Careers in Electronic Production and Design
The sound designer is employed to develop and/or utilize a sound library to implement sounds and effects for a variety of potential clients, including artists/bands; films, television shows, video games, and other visual media; live theater; production and multimedia companies; and manufacturers. The sound designer typically uses an array of sophisticated electronic equipment to find sonic solutions in their work. A sound designer must posses a creative mindset, the ability to record and edit audio, and the discipline to manage a multitude of audio files across various projects.
Watch Electronic Production and Design students discuss career options:
Most of the audio, music, sound effects, and dialogue that we hear in TV and film productions is edited on digital audio systems. The digital audio editor works with sound designers, composers, and directors to put all these elements together in a highly controlled environment.
A music editor is responsible for mixing and synchronizing music with a visual counterpart, such as a film or video game. The music editor often provides a temporary track that is used as a stand-in for the final score until that score is ready. The music editor must be versatile and possess a great musical sensitivity, a keen ear for balance, and an awareness of how music can make or break a dramatic scene or sequence. In addition, the music editor must be familiar with the technology used to mix and synchronize music in conjunction with visual media.
A electronic music performer utilizes music technology and MIDI for live performance.
This person plays and often programs synthesizers and other contemporary musical instruments within a studio context.
The DJ/remixer may be charged with editing a song or completely recreating it to sound different from the original version. The DJ/remixer may also mix recorded music live for an audience. Skills required involve knowledge of audio editing and music production software as well as performance dynamics and knowledge of current musical trends.
The producer plays a variety of roles depending on whether they are working in music, film, theater, dance, video games, or other media. In the music industry, producers often work with recording artists and record labels to create songs and albums for release. The music producer supervises all aspects of the recording process—including contracting session players and overseeing the recording budget—and may also help the artist select songs to be recorded. Preferably, a producer should be an excellent musician with a lot of performance experience. In addition to possessing a great depth of knowledge in music, a producer should hold extensive technical knowledge of recording equipment, engineering, and acoustics. A producer must also demonstrate creativity and excellent interpersonal skills.
“Berklee also showed me how to be curious, how to chase that curiosity and follow it down the rabbit hole, and how to stick with it and come out the other end with new skills and interests.”
- Dan Lehrich
The composer in the electronic field has a particular specialty in using computer and MIDI technology throughout the entire composing and arranging process. The electronic composer may compose for a specific recording situation—such as film/TV composers who score/compose to enhance visual media—or a live performance situation, such as composers who create for live theater, music, dance, or art. This work may include producing MIDI mock-ups, which allow a director or executive producer to hear the compositions before the recording or performance process commences. For the electronic composer, knowledge of audio editing software is a must, along with the ability to deliver results in fast-paced environments.
An arranger provides arrangements of a musical composition to be performed by an artist, band, orchestra, or electronic composer. The arranger determines the voicing, instrumentation, harmonic structure, rhythm, tempo, and other aspects of a song or composition based on the artist, producer, director, or conductor’s specifications. The arranger’s work may then surface as part of a live or recorded performance by an artist, band, orchestra, or electronic composer in settings such as concert halls, films, television shows, video games, commercials, art installations, web content, or other visual media. An arranger should be trained in music theory, orchestration, composition, and harmony, and should have experience as a copyist and as a composer or songwriter, as well as experience playing one or more instruments.
The programmer uses software to produce MIDI keyboard/synthesizer tracks for inclusion in a score for visual media such as film, TV, video games, and commercials, or for art installations, live performances, and more. A programmer may also sequence a composition so as to enable the composer, music editor, or others an opportunity to hear it—and identify any problematic areas—without having to hire a full orchestra before it reaches its final performance or recording stage. A programmer must possess strong skills with music sequencing software and notation software.
Jingle writers are songwriters/composers/lyricists who specialize in writing music for radio and television commercials. Synthesists in this field have the ability to creatively produce and incorporate (his/her own) sound designs into the production process. They are responsible for representing their client musically as directed. They must be skilled in all styles, be strong arrangers, and be able to compose well for a very short form.
An educator in the electronic production and design field typically teaches in a higher education setting, such as a college or university program.
A consultant in the field of electronic production and design is usually employed by companies that manufacture and design technology-based musical instruments and software. These music technology companies desire to have consultants with musical and technological backgrounds and perspectives.
Interactive and Mixed Media Specialist
Interactive and mixed media specialists work to create features for websites, software, and a wide variety of digital multimedia applications. These features may contain sound, music, text, video, images, and/or animation. Interactive and mixed media specialists may be charged with developing and implementing “front-end” content or “back-end” functions, or both. As such, this position requires a broad spectrum of skills, which may include graphic design, web design, web development/computer programming, sound design, editing, and more. Typically, interactive and mixed media specialists are enlisted to help clients meet sales or fundraising goals, so in addition to technical skills, interactive and mixed media specialists should possess an understanding of marketing, communications, and digital user behavior.
The product representative tours and demonstrates the latest audio/MIDI software and musical instrument technology available to musicians and producers.
Computer Music Researcher
The computer music researcher works at a graduate-level institute of higher education and researches computer languages associated with algorhythmic composition and sound synthesis.
Audio developers create, collect, and/or compile sound effects and music to be used in apps, video games, and other web-based features. The lead audio developer may record sounds or music or draw from a preexisting sonic library, or both, and may oversee voice-over recording sessions. The audio developer’s primary role is to ensure that the finished product contains professional-quality audio. An audio developer should possess electronic production and sound design skills, a working knowledge of professional audio recording and editing software, a creative mindset, and typically must harness the ability to deliver results under tight deadlines.
Music Technology Hardware/Software Developer
A music technology developer designs and programs system-level software or hardware. This may include, for example, operating systems, digital audio workstations (DAWs), virtual instruments, MIDI plugins, or database management systems, or physical gear such as, for example, preamplifiers, microphones, mixing consoles, studio monitors, or effects units. The music technology developer handles the design, implementation, testing, and debugging of any of the above. Depending on the scope of their work, the music technology developer may possess relevant skills in computer science, electrical engineering, and an in-depth knowledge of music and audio technology.
The recording engineer operates the mixing console and other equipment during the process of recording music or sound. Recording engineers generally run recording sessions, with oversight from the producer. They may also be responsible for setting up equipment in the studio prior to the session, and discussing what the end product should sound like with the producer and talent. It is the engineer’s subsequent responsibility to craft a recording that meets all stakeholders’ stated desires. Many engineers are also called upon to be mixers, working with the output of recording sessions to piece together a polished finished product. Recording engineers/mixers must possess well-trained ears, advanced technical knowledge of recording and mixing tools, and an ingrained understanding of studio etiquette.