We tend to think of an artist of a band when it comes to a song, but the person that really makes the magic behind a track is often a music producer.
Those who call themselves music producers are responsible for arranging and creating the instrumentation, which can often be way more effort than the lead performer will need to put in. For this reason, these key music players can make a ton more money than a lead artist can, but how does it really break down behind the scenes?
How involved do producers even get? The modern world of music production is nowhere near the same as what it used to be back in the day, especially when you consider more modern genres that have come to fruition.
Before we had all this access to technology, there were vocals and there were live instruments. The producer was the one responsible for putting the entire vision together, which put them in charge of the instrumentation, the songwriting, and the vocal performers.
This type of record production still works well for many genres, including rock and jazz music, where someone is really needed to organize and spearhead the vision of the song. Responsibilities of a producer like this can include hiring, budgeting, supervising, and songwriting.
In more modern genres like dance, hip hop, and R&B, the job of a producer is often strictly to create the instrumentation. Sometimes that may include them hiring musicians, but they aren't necessarily in charge of the direction of the final recording.
According to sources like Indeed and Zip Recruiter, producers can make, on average, between $40k and 60K a year if they get enough business. These types of music players don't often get paid by salary; they get paid per project.
Some producers may charge a flat fee per hour for their work, especially if they are working in a style of music that would require their leadership in the music studio.
In the digital age of music, many producers in modern genres have taken control over their music career branding by providing beats that can be sold to artists exclusively or non-exclusively.
For exclusive beats where the artist will have creative control of the beat, a producer will charge an average of $500 per beat. For non-exclusive beats where many different artists can lease the same track, a producer will charge $20 to $50 per track on average.
With this type of pay, a modern beat-making producer can make a goal of selling two exclusive beats for $500 per week to make a simple $1000 a week.
For non-exclusive work, producers may be able to find many more clients with a lower price point of around $20 to $50, but they would need to license at least 20 beats per week to make that same $1000.
Very popular producers get paid per beat, but they also get the benefits of mechanical and synchronization for each song. Total royalties owed to a music producer can account for up to $.09 per reproduction or sale of a song and up to .02 per stream of a song.
Mechanical royalties are owed to the composers (including the producers) and publisher of a musical work each time a song is sold (50% for the composer and 50% for the publisher).
When songs are used in TV, film, radio, and the like, royalties are owed to the composer (including the producers) of the song and the publishing company as well (again, 50% for the composer and 50% for the publisher).
The percentage that producers collect from royalties will depend on their involvement in the song.
Sometimes, the producer acts as an instrumentation creator and a songwriter, which would allow them 100% of the composers' portion of the royalties. Other times, there are many songwriters and instrumentation arrangers that all have to split that share.
Most songs that aren't being released by major artists or labels won't rack up much at all in terms of royalties, so this rarely makes a dent in the average producer's overall income.
But for producers that have their songs getting regular play on the radio, on streaming platforms, and receiving sales, the money really adds up.
Some very high-paid and well-known names in the record producer world include the following:
Rick Rubin - Popular record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records with an estimated net worth of $250 million
The Neptunes - Music production duo comprised of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, ranked the Neptunes number one on their list of the top 10 producers of the decade, estimated worth $150 million combined
Quincy Jones - Well-known record producer with a career span of over 70 years and 80 Grammy Award nominations worth $500 million
George Martin - Renowned English record producer often called the 5th member of The Beatles, had a net worth of $100 million at the time of his death and is often referred to as the top music producer of all time.
Dr. Dre - Famous rapper and record producer that is known as one of the pioneers of hip-hop music and is currently worth at least $800 million with his many music ventures.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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