• Register
  • Help
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Topic: Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

Share/Bookmark
  1. #1

    Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

    Hey, guys.

    As many of you know, among my pursuits I'm moving my musical endeavors in the direction of composing for picture of various sorts. The occasional multi gazillion dollar smash hit movie would be groovy, but I'm actually less concerned with "being a star" and more concerned with practical, meat and potatoes work - advertising, entry level TV and indie films, multimedia for web stuff, etc.

    As has been the case with so many other careers and businesses I've done in the past, the creative and technical side of things is always easy. The important part, before you even think about trying to get work, is understanding how business is done in your industry. Since this is a new area for me, I happily declare, "I don't know," a phrase that I believe to be the root of all wisdom.

    Whether through public post or private email / pm, I would be grateful if those of you who are making a full or part time living at this could point me in the right direction on the basic "doing business" issues such as,
    • How do you charge for your work (by the hour, by the project, by the piece?)
    • What are normal and expected terms (up front deposits, billing options, etc.)
    • What rough range do rates fall in (from "That New Guy" on the low end to "Established Deity" on the high end)?
    I'm not looking to pry into your personal business, i.e. how much you charge, who your clients are, etc. I'm just looking for information on the business basics. As in any other industry, if you don't know how to charge, what billing is normal, or if your rates are either far too low or too high for your place in the food chain, you simply don't get taken seriously. It would be most embarrassing to have someone contact me for work, ask how I do business, and have to answer, "Well, gee, I don't really know..."

    After you strip all the glamour away, show biz is just a business like any other. You have to know how to conduct business in an appropriate manner if you want to do well. Any insights from those who are ahead of me on this road would be most appreciated. I'll do my best to return the favor in the future with what various bits of talents and expertise I may possess.
    Christopher Duncan
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer
    www.PracticalUSA.com


  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Seneca, NY
    Posts
    11,075

    Thumbs up Re: Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

    The competition is stifling to say the least! However, this is an interesting topic.
    Styxx

  3. #3

    Re: Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Styxx
    The competition is stifling to say the least!
    That's covered in a different area - marketing, promotion, and building relationships. Given that I have 10 years of sales/marketing behind me and I've written a couple of books on related areas, that's doesn't really bother me.

    However, knowing the basics of how to charge, what's a reasonable deposit to ask for, when to expect incremental or final payment, at least a rough ballpark range of what realistic rates are, etc., i.e. the business aspects, is unique to each industry. If you don't know what the accepted norms are, you simply look foolish to your potential clients.

    I'll have plenty of other opportunities in life to look foolish.
    Christopher Duncan
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer
    www.PracticalUSA.com


  4. #4
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    West Seneca, NY
    Posts
    11,075

    Re: Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Duncan
    That's covered in a different area - marketing, promotion, and building relationships. Given that I have 10 years of sales/marketing behind me and I've written a couple of books on related areas, that's doesn't really bother me.

    However, knowing the basics of how to charge, what's a reasonable deposit to ask for, when to expect incremental or final payment, at least a rough ballpark range of what realistic rates are, etc., i.e. the business aspects, is unique to each industry. If you don't know what the accepted norms are, you simply look foolish to your potential clients.
    Agreed.
    Styxx

  5. #5

    Re: Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Duncan
    That's covered in a different area - marketing, promotion, and building relationships. Given that I have 10 years of sales/marketing behind me and I've written a couple of books on related areas, that's doesn't really bother me.

    However, knowing the basics of how to charge, what's a reasonable deposit to ask for, when to expect incremental or final payment, at least a rough ballpark range of what realistic rates are, etc., i.e. the business aspects, is unique to each industry. If you don't know what the accepted norms are, you simply look foolish to your potential clients.

    I'll have plenty of other opportunities in life to look foolish.
    Hi Christopher,

    By no means do I do this full-time or even part-time but I'll share a few of my experiences.

    On a couple of computer games I've done music for I was able to get about 1/3 payment up front (which I immediately blew on new gear), on jingles I've asked for a demo fee of $250, the balance due upon delivery (the 250 let's you pay a singer or two and a guitar player, they of course get more when you've made the final sale). I think it's important to get something up front as this tells you your client is serious and in fact helps the client solidify their goals.

    Chris, you may want to post this on the General Discussion forum as I know there are many full-time composers on there (Bruce Richardson could probably give you some good advice in this area).

    I'd like to ask your opinion on succeeding in the area of marketing and promotions etc. Does it come down to personality and drive, do some people simply have it while others don't or is it something anybody can learn? For example a friend of mine and I decided to start a jingle production company, I had experience engineering and writing/arranging (for other companies) in the business and my friend was an excellent musician. Unfortunately neither of us had a nack for marketing/promotion or a drive to jump in and just do it. Several jobs just came to us through a contact we had at a radio station but when she stopped sending us leads our business basically died (luckily we'd never left our "day jobs"). Anyway, I guess my question is "is there hope for somebody who isn't comfortable promoting and who doesn't have a great deal of skill in the area?".

    Regards,

    Brian

    ** correction ** I meant the "Sample Libraries Discussion" forum.

  6. #6

    Re: Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Looper
    Anyway, I guess my question is "is there hope for somebody who isn't comfortable promoting and who doesn't have a great deal of skill in the area?".
    Brian,

    Thanks bunches for sharing your war stories. It helps a lot and confirms my thinking that there are similarities with other standard business practices.

    The short answer is yes, absolutely! All this marketing stuff can be learned and put into practice by regular people without having to become a Suit or Sleazy Salesperson type critter.

    Coincidental that you should ask. The Atlanta chapter of the Recording Academy (the Grammy folks) recently sent out a letter to members which I read this morning. They're initiating a mentoring program and asking for volunteers from the local membership to speak at area schools about the business. It's a chance to give a little back to a city that's been really good to me, and I'm excited about sharing my battle scars and lessons learned with the next generation so that they don't have to learn some of this stuff the hard way (like I did). Basic marketing skills is one of the things I plan on talking about. It's something almost every creative sort I've ever met is short on, which is why they're usually broke.

    Once you realize that the operative word in Show Business is "Business", it works like any other industry. There are standard techniques and procedures that anyone can learn. In fact, I'm in pre-production as we speak on a series of audio CD courses for people in the music biz, covering things like basic marketing, the profitable "business" of your art, networking, handling difficult people, etc. I could use a few people to "beta test" the material on, as this stuff is so second nature to me I often lose perspective regarding what's obvious and what's not. If you're interested, shoot me an email or pm and I'll put you on the Guinea Pig, er, I mean Beta list.

    And thanks again for sharing your experiences with me. I really appreciate it!
    Christopher Duncan
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer
    www.PracticalUSA.com


  7. #7

    Re: Do you compose for film / TV / ads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Duncan
    Brian,

    The short answer is yes, absolutely! All this marketing stuff can be learned and put into practice by regular people without having to become a Suit or Sleazy Salesperson type critter.
    Thanks for the encouragement Christopher, it's nice to know there's still hope. Sometimes I think I'd be better off today if I had taken business courses instead of recording/music production. I know a guy who was a part-time musician who took a couple of years to go and study marketing at the local community college, he got a job at a music production house and worked his way up as a sales rep, now he's president. He doesn't write or produce at all. I wish I hadn't undervalued the importance of 'business' skills when I was younger but hopefully I can still make up for it somewhat.

    I can tell you'll be successful as a composer (and I'm not even fimiliar with your music) because you're one of those people who can come up with a idea then make it happen, a truly enviable ability to have. [I'm still astonished that your Composer's channel has come together so quickly.] I, on the other hand, am still wondering what to do with ideas I had 10 years ago.

    Brian

Go Back to forum

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •