Everytime someone (talking about the general public here) finds out I compose music - FIRST thing they say "oh, that's interesting, have you ever had anything on TV or Radio or Film?". What's with that? Is it like the teaching thing? "those who CAN write and sell to tv, radio, film, and those who CAN'T compose non-commerically? What's wrong with "Oh, I'd like to hear some of your work". Especially with the advent of MP3 and the ease of hearing music these days- why is that not the first thought?
Pro Samples have somewhat created this as a new issue. In the past, if you really wanted to get serious about your work - that meant a professional representation of your compositions, and you typcially needed a real and very big orchestra, and to fund that, one had to sell and write commerically. But times have changed.
It's not just true for us - this issue hits home for many artists: If you write novels - it's "Oh, how interesting, have you even been published? (I'm guilty of that one)
If you write screen plays its "Oh, that's interesting, has anything ever been made into a film or TV show?"
Next time I meet a painter - I'lll restrain myself from asking him/her if they've ever had their work shown commercially. My response should be "oh, I'd like to see some of your work".
Wonder if this is only an issue in our very bad and evil capitalistic American society (say this with an middle-east accent for full effect). Maybe in Tuscany, you rarely hear someone asking an artist if their art makes money.
I definetly agree its annoying Jo, I mean, I am a composer and graphic designer so I get it two-fold.
I think most ask though because people like to talk about their accomplishments, so others are giving the artist an open door to talk about themselves. If you tell me you're a composer and I ask to hear your work - that ends the conversation after you have my email address to send your mp3s to.
If, on the other hand, I ask if its been performed publicly or used in a movie/video game/television broadcast, then it opens the door for you to continue to enlighten me about your craft.
It allows for an answer like:
"Well, you won't hear my themes on CBS or NBC, but the public forums I frequant have responded very well." or "My goal is not film or telvision, I write for personal enjoyment. Not only my own, but for those around me to share in the universal language that is music." or something comparible.
I get this a lot because I am so anti-film music. I believe music should speak for itself and stand as an art form - it should not be a support beam or floorboard to showcase visual images dancing around on a screen (unless its an Avril Lavigne track, then the screen can dance all it wants ).
So trying to communicate that my music is best showcased on a Friday evening in a candle lit room with those you care about, confuses the average Williamswannabe. (you mean, there's nothing exploding or no one being shot while your music's on?!?)
Perhaps after you explain your goal of your own personal compositions you could then offer a CD or email links if they are interested?.
My favorite lines when you tell someone what you do:
"I hear that's a tough business."
"Oh really. Thomas Newman is my neighbor. He does blblablablbla..."
But it's not just when you tell people you write music. The other day I told a woman who asked that we just launched a new magazine. "I know three publishers. They're always coming out with new magazines. Most of them don't survive," she said.
"Ouch!" she added, as I kicked her in the ~~~ as hard as I could.
I think the best answer when someone asks you, Joanne, is, "I write concert music." They won't know what the frig you're talking about, and you can then control the conversation.
I have a friend who has this problem dating. He says "I'm a composer". Instant death.
Man: "Hey, baby, I'm a composer.
Woman: "Really? Which Dominos do you deliver for?"
Seriously, I met a guy at a party last year who was a sullen, sad-sack, anti-social drip. He was only there because his wife dragged him out of the house. It turns out that he had a masters degree in music composition. And he worked at Dominos. I thought about mentioning sample libs for a millisecond, and bit my lip.
It really reinforced the idea that you can't just write music, you have to be able to make people want you to write music for them.
My apologoes to anyone here who works in the food service industry!
I drove for Domino's for a couple of years while I was finishing school. Good bread for the hours, and everybody thought it was SO cool to get the pizza man stoned. On a busy weekend night, I'd clear well over $100 in tips and have eight or nine joints in my pocket. Not bad for a college job. Boy, I would hate doing it now, though.