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Topic: Where can a composer make a living?

  1. #1

    Question Where can a composer make a living?

    Here's a weird but simple question for you guys... (I've also posted this on some other boards if it looks familiar)...

    I currently live in Los Angeles, but my wife absolutely HATES it here. I'm not established enough yet as a composer, so moving makes me really scared. But I don't know any other place that has the opportunities that LA has for both a composer and live keyboardist. So the question is...

    Do any of you guys make a good living as a composer living anywhere besides LA, and if so, where do you live?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated... especially by my wife...


  2. #2

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    I'm making a decent secondary living from composing, but I gotta say that 80 percent of my jobs have come directly from personal connections-- something that is pretty lacking here in good 'ol Tallahassee FL.

    EDIT- but once you know people in L.A./N.Y.C., you can do EVERYTHING over the internet. I think the problem is that people often want personal contact with those they are working with.


  3. #3

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    I hear Timbuktu is looking good these days!
    The hard simple reality is you need to be where the work is. It's hard enough getting gigs in LA and NY, but that's where the action is and gives you the best opportunities when you're there. Forget long distance business relationships - they never work well for any length of time, everyone needs face time. If your wife understands your passion and respects your talent, she'll ultimately be a positive influence. If not, well....... tough choices ahead for both of you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?


    There certainly is life outside LA for composers.

    Take for example Hummie Mann, an Emmy award-winning composer, has lived in Seattle for quite some time and does very well.

    Also Jeremy Soule, a well-known game composer, lives in the Seattle area and has more work than he knows what to do with.

    There are composers and live musicians outside LA who are doing quite well. And I know some in LA who are not doing well at all. If you are talented and smart, you can succeed most anywhere.

    There is a big wide world out there. And with new technoglogies that world has become more accessible in recent years.

    Your wife may just have the right instincts. You can always try out other areas, and if worst comes to worst, LA will always be there.

    Good luck and all the best in wherever life takes you,

    Gary Garritan

  5. #5

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    I'd say the bottom line is the quality of your demos, without that even living in LA wont advance you. But today through internet, nearly anything is possible, the hardest part is getting the few important initial contacts, then it's word of mouth. But I think if you have quality work eventually it gets recognized. I live in Quebec, not the greatest place for a film composer, luckily internet made the difference in my case, most of my work is with NY and LA, oh yeah and Vienna!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    What ever you do stay away from Beefalo. (Unless you want to set up another boring chicken wing stand/bar/restaurant). Only composers here are decomposer's. Why, every day more and more people move out of this area because of lack of just about any opportunity!
    Why do I stay here? Simple. After everyone has gone, I'll be able to open up this area to the rest of the world as "The Only Twenty First Century Ghost City In The World"! Should bring in a good buck or two during the year.
    But really, may you find your happiness and dreams soon.

  7. #7

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    Las Vegas might be an alternative to LA. We are only 4 hours away from there, not to mention Las Vegas is becoming more and more prominent in the entertainment industry anyway. I've also heard good things about Austin, Texas (where my wife and I may relocate to in a few years) or Nashville.
    "I would rather compose than decompose."

    Sean C. Dockery

    Cubase 5, Komplete 6, Alchemy, PLAY, Vienna Instruments, Spectrasonics, and much more

    INTEL|CORE I7 980X 3.33G, 12G CORSAIR DDR3, SSD 160G|OCZ for OS.

  8. #8

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    At McDonalds.

  9. #9

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    With the Internet you can make a living almost anyplace. In a local market, having good libraries is a serious competitive advantage. At the same, you have to take into account that composing is an entrepreneurial lifestyle and so you'll have to develop your business chops for sales and sales presentations, learning to package for projects, and so on.

    You also need time to build up a client base. Phillip Glass drove a New York City cab for years to supplement his income while he studied and worked to get commissions.

    Talent, yes. Staying Power! Critical.

    I recommend Talent Is Never Enough by John Maxwell:
    Peter L. Alexander
    Learn it right the first time.

  10. #10

    Re: Where can a composer make a living?

    That's good advice Peter, I think I'll order that book myself.

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