The 5 Stages of a Music Producer's Journey
The journey of a music producer can be a long and winding one, but the challenge of the craft is exactly what also makes it one of the most fulfilling creative endeavors. During the process, you’ll find yourself stuck, frustrated and challenged, but you’ll also have the joy of learning something new every day, connecting with others, seeing yourself progress, and expressing your creativity to the world!
The process unfolds slightly differently for everyone, but after working with hundreds of students over the last decade in our Cosmic Academy Bootcamp, we have spotted a clear set of patterns in how most producers develop from beginners into full-fledged artists.
Below is a roadmap to what we’ve seen in our experience. Each of these stages can take some people longer, while others go quickly through some of them. Taking stock every few months of the progress you’ve made and the areas where you’ve improved can be tremendously helpful, provide some assurance that you’re still on the right path, and provide context on what you can do to continue growing!
So check out our summary of each of the 5 stages below. Where do you fit within this roadmap with your current level of development as an artist? Let us know in the comments below!
Stage 1 - The Start
This is where you're exploring which DAW is right for you. You're learning how to put sounds together to make the world's worst song 😂.
It's more about exploration than anything else. Obviously times vary by the individual, but this first stage can typically last 3-6 months before you're ready to move on and really begin to spread your wings as a producer.
Stage 2 - MASSIVE Growth
Once you learn how to walk within your DAW, it doesn't take long before you're jogging. Soon after that it's full on RUN! The next year seems to be AMAZING for all producers. The growth is incredible. You start to learn and understand actual engineering, sound design, and mixing techniques that turn your initial attempts into productions that are actually half decent! You start releasing your first music on SoundCloud, maybe even a small label release! But don't get too excited, because next is…
Stage 3 - The Plateau
At this stage, everything comes to a SCREECHING halt. The novelty of your first decent sounding songs wears off. You realize your music doesn't sound as good as the professionals, and your ear has began to develop enough for you to actually hear the difference; however, your skills and knowledge might not be developed enough yet to actually allow you to bridge that gap.
This stage can last anywhere from 6 months to even multiple years for some. And while it can be incredibly frustrating while you’re in it, this stage is more about persistence and patience than anything else. You'll start to question yourself, but keep grinding. Eventually, you’ll get through it. This is the time you really start focusing on the smaller nuances of producing.
Stage 4 - Finding Your Sound
This one takes time. By now you've been at this for years and you understand yourself creatively. This stage can take years, but this is where you really find yourself as an artist. Your direction is clear, your goals are clear, and you’re likely to start really seeing some results and growing your career more and more.
Stage 5 - Mastery
Very few make it to this stage, and the ones who do would probably say that they still aren't there! This is the point where you can effortlessly make music that is above and beyond everyone else. They can be wildly creative and still create next level music. These are leaders in the field.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to be all the way to stage 5 to begin a career in music. In fact, many successful musicians and our favorite producers might not even be to stage 5 yet. This is a sliding scale, and we encourage you to just step on to the path and grow along the way!