There is more to making music than performing; the overwhelming majority of people involved in making it are behind the scenes. Music careers range from engineers who control the electronics of the recording studio and live performances, to producers who act as the creative leaders in music production.
In addition to these high profile positions, there are countless assistants, managers, technicians, consultants and more that all help make the music happen. Thankfully, for aspiring music professionals, there are a number of professional organizations for every kind of music production role.
- Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia – This is the world’s largest and oldest music fraternity. It was started in 1898 at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The fraternity is dedicated to the mutual welfare of musical students as well as the advancement of music in America.
- Sigma Alpha Iota – A national sorority with a commitment to the highest standards of music, and to furthering the development of music in the U.S. and around the world. Among the goals of Sigma Alpha Iota are recognition of technological advances in the field of music, and the support of innovative educational programs in music.
- Pi Kappa Lambda – The purpose of this National Music Honor Society is to promote music in education. The society recognizes and honors those who have enhanced their talent with the diligent and intelligent study of music, and encourages others to do the same.
- National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences – Best known for the Grammy Awards, the NARAS consists of three organizations: The Recording Academy, which celebrates music through the Grammy Awards; The Grammy Foundation, which cultivates the understanding, appreciation and advancement of recorded music; and Music Cares, which provides assistance for musicians in times of need.
- Americana Music Association – A professional trade organization that acts as an advocate for American roots music around the world. The association works behind the scenes to foster growth and build infrastructure to help achieve greater success for participants.
- Association of Music Producers(AMP) – AMP exists to promote the concerns and goals of people who make music. It has chapters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Austin and Miami. The association was founded in 1998 to educate members and those in the media and advertising communities on all aspects of music production.
- Audio Engineering Society(AES) – The AES maintains both professional and student memberships, and serves audio engineers, creative artists, scientists and students to promote advances in audio technology.
Music and Music Production Open Courseware
Open Courseware or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are online courses that offer university level educational opportunities to large numbers of people via the web, usually for free. MOOCs/Opencourseware classes are offered by top academic institutions from around the world. They offer participants the opportunity to expand their own knowledge base by exploring courses that they would not otherwise have access to.
- Music and Technology: Recording Techniques and Audio Production – This course is offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It covers “foundations, practices and creative techniques in audio recording and music production.” There are no prerequisites for this course; however, the course requires participants to purchase, or have regular access to Digital Audio Workstation software.
- Desktop Music Production for PC – The world renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston offers this course as a for-credit course ($1,400), and as a non-credit course ($1,200), with the option of acquiring 6 continuing education units for an additional $25. The course covers desktop music production and culminates in participants being able to produce a quality master recording ready for CD or MP3. This course is also available for the Mac.
- Survey of Music Technology – This course from the Georgia Institute of Technology teaches participants how to make music with digital audio workstation software, as well as the theory and history of music production tools.
- Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering – This University of Rochester course teaches students the basic concepts of acoustics and electronics, and how they may be used to make music with electronic instruments. This free 6 week course requires 4-5 hours of work per week, and offers the opportunity to earn a verified certificate for $49.
- Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps – This University of London open course is for students interested in using technical skills for creating audio and music for video games, art installations, interactive music projects and more. The course is free and runs for six weeks. It requires 5-10 hours of work per week, and is available with Ukrainian subtitles.
- Introduction to Digital Sound Design – Sound is an important part of the human experience; sounds and music are an integral part of virtually all aspects of day to day life. This Emory University course invites participants to discover the fundamental principles of sound and the factors that determine our perceptions of them.
- Introduction to Music – Eastern Tennessee State University offers this course on the development of music, particularly the music of the Western hemisphere. The class covers topics including elements of music, instruments and ensembles, form and more. The goal of the course is to develop music literacy through listening to, and thinking about music.
- Fundamentals of Rehearsing Music Ensembles – This University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill course provides instruction on the practice and principles of running an effective music ensemble rehearsal. Also discussed are techniques and strategies that can be applied to ensembles ranging from bands and orchestras to choirs and chamber groups. The course is free and requires 4-6 hours per week of work.
Open Access Music Journals
The open access trend has hit music theory and production circles fairly hard. Many of the journals that once charged a hefty subscription price or were hard to get a hold of outside of academia are now free and searchable online.
- EURASIP Journal on Audio, Speech and Music Processing – This is a peer reviewed journal that brings together engineers, scientists and researchers who work on theory and applications of the processing of different audio sources, with a focus on speech and music.
- Gamut – The Online Journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic – Published by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, this peer reviewed journal includes commentary, research, criticism and scholarship on a wide range of topics related to music theory. This journal is published quarterly.
- Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland – A peer reviewed journal that is published annually and focuses on Irish musicological scholarship. The journal embraces all traditions and disciplines of musicology including ethnomusicology and criticism. This journal is published exclusively online.
- Music & Politics – The University of Santa Barbara publishes this peer reviewed electronic journal twice a year. The journal covers the intersection and interaction of music and politics, including the impact of politics on the lives of musicians and music as a form of discourse.
- Echo, A Music Centered Journal – Published on a rolling basis by the University of Southern California at Los Angeles (UCLA), this peer reviewed publication is edited by graduate students in the department of Musicology. The journal is intended to provide a discussion of music and culture that is accessible to all readers who do not have formal training.
Music and Music Production Books
There is no shortage of books about music, particularly popular music and consumer books about music. There is, however, another class of books about music which are directed at professionals and those interested in the music industry and production. The list that follows is not exhaustive but represents a good starting point for the serious music reader.
- The Music Producer’s Handbook – This is a technical reference book that includes detailed descriptions of the duties and responsibilities of a music producer. The book covers questions like “how do I become a producer?” The author, Bobby Owsinski, has written more than a dozen and half books on music and is one of the best selling authors in the music industry.
- The Art of Music Production – Author Richard James Burgess, Ph.D., has been a studio musician and performed on multiple gold, platinum and multi-platinum records. His book contains insights and anecdotes from some of the most successful producers in the industry.
- Music Theory for Computer Musicians – DJs, musicians and producers of electronic music understand how to play their instruments and how to create music on a computer, but are often lacking the in-depth knowledge of music theory that will allow them to put together professional tracks. Michael Hewitt is an associate professor of music at University of Maryland School of Music.
- The Quincy Jones Legacy Series – Few names in music are more respected than legendary producer, writer and performer, Quincy Jones. The Soul and Science of Mastering Music and Work is the first of a multi-volume set that is a must read for anyone who wants to enter the music business on either side of the microphone.
- The Producer as Composer – This book tracks music’s evolution, from the early days of recreating the concert hall experience to Phil Spector and his wall of sound, to the magic of George Martin and The Beatles, through to the latest technical developments. This title includes discussions with legendary producers like Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, Bill Laswell and Quincy Jones, to name a few.
- Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop – Built on years of research among hip-hop producers, this book explores the goals and methods of this startlingly cloistered community and considers a variety of topics from pedagogical methods to the roots of the sampling process.
Online Music Magazines
The following magazines are focused on the business side of music, as opposed to the pop culture aspect of the music business. While all of the publications listed here have digital versions available online, most still offer traditional print versions.
- Music Connection – A leading trade publication since 1977, this monthly magazine features a fully digital edition that caters to musicians, industry professionals and related support services.
- Music Week – As its subtitle suggests, this publication is dedicated to the business of music. Available online, it features news, analysis, interviews and reports covering the spectrum of the music industry.
- The Music Trades – This is one of the oldest, continuously published music industry magazines. First published in 1890, the publication is now fully digital and covers news and analysis of the music trades. The magazine is produced monthly and is a must read for anyone who makes their living in the music and audio industry.
- Sound on Sound – Based in Cambridge, England, this is the premier magazine for music recording technology. Published since 1985, Sound on Sound offers an online digital subscription. The magazine covers recording software, DAWs, virtual instruments and processors; in fact, anything to do with music technology is covered here.
- Music Tech – MusicTech.net is the online version of Music Tech Magazine, which is produced by experts who work in the fields of recording, mixing and mastering music in a range of styles. The magazine features reviews, tips and techniques for producers and engineers.
- Producer’s Edge – This publication refers to itself as the journal of hip hop, R&B and rap music production. Its goal is to provide a roadmap to guide readers, from beat makers to full fledged producers. The magazine focuses on tutorials and gear reviews.
- Recording Magazine – Recording Musician is available in print and online. It features a mix of articles, how-tos, reviews, interviews and DIY guides. The magazine began in 1987, and continues to be a resource for recording musicians, giving them the information they need to make the best possible recordings.
Music Industry Blogs
Unlike academic journals and trade magazines, blogs are written in a more informal style. Blogs are an important resource because of their topical nature and independence. Many colleges and university music departments, as well as trade groups and manufacturers, produce noteworthy blogs.
- Music 3.0 – This blog is the brainchild of music industry legend Bobby Owsinski. It’s considered a survival guide for making music in the Internet age.
- Next Big Sound – This blog covers artists and the business of music. Published daily, it combines artist activity with valuable context, allowing industry professionals to make decisions.
- Next Step Audio – Provides production tips and techniques, as well as in-depth tutorials for creating great electronic music.
- Erik Hawkins – Author, composer, producer and remixer, Erik Hawkins, produces this blog, which covers production tips and tricks.
Who to Follow on Twitter
Twitter has changed the way we communicate and share thoughts and ideas. Keeping track of the latest news and trends in music and music production is what Twitter is all about. The following feeds are considered essential by music industry professionals.
- @ukMPG – The official feed of the Music Producers Guild in the U.K. MPG represents producers, engineers and mixers.
- @musicprodforum – This handle is for artists, musicians and producers, and features links to music production news and reviews that you can use. It is hosted in conjunction with Music Producers Forum.
- @dannydee – This handle, from Danny Dee Aguayo, features music industry topics such as monetization, marketing, management and distribution.
- @listeningpost – The feed of Elliot Van Buskirk, a popular music technology writer.
- @hyperbot – Music technology news and music business news, delivered in 140 characters or less.