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Topic: Career Advice?

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  1. #1

    Question Career Advice?

    Hi all, thought I'd post this question as I'm in a bit of a rut at the moment. To summarize, I have written the music for 5 productions: 2 short, 1 feature, 1 test commercial, and 1 documentary. Shall I continue to write music for the no-pay work, pitch my showreel to a small production company, or pitch to an agency? How's everyone else here getting paid work?

    Thanks,
    Doug.

  2. #2

    Re: Career Advice?

    I would say cut the freebees....they are obviously doing you no good.

    Then try both other options, this is a tough field....definitely not the romanticized and hyped image of the composer waving his wand over the LSO!
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  3. #3

    Re: Career Advice?

    Not sure I agree with midphase -- surely it depends heavily on how you have used your free work to date, in your portfolio, and what response it has gotten. If you haven't shown your existing work, done for free, to at least 10 or 20 prospective paid jobs, then keep working for free whereever you can and at the same time get busy finding prospects. If you HAVE shown your existing work 10 or 20 times for potential paid jobs, then maybe you should review what's not right in what you are presenting or how you are presenting it. If the music itself is the problem (I have no idea whether or not ...) then writing more works, even for free, might be the answer.

    disclaimer -- I don't really know anything about anything.

  4. #4

    Re: Career Advice?

    I've sent off a few showreels to some production companies that I saw in The Pact Directory from programmes that I saw on TV - hav to admit tho, I never chased them up - and they didnt call. Is it it generally best to pitch for specific jobs that are in pre-production - if so, where do you look for these jobs?

  5. #5

    Re: Career Advice?

    You really must follow up if you're going to send your reel to a company. Otherwise, it's like putting a fishing line in the lake and then driving home.

    You might find a few useful tips in my FAQ: http://nedfx.com/scoringforfilmfaq.html.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Re: Career Advice?

    No more free stuff!!!

    Honestly, you shouldn't have done that stuff for free in the first place IMHO. I live quite a ways away from LA so finding companies around here is pretty hard, but I just went all over the place to every production company I could find and found some work. Just keep your options open. E-mail some production companies outside of where you live and see if they need anyone. You never know. But seriously, do nothing else for free. Someone else said this on the board before and it is too true:

    "Working for free does get you recommended...as a composer who works for free."

    James W.G. Smith

  7. #7

    Re: Career Advice?

    Still have to disagree -- maybe an amusing story from when I was a highly paid 'consultant' will make sense: I wanted to learn a particular skill, though already considered an expert and a highly paid one in many other skills. So, I offered to work, through a headhunter who called me regularly, for free.

    No client ever took me and him up on the offer, and a few months later, I was getting (this was quite a few years ago) $125 an hour in this specialty I had managed to learn on my own. So .... take all advice with many grains of salt.

  8. #8

    Re: Career Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by brewick
    Hi all, thought I'd post this question as I'm in a bit of a rut at the moment. To summarize, I have written the music for 5 productions: 2 short, 1 feature, 1 test commercial, and 1 documentary. Shall I continue to write music for the no-pay work, pitch my showreel to a small production company, or pitch to an agency? How's everyone else here getting paid work?

    Thanks,
    Doug.

    Brewick,

    an old adage: you got to invest to see some bucks or not..therefore the free-bees are you long term plays for possibly brighter days. As for me, it's not my main gig.. It's teaching in NYC that yields the pension in 92 months for both the wife and I and what I can contribute to the midi community can swing either way. I prefer sitting back, arranging, composing at my OWN leisure not being pressed by deadlines. This is how I enjoy my art form the most.

    Alan Russell
    Please Visit My New & Revised Official Website Below

    http://AlanRussell-Music.com

  9. #9

    Re: Career Advice?

    Still have to disagree -- maybe an amusing story from when I was a highly paid 'consultant' will make sense: I wanted to learn a particular skill, though already considered an expert and a highly paid one in many other skills. So, I offered to work, through a headhunter who called me regularly, for free.

    No client ever took me and him up on the offer, and a few months later, I was getting (this was quite a few years ago) $125 an hour in this specialty I had managed to learn on my own. So .... take all advice with many grains of salt.
    Hmmm....sorry Guglielmo but I fail to see the relevance of your story. I also think that the composer field is difficult to compare to anything else. There is tons of competition and in a weird way, there is more competition for free music than for the paid gigs (believe it!). As long as you reach for the free crap, all you'll get is other free crap, take it from me, I've been doing this for about 12 years and whenever I get a call from directors for whom I did free work many years ago, guess what? They still don't have any money! Nowadays I'm simply too busy for the free stuff....honestly I'd rather go to the beach than work for free.

    Having said that, I will say that if a good friend producer or director with which you have an established relationship and who has paid you in the past, comes to you with a small favor for some benefit or personal project where he has no money (but will gladly take you and the wife out to dinner) that can be acceptable, but in that case you are not pursuing free work.

    Ultimately you do what you think it's right for your particular career, but as long as I live I will always oppose composers who work for free because I think it gravely diminishes the overall perceived value of good music (which is already so dangerously low).

    Lastly, as getting gigs go, you have to be persistant and call and bug the crap out of everyone constantly. Being a composer nowadays involves being on the phone 70-80% of the time and constantly expanding your network. If you don't think you like the way that sounds, get out of the kitchen while you still can!
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Boise, Idaho, U.S.A.
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    Re: Career Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    Ultimately you do what you think it's right for your particular career, but as long as I live I will always oppose composers who work for free because I think it gravely diminishes the overall perceived value of good music (which is already so dangerously low).
    I totally agree. My first film was a no budget short film that will never see the light of day, and I did it for free for only one reason: I had alot of time, creative liberty, and I had no idea if I could actually score a film or not. After I did that film, and figured out that I COULD write a score, that was the last free film I worked on. I will always be willing to work on stuff for charity but I refused to work for nothing because you usually have the following happen:

    Since they can't pay you, they probably can't get the film any kind of distribution, which in turn means your work doesn't get heard (I am sure there are exception but seriously).

    As I said before, if you get recommended, it is probably something like "Dude! Check out this composer! He wrote an awesome score for my film and guess what? He did it for FREE!" and from that you get a call that goes something like: "Hey, I heard your score for [blahblahblah] and really dug it. I have this film that I think you would be perfect for. We can't afford to pay you anything but...blahblahblah".

    On top of all this, you start getting directors who automatically think that they can get a really good score for thier film for free, no matter how much of a budget they have, which means less good paying work for the lot of us.

    I wish what Alan said was true but most of the time it's not. Since I started doing paying jobs I have been getting alot more paying jobs off of them. When I did that film for free, I got alot of offers for scores that couldn't pay.

    Besides, think about how much the equipment costs us. If you have a $5g - $10g studio that you are using to score a film, don't you think you deserve to be paid for it?

    Again, good luck,

    James W.G. Smith

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