being a shelf stacker''

It's scary. You'd work for several years and put in your all for what recognition? Bad time we are in, but I am looking forward not back.
Old 19th December 2010
  #4
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davedarling's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by booob View Post

What is the best degree to become a qualified music producer?
hey booob -
I'm a music producer in Los Angeles. I can honestly say that I've never met a producer who learned his craft at university.
On "producer poker night " here at my house it's a combination of people
who started off as musicians, engineers, recording artists, and songwriters who have moved into production.
Don't get me wrong, I think higher education is a wonderful thing for many
different reasons, and there is a slight chance that an audio engineering degree could get you into the industry and you could work towards becoming a producer.
Not trying to discourage you here, but I think a lot of younger people have an unrealistic idea about the job, and how you get there.
Most of the people I know making a living at music had a need to make , or record music and never really thought of it as a career choice until the job found them.
If you opt for university, take music related courses AS WELL as something with more career options - best of both worlds.

good luck dd
Old 19th December 2010
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

So what about the endless amounts of courses around? What do the lectureres on those courses think? They are the ones telling students to go out into the industry and ''call yourselves'' this that & the other!
Old 19th December 2010
  #6
So many issues there.

Of course, in the past, many producers did have a rigorous musical education of some kind, whatever the level of formality. Producers were often expected to read charts and make musical decisions. Sometimes they worked with arrangers; sometimes they did it themselves.

Today the role of producer is a bit more confused. In the hip hop world, the term has mutated to refer to anyone who makes beats or backtracks (often without recourse to conventional musicians or instruments). In other spheres, the producer has come to be seen almost as more of a businessman... even lawyers get in on it.

But, just as with so many other fields of study these days, a 4 year education is often just a sort of foundation for the real learning. Most people with bachelor's degrees (and I once shared HR responsibilities that saw me reading stacks of resumes) hopefully have some general knowledge but are seldom actually prepared to assume 'grown up' roles in whatever profession they wish to enter.
Old 19th December 2010
  #7
mds
Lives for gear
 

I have to agree with Dave. I also work in LA (more as an engineer, composer, and guitarist, but...) and pretty much all my friends are in the industry. I'm basically the only person I know who has a degree in anything (I have a BM in classical guitar and MM in jazz). My degrees, while enjoyable broadening experiences, have done very little for me. In fact I just get a hard time about it, haha...I certainly gained from my college experience, and I'm in many ways I'm a better guitar player, but I believe I'd have been much better off to just move to LA when I was 18 and hit the streets.

Its pretty much all about experience and skill set. If you want to produce, you should probably learn as much as you can about music and engineering. If you don't know engineering basics, maybe get into a small engineering program, or just teach yourself. If you play an instrument, try to get better at it. Spend your time making music...if that's writing it, playing it, recording it, or just listening to it a lot, that's fine. A jazz musician once told me "everything you need to know is in your living room." He meant that all the stuff I wanted to learn was held in the recordings I owned. I believe that deeply...

Oh, and you'll probably have to clean a toilet or two and get some coffee for someone at some point, haha...

Good luck!!
Old 19th December 2010
  #8
Gear Addict
 

I know a couple of interns who spent about $60k at a "recording school" who need to quit interning and get a job to live.
Old 19th December 2010
  #9
Here for the gear
 

I attended and later worked at an audio engineering school (which is affiliated with a couple of universities in the UK) and while I certainly learned a lot from great engineers and hard-working business owners, I will echo the above replies by saying that a diploma or degree is not the be all and end all in the audio world.

If I could do it again, I would have saved the $15k and bought/rented gear and time in nice rooms. I hesitate to say that everything a school can teach you can be learned for less money either online or through old-fashioned networking. Join AES, scour these forums (and others), introduce yourself to my best friend Google, and get out to your local music stores and rent, rent, rent. If rentals are as cheap in the UK as they are in Canada, you will be well beyond your contemporaries at university. You will be able to reconfigure your project studio ad infinitum, which is something no school can offer.

That said, I also met my wife at that school. But this is the advice I give anyone thinking about attending a program geared (pun!) toward audio, and is the reason I quit that job. To be blunt, it's a sham.
Old 19th December 2010
  #10
Lives for gear
 
NeedsMoreFuzz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davedarling View Post
hey booob -
I'm a music producer in Los Angeles. I can honestly say that I've never met a producer who learned his craft at university.
On "producer poker night " here at my house it's a combination of people
who started off as musicians, engineers, recording artists, and songwriters who have moved into production.
Don't get me wrong, I think higher education is a wonderful thing for many
different reasons, and there is a slight chance that an audio engineering degree could get you into the industry and you could work towards becoming a producer.
Not trying to discourage you here, but I think a lot of younger people have an unrealistic idea about the job, and how you get there.
Most of the people I know making a living at music had a need to make , or record music and never really thought of it as a career choice until the job found them.
If you opt for university, take music related courses AS WELL as something with more career options - best of both worlds.

good luck dd
+1 -- great advice there

As Dave has said -- uni courses will teach you some of the basic "nuts and bolts" of audio engineering, production, etc -- but it's like a lot of things --- until you actually gain experience by doing it yourself (as opposed to studying how to do it), a lot of that schooling isn't really gonna count for much in the "real world", either to you or a potential employer. Don't get me wrong, an audio engineering degree will give you a good grounding in the techniques and approaches, but you also need to have the real-life experiences --- so you know what to try when the "technically correct" mix placement doesn't give you the sound you want, for example....

Also --- you are aware of the difference between producing and engineering, right? There are plenty of producers who will also engineer the records they produce (and vice versa), but not all of them do....


Quote:
Originally Posted by booob View Post
where can I find musicians that aren't useless and mediocre? I don't mean to sound blunt but all of those that I find seem unwilling to do anything from a technical and artistic mindset and this industry doesn't exactly benefit that attitude. Many are ignorant of the aspect of production and a few guitars drums and a bad vocalist seem to please them when no consideration has been made for even basic guitar tuning and intonation!!! So many mediocre people I have met.........
Wow --- that's a pretty harsh negative view of musos! I'm a bit confused tho -- you say you can't find any musicians that are prepared to do anything from an artistic mindset? Hmm -- well, they wrote some songs, that's fairly artistic for a start....

You do realise that there is a massive percentage of musicians out there who really, really don't give a damn what mic you use on their amp, what program you record into, what 'verb you put on their vocal, etc? They are musicians -- they write and perform music --- if we want to strictly define roles here then it's not their "job" to know about production, and how to get sounds etc -- as a producer/engineers/whatever you want to be, it's yours.

As a producer, you're there to help a musician achieve their artistic vision --- they may have some experience, and know how to achieve the sounds they want, they may not --- if they don't have a clear vision, then it's up to you to try and help them crystallize what it is they want to achieve. You can then work with your engineer (of course, this could well also be you!). Maybe the out of tune guitar isn't actually that important in the big scheme of things, maybe it is -- depends entirely on the song.

Not everyone is reaching for the stars y'know --- yes, for some people, just having a half-decent recording of a couple of songs they've written will be cool ---- yeah, the singing might be a bit off, etc, etc -- but they've walked away with a product that they prob like, will fire a few copies around their mates, and that'll be about it. You've got paid for the job, and you will (hopefully) go on and do more records. If you really hate the product, ask to be uncredited. To call these people "useless and mediocre" is pretty offensive imho.
Believe me --- if you really want to "make it" as a producer, then you will in all likelihood have to do more than a few projects that you don't particularly like to pay the bills --- should you treat those people any differently? Absolutely not. If you think their work can be improved, then figure out the best way to suggest your ideas to them.


Again --- all that comes down to experience --- you're not going to learn that kinda thing in the classroom. By all means, go get an audio engineering degree, or whatever --- but don't expect to come out of uni and walk into producing the latest top-10 hit -- yeah, you've got the piece of paper with your qualifications on it, but the harsh reality is, if you haven't actually put the time in and worked on some records (even if it's recording the local bands in your basement, or interning at the local mid-level studio (ie fetching the sandwiches, cleaning the toilets, etc, etc) then to most people out there, you're nobody.....
Old 19th December 2010
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
...a 4 year education is often just a sort of foundation for the real learning.
Triple underline! Recording school graduates can be as jobless as when they began school. I can't even count the number of students I saw move into other industries (like sales) just to make ends meet. They assume that their credential will automatically qualify them for a position, but quickly learn that skill is required above all else.
Old 19th December 2010
  #12
Gear Maniac
As a professional teacher who has experience in recording school, I'd say you're crazy to get a university degree to be a music producer. To get hired, you need to have serious street cred...and that's where you'll get it. Take some introductory courses, by all means, but spend your $ buying some decent outboard, mics, and a Macbook Pro w/Logic , which will cover you for most duties. You can rent extra gear and/or studio rooms for multitracking projects...

Regardless, the university degree will not impress anyone. The sound (and success) of the records you make will.
Old 19th December 2010
  #13
Gear Addict
 
davedarling's Avatar
 

hey Needs More Fuzz -
could you edit your post please - you have a quote attributed to me that's not mine.
The "where can I find musicians" quote was said by someone else.

i love all musicians.

thx dd
Old 19th December 2010
  #14
Lives for gear
 
NeedsMoreFuzz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davedarling View Post
hey Needs More Fuzz -
could you edit your post please - you have a quote attributed to me that's not mine.
The "where can I find musicians" quote was said by someone else.

i love all musicians.

thx dd
oops! sorry man --- changing it now --- bit too hasty with the cut and paste there.....
Old 20th December 2010
  #15
Gear Head
 

Skip the schools, loans, and false expectations. Just put yourself in a place where you can learn the craft you want to learn. Find good people you can learn from and start there.

Seriously
Old 20th December 2010
  #16
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code green's Avatar
I don't know but I'm just asking--might a university education be profitably spent studying music: performance, theory, and some electronic production? I don't mean at a Full Sail-type place...I mean at a liberal arts uni or conservatory...to go into trying to find a production job with a rock-solid grasp of music (assuming the necessary familiarity with gear, DAWs, and how it all works)?
Old 20th December 2010
  #17
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daniel c's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by booob View Post
So becoming a chartered sound engineer would be an option, are there accredited courses? I would most likely need to do an MEng or MSc to become chartered at the end of it all....
There's no such thing as a chartered sound engineer insofar as there isn't a body that recognises the position, the available qualifications and keeps a registry.

The closest that you'd get in the UK is the Institute of Acoustics, but that really doesn't have anything to do with music production.

There might be a few broadcast organisations that do that sort of thing, but again, nothing related to music production.

"Sound engineering" (something of a misnomer these days) is completely unregulated, as is music production.
Old 20th December 2010
  #18
Get on with doing it.
While you're trying to do it, no harm in educating yourself on music theory, piano lessons, music technology etc, etc....
Just not on an expensive, full time course spanning several years.
Old 20th December 2010
  #19
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CJ1973's Avatar
 

Yes and No.
Quincy Jones went to college but more to be a musician.
What you learn along the way and from people with talents in various facets on music is the key. If you have a mind to recognize the bigger picture on how things should be delivered and understand music well, you are there. Don't forget you would need a good lesson in Sound Engineering, which is school based for a lot. This would compliment your producing as well.
Old 20th December 2010
  #20
Gear Addict
The music biz is for men, not little boys. If you already paid your dues, you've already made your moves... But it doesn't end there... But no really though, music is a hustler's job. It's like the NBA, you can't go to school and expect to get drafted. Work to be the best, nothing more, nothing less.
Old 20th December 2010
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Khan View Post
The music biz is for men, not little boys. If you already paid your dues, you've already made your moves... But it doesn't end there... But no really though, music is a hustler's job. It's like the NBA, you can't go to school and expect to get drafted. Work to be the best, nothing more, nothing less.
Hmm.....thus spake the voice of experience? Don't really disagree with the sentiments, just don't really think you've got the experience to make such sweeping comments - do you make your living from production?

IMO, in the UK there's 2 Universities that are worthwhile studying sound engineering at. One is LIPA in Liverpool, the other is the Tonmeister course at University of Surrey (ironically, I turned down an offer to go there. Had I known more about how my tastes would change, maybe I'd do things differently, but hey...I've not done too badly).

Both these course have a high technical content, require good academic grades, teach music and theory alongside, and are well respected over here - Abbey Road and Air get their assistants from Surrey, I know LIPA grads who are working as producers and engineers over here and beyond (Mike Crossey, James Lewis, Joe Hirst, and even our own 24-96 Mastering) and I don't know a single person from either course who I don't rate.

But the best guys were getting bands into the studios, taking every moment of dead studio time they could, and improving all the time. Basically, the paper saying you "qualified" isn't worth much - it's what you learned whilst you were there.

But...if you're not interested in engineering almost as an end in itself, you might well get frustrated.

Certainly wouldn't recommend any course which asks for 10k/year etc.
Old 20th December 2010
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Khan View Post
The music biz is for men, not little boys
.
Old 20th December 2010
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Just take a look at all the music courses out there, supposedly offering a route into the industry...

It really is a fallacy that a degree will help much, if at all - a point supported by some of the posts above.

Do others not think that the universities saw a gap in the market or range of courses they offer, and filled that gap... irrespective of how much such courses actually help gain employment after leaving?

Most of the music tutors I know do this work to supplement their earnings from the industry... what does that tell you? I refer to a session musician, recording engineer and two very talented producers who I speak to regularly - and they have business minds, the two producers run a label and still do personal tutoring as a side job!

One even said to me that a degree in music would only really help if you intend to teach... and I believe him
Old 20th December 2010
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by circuitbreaker View Post
Just take a look at all the music courses out there, supposedly offering a route into the industry...

It really is a fallacy that a degree will help much, if at all - a point supported by some of the posts above.

Do others not think that the universities saw a gap in the market or range of courses they offer, and filled that gap... irrespective of how much such courses actually help gain employment after leaving?

Most of the music tutors I know do this work to supplement their earnings from the industry... what does that tell you? I refer to a session musician, recording engineer and two very talented producers who I speak to regularly - and they have business minds, the two producers run a label and still do personal tutoring as a side job!

One even said to me that a degree in music would only really help if you intend to teach... and I believe him
Totally agree, but the 2 courses I recommended have a much higher success rate than most.

As someone who has a degree partially in music (albeit pop music) plus A-levels and classical grade performance exams (as well as bumming about in bands for years), I use it every day in my studio life - be it working out harmonies, listening for tuning of guitars, tuning vocals, feeling rhythms - no the piece of paper doesn't help, but the results definitely do.

FWIW in the current age, and in the uk industry, if you see a CV of someone looking for work/work experience and they DON'T have a relevant degree, they're going to need an awful lot of "real world" experience to show they're keen enough to take a chance on.
Old 20th December 2010
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
Schneider's Avatar
 

take it from a student in his final year; AVOID UNI

take the money you would spend and move to a city with a great music scene, hustle for an internship and learn from there, then you'll be 3 years ahead of the thousands of "engineers" graduating this (and every) year!
Old 20th December 2010
  #26
Seth Godin's blog today is apropos:

Seth's Blog: Do elite trappings create success? (Causation vs. correlation)

Does a ski trip to Aspen make you a successful bond trader, or do successful bond traders go skiing in Aspen?

It's college acceptance season, and worth considering an often overlooked question:

Do people who are on track to become successful go to elite colleges, buy elite cars, engage in other elite behaviors... (Defining elite as something both scarce and thus expensive).

or

Do attending these colleges or engaging in these behaviors make you successful?

It matters, because if you're buying the elite label as a shortcut to success, you might be surprised at what you get.

There are certainly exceptions (for professions that are very focused on a credential, and for the economically disadvantaged), but generally, most elite products like college are overrated as life changers.

It turns out that merely getting into Harvard is as good an indicator of future success as actually going. It turns out that being the sort of person that can invest the effort, conquer fear and/or raise the money to capture some of the elite trappings of visible success is what drives success, not the other way around.

The learning matters a great deal, and especially the focused effort behind it. The brand name of the institution, not so much.

Don't worry so much if some overworked admissions officer or grizzled journalist fails to pick you. It might mean more that you could go, not that you do.

Does advertising on the Super Bowl make your brand successful? I think it's more likely that successful brands advertise on the Super Bowl.
Old 20th December 2010
  #27
Registered User
 

you can make more money flipping burgers then being in the music bizness why add on 40 grand of debt to it after you realize your not going to be the next ____ insert famous producer here? Gear and or studio time takes money get a real job with a real deg and pay for your stuff. I use to think that was selling out working the old 9 to 5. I made tacos for 3 years and bought some decent budget studio gear, but now with a real job I find I'm able to pour more money into what i love about a grand a month in studio upgrades
Old 20th December 2010
  #28
nw3
Here for the gear
 

Don't waste your time going to uni to do a music-related degree for the reason of thinking it will increase your chances of becoming a producer. You'll be in debt for years with a degree that is pretty useless - if you insist on going, at least study a more intellectual or business-type degree that will be worth the investment in relation to future earnings potential........because chances are you're not going to make money in music until you've put a huge amount of work in and gained lots of experience, and that takes time. So in the meantime, at least you have a solid education and a respected degree that should make your life easier when you need money.

Most more modern producers I know got into it through either being a self-producded artist with great sonics and production ideas in their music (in which case people start approaching them to get involved on a production level on other projects), or if they're not an artist themselves, then finding and/or meeting artists that show potential and getting involved on the production side of their recordings, building up a rep solely as a producer.

Either way, I hold the opinion that these type of things would help you much more on your journey than a music course at uni. In no specific order?:

- TRAIN YOUR EARS. get yourself a good set of monitors, a bit of acoustic treatment, and spend a huge amount of your time just listening to music which you think has amazing production and analysing it. What is going on to make it so special? What types of sounds are being used? How are the levels of the different elements balanced? How does the production help to bring out the emotion of the song? How is space used? When is less more?

- Try to recreate some of these songs from scratch. It's an incredible way to learn. When your version doesn't sound as good, figure out why and work on each element until you uncover more and more production tricks. Obvs gearslutz is a great place for clues on these, whether it's things like tips on what types of reverbs can work best where, how to compress things to make them more punchy, how saturation and distortion can affect sounds, eqing.
That said, most of it you can figure out yourself just through common sense and trial and error.

Work and work and work on these recreations until you eventually get to the point where you start to get close.

- Meanwhile you're hopefully working on your own/an artist or band you're working with. Start building up your own set of distinctive sounds and your own style. Don't try copy any other production style outright, it won't get you anywhere and you won't stand out from the pack. Be bold and confident with it. If you're good enough and you have good enough taste to choose to work with artists who are good enough too, then soon enough people will pick up on what you are doing - whether its just some tracks online or a proper release etc

- To facilitate the above, live in a big city where there's way more potential for networking and finding people you want to work with (and who hopefully want to work with you) and people whose taste you respect to play your productions to for feedback etc. So invaluable.

- Just let things grow gradually and don't ever rush anything out that is unfinished or not up to scratch, it will always do more harm than good.

- If you're not too hot on using a DAW and plugins etc then just teach yourself. You don't need to go to uni for it. Any problems then go online and find the solution whether a forum or youtube technique videos.

I haven't mentioned engineering at all here because I don't think you need it. Leave that to other people who are engineers as their field of expertise.heh
Old 20th December 2010
  #29
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by booob View Post
It's scary. You'd work for several years and put in your all for what recognition? Bad time we are in, but I am looking forward not back.
Its been like that since "day 1" -- the only difference is that there used to be more of a "program" for apprenticeship - sharing of knowledge from elder practitioners to the young and talented that have the will to grow into a career... now we don't have that system to the degree we used to... so enjoy the "on demand" life the DAW has brought our industry... you might find the path on your own, or the path might find you -- or you can see if you can get through the struggle and into a "real" studio environment where you can learn from actual professionals... or [as many before you have also done with no fanfare] you could fail.

Hopefully you're talented and motivated and willing to fight to define your destiny.

Peace.
Old 20th December 2010
  #30
Lives for gear
 

double post. self-delete.

Last edited by jonathan jetter; 20th December 2010 at 07:00 PM.. Reason: double post. self-delete
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