Careers in Music: Making the Album

Producing an album is essentially a four-step process: recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. In this interactive chart, we break down each step and show you the careers involved in the production and post-production of an album.

Compared to producing a feature film or video game, recording an album is a small operation, employing just a handful of people directly involved in the creative process alongside supporting staff within recording and audio post-production studios. Based on census data, recording studios employ an average of just four people. However, that figure is deceptive and shouldn’t discourage anyone interested in pursuing a career in the music industry.

Recording studios and audio post-production companies vary greatly in size. While there are smaller studios with just a handful of engineers and support staff, others have expanded greatly over the years to employ 10, 20, or more individuals. The most recent census data, recorded in 2007, indicates there are more than 1,700 sound recording facilities in the United States. The number is up from 1,400 in 2002 and does not take into account related companies like those that press CDs or record labels. What’s more, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 11,600 new jobs in sound engineering will be created in the next 10 years.

So, with a good outlook for employment, where do you see yourself in the music industry? Click the chart below to get a better idea:

Click to view music careers chart.

The technological revolution sent the recording industry into a panic over the last decade, with concerns about how cheaper digital downloads and music piracy would affect overall sales. After a period of growing pains and uncertainty, the music industry is beginning to rebound in the iTunes era. That is good news for those working in the recording industry.

According to The Nielsen Company and Billboard, overall music sales hit a record 1.6 billion for the 52-week period of January 3, 2011 and January 1, 2012. There were 76,875 new albums released last year, up more than 1,000 from the same time in 2010. For the first time since 2004, total album sales were up, reaching 330.6 million units.

No matter how the album is released, whether on vinyl—which sold more last year than any other since 1991—compact disc, or digital download, the recording process is the same. So, as digital downloads officially surpass physical media sales, the people behind the scenes are still working.

All that’s left is to figure out is where you fit in. Within the four phases of the recording process, the individuals involved fill positions ranging from engineering to producing, equipment maintenance, scheduling, marketing, administration, and beyond. Within engineering are a variety of specialties that require specific training. The interactive music career chart describes the basic steps in the recording process, but you can dive further by clicking on any career titles to see a career profile that details what the job is, what training you need to get the job, and which employers hire for that particular job. Groovy, right?

Want more information on the state of the music industry? Here are some resources for further research:
The Nielsen Company & Billboard’s 2011 Music Industry Report
Recording Industry Association of America

For a full list of careers in the music industry, click here.Get In Media

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