A hit recording has many components including the writer, rap artist, musicians and, perhaps the most important of all, the producer who puts it all together. That is why the top talent among recording producers can command big fees. Dr. Dre, known for birthing the careers of hip-hop greats Snoop, Nate Dogg and Eminem, charges anywhere from $75,000 a track for special projects to his regular price of $250,000 a track, according to music beats licenser, OnFireBEATS.
Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado have teamed up on Timbaland, a diverse music production company that turns out hip hop, R&B and pop. A track produced by these superstars will cost you approximately $75,000. Another producer who creates hip hop as well as other genres is Scott Storch, who got his start producing early Dre recordings and has risen to the top of the industry, charging $80,000 to $90,000 a track.
While top producers like Dre, Timberland and Storch earn millions and Sean “Diddy” Combs, the wealthiest hip-hop mogul, is worth a fast-growing $475 million as of March 2011, most music recording producers and other music production professionals earn between $34,000 and $62,000 annually, according to 2008 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only the top 10 percent make more than $80,000; if they are working independently, their annual totals can vary from year to year.
Russell Simmons is an example of a hip hop star who produced early artists Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Will Smith and the Beastie Boys. He also opened Def Jam Recordings with Jay Z, LL Cool J and Ludacris. A producer not only brings together the musical elements of a recording, but the good ones also can make their clients into superstars. Simmons also has built and launched urban clothing lines Phat Farm, Baby Phat and Run Athletics. In 2003, USA Today estimated his wealth at $200 million.
Producers make the business and financial decisions required to bring music to the consumer. It can involve inspiring a songwriter, attracting top artists to perform the music, picking or approving the tracks of an album, hiring studio musicians and technical crew, arranging funding for the production and marketing of the album and managing the scheduling of concerts and appearances for the performers.
2016 Salary Information for Music Directors and Composers
Music directors and composers earned a median annual salary of $50,110 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, music directors and composers earned a 25th percentile salary of $35,020, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $70,510, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 74,800 people were employed in the U.S. as music directors and composers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Music Directors and Composers
- Forbes Magazine: The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists
- Audio Recording Tips: Hire Music Producer: Basic Tips and Guidelines
- OnFireBeats.com: Music Producers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Music Directors and Composers
- Career Trend: Music Directors and Composers
- Mike Stobe/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images