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Advice for a recently made redundant, now full time freelancer (not out of choice!)

BenjaminSymons

New Member
Hey everyone!

So I was working full time for the last 2 years with a production music library as a music consultant.. not creative/composing , I was the guy representing the catalogue to all our UK clients. In fact for the entire time I’ve been composing I’ve always had a full time job because I’ve simply not been good enough or busy enough to warrant quitting.

Last year I landed my first feature and was paid pretty handsomely, I’m due to start my second feature in a month or so. Then I got made redundant back in May.

I’m looking at it as an involuntary opportunity to try and make a go of this composing lark but I am struggling with working out how to find film makers who are unknown to me and it’s amplified by the knowledge that all my directors are bombarded by composers. How are any of us meant to stand out? If our music is what does the talking but it’s not being heard because as far as Director X is concerned we’re just another composer.

Now don’t get me wrong I’ve been in sales my whole life. I know how to market and sell my self but I still find myself sat there scratching my head... I have all the good intentions and desire and I’m fired up to make this work but with very little ideas as to how.

I think I know what you’ll say too. Referrals, networking events, go through all imdb pro films in pre production, engage in film making forums etc (any good film making forums would be useful actually)

I suppose this more than anything is a hi guys, this is kinda scary and tough and I would welcome and advice or thoughts or encouragement haha. It’s been a particularly difficult year for me so yeah. I won’t bore you with all that though!

Thanks everyone

Ben
 

Leon Willett

Active Member
If you send a SHORT (perhaps even mysteriously short) email or some kind of private message to a director (on linkedin, or a forum, or whatever), with an mp3 attached...

They're GONNA listen.

Curiosity is just too high.

And if the first 15 seconds of the music is seductive... and right in some way for what they are doing...

...and they have no political impediment to hiring you... (composer already hired, or the producers DEMAND someone with an emmy or something)

...you WILL get an answer and a shot at the project...

...and if your formal pitch is good, you WILL get it...

So, in the end, it is the music that does the talking, assuming no politics. (And if there are politics, the gig was never yours to begin with)

:)
 
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Wolfie2112

Senior Member
If I were you, I would start looking for another day job.
This ^. The reality is, we are all expendable in this industry...there are literally thousands of us wanting that golden ticket. Even if you land that huge paying gig, there may not be another one for who knows how long. You are a fart in the wind in the big scheme of things. Get yourself a good paying career that will allow you to pursue your musical dreams/passions on the side.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
If you send a SHORT (perhaps even mysteriously short) email or some kind of private message to a director (on linkedin, or a forum, or whatever), with an mp3 attached...

They're GONNA listen.


:)
I highly doubt every recipient will listen, they may even delete the email thinking the attachment is a virus; I would instead include a link to an official website where samples can be checked out. I'd say one out of every hundred emails may actually listen....and/or reply with a remote interest. My best gigs have been of result of this very method. And really, I had sent them just at the right time, I was lucky.
 

Desire Inspires

To the stars through desire....
I highly doubt every recipient will listen, they may even delete the email thinking the attachment is a virus; I would instead include a link to an official website where samples can be checked out. I'd say one out of every hundred emails may actually listen....and/or reply with a remote interest. My best gigs have been of result of this very method. And really, I had sent them just at the right time, I was lucky.
Hell yeah!

Many music libraries state that they will only listen to streaming links and will delete any emails with attachments.

Why would they risk their company’s PC being damaged by a potential virus or hack? Also, they get a ton of emails from people whose music is either terrible or doesn’t fit what they can sell. So they lose nothing by hitting “delete”.
 

averystemmler

Active Member
My opinion - and take it with a very large grain of salt, because I have by no means "made it" in the industry - is that you'll have a tough time making a go of it if you're desperate. You're starting a business, and that usually requires quite a bit of foresight and investment.

Now, as your question about how to meet directors: if I knew the formula, I'd be busy making my millions and not typing this, but check out Christian Henson and Jason Graves' YouTube channels. Both very successful composers and businessmen, and both have a wealth of career advice interspersed amongst their technical videos.
 

cmillar

Active Member
This may be a sacrilegious post here....

You're a composer...I'm a composer....you can't live without composing music...

You've written for film and would like to do more...I've written for films, video, etc. and would always like to do more...but I'm also involved with performing live music and composing for live music projects....

And, ultimately, we ask ourselves...do we really care about music and art? ...or, do we want to always try to bend to the will of 'the man'? ...do we want to spent countless hours being underpaid and overworked having to bend to the whims of a corporate beancounter or some undereducated 'producer' who's usually the undereducated relative of some 'producer'?

My advice....don't waste time worrying about that 'big gig in the sky'. If it comes, it comes...you may or may not meet someone who actually values what you do. When you do, then composing is wonderful when you know you're actually respected for creating something that is a real team effort and you can interject some 'art' into the project.

So...concentrate on live music...live bands....live neo-classical, jazz, rock, new-age, experimental, electronic....anything!....be different!

It's what I try to do after almost 35 years of success and semi-success in this crazy music business.

Keep live music alive. That's what the world really needs....not more library music.
 
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AdamKmusic

Active Member
If I were you, I would start looking for another day job.
100% this, I scored a big project last year which actually paid more than what I earn from my run of the mill day job however this year I've not had much luck with projects but kind of a blessing at the same time as I've been mainly focusing on library music as the big project almost killed me! 75 mins music for a live stunt show in China, all composed / mixed by myself!

But definitely just get a easy day job which can help you pay the bills then any one you get from music invest back into yourself!
 

averystemmler

Active Member
While I don't disagree with the "get a day job" sentiment - especially if you don't have a significant savings or low cost of living - I think there's a gradient there, and there are all sorts of ways to make income depending on your skill set. You can do part time work, contract work, on-call backup work. There are all sorts of arrangements out there. If you live in the right spot, you might even be able to find a steady job in the industry as an assistant, tech, or other support role.

I only wanted to make this clarification because I currently have a full-time desk job that doesn't relate to music, and it has made meeting (paying) film deadlines damn near impossible. I had to drop a fairly lucrative (but less so than this job) TV gig when I started about a year and a half ago, and have been too busy to take on any serious projects since.

If you want to make composition your livelihood, plan for the long-term, find out what elements of your life truly make you happy, and sort out an arrangement that satisfies you. For me, I know I can't balance a full-time job and tight music deadlines, so I'm considering future options. If I were in your shoes, I might consider looking for a part-time gig that'll keep you going and pay for your equipment, while you build connections, attend conferences, and try to ingratiate yourself into the industry without the impending doom of poverty.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
You can do part time work, contract work, on-call backup work. There are all sorts of arrangements out there. If you live in the right spot, you might even be able to find a steady job in the industry as an assistant, tech, or other support role.
That's great for the "young man", but the reality is, those types of positions typically don't have any sort of healthcare coverage, pensions, etc (in the US, at least). I hear you though, its tough to meet the demands of certain deadlines when working a full-time job....but I've been doing it for 20+ years. As a result, I have never feared where my next pay cheque is coming from, and I have equity and peace of mind. I can't imagine working a temporary job, busting my ass for years hoping that the dream of becoming a full time film composer is just around the corner. Am I still chasing the dream? Absolutely! But I know that my odds of winning the lottery a better. In the meantime though, I still get to earn a second income from music, and satisfy my music passions.....all the while knowing I have financial security.
 

averystemmler

Active Member
That's great for the "young man", but the reality is, those types of positions typically don't have any sort of healthcare coverage, pensions, etc (in the US, at least). I hear you though, its tough to meet the demands of certain deadlines when working a full-time job....but I've been doing it for 20+ years. As a result, I have never feared where my next pay cheque is coming from, and I have equity and peace of mind. I can't imagine working a temporary job, busting my ass for years hoping that the dream of becoming a full time film composer is just around the corner. Am I still chasing the dream? Absolutely! But I know that my odds of winning the lottery a better. In the meantime though, I still get to earn a second income from music, and satisfy my music passions.....all the while knowing I have financial security.
All good points. Different lifestyles for different folks. I pay for my health insurance out of pocket, have a cheap car, cheap rent, and cheap taste. I have a strong savings, and very minimal debt. I like the way I live. I'm sure I'll change as I age past my fledgling 27, but I can't predict what I want for breakfast tomorrow.

My perspective, I guess, is that I don't see it as a dream but a process. The things I'm doing are in service to building a career, and I'm enjoying the struggle. No grand ambitions here either. Not trying to win the lottery, just to get paid by those that do.
 
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