Whenever you consume media from any sector of the entertainment industry, whether it's motion pictures, television, music or another form of media, you will see several producers listed in the credits. Several of them are executive producers, which is a high-ranking and crucial position.
Salaries in the entertainment industry are notoriously high, but does the average salary for executive producers reflect this trend? Film and music producers make an excellent salary, but you'll want to know what executive producers do before deciding whether it's the right career for you.
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What does the job description for an executive producer look like? Their role is critical through every stage of production inside the industry. They acquire properties (scripts, albums and so on), find funding for production and help make deals with distributors and other essential businesses to make the show successful.
Executive producers need excellent connections throughout their industry and the wider world. Getting a top executive producer on a project can make or break its popularity and impact. Many of the most successful executive producers in all industries came into the business with connections from a previous career or their family and friends.
Most executive producers hold at least a bachelor's degree in film production, film studies, mass communications or a related field. Some earn advanced degrees, but many enter the workforce immediately after undergraduate college. They get producer jobs with production companies and work their way up, often working on more minor projects at first. Most executive producers have placements with record labels or major media companies or may own their own production companies.
How much does an executive producer make? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for producers and directors in 2021 was $79,000. This amount is their total compensation, including income from royalties.
Of course, it's critical to remember that the BLS data includes all directors and producers, not just executives. Moreover, executive director is one of the highest-ranking job titles in the industry, so their income would be among the highest. The top 10 percent of earners in the directing and producing category made more than $206,860 per year; some of them made significantly more than that figure.
Job Mobility and Career Growth
Every film, television show and other production employs hundreds of people, including several producers. Before reaching the executive production level, you'll likely need to start in one of these other roles and work your way upward. According to the National Film Institute, some of the producers who work on most projects include:
- Assistant producers
- Consulting producers
- Coordinating producers
- Developing producers
- Executive producers
- Field producers
- Line producers
- Segment producers
- Supervising producers
In addition to this team of producers, there are directors, assistant directors, production managers and assistants, script supervisors, directors of photography and photography teams, location managers and their teams, sets and costumes, camera operators, key grips and other grips, boom operators, sound mixers, lighting people, special effects, music and art. That doesn't include those who work on merchandising, branding or advertising. Any of these roles can be a good starting position for those who seek to become an executive producer.
In terms of the salary range, experience and rank matter more than industry; executive movie producers and music producers make about the same for producer jobs. Many executive producers receive a flat fee up front for their services in addition to a portion of the royalties of sales of the final product. In the film industry, that would include ticket sales.
Most high-ranking entertainment industry members live in large cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, where their companies have major offices. That helps inflate annual salaries since the cost of living in these places is much higher. Even average pay for hourly rates is necessarily higher in these areas. You'll have more luck in one of these roles if you live in these areas.
If you want to get into these entertainment industry roles, now is a good time to do so. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for producers and directors are growing at a rate of 24 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than average. They project that over 15,000 jobs will open in the field each year over that decade due to retiring individuals and others leaving the workforce.