Online Master's Degree Course

Culminating Experience in Music Production 2


Authored by Sean Slade


Course Code: OMPRD-695

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 6 - Degree Only

Level 6

All Master of Music in Music Production students complete a culminating experience or thesis project. This experience is meant to be exactly as named: the culmination of your work in the program, the experience through which you synthesize all you have learned. The culminating experience helps shape your next steps in the profession and in your career. In short, the culminating experience provides an opportunity for you to complete unique and original professional work. Through the culminating experience, you make a creative contribution to help solve a problem that exists in the profession. The work involved in the culminating experience represents the highest expression of your learning at the graduate level.

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This course, a continuation of OMBUS-693: Culminating Experience in Music Production 1, supports the completion of the culminating experience. You will work in consultation with your culminating experience committee to develop your unique projects, and to take them from first draft to finished form. In addition, you will prepare for your final presentation and ultimately present your work to your committee and to the online graduate community. As part of your coursework, you will reflect on your projects as well as on the knowledge and skills you have attained in the program. You will apply the individual experience, intelligence, organization, creativity, and synthesis of acquired knowledge necessary to complete your unique project. You will analyze the ways in which your culminating experience enriches the discipline of study or the profession, and the ways in which you have changed by completing the experience. Likewise,you will determine next steps, and what you will do next, if appropriate, to develop the project further. You will also master written and oral communication skills as you present your projects to your committee and to your classmates, and as you prepare your projects for submission to the course and to the Berklee archives.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Complete your culminating experience project
  • Produce a professional piece of work 
  • Consider your project’s next steps
  • Synthesize knowledge gained to develop an original contribution
  • Evaluate your experience, assessing the contribution made to the profession
  • Analyze your own artistic, professional, and personal growth, as a result of having completed the graduate program
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: Art vs. Commerce

  • Art vs. Commerce-Basic Concepts
  • The History of Art and the Music Business
  • Hit-Maker, Hack, or Rebel?
  • The Pursuit of Hits: Successes and Failures
  • Assignment 1: Rough Mixes of Further Basic Sessions Submissions

Lesson 2: Managing the Artist

  • The Producer as Psychologist: "Staying Positive" and other Strategies
  • Working with the Recalcitrant Artist
  • Who Has the "Final Say”: Your Role in Leading the Session
  • Conflict Resolution: Good Ideas vs. Bad Ideas, Who Decides?
  • Assignment 2: Submit Rough Mixes

Lesson 3: The Vocalist

  • The Singer Not the Song
  • Strategies for Recording Vocalists/Tips for Singers
  • Singers and Non-Singers
  • Tips for Compiling and Editing Vocal Tracks
  • Assignment 3: Submit Rough Mixes with Vocals

Lesson 4: Principles of Orchestration/Arrangement

  • The History of Arrangement
  • Band as Arranger, and the Producer as Composer/Arranger
  • Arrangement Does Not Equal Production
  • How a Song Can be Produced in Different Genres
  • Assignment 4: Weekly Recording Rough Mixes Submissions and Discussion

Lesson 5: Alternative Engineering Strategies

  • Learning the Rules of Engineering to Break Them/Hi-Fi vs. Lo-Fi
  • Cheap Equipment
  • "Recording Unhinged" with Sylvia Massy (Discussion/Video)
  • Having Fun with Pro Tools Key Commands with Engineer Benny Grotto
  • Assignment 5: Weekly Recording Rough Mixes Submissions and Discussion

Lesson 6: One Band/Two Producers

  • The One Band/Two Producer Exercise
  • One Band/Two Producers: The Foo Fighters
  • One Band/Two Producers: Taylor Swift
  • One Band/Two Producers: Perfume Genius
  • Assignment 6: One Band/Two Producers Essay

Lesson 7: The Making of the Record

  • Warren Zevon
  • Radiohead
  • Hole
  • Album Project Disasters
  • Assignment 7: Rough Mixes of Final Tracks Submission and Discussion

Lesson 8: Preparing for the Mix/Final Edits

  • Organizing your Tracks
  • The 24-Track Paradigm
  • Compilation Tips
  • Making Decisions Now, Not Later/Less Is More
  • The DAW Cannot Perform Music
  • Assignment 8: Final Mixes Submission (Round One)

Lesson 9: The Mix

  • The Balance Engineer
  • The Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule)
  • Determining the Best Lead Vocal Level
  • When is the Mix Finished?
  • Assignment 9: Final Mixes Submission (Round Two)

Lesson 10: Mix Effects as Emotions

  • Echo
  • Reverb
  • Compression
  • Distortion
  • Assignment 10: Finished Mixes (Unmastered) and Mastered Mixes Submissions

Lesson 11: Mastering and Current Musical/Business Trends

  • Professional Mastering vs. Amateur Mastering
  • Two Professionals Master the Same Mix
  • Music Business Past
  • What Is the Future of the Music Business?
  • Assignment 11: Final Mixes/Remixes in Sequence Submission and Experience of Recording a Four-Song EP

Lesson 12: The Finished Record, and the Culminating Experience

  • Sequencing Your Four Songs
  • Learning from Experience
  • Success vs. Failure
  • What Is Next? How Do I Become a Professional Record Producer?
  • "Know Thyself": Producing Records Your Way


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Culminating Experience in Music Production 1 is required.


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to produce, engineer, and mix a 4 song EP over the course of both Culminating Experience in Music Production courses. Students will focus on pre-production in CE 1, then produce and mix their EP in CE 2.


  • Full-featured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), such as Pro Tools (Studio or Ultimate), Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton Live (Suite or Standard), or Reaper


  • MIDI controller
  • Audio interface, with a minimum of 8 mic preamps
  • One of the following combinations of 8 XLR microphones:
    • Option 1:
      • 4 dynamics (one of these should be appropriate for kick drum and bass, such as the Shure Beta 52A)
      • 2 matched pairs of condensers (4 total)
    • Option 2:
      • 5 dynamics (one of these should be appropriate for kick drum and bass, such as the Shure Beta 52A)
      • Matched pair of condensers (2 total)
      • 1 ribbon
  • Professional-quality studio monitors (pair), such as Dynaudio's or Focal's, as well as necessary cables
  • Professional over-ear studio headphones, such as Sennheiser HD 600, beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, etc.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Sean Slade

Author & Instructor

Sean Slade is an associate professor in the Music Production and Engineering (MP&E) Department at Berklee College of Music. After graduating from Yale University in 1978, he moved to Boston, playing guitar and saxophone in various beat combos before co-founding Fort Apache Studios in 1985.

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Slade has produced, engineered, and mixed records for Radiohead, Hole, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Warren Zevon, Lou Reed, Joe Jackson, the Dresden Dolls, and many more artists. When not teaching at Berklee, he can be found recording music at Quarry Recorders, his studio in rural Maine. Read Less


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