Composer Duties on TV show - Basic Cable

Discussion in 'Working in the Industry' started by Bropecia, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

    41
    7
    Jul 12, 2018
    Los Angeles
    Hi guys, I just want to get a feel for what the customary roles are on a TV show for a composer. It's a first time gig for me, and even though I'm crazy overworked at the moment, I'm ecstatic to have this opportunity. I just want to make sure that going forward I'm not being taken advantage of.

    I know the answers are going to be all over the map, but I just would like to hear some opinions for when I go back for negotiations on season 2.

    Basically I'm serving as the composer and music editor -- a package deal. I don't have an assistant, have been writing all the cues (approx 30 cues per episode, 10 ep season), and I've been preparing the Music Pro Tools File for the dub stage for each episode (picture editors send me an aaf, and I clean up, add my stereo mixes and upload to post house night before).

    Upon completion, I'm doing the cue sheets, which of course I'm incentivized to do for obvious reasons, but I'm also filling in all the info for the library cues that are being used (which account for about 5-10% of each ep), so a decent amount of extra work there, when I'm racing to stay on track to just make sure my music is at an excellent level.

    And I've been attending full day mix sessions 9am to 7pm.

    Anyway, It's very low pay for approximately 6 months of work, but those of you who have seen me post about this gig before know that I was keen to take the job no matter the situation, just so I could get my foot in. It's turned out to be an extremely rewarding gig-- wouldn't trade it. And even though the music editing aspects and mix stage prep have been substantial, they were roles that I definitely needed to do because I basically skipped that step in my new career and sorely needed the trial by fire experience. I also don't mind hard work, and it's made my ProTools and other skills jump up as a result.

    All said, I want to make sure that I can keep this pace up which has been a more than full time occupation for just one show, and unsustainable at the current pay rate. The creators have said they're going to fight to bring up the pay rates across the board, and I have good reason to believe them. I also realize that season 2, if there is one, will be less of an overall workload as the first 5 episodes of this season everything was from scratch. It took awhile to develop the stable of cues, which we're just now starting to dip back into pretty heavily, which has been quite a relief.

    So what do y'all think. Would the music editor be doing most of the PT session prep etc?
    If they're going to forego hiring one, I figure my first tact would be to negotiate a portion of what they're saving by not hiring one. Who normally does the cue sheets? Anything else I should know before I humbly dig in my heels on renegotiations?

    Thanks all,

    Bropecia
     
  2. chillbot

    chillbot Forum Bot

    2,085
    3,870
    Feb 6, 2014
    La Canada Flintridge, CA
    Yes, you are doing the work of the composer and music editor. But you already knew that? Not sure exactly what the question is.

    Music editor should attend the mix, prep pro tools, and is generally responsible for cue sheets. However, I would always prefer to do the cue sheets myself, given what you said about only 10% library music I'd be ok with that. If it was significant more, maybe not.

    I've seen it both ways where the production company hires a music editor, or the production company pays the composer per-episode and then the composer hires a music editor out of that. I've seen it where the composer has it written into their contract that the production company must hire a music editor or even a specific music editor.

    You should also consider hiring an assistant. An assistant could do all the things a music editor would do but also work for you instead of tied to the show. Doesn't sound like you're in it for the money so might be worth making your life easier even if you lose money on this season.
     
  3. Desire Inspires

    Desire Inspires Senior Member

    889
    478
    Jul 30, 2016
    Miami Beach
    Hey, do you need music for the show? What genres? How can I get some of my cues on the show? Can I send you a zip file full of beats?
     
  4. chillbot

    chillbot Forum Bot

    2,085
    3,870
    Feb 6, 2014
    La Canada Flintridge, CA
    I got you. Send to [email protected]. Thanks.
     
    Brobdingnagian, Stevie and NoamL like this.
  5. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

    41
    7
    Jul 12, 2018
    Los Angeles
    Thanks, yeah I realized after the post that it was pretty rambly. Prednisone / Mucinex related mind funk. But your info is helpful, I just don't really have a basis for what's 'normal' so just wanted to hear some general opining... is that a word?
     
  6. NoamL

    NoamL Winter <3

    2,340
    4,669
    Jul 6, 2015
    Los Angeles
    What jumped out at me is that you're spending whole days on the mix sessions. Just in my opinion & limited experience, this is not a good use of your time as a TV composer. Film is different, but for TV, it is appropriate for you to hand off stereo mixes once the cue has been approved, or stems if they insist. Honestly the only thing they should be doing to your music after accepting it, is moving the master fader as they mix dialogue or at worst removing elements from stems if they realize there's a conflict or distraction. They should not be entirely remixing your music. However, as much as it hurts to be surprised at someone remixing your music (and maybe not doing a good job of it) you should realize that if they're going to do that, they'll do it with or without you in the backseat.

    As to the other stuff, yeah I think you need to contemplate hiring an assistant. It won't be a high paying gig and that's fine. Just post on LinkedIn and you'll get dozens of applications. Be clear up front about:

    1. the pay (it is what it is, you can't afford to pay more)
    2. the hours (exactly how long do you expect the show to go for this season, how much work are you looking to hand off)
    3. and the responsibilities (be super clear that this is NOT a writing gig)

    At the end of the day look at it like this. The studio hired you to be the creative (and from what I briefly heard, your music rocks!). You need to look at all the tasks that AREN'T creative decision making and ask yourself if someone else can do it without impinging on your creative leadership of the show.

    Going from top to bottom, I would place assistant duties in roughly this order (and maybe other current/former assistants like @Jdiggity1, @merlinhimself, @AlexRuger, @bc3po can add their thoughts) :

    1. Preparing cue sheets.
    2. Prepping the mix & delivery sessions by loading in stems & masters.
    3. Stemming cues.
    4. Elementary conforms (moving the music start when the picture changes).
    5. Advanced conforms (cutting or adding bars of music to fit new picture).
    6. Temping episodes with placements or edits of old music, which may end up being used.

    (massive gap here)

    7. Synthestration, completing a cue based on piano or rough instrumental sketches.
    8. Arranging (taking an existing musical theme and creating a new cue from it, or in film, scoring a cue out of the composer's suite).
    9. Sample prep which can include synthesis, sampling, programming new instruments etc. Basically helping the composer come up with the unique sound world of the show or film.
    10. Co-writing or ghost-writing (composing entirely new cues for you).

    There are other duties you can hand off (like non-musical tech assistant work) but you get the gist.

    Towards the top of this list are tasks that any musically literate person whom you trust can accomplish.

    Towards the bottom is when you start letting go of creative, and start becoming a creative supervisor, which generally is something no composer wants to do unless forced to by time and money.

    The key when you first get an assistant is to know where the line is, which depends on what you are comfortable with, what REALLY needs to get done, and of course how experienced of a person you are looking to hire and what you are willing to pay.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
    kmaster likes this.
  7. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

    41
    7
    Jul 12, 2018
    Los Angeles
    I love this forum. Noam, amazing stuff thank you, and for the kind words!
     
  8. Desire Inspires

    Desire Inspires Senior Member

    889
    478
    Jul 30, 2016
    Miami Beach
    Chill, bro. I’m trying to get this work.
     
  9. Alex Fraser

    Alex Fraser Senior Member

    866
    1,109
    Jun 21, 2017
    Chillbot - I sent some beats to the address but the emails keep bouncing. Typo maybe?
     
    chillbot likes this.
  10. chillbot

    chillbot Forum Bot

    2,085
    3,870
    Feb 6, 2014
    La Canada Flintridge, CA
    This is getting a bit off-topic but I think jdiggity would be envious of your list. It sounds nice.

    Actual real-life tasks include:

    Sample some frog guiros.
    Star in awesome videos about frog guiros.
    Rewire the doorbell to make cool sounds.
    Let my dogs out of the house to pee.
    Get the piano(s) tuned.
    Record my bro-in-law's audio book about cats.
    Add credits to IMDB.
    Learn how to use stuff I don't want to learn how to use and show me how to use.
    Replace gas canister in my chair.
    Fix security cameras.
    Take out the trash.
    Listen to me bitch about producer(s).
    Endless amounts of P-Touching.
    Endless amounts of spreadsheets.
    Make my marimbas respond to pitch bend.
    Hunt for easter eggs in the studio. (Not an actual task, just for snack purposes.)
    Mail stuff to ferkel.

    It's a glamorous life. Now accepting applications for the position please email [email protected].
     
  11. chillbot

    chillbot Forum Bot

    2,085
    3,870
    Feb 6, 2014
    La Canada Flintridge, CA
    *Chill, bot.
     
    Farkle and AllanH like this.
  12. Desire Inspires

    Desire Inspires Senior Member

    889
    478
    Jul 30, 2016
    Miami Beach
    Dude, too much info.
     
  13. gsilbers

    gsilbers Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com

    1- Get an intern.

    2- The show budget comes from the creators/producers. So I’m guessing they might be playing a round a round to see how much you can. If ain’t broke don’t fix sort of thing. If the re-recording mixer complains then that’s your in :)
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

    41
    7
    Jul 12, 2018
    Los Angeles
    I think submissions aren’t getting thru cuz u put only three monies.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

    41
    7
    Jul 12, 2018
    Los Angeles
    Thanks everyone, now my biggest concern is whether or not I will have to change out of my jammies if I hire help. Might be a deal breaker.
     

Share This Page