5 Reasons New Producers Should Do Free Music Projects

Here are 5 reasons why I think “new” music producers should work for free in the beginning and not be focused on making money right away.

I think there are both pros and cons to working for free.

My Back Story of Working for Free

In high school, my passion was graphic and web design. I was young and eager to learn.

While working at a grocery store I created a free interactive CD-Rom for a local non-profit.

Another non-profit saw the project and wanted their own, so they hired me as a full-time graphic designer.

5 Reasons New Music Producers Should Work for Free - Music Growth

So the free project led to my first graphic design job.

While working at the non-profit, because I was passionate about design, I did a number of paid freelance projects and free projects for things I was excited to create.

For every project I completed, it was something new to add to my resume and portfolio of work.

Me building my portfolio of work lead to my second, third, and forth design job. Each job had a $10,000 per year increase.

Today I don’t do free work, but I also don’t freelance. But if there was a project that I am excited about, I would be open to it.

What I’m trying to express is I was passionate about design and creating real projects. And creating projects both free and paid opened new opportunities for me.

Focus on Growth Instead of Money in the Beginning

I get messages all the time from music producers who say they have been making music for 5+ years and haven’t made any money from music. Why? I don’t know.

There are tons of possible reasons for this, but I can tell you working hands-on with people and getting direct feedback from real people would give you some insight into this.

If you are just creating at home, locked in your own bubble, you may not be realizing mistakes that are holding you back from progress.

So the idea of working for free is about getting real hands-on experience.

The same way some jobs require you to be an intern before you can officially be hired.

So here are some of the benefits of taking on some free projects.

5 Reasons “New” Music Producers Should Work for Free

I’m suggesting to be selective and only work on projects you care about, and see as being beneficial to your portfolio, resume, or networking efforts.

1. Hands-on Music Experience

If you’re new to making music, by working with music artists you can better understand what type of things music artists are looking for.

Hands-on experience is the best experience for learning. Experiencing challenges, and overcoming them will help you grow.

2. Portfolio Work

If you are new to making beats, you probably have nothing to show for it.

So focus on gaining that experience and building up a portfolio of work.

There is nothing better than having a website with completed music projects, or a CD to give out with the work that you have produced.

Twelve quality produced tracks with your name on them will show that you know what you are doing, and will show you deserve the money you are asking for when you become a pro.

3. Networking

By working with others for free, these people you work with will be your spokespeople.

People will ask “Who produced that track?”.

They will say you and will gain an interest in working with you. At this point, this person is now a customer for you to charge.

4. Marketing

If you are making music for free, you can ask the artist to give you a shout-out on the song you produced, which will help you get exposure.

5. Experiment

If you only make one type of music, working for free can allow you to open up and experiment with other types of music, or even different types of industries like video games, or movie scoring, theme songs, and more.


Working for free can open a lot of doors for you.

I know some of you can’t work for free because making money is essential, but I can say it has helped me a lot in the word of mouth marketing and has helped me with building my portfolio, which has helped me make the money I am making today.

What are your thoughts on working for free?

Mark V.

Written By Mark V.

Mark Valenzuela is a professional blogger, entrepreneur, and educator with more than 15 years of experience in music production. In 2008, Mark founded Hip Hop Makers, a top resource for aspiring music producers and beatmakers. He specializes in content on music production, software, gear, and free music resources. Committed to empowering creators of all levels, Mark continues to inspire and help music creators pursue their dreams.

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  1. I’m starting out as a producer myself and I’m part of a rap group and the way I see it is with my group I do all of the in-house production for them for free to gain experience but for now, with other people, I actually charge them. Not much though for example I sent the very basis of a beat to a small-time rapper I know and he really liked it so this weekend I’m going into the studio with him to actually show him the full beat and work out a song and I’m getting paid for it.. very little but I feel that since it is one of my first tracks to ever sell and he isn’t a big-time rapper at all yet it’s fair plus I’m getting producing credit and my tag is going to be on it anyway

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