Explore a career in Music Technology

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Music Technology

  • What's the deal?
  • Is it for you?
  • What Can I Be?
What's the deal?
  • Modern music is heavily reliant on technology, from creating tracks on computers, through to digital production, sound manipulation and live sound.
  • The growth in digital technology has resulted in an increase in job roles. Digital Audio Workstations have become increasingly compact and affordable,allowing producers to easily set up businesses, with many working from home. Likewise, live sound systems have become more lightweight and compact, meaning it is more practical to run a small live sound enterprise.
  • The DJ industry is buoyant and DJs can often earn more than musicians. Further, rapid developments in DJ technology now means it is possible to DJ with minimum hardware and without the need for bulky record collections.
  • The UK music industry contributes £3.5 billion annually to the UK economy. This is made up of: £1.6bn from musicians, composers and songwriters; £634m from recorded music; £662m from live music; £402m from music publishing; £151m from music representatives, and £80m from music producers and recording studios.
  • Most people involved in the technology side of the music business are self-employed, or work as part of small businesses (e.g. PA companies, studios). Being self employed means you will need to manage your business affairs and deal with aspects of marketing and promotion. Incomes can vary significantly, from earning £100 a night for live sound in a local venue up to successful international artists, such as Skrillex or Calvin Harris, who earn huge sums.
  • Many people earn a living by having what is called a portfolio career. This is where you work and gain income from a number of areas. For example you might be a music producer who also creates soundtrack music for licensing, who may also DJ out and perhaps do some teaching.
Is it for you?
  • You will need to love how music can be created and manipulated by technology. You will be someone who is into the latest software and hardware releases. You will be someone who lives to create and process music using tech.
  • Many job roles relating to music tech suit self-employment, from producing and remixing tracks through to live sound. Being self employed means you will need to deal with business matters. Is this something which would suit you?
  • Artist roles, such as being a dance music producer or a DJ, are very creative. Other roles require more technical skills and knowledge, with an ability to problem solve.
  • If you are interested in a non-artist role, such as sound engineering, then people and teamwork skills are very important. It is essential that you are able to communicate effectively with promoters, musicians and DJs.
  • The industry is very fast moving with constant technology developments, so you need to be a quick learner and enjoy learning new skills.
  • Working hours can be long, especially when projects are reaching completion. Also working hours can often be unsociable, going on late into the night. DJs and PA crews may not finish work until the early hours.
What Can I Be?

Music Producer
You are an artist creating tracks for public release. As well as creating great music, you will also need to build your artist image, brand and develop your fanbase. Unless you are a signed artist with management, you will need to undertake your own promotion, so a good head for business is really useful. This is a really exciting and creative role, but there is a massive amount of competition meaning it can be very difficult to get established and make money.

Soundtrack Producer
You are an artist creating music for adverts, film and TV. Media has a constant thirst for new music to promote brands, or to provide incidental music in videos and films. You will create tracks and license these, probably via an agency, from whom you will get fees and royalties when your tracks are used. Here the emphasis is on creating music which will have commercial appeal to clients, so the criteria is very different to a music producer, who is creating the music they are passionate about.

Record Producer
You are the person responsible for realising an artist’s creative work into a recorded format, such as a single or album. You will have an excellent knowledge of the recording process from micing up instruments and acoustics, through to mixing, post production and mastering. You will also need to have great people skills to get the best work out of artists, who may be temperamental.

Live Sound Engineer
You are in charge of live sound at an event, making sure that the audience and artist get the best experience possible. At smaller events you may be working on your own, setting up the PA and micing up and mixing the acts. At larger events you will be working as part of a team. This may include front of house mixing, monitor mixing and stage work (micing and DJ requirements). You will need to have good people skills for working with artists and promoters, as well as excellent tech and problem solving skills.

DJ
You are in charge of playing out the music at club nights and events. Being a DJ can vary from DJing at local events, such as functions and clubs, up to being a superstar DJ, like David Guetta, playing out at top international clubs and festivals. As a DJ you will need to have a trademark sound and a set which is slick and will get people dancing. You will need an excellent knowledge of music in your genres, good DJ tech skills and know how to work a crowd.

 

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