Credit: by Rebecca Wilson (originally posted to Flickr as Vicariously), via Wikimedia Commons

Best Online and On-Campus Music Production Schools, Colleges, Programs, and Institutes

Have you ever dreamed of going to a music production school, and wondered what are the best programs, schools, and colleges for producers? Many musicians have the dream of being the next Dr. Dre, Max Martin, Quincy Jones, 50 Cent, George Martin, Butch Vig, Manfred Eicher,, Daniel Lanois, Timbaland, Norman Granz, Berry Gordy, Phil Specter, and other famous, respected record producers. Imagine have the career like this influential producers and others who have worked with the world’s most popular and important recording artists to create albums and CDs that have changed the face of music forever.

So what do you need to learn to be the musical mastermind who discovers and develops the artistry of the next Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Adele, or Justin Bieber? What skills are needed in the recording studio to make artists like Bruno Mars, Dev, Kelly Clarkson, and so many others sound like they do? To be a record producer, you could just work your way through the school of hard knocks - maybe play in a band, do some sound or recording engineering and eventually help make records and CDs come to life. But in the rapidly changing music business, now pros need a full combination of street smarts, killer musical instincts, great ears, AND solid credentials. This is where professionally-tailored audio engineering, sound production, music businesss, and other coursework comes in handy.


What's the first step? You must decide if you want a certificate, diploma, or a degree from a music production school, because some of the programs are largely about skills and technical training, and not about University-level certification. If you actually want to earn a degree, you must also decide if you are willing to attend the college in person, or to study online. Finally you must compare the course offerings and curriculum -- not all music production, engineering, and recording technology schools, programs, and colleges offer the same things -- and not all of them offer exactly what a modern record producer needs. Consider what might be the right amount of recording, mixing, and mastering skills and what knowledge of the music business might be helpful. 


There are a number of critical skills you need to enter the fast-paced world of modern recording and sound production. You need to have the ability to spot real talent, and develop that talent to its full potential. This could mean working with DJs, solo artists, or bands during the course of a record-development deal for a label. You need to be able to image the best possible music for that artist’s gifts and get those on record. This could include co-writing material -- if you have those talents -- or it might just mean working with songwriters, composers and others to find the best material for your artist. Very often a producer’s final edits, suggestions, lyrics, and changes to a song entitle them to very valuable co-writer credits and the lucrative royalties that come with that. Joining one of the American performing rights societies like ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc), or SESAC, could then be a great move for your career.

The other skills needed other than artist development include more technical aspects of music production. This can be engineering, sound recording, mixing, mastering, sound reinforcement, and more. These skills include everything from the art of microphone placement, EQ, effects processing, plug-ins, the use of software like Pro Tools 10, Peak, Sony's Acid, SoundForge, Steinburg Cubase, Propellerhead's Reason, Ableton Live, Waves Masters, and much more. Many producers learn the basics of these technical aspects of the recording studio on their own early in their careers and then hone and refine this knowledge with every new project for their whole careers. Although learning Avid's Pro Tools is pretty standard, each school or program will focus on its own priorities among all of these topics so be sure to check their curriculum and courses.

Combine these facets of production and you also have a music business professional who can work hard, conceive and plan big projects, inspire others, and work with all levels of the music business from studio musicians to record company executives. It’s a fascinating field with great opportunities in pop, r&b, hip-hop, rock, metal, country, latin, world music, film/TV, broadcast and satellite radio, video games, and so much more. And each year, new career paths in gaming, design, animation, web development, live concerts, and multi-media increase the usefulness of this specialized training all the time.


Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA: On-campus and online and summer programs leading to degrees, diplomas, or certificates.

Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL: On-campus and online associates, bachelors, and masters degrees.

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN: On-campus degrees from the Department of Recording Arts, Jacobs School of Music.

John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD: On-campus bachelors and masters degree programs in recording arts and sciences, and audio sciences from the Peabody Institute

Los Angeles Recording School: School for Music Production, Hollywood, CA: Certificate Program - 950 Hours of Intense Audio Engineering and Music Production Training.

McNally Smith College of Music, Saint Paul, MN: On-campus degree programs.

New York University, New York, NY: On-campus undergraduate and graduate programs; the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music

University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL: Undergraduate and graduate degrees in Music Engineering Technology at the Frost School of Music.


Start living your musical dreams today - start your music producer career, either with a competitive internship or in a staff producer job at a hot up-and-coming record label. Begin by finding a Music Production School now so you can begin your career knowing that you went to a formidable college, university, or institute. You'll be able to demonstrate that you clearly have the skills, knowledge, and experience -- including facility with all the latest music production tools and software -- plus the talent and drive to be a record producer, engineer, and so much more.