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Topic: OT: Working as a full time composer

  1. #1

    OT: Working as a full time composer

    Forgive me if this has come up before, I really wanted to hear peoples thoughts on how viable it is these days to make a full time living as a composer.

    The reason I ask is that I am finishing my job at the end of the year and will next year attempt to eke out a living as a composer.

    I am looking to pursue work in games, commercials, corporate videos and film if the chance presents itself. (or whatever comes along)

    I know its kind of an open ended question but any feedback or stories, suggestions, views, etc, would be much appreciated.

  2. #2

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    I once sold my first born to be for a career as a composer.

    Next up, vasectomy.

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    Is it really that impossible? You guys make me think twice about wanting becoming a film composer. You guys make it sound like I\'d have more of a chance in winning the lottery! Not very comforting, I can tell you that!

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    I was making a joke, but to be honest. I\'m VERY lucky to be in the position I am in. I feel that it has to do with much more than my composing skills since I\'m such a hack composer.

    Part of it is the comfortability clients have with me. They are happy with my work, but they are also confident that I can do it, and trust me when I say I can. I\'m obviously lying to them, but I must be good at it. One of my first gigs, i was asked to write calypso stylized music..... I told the potential client \"no problem\" hung up the fone, and proceeded to ask around what calypso music was. Once I found out, I went \"oh\" \"I know that stuff\", but didn\'t even know where to begin composing, I then broke out my 2 year old copy of Cubase for the MAC, and thought to myself \"jeez how do you work this thing?\". I got the gig, learned how to work the stuff, made some music that was really cool and not so great at the same time. The client was happy, the reviews werent that bad, and I went on to learning and making more music for games. Did I \"dupe them\"? Nah, I honestly thought I could do the work, and learn how to do it. They didn\'t get high rates from me until I was comfortable charging them more (and they were comfortable paying them).

    The truth is, its probably not that hard to get gigs if you\'ve got a good speaking voice or good smile, and people vouch that you actually have some skills (my first gig also came from 10 years in an industry, building up a \"face\" that people knew, albiet doing \"other stuff\")

    the real difficult thing is probably getting ANOTHER gig if you make bad music or a bad impression. Or you do everything fine, but the critics hate the product and associate your music with the product.

    Point of the story, (which is nowhere to be found *IN* the story)

    \"It depends\" [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    Well...first of all, we don\'t want the extra competition! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    It\'s not impossible but...you better be a great salesman, a shrewd businessman, and a great socialite to really be successful in this business. Sometimes it really feels like the composer part comes secondary to the above mentioned talents. You will spend most of your life in meetings, on the phone, driving around and at the post office mailing demos than you will writing music....guaranteed!

    Unfortunately scoring for films and tv has been greatly romanticized as being this artsy thing where you sit at a grand piano sketching ideas for the next Star Wars. It is like that for some....hmmm, yeah, about .00001% of the composers out there. For most of us it\'s really not any different than running any other business, sales, marketing, and connections are the prime way to get work.

    If you have another source of income, and you can write music on the side, perhaps starting with some student flicks, that might be the best option.

    Most importantly, follow your heart!

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    somewhat like lee, but not as bleak, i\'d say: it\'ll take time before you can earn a living from it, so start now (maybe you have) - do the double shifts, compose as much and whenever you can \'cos there\'s no short cut, neither in honing the skills or finding the gigs. But it IS totally possible. Ease gently into full time composing. Good luck.


  7. #7

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    I\'m not a film composer but I work closely with enough of them to tell you what some of them did. This concept is nothing new since a lot of other people trying to get into these (perpetually competitive) creative industries have done it.

    If you\'re extremely serious, passionate, and thick-skinned... well, save up enough to not have to worry about income for at _least_ one year.

    There\'s no guarantee anything will come out of it and of course people have gone on being successful without using this approach.

    Sadly, it still comes down to being in the right place, at the right time, with the right connections. Even with incredible composition skills and talent to match you might still need all of these factors on your side to get anywhere, especially in feature film work. I only mentioned the savings approach because trying to earn a living in midst of trying to break into the field can be an incredibly distracting thing. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Being near a film, commercial, multimedia, and/or tv production hub helps. Carefully picking out spec assignments (aka no-to-low-pay) to build your portfolio and industry experience helps. Not turning your nose up on multimedia projects helps. Making connections with audio engineers, orchestrators, producers, and in general being open to collaborating with others can help.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Burbank, CA. US of Mexico

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    It\'s tough Scott. It\'s really, really tough. Still, I cling to my optimism and I work as a sound designer/dialog editor/music editor/orchestrator/re-recording mixer, video editor, etc. until I get my shot.

    As far as being akin to winning the lottery, I would say not really. With the lottery, you can be any ol\' *** and buy a ticket. With composing, you have to spend your life devoted to your craft, you have to be an amazing businessman, you have to be supremely talented, patient, persistent, rich, smart and either born into an industry family or marry into one. Then you get to stand in line for your ticket [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  9. #9

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    Originally posted by Sharmy:

    If you are driven i believe it can happen. Personally i never gave myself a saftey net in which i could fall back on in case i failed.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Yeah this is wise. But I also belive that if you choose the right career there is - in someway - a place reserved for you. I have experienced this a couple of times myself. first when I decided to make a living as a composer - without safety net. I had read some Kirekegaard and decided to test it: \"choose yourself, don\'t be affraid to be your self\". I took the chance and it worked. Later I decided to change career and do sample libraries - it was the new me and it worked to - a place was reserved for me.

    And my belief is that this goes for all jobs, whether it is a musician or a baker - if you choose \"yourself\" go for your dream you will be happy and a place is reserved for you. No one says it will be easy though - this has nothing to do with happyness... [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    However the world is full of people doing the wrong jobs - selected from wrong reasons.

    Imagine a body where a skin cells
    wants to be the heart orgarn, etc? not good...
    Not a well working body. If people chose the right jobs we would all benifit: a happy baker, a happy busdriver, a happy composer etc.

    Anyway - go for it if your heart is in it and your talent can bear it.

    Also social skills are as important as musical skills as you work with people all the time - and some directors can be really weird... [img]graemlins/tounge_images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Working as a full time composer

    Your pretty wise for a dane Thomas. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]


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