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Topic: Business side of Sample lib Composition

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  1. #1

    Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Are there any websites exclusively for sample lib composers seeking work? Reading Gary's post on Franco, looks like an emerging market. A web site offering all sample based composers with real sounding but very cost-effective, relatively quick turnaround, custom composed music. Seems like producers don't have a good understanding of how to readily access this specific segment of composers.

    Client could even take bids by uploading a few segments of video and anyone interested could compose demo 30-45 seconds plus their bid (cost and time commitment) on part or all of project. If I were producing a film (indy, non block buster), commerical radio/TV, I would like such a site. The challenge would be marketing the site correctly.

    I realize such a site may have a the propsensity to lower the pay base for for all working composers just trying to pay the rent. But maybe not.

    Aren't such sites inevitable, at least in some form?

    Joanne

  2. #2

    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    I think GANG has a section similar to this. Not positive as I rarely visit.

  3. #3

    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanne Babunovic
    Are there any websites exclusively for sample lib composers seeking work? Reading Gary's post on Franco, looks like an emerging market. A web site offering all sample based composers with real sounding but very cost-effective, relatively quick turnaround, custom composed music. Seems like producers don't have a good understanding of how to readily access this specific segment of composers.

    Client could even take bids by uploading a few segments of video and anyone interested could compose demo 30-45 seconds plus their bid (cost and time commitment) on part or all of project. If I were producing a film (indy, non block buster), commerical radio/TV, I would like such a site. The challenge would be marketing the site correctly.

    I realize such a site may have a the propsensity to lower the pay base for for all working composers just trying to pay the rent. But maybe not.

    Aren't such sites inevitable, at least in some form?

    Joanne
    Nice idea Joanne, but i foresee a few issues.

    1. Agents.
    Advantage. A site of say, 30 composers, covering a variety of styles. Agents learn quick (Don't they ever), and once word had got around they would cruise the site. So some exposure.
    Disadvantage. Agents would cruise the site and offer a job for bids. The producer would still pay the same, but nearly every agent i met would cut the composers share and increase his own, urging composers to cut their rates to get the gig.

    2. Pay Rates. It's a fact most composers who are getting decent work now, are seeing their hard earned returns dwindling, as the money men squeeze the market to maintain or increase their share of profit. And as less imaginative films get made, with recycling in full flow these days, so the market for a top line composers who demand a fair sum for work will dwindle. I personally think we should all demand a good rate, but those who will work for less, or even zilch effectively keep the rates low. Whatever their reasons may be, and i don't think they're all bottom feeders, the effect is less cash for the same or even more demand.
    Composers, except on rare occasions, are near the bottom of the food chain, simply because there are so many fighting for an ever decreasing pot, and the producers and directors can afford to drive the price down, knowing there will always be a crowd who will take the job to a) feed the family, b) feed themselves, or, c) want to see their name in lights. (or a combination)

    More than once i've toyed with the idea of assembling a group of 12 or so like minded individuals who can write well, produce on time, and be trusted, in a collective of sorts. With an agreement to keep the rates up, and a knowledge pool shared honourably between its members, provided those people produced the goods, i could foresee an opportunity for agents, producer, and directors alike to have a 'group' to go to, knowing the group itself will Quality Control, and ensure every piece going out is of a high standard. (and within the group, if a 'game r and b job' comes in that isn't suitable for one, they have the integrity to pass it on to the member who writes that particular style the best.)
    But it will never happen. The group would struggle simply because in today's market, near enough seems to be good enough, and if the group had a set rate of say, $2000 a 'produced' minute, there would be those who would do the work for a lot less.
    Agents, Producers, AND Directors don't want us to get together, and set a higher rate, not accepting less, because they'd have to pay more. Further, if the group managed it's own affairs, excluding the agent, they'd suffer in publicity terms, because agents WOULD get together, and hammer at the group's reputation, until it was near worthless. Try and separate an agent from a good source of income, our disparate community, and, well, they don't call them sharks for nothing. The A,P,and D's like us being individual, simply because we're easier to play against one another.
    So the group would most likely spend a lot of time doing little or nothing, because we'd be seen as a threat to the pocket liners.

    And your suggestion, in honest hands a good one, would play straight to exactly what A,P, and D's want. One bidding against each other on the website, pushing the price down, and knowing that if one doesn't work out, there plenty more available in one place. We are our own worst enemies in this, and there are plenty of composers out there who don't care if they devalue what we do, so long as they get the gig, just to say they did, and see their name whizz past in the credits, long after the Simpson's have left the cinema.

    Now, if there was a code of conduct, including pay rates, that everyone stuck with, the market would improve fairly quickly. Can you imagine agents ringing every good and reliable composer they knew, getting the same response?
    "I'm not working for crap money anymore. There's the price, take it or leave it."
    And if EVERYONE did the same, after a short time of butting heads, and belligerent crap, eventually the money men would have to
    re-assess their position, because turning out movies is still a very good way to make money, and without music, they'd find it a lot harder to do that. The old saying is,'hit 'em in the pocket, and you'll get their attention.'

    And they know that, because they've been doing it to composers, cameramen, etc, for years.

    All of this is, of course, unreal. Composers will never stick together, history tells us this, and will never be willing to do it a little hard for a little while, to improve their own lot. We can be a short sighted and selfish bunch.

    I remember doing a poorly paid gig when i started out, and looking at the meagre return for my efforts, thinking, 'Is this all i'm worth? Does the sum total of my efforts to play the best i can, and give a lot of people a good time for the evening amount to this?'
    I was 16, and understood quickly, unless i made a stand, and only took well paid work, even if i starved in the process, i would ALWAYS get crap pay. But some never learn this lesson, and continue to provide A,P,and D's with resources and creative worth far more than the return they get.
    I'm sorry to sound negative with this Joanne, because i'm a positive determined fellow who believes that little in life is impossible. I like your idea, but after 30 years working, i've tempered my enthusiasm with some hard facts.

    It may well be an emerging market, and i do believe there are some fairly decent producers out there, who would do their best within budgetary restraints to pay the composer a fair return. but they're not so thick on the ground just yet, as to fill me with new found optimism.
    Maybe when industry profits start to seriously drop, and we as composers raise our game and collective pay rates as a community, then producers will be more inclined to pay those who do the work as professionals, and not part time, easily discarded employees.

    I personally wouldn't enter a bidding competition.
    My price is my price, and if that's too high then so be it. I'm not a snob at all, just value my work.

    I've also said no many times, even when hungry, and then landed a nice job, with the time to devote to it, because i'm not doing other stuff for crap pay. The approx. average, at least in my experience, is one to 10. For every ten opportunites that come up at poor pay, there is one that is close to worthy of your efforts, and most times equals the sum of the others, in terms of paid return. So i'd rather do one good job, and give it my all, than be drowned in crap work, trying to make the best of them all, with no real incentive to do so apart from personal pride.

    Regards,


    Alex.

  4. #4

    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanne Babunovic
    Are there any websites exclusively for sample lib composers seeking work? . . . A web site offering all sample based composers with real sounding but very cost-effective, relatively quick turnaround, custom composed music. Seems like producers don't have a good understanding of how to readily access this specific segment of composers.
    . . .
    Except for the very highest end gigs, producers already assume their composer is going to be using samples. It's not really a specialty. So a site like you're describing would turn out to be for all composers and gigs.

    Currently, all major and most legit indepenant films, and all network and most cable TV shows get listed in various publications, like Production Weekly, which lists production offices, phone numbers, etc. Consequently, the producers get flooded with unsolicited packages from agents as well as composers without agents (like me.) So I don't think these guys would have any interest in a "composers available" website.

    Down the food chain, very low budget film producers might have an interest. Keep in mind, their music budget will often be zero, especially when they see the mass of eager composers respond to any listing they put up. This is IMO the danger of a website like you're describing.

    There is an organization called Film Music Network http://www.filmmusic.net . If you join, they have several listings of low budget opportunities each month. Even with the weeding out factor of paid membership, each gig gets a flood of responses. Still, I think it's about the best opportunity available. They have a one day deal for $4 where you can see if the listings are worth joining for the regular $12/month.

    - Mike Greene

  5. #5
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    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Great idea Joanne.

    There's exciting things that can be done.

    Francescos's story is only one of many. There is so much activity here - people looking to hire composers and others looking for work. Perhaps some of your ideas can be developed further at Northern Sounds.

    Gary Garritan

    PS. A good place to look for bidding for composition and music projects is elance.com.

  6. #6

    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Alex,

    I need to think about the barriers and pros/cons you brought up and much appreciated.

    Question for you though. I would think with high quality digi cameras in the hands of the masses and inexpensive video production software that exceeds pro setups, all the new games, more indy films, more TV cable channels, websites, more of everything that's media, the market for composers would be expanding. Could be from a certain perspective though you see a decline?

    Hi Frank -

    Gang, I'll see if I can google that. Also, enjoying your Valentine's thread.

    Mike -
    I'll check out some of the music job boards for a better understanding of how things work. So producers routinely get hoards of stuff they never listen to, plus lots of screaming agents. Sounds just like my days working as a radio program director with hundreds of DJ demo cassette tapes piled on my desk. The problem of demo tape proliferation is exactly what a portal/intelligent search engine could help with.

    Hi Gary,
    Elance.com, interesting site crossing over to many different services. Question for the future is will there be standard contracting/project based services sites for all skills, or will highly specialized sites emerge. Probably both.

    Looking around the web, I can see why you were contacted for a few names of good composers. It's a complete maze to do any quality searches for specific needs.

  7. #7

    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanne Babunovic
    Alex,

    I need to think about the barriers and pros/cons you brought up and much appreciated.

    Question for you though. I would think with high quality digi cameras in the hands of the masses and inexpensive video production software that exceeds pro setups, all the new games, more indy films, more TV cable channels, websites, more of everything that's media, the market for composers would be expanding. Could be from a certain perspective though you see a decline?
    Joanne, the question you raise is an excellent one. My perspective is more traditional i guess, without a real knowledge of just how expansive the media market has become. And, being honest with myself, the idea of an ever increasing number of handheld digi hi res cameras, cable sites, etc, doesn't really make a connection with me, as my musical existence has been a little distanced from these outputs, and streamed along more 'old fashioned' paths.
    I would ponder the following though. Given the decline of rates for composers for film work of the type i'm more used to identifying with, just how low will the rates go with an increase in number of low budget, easy to make, minimal equipment projects? Is the going rate for a cable tv show that good? Do the makers of film using digi hires handhelds have large budgets to work with? I don't denigrate these opportunities at all.
    But given the time, work, and equipment expense for today's image composer, just what will the hourly rate? It's ok for some to come over all nostalgic and 'suffer for their craft', but that doesn't really last for long when the fridge is bare and the rent man is threatening to sell your cat into slavery.
    And does the scenario you raise indicate a more concerning shift in the market? That of 'part time' being the accepted norm, with very, very, few composers able to be paid well enough for their craft, no matter how gifted, quick, or determined they are? Can we assume John doe, the red hot film composer, will find himself working 90 or 100 hours a week turning out the 'new media' for no more pay than a fast food operator or service worker, despite the years of effort he's sweated to fine tune his craft?
    Should he throw his hands in the air after submitting to exhaustion, and declare 'Time to get a proper job?' (A phrase I passionately despise for many reasons.)

    You are right, and i acknowledge and appreciate your up to date perspective. I will think on this, and let optimism do it's work once more.
    Just maybe, I can accept that the number of opportunities will increase to such a rate that my peers will get more work, more regularly.

    As a follow on to your original premise, and after a think, I also reflected on the current trend (a thoroughly overdue one) of composer websites. I've looked at many of them for users here and elsewhere, and we do have some very talented people amongst us, who may or may not be getting a regular supply of work.
    I wonder if a central 'register' would be a good idea, with the links placed in one spot? Maybe with a lttle publicity effort, we could direct more producers, etc. to appreciate the collection of talent, and for the sake of convenience inspire them to consider that register as their first port of call?

    I thought Gary's gesture when approached was a very honourable one, and Franscesco goes on from the gig he has to more regular work. There's a bit of a lesson for us in that. If we're prepared to co-operate a bit more with each other, and not be so willing to behave as sharks, then more composers could get an opportunity. I'm doing fairly ok, so I could quite easily just keep going and give no thought to others, and the direction the future may or not take. But amongst the work that i've heard on user websites and in other places, there are some very talented people out there who only lack the acumen and publicity to get on their way.

    You mentioned you're a radio program director Joanne, so I have one last question.

    How much new music do you play, and how much do you and the station owners consider when thinking about new radio show formats? I.e. Film soundtracks on a sunday night, or blockbuster themes, or new composer showcase, etc....


    Regards,

    Alex.

  8. #8

    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    I really think it's still a relationship business for most legit work. Many music libraries have tried to be totally internet based, but I just don't think that's the way it works in LA at least. Most of the music supervisors (and don't kid yourself they really are the gatekeepers on many projects as far as picking composers and music) I know still rely on CD's, mp3s, messengers, and many many phone calls. If you're just another nameless person who will submit to one of these sites, there's really no risk for the producer or buyer (and we'll lose that term losely because I would bet that the budgets on projects that would list there would be in the low/no variety). They really have no vested interest in your effort and wouldn't really appreciate how many hours you spend on something. They can literally listen to one second and delete your file (not that CD's don't get trashed regularly.

    I think the bottom line is, for the real work, there's no easy way or shortcuts. You have to form relationships any way you can - intern, phone calls, your uncle's friends hairdresser, and give them time to develop. Then you get recommended on something and start building real credits.

    I kind of think,and this isn't directed at anyone here specifically, that many people just want to sit at a computer and type a bunch of emails and google sites to find jobs, and I just don't think that it's ever going to really happen that way on a large scale.

    If you really want to just crank out demos for a job with a low probablity of ever getting, hook yourself up with some commercial music houses. There you can demo against 20 people for every spot, and probably have one of the inhouse guys take your idea, change it a little, and get the gig.

    It's a tough biz to crack, but I think doing work the old-fashioned way with a lot of personal legwork, will yield much better results.

    Then again I can be totally wrong......

  9. #9

    Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Hermitage59
    Given the decline of rates for composers for film work of the type i'm more used to identifying with, just how low will the rates go with an increase in number of low budget, easy to make, minimal equipment projects? Is the going rate for a cable tv show that good? Do the makers of film using digi hires handhelds have large budgets to work with? I don't denigrate these opportunities at all.
    But given the time, work, and equipment expense for today's image composer, just what will the hourly rate? It's ok for some to come over all nostalgic and 'suffer for their craft', but that doesn't really last for long when the fridge is bare and the rent man is threatening to sell your cat into slavery.
    Not the cat Alex!

    Again, thanks for giving good thought. Because music is a hobby for me, I am very removed from the issues of paying work for composition. It would interesting to see what people are finding with respect to amount of work, rate etc. What are the trends. As you say, is part time becoming the norm ? Do sample libs that let anyone who can fog a mirror produce great sounding stuff have an impact?


    Quote Originally Posted by Hermitage59
    You mentioned you're a radio program director Joanne, so I have one last question.

    How much new music do you play, and how much do you and the station owners consider when thinking about new radio show formats? I.e. Film soundtracks on a sunday night, or blockbuster themes, or new composer showcase, etc....
    Regards,

    Alex.
    I left the radio biz about 20 years ago, but even back then, we worked to corporate dictated play lists and could do very little deviation. Thanks to Satellite radio and the web, little known artists are finally getting their chance and we are finally getting to hear a good variety of music - at least for those who seek it.

    Regarding the likelyhood of one or two well-know Composer portals, that would be the ideal, but I cannot think of any profession where that is happening yet. But just like everyone goes to Google now, people are quick to find the place with the best results and ignore the others, so it can be done.


    Quote Originally Posted by donimon
    I really think it's still a relationship business for most legit work. Many music libraries have tried to be totally internet based, but I just don't think that's the way it works in LA at least. Most of the music supervisors (and don't kid yourself they really are the gatekeepers on many projects as far as picking composers and music) I know still rely on CD's, mp3s, messengers, and many many phone calls. If you're just another nameless person who will submit to one of these sites, there's really no risk for the producer or buyer (and we'll lose that term losely because I would bet that the budgets on projects that would list there would be in the low/no variety). They really have no vested interest in your effort and wouldn't really appreciate how many hours you spend on something. They can literally listen to one second and delete your file (not that CD's don't get trashed regularly.

    I think the bottom line is, for the real work, there's no easy way or shortcuts. You have to form relationships any way you can - intern, phone calls, your uncle's friends hairdresser, and give them time to develop. Then you get recommended on something and start building real credits.

    I kind of think,and this isn't directed at anyone here specifically, that many people just want to sit at a computer and type a bunch of emails and google sites to find jobs, and I just don't think that it's ever going to really happen that way on a large scale.

    It's a tough biz to crack, but I think doing work the old-fashioned way with a lot of personal legwork, will yield much better results.
    Funny. You just described the environment and exact processes for acquiring contract work in the Enterprise Resource Planning software implementation business (my day job). Seems like all contractors get their work this way whether you write music, spray for bugs, or design homes. Thinking about the concept of the development of effective open web portals is no different for music composers than it is for any other contractor. I did not know that and have a much better perspective.

  10. #10

    Thumbs up Re: Business side of Sample lib Composition

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanne Babunovic
    Are there any websites exclusively for sample lib composers seeking work? Reading Gary's post on Franco, looks like an emerging market. A web site offering all sample based composers with real sounding but very cost-effective, relatively quick turnaround, custom composed music. Seems like producers don't have a good understanding of how to readily access this specific segment of composers.

    Client could even take bids by uploading a few segments of video and anyone interested could compose demo 30-45 seconds plus their bid (cost and time commitment) on part or all of project. If I were producing a film (indy, non block buster), commerical radio/TV, I would like such a site. The challenge would be marketing the site correctly.

    I realize such a site may have a the propsensity to lower the pay base for for all working composers just trying to pay the rent. But maybe not.

    Aren't such sites inevitable, at least in some form?

    Joanne
    Joanne it was amazing that you came up with this while we were were working on the Power User Profile section over a few months. I think it will be a great added service to this community. It was a natural progression of the forum needs.
    Francesco and Joaz are examples of many cases of this happening at this site.

    We consistently have educators, publishers, employers, developers etc. asking about the talented people at this site. They were having problems sifting through the posts looking for people and/or their music. We decieded to create away to simplify it for them while enabling the user to supply more info and some music.
    If anyone has more ideas/suggestions please let us know.

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