Is this scoring business really for me?

dodecabilly

New Member
You all probably know what king of bullshit we as composers for movies, thatre and games have to endure. I am talking of course about director/composer relations.

Dealing with stuff like literally copying the temp track, expecting hollywood type of sound for a ridiculous budget, dissmising your entire work over most benign and superficial things, using musical terms completely wrong to appear knowledgable, then being blamed for understanding those terms literally, etc.
Sometimes I feel that this job require me to be so ego-less and humble that I might as well be a fucking Dalai Lama instead of this.

All above-mentioned makes my blood boil, and there were occasions where I couldn't help myself and keep my mouth shut. Thing is, I wonder if it is really worth it? I quit my boring, office day job so I could focus on music full-time, but the occasions where I get to be creative and enjoy composing for a project are extremely rare, most of my experiences could be described as a constant fight with myself not to send the director to hell.
 

Arbee

Senior Member
In the 90's I did a lot of soul searching on this topic and met a number of directors to test my "fit" for film and TV. I concluded it wasn't for me and made a different career choice after 15 quite respectable years as a studio musician, jingle writer, musical director and arranger. One of the best decisions I ever made and now later in life I enjoy making music more than ever and with complete freedom (that's also not quite as good as it sounds tbh!).

I wouldn't want to suggest if you should or shouldn't, only you can know that. Just giving some perspective from personal experience that there is no "right" answer, just choices and cost/benefit dilemmas like so many other things in life. The mastery though to balance humility, ego, confidence and self-assurance is something I see in most truly successful people in all areas of endeavour. A life's work in itself for us mere mortals.

Good luck with your dilemma!
 

mikeh-375

old school
@dodecabilly, you'll recognise this sort of conversation that went on during a session of mine once...

client..."can we turn up the thing at 21"? What is it, a snare drum or an oboe or something".
me..."it's an oboe".
me to engineer (in the posh days obviously)..."I'll take the oboe up an octave".
producer..."What!! as much as an octave".
me + engineer.....................:rofl:......only without showing it. We nearly died.
 
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OP
dodecabilly

dodecabilly

New Member
@dodecabilly, you'll recognise this sort of conversation that went on during a session of mine once...

client..."can we turn up the thing at 21"? What is it, a snare drum or an oboe or something".
me..."it's an oboe".
me to engineer (in the posh days obviously)..."I'll take the oboe up an octave".
producer..."What!! as much as an octave".
me + engineer.....................:rofl:......only without showing it. We nearly died.


:D
yeah, those situations are funny, but at same time show the sad reality - the less the clients know about the music, the more they will want to be in control of it. I had one experience where the director, who is tone deaf, and couldn't tell apart country music from jazz, literary sat by my side as I was pressing random notes on my MIDI controller, while he goes: "Yeah! That one!" And those notes would end up in my score. Not only that was humiliating, but my colleagues laughed at it when the movie came out, and I was still credited as "composer".
 

Jay Panikkar

Introduce A Little Anarchy
I find that it's a good idea to do some research on who you're working with. If possible, ask around to get a rough idea of how the person behaves, because reputation, especially bad reputation, tends to linger. If they're extremely unpleasant to work with, they are usually "repeat offenders"; there's a good chance you'll hear stories from editors, engineers, technicians, etc. However, don't overdo the judgmental thing because you'll set yourself up for an unnecessary bumpy relationship from the start. Eventually, you will have a circle of people you are comfortable working with. At the very least, that should be enough to keep you in the business and keep you afloat financially.

Personally, there's only so much bullshit I can take. If they're otherwise respectful and only have an ignorance problem, then I usually just go along with it up to a point. If it's a completely tone deaf buffoon, I'd think twice before putting my name on it. If it involves deliberate humiliation, then no matter what the economic situation is, I'll show them out the door.

What I've noticed is that the market and segment you're working in is a big factor, because it affects what kind of people you will run into. And as you go up the ladder, your own reputation will increasingly affect your negotiating power.

If it's small budget "indie," you're much less likely to run into problematic people in general (unless there's some ulterior agenda behind the production). But if it's big budget AAA, you'll either have to deal with snobbish and abusive individuals who think they own you, or you'll get someone who has a lot of experience and wisdom, who is interested in your input rather than trying to micro-manage you.

If it's an animation studio, it's generally a more light-hearted segment to work in, and there'll be a greater emphasis on creative freedom. If it's a big corporate company, you're nothing more than a cog in the machinery and if you get any negotiating power at all it will depend entirely on your own reputation.

Another thing which binds it all together is the internal culture of the market itself. I'm mainly in the Asian markets (Singapore, Japan, Malaysia & India), and my experience has been generally positive so far. However, from what I hear and see about Western markets—particularly Hollywood and associated segments—I have a strongly negative view of it. Over the last few years, I've been seeing Hollywood directors, producers and even actors trashing their own audience for not liking their garbage movies, not to mention all the other kinds of abusive behaviour coming from the big shots. It's an incredible sense of entitlement, and if Big Hollywood behaves this way, then the small fries will certainly emulate it. So I'm not surprised by your experiences. Another trend is Hollywood organizing itself to attack American citizens. Unbelievable and totally ridiculous.

All above-mentioned makes my blood boil, and there were occasions where I couldn't help myself and keep my mouth shut. Thing is, I wonder if it is really worth it? I quit my boring, office day job so I could focus on music full-time, but the occasions where I get to be creative and enjoy composing for a project are extremely rare, most of my experiences could be described as a constant fight with myself not to send the director to hell.
If you're really sure you're not enjoying it, then you need a break (maybe a vacation) to reset the burnout. If that doesn't work then, maybe a change in career. I'm not really a composer by primary profession; I work in automation and got into multimedia because I find it enjoyable.

Thanks for coming out to my TED talk.

Buy my book.
 
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Brambleclaw

Morgan's Bitch
You all probably know what king of bullshit we as composers for movies, thatre and games have to endure. I am talking of course about director/composer relations.

Dealing with stuff like literally copying the temp track, expecting hollywood type of sound for a ridiculous budget, dissmising your entire work over most benign and superficial things, using musical terms completely wrong to appear knowledgable, then being blamed for understanding those terms literally, etc.
Sometimes I feel that this job require me to be so ego-less and humble that I might as well be a fucking Dalai Lama instead of this.

All above-mentioned makes my blood boil, and there were occasions where I couldn't help myself and keep my mouth shut. Thing is, I wonder if it is really worth it? I quit my boring, office day job so I could focus on music full-time, but the occasions where I get to be creative and enjoy composing for a project are extremely rare, most of my experiences could be described as a constant fight with myself not to send the director to hell.
It sounds like you are not interested in scoring music to picture, but instead making music for your own audio enjoyment.


If you want to enjoy making music, then you don't do it as a "job". Jobs place limitations on what you can do, because people put expectations on what you create and try to limit you to those expectations.

If you want to do full time music, and earn a living, then do it as a side gig, but heavily promote yourself through the right channels. Don't apply specifically for X, Y or Z position. Make your work known and by its own achievement get it in the public eye through. Distribution channels really help for this (Youtube music channels etc).

Work for yourself as an artist.

The only real benefit of working for someone is the experience and inside knowledge it can provide. Apart from that it does nothing for your long term prospects if you are seeking control on what you create.



If you want to score music for visual media, then you must understand, you are not the director. It is not your vision that is being put on screen. It is the directors vision that is being put on screen.

So you either have to convince him that your vision is simply better, or accept the fact that your vision isn't good enough. Either, you shouldn't push it so hard as to sour your relationship with the director. There's no reason to be obstinate and hard to work with, it would just come across as arrogance.
 

asherpope

Member
Eh, better writing music and getting paid for it than doing some shitty job. I speak from experience as an unqualified and unskilled near middle aged man
 

Brambleclaw

Morgan's Bitch
Eh, better writing music and getting paid for it than doing some shitty job. I speak from experience as an unqualified and unskilled near middle aged man
Learn a trade and earn a salary most city workers would be jealous of.

Electricians I hear get like $100K+ a year. £70k+ if your in the UK.
 

Jeremy Spencer

Senior Member
Eh, better writing music and getting paid for it than doing some shitty job. I speak from experience as an unqualified and unskilled near middle aged man
Well, my “shitty” job as a power engineer has allowed me raise a family and pay down my mortgage...while still enjoying the fruits of my composing gig for the past 20+ years. I have a nice pension to look forward to, no debt, and still earn decent $$ from composing. I can’t imagine lying awake every night wondering when my next scoring gig will pop up.
 

asherpope

Member
Well, my “shitty” job as a power engineer has allowed me raise a family and pay down my mortgage...while still enjoying the fruits of my composing gig for the past 20+ years. I have a nice pension to look forward to, no debt, and still earn decent $$ from composing. I can’t imagine lying awake every night wondering when my next scoring gig will pop up.
Good for you. I don't consider that to be a shitty job at all. Was speaking fairly unseriously from my own perspective- if I decided to quit making music for a living I'd have to and do unskilled labour as I've never gotten around to ensuring I have a decent plan b!
 

Jeremy Spencer

Senior Member
Good for you. I don't consider that to be a shitty job at all. Was speaking fairly unseriously from my own perspective- if I decided to quit making music for a living I'd have to and do unskilled labour as I've never gotten around to ensuring I have a decent plan b!
Never too late! Even a trade would be worth considering (here in Canada, anyways). I see your point, though. Hindsight is 20/20!
 

SamC

Sam
Sometimes turning your passion into your career works against you. It changes it into a business and suddenly your ‘creative spark’ becomes a laborious pull.

We seem to have this “side hustle” culture these days where everything you enjoy has to be monetised. As glib and cliché as this is, listen to your heart.
 

Rasoul Morteza

Universal Scoring
As someone who will be leaving his comfortable job as an engineering consultant in 2 months to get into music composition (mostly for media) full-time, I understand your frustration. So far most of my work has been academic so I can't say a lot, but from my interaction with a few who are active in the industry maybe these points will help:

1. Get some B12, B1 and the other B complex vitamins from nutritional yeast or some other good source if you don't like the taste. This might sound ridiculous, but the constant stress that comes with the job depletes your body of these important nutrients which will not only affect your mood and attitude over time, but create some serious complications that hinder your job and creativity. Add something like 10,000 IU of Vit D daily to that list too because we barely go out to get sun.

2. Sometimes I ask myself whether I'm a fool to make such a drastic change, getting myself into a place full of career uncertainties. We all decided to get into this for different reasons, I guess we just have to constantly remind ourselves of those reasons. It works for me!

3. I guess working with a director who has little to no clue of music who also constantly nags about your product is like composing with only 3 notes and trying to do something interesting with it. The limitation may be frustrating, but at the same time it might be a worthy challenge. Look at it in the sense that you're trying to persuade a silly illogical person. If you manage to do so, then your argument is truly strong. But it doesn't work all the time, that also happens in office jobs.

Cheers
 

Jeremy Spencer

Senior Member
As someone who will be leaving his comfortable job as an engineering consultant in 2 months to get into music composition (mostly for me
Yiles! I hope it works out. Not sure where you live, but in Canada that would be a bad move. Couldn’t you pursue it part-time while maintaining your regular career?
 

Rasoul Morteza

Universal Scoring
Yiles! I hope it works out. Not sure where you live, but in Canada that would be a bad move. Couldn’t you pursue it part-time while maintaining your regular career?
I'm from Montreal Jeremy, but no I tried the idea you mentioned for a year or two but it failed, quite miserably. Besides I really can't do anything else with my time, as if my mind and body gives some 404 error when trying to think about anything other than this craft. 10 hours straight of an orchestral session gives me more energy whilst my former career bored me to death after an hour or two.

I blame some composers for having written such music that it managed to create this profound impact on my lifestyle, oh well I guess I'm a young fool who has a lot to learn :)

Cheers
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
Add something like 10,000 IU of Vit D daily to that list too because we barely go out to get sun.
10k daily is too much imho. Read the instruction leaflet, it probably says the 10k pills are for once a week consumption (or daily over a very limited time to quickly saturate vitamin D storage during a severe deficiency) and the 1k or 2k ones are for longterm daily use.
 

Rasoul Morteza

Universal Scoring
10k daily is too much imho. Read the instruction leaflet, it probably says the 10k pills are for once a week consumption (or daily over a very limited time to quickly saturate vitamin D storage during a severe deficiency) and the 1k or 2k ones are for longterm daily use.
Even the amount you suggest is an improvement for most people. I guess for the optimal amount it is up to each person to do some thorough research.

Cheers
 

bradbecker

New Member
I think it’s helpful to separate out the occupational hazards of a particular profession vs some general universal truths, like: a bad boss will ruin any job. As they say in the corporate world, people join a company but quit a boss. What Jay said above matches my experience working across many varied situations. The people you work for (and with) and the amount of autonomy, mastery, and belonging you feel in a role will drastically alter how you feel at the end of the work day. You can check out Self-Determination Theory for more info on that piece of it, if interested.