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Music Video Producer Job Description, Career as a Music Video Producer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

The enormous success of music videos has opened a new and highly creative field to producers. Video producers are now in demand by record companies and recording artists who want visual interpretations of the songs they are promoting. A music video producer is responsible for seeing that the visual effects complement the musical piece and effectively highlight its performer or performers, who generally "star" in the video.

Music video producers are in charge of the financial and administrative aspects of video production. They are responsible for making a successful video while staying within a budget. They often work with the director to hire the production team—the choreographer, film editor, lighting director, and director of photography. They must keep order among the creative personalities involved in making a music video.

As a rule, video producers are hired and paid by the record companies or artists who are financing the project. Sometimes producers are asked to submit ideas for a video to promote a specific song. They must then compete with other producers for the job.

In some cases, producers come up with an idea for a video and then try to sell the concept to a production company, record company, or artist. Some producers start their own production companies. Independent producers often must find their own investors or use their own money to finance a project.

Some producers have very little involvement with the day-to-day operations in making the video. Others are hands-on producers who take part in both the creative and administrative work, sometimes even doubling as director or film editor of the video.

A music video producer edits videotape. Experienced producers are in demand by music companies. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Education and Training Requirements

Since the video format is a cross between a short-subject movie and a television commercial, producers and their staffs come from a variety of backgrounds—television, the theater, the movie industry, and even advertising. No specific educational background is required; however, producers must have a keen business sense and a thorough knowledge of finances. Beginners may seek training in filmmaking or video engineering while working as an assistant—essentially an errand runner or "gofer"—on a production team. Continuing education courses in videotape production techniques, electronic tape editing, and the use of cameras and synthesizers may prove helpful.

Getting the Job

Producers whose work is not well known may have to knock on the doors of production or record companies to present their ideas for music videos. Once a producer is established or has won video awards, companies and artists usually approach that producer.

Those who have enough money of their own can produce a video and then try to sell it to a recording company. This approach is very expensive, however, because making a video can cost anywhere from $60,000 to as much as $1,000,000 if it features a major artist.

It helps to have contacts in the music or film business. To learn the business, interested individuals should apply directly to production or record companies for work as a production assistant.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Producers are already at the top of their field. They may move to management positions in production or record firms.

Music videos were initially born as a means of marketing a potentially popular song, but they quickly became a staple in the entertainment industry and a requirement for any important record release. Competition is keen in this field. As in the television and movie industries, music video production is a glamorous, high-finance business that will draw an enormous number of aspiring professionals for a very limited number of positions.

Working Conditions

Producers do not work a standard 9-to-5 day. Often, music video recording sessions can run around-the-clock for several days. Producers must be able to resolve crises, including budget problems and flare-ups of artistic tempers. However, there is great satisfaction in being part of a successful project.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers
304 Hudson St., 6th Fl.
New York, NY 10013
(212) 807-1400

Producers Guild of America, Inc.
8530 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 450
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 358-9020

University Film and Video Association
University of Illinois Press
1325 S. Oak St.
Champaign, IL 61820-6903
(866) 244-0626

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries for video producers vary considerably and depend on whether the producer is working freelance or for a production company. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, music video producers with experience in the field earn a median annual salary of $52,440. Trainees in entry-level positions can expect to earn less, while producers with their own production companies may earn from $100,000 to $300,000 or more per year. Freelance producers must provide their own benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts