The Myth of the “Working Composer”

By • June 29, 2010

It’s unfortunate when dated stereotypes outlive their “use by” date, but that’s exactly what happens when the term “working composer” is defined by Hollywood film music types as a busy Hollywood composer working on a busy network series. For those sad folks still living in the past, the 90s called and they want their definition back.

There’s no doubt that the 1980s and early 1990s proved to be a very busy time for composers, largely in Hollywood. Music libraries were nowhere near as popular or numerous as they are today, and the number of television series being scored weekly with live players was impressive. In these years, “working composer” could indeed be defined as a busy Hollywood composer working on a network series. And the ability to write, orchestrate and conduct for live players was often a requirement, often effectively weeding out the amateurs, hacks and posers. But then things changed…

In the late 1980s and early/mid-1990s, cable TV took off, high quality digital sample libraries emerged, sampling technology got much more affordable, music libraries started expanding, multiplying and creating much better-sounding music, and as a result production companies started dropping their music budgets. To say this was the beginning of a sea change for film and television composers would be an understatement.

Since the mid/late 1990s, music libraries have exploded and the vast majority of scores for television are done with “electronic” with samplers, sometimes with some live players added. For many television shows, main title “themes” as we knew them are all but gone, replaced by 10-second musical soundbites played minutes into a show to prevent channel “surfing” over the theme if too long or aired at the beginning of a show. More and more “network” shows and cable shows are using music libraries, especially comedy and documentary/nature shows. Shows like “The Simpsons” and “Battlestar Galactica” still use orchestras of varying sizes, but the vast majority of television scoring today is done either with libraries or electronically, and composer per-episode fees are often a fraction of the $15,000 – $20,000 per episode paid in the early 1990s.

The proliferation of library music in television and film has created a virtual land of opportunity for non-LA composers, since with libraries the geographical location of the composer is not a concern of the production company – as long as the library is available to promote music for use, library composers can live wherever they want. Libraries now find themselves deluged with submissions from “bedroom” composers around the country, indeed around the world, and it has quickly become a buyers market with some libraries actually expecting composers to “give” them their copyrights for free(!), with a hope that the library will get some placements and provide accurate and honest bookkeeping to the composers.

The rise of retitling libraries where composers retain copyright but get no upfront fees from libraries, instead depending on a share of sync fees from placements (maybe) and writers performance royalties from placements (if accurate cue sheets are filed) has profoundly changed the music library industry, dividing the industry into traditional copyright-ownership libraries and retitling libraries. For better or for worse, composers today are presented with a huge number of library options as to where to submit and place their music, and composers working in their bedrooms and home studios across the world are busy competing for library placements that are becoming more and more difficult to get.

The bottom line for composers? Most “working” composers today are NOT working on a fat, juicy network series, although congrats to those who are. In fact, most “working composers” are working very hard dividing their time and talents among multiple avenues for gaining work including breaking into film via indie and low-budget films, doing library work to make ends meet (or as a full time “working” career!), pitching for lucrative network and series work in hopes of a lucky break, and just trying to make ends meet as part of a severely oversupplied industry in a severely sagging economy. The numbers of THESE new “working composers” vastly outnumbers the Hollywood guys with regular series gigs, and some of the Hollywood guys are not happy at all about this fact. It shows as they continuously try to “write off” non-Hollywood working composers as insignificant in their attempts to define themselves as THE “working composers” and everybody else as hicks, amateurs, or otherwise undeserving wannabes.

The next time you hear some Hollywood bigshot or “veteran” use the word “working composer,” make sure you’re not allowing an elitist try to (re)define an industry to include his or her own pals, peers and wished-for local realities. Years ago composing for film and television moved beyond the bounds of Hollywood, and into bedrooms and home studios across the country. That’s a fact of life that more than a few old-school Hollywood composers would rather not admit, because to do so would entail the realization of the massive national and international competition that composers face today. And many of these guys just can’t face that fact after spending a lot of time and money building a career based on the outdated assumption that if they were willing to pay the price of living in LA, their “local advantage” would position them to provide a steady flow of work. That may have been the case in the 1980s, but not today.

Indeed, the geographical requirements and bounds of the world of score composing have dissolved with the advent of technology and the Internet, and today’s “working composers” are just as likely to find themselves living in Houston as Hollywood. And that’s a reality that many in Hollywood just aren’t ready to hear, much less admit.

Comments

By David Earnest on June 29th, 2010 at 7:20 am

Nicely summed up Mark. cheers

By music recorder on June 29th, 2010 at 7:56 am

Battlestar Galactica has not been in production for some time now. However shows that used orchestras (for scoring in LA at least) this past season are: Family Guy, American Dad, Cleveland, Flash-Forward, Lost, Human Target, and Desperate Housewives

By Stuart Kollmorgen on June 29th, 2010 at 8:06 am

I am a working(dog) composer. I am scoring mostly cartoon series and I’ve seen my budgets cut in half and then some over the last decade. I can’t remember the last time “live” music was discussed seriously in regards to one of my shows and it pains me to do “all electronic” scores, but the other choice would be to pay out of an ever shrinking pocket for players. Thank god for residuals or I would be doing something else these days.

By Phil Kelly on June 29th, 2010 at 9:57 am

Mark :

An excellent summary of the “real world ” of professional music in the 21st century. As an “alter kacher” who was a life long worker in the music industry,
I have many fond memories of being able to work with live players in scoring situations that followed a whole differing set of dramatic ( an comedic ) scoring
techniques than exist today.

Another factor that differentiated the earlier era of professional music was
that composers didn’t necessarily have to specialize in a certain vocational
niche ( like TV or film scoring in the LA area )but generally spread their talents over a wider variety of media applications: i.e: radio and TV advertising,industrial theatre ( big auto shows paid quite well from the 40s thru the 70s ), music library work ( in those days cuts were often commissioned
and written to specifications ), arranging for record dates and live acts, and industrial and educational film and video. Very few of these opportunities still
exist unfortunately.

These days, when younger composers ask me about the opportunities open to them as
working composers, I am somewhat ambivalent in my response. Your article does a great job of ssumming up the current situation.

By Peter Weis on June 29th, 2010 at 10:11 am

I think its important to keep in mind that you define your own success. If working composer means making a million dollars a year and having cocktails with John Williams then there are minimal chance for your career. If making a living writing music instead of working 9-5 for “The Man” is your definition of success then there are many opportunities as long as you are willing to work hard.

Technology changes and the definition of things changes. Live with it. If you cant adapt to a changing business model well your in the wrong business.

By C.M.Dess on June 29th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

This article makes sense. And is of course really upsetting in several ways. I heard from my library recently (APMMusic) that hollywood composers are having trouble landing gigs, so they are moving into the library sector. Because of their migration, and the amount of content which already exists in the catalog, as well as the economic state of things, they are no longer offering upfront payments and their approval process is more stringent.

Spec times we’re living in.

By D.P. Johnson on June 29th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Thank you for the article. It’s a great relief to us who have been scribbling on paper until we could afford software to know that something may still be in reach. I agree with Peter. Working hard has never been the issue, but I’m glad there’s some avenues out there.

I’m grateful for all the tech, since my family is pretty rooted. Let me know if there are suggestions for getting my pieces into someone’s hands.
They tend to stack up on my hard drive.

By Adrian Peek on June 29th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for telling the (very) ugly truth. And Peter is correct. Either change your business model or change careers. Easier said than done, but it’s necessary.

By David Smithson on June 29th, 2010 at 11:48 pm

I honestly don’t understand this “myth” thing? I’m not a big shot from Hollywood. I’m not working on a fat network series. I’m a working composer, not making as much as in the past maybe but still paying the bills doing something I love. That’s good enough for me.

By Keith on June 30th, 2010 at 11:35 am

Pretty Cynical…but realistic. On the bright side, there are hundreds of cable channels broadcasting 24/7 in multiple languages which was never the case in the past. There are many opportunities. As they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Yeah there are production companies in Houston and everywhere else now, but the lions share of the industry is still here in L.A.
But…
No other media discipline, i.e. editors, cinematographers, script writers, has to contend with the equivalent of music libraries. Can you imagine a director asking an editor to edit his film and then decide whether to pay him or not? Composers get asked this every day. Score this scene and maybe I’ll hire you. Nope, don’t like like the music …you don’t get paid for your work. Composers are working on a establishing a union, but will that help or hurt us? I asked a producer friend of mine at NBC. He replied, if you came to me with a list of demands such as insurance, pension funds, etc. I would be even more likely to turn to library music. We should have done something about this decades ago! Now with a new generation who thinks that it’s their right to get music for free, where does that leave us?

By Mark Northam on July 1st, 2010 at 3:07 am

Hi Keith -

Good points. Actually the stock photo industry has gone through something akin to what composers are going through – where stock photos used to be licensed for $50-$250 for publications, the microstock libraries (bigstockphoto.com, istockphoto.com, etc) now license them for $1-$5 for most usages, and it’s taken a tremendous toll on that industry.

Your point about free music is good, but we’re our own worst enemy in this regard. Even the current AMCL unionizing group is afraid to put free music on the agenda, and when the previous AMCL organizing group negotiated a deal with the WGA where they would support composers in saying “no more free music”, the “new” AMCL organizing group put the agreement on ice indefinitely as part of their “benefits only” single-minded push. Can you imagine when a (wannabe) labor union isn’t even willing to speak up about its members being asked to work for free as a condition of employment? But that’s how scared and intimidated many composers are today, and until our leaders are willing to actually stand up for not having to work for free (I’m amazed I’m actually writing this!), we will continue to be used and abused.

By Calvin (DrCal) Hogue on July 9th, 2010 at 5:44 am

This article is not only true but a wake up call. There was only a few chosen to compose tracks and music for TV and Film. I have not found a fair ground to get any music I composed on any level due to old school practices. I don’t expect to have a career like “HANS ZIMMER” or “James Horner”, but it would be nice to at least have just one chance to share my skills and get paid. I thank God for “John Williams”. Can a nobody at least have a chance of being somebody. Let few have there spot. However don’t stop those of us without a Hollywood address. DrCal out (still looking for one shot)

By Peter Weis on July 26th, 2010 at 11:10 am

Agree with you David. If people stop dreaming of some fantasy gig in music and actually started trying to build an actual career step by step they would get a lot farther and no be as discouraged about the business.

As for istock. They will not work with any composer registered with ASCAP, BMI or Sesac, so don’t work with them.

By Richard Ames on July 28th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Seems to me that most composers who make a living doing nothing but composing do, in fact, reside in the major hubs like LA or NYC.

There are plenty of folks who make a living in the music biz outside those cities but a lot of it comes from other activities – e.g. publishing or teaching.

So while it may be true that there are folks outside LA/NYC/etc who make a living in the music biz, much of that income comes from activities other than composing.

Of course, I have no data to support that idea. Just a perception of mine…

rgames

By Steven Bias on July 31st, 2010 at 10:06 am

I agree. The industry is in flux but historically, it always has been. We had studio composers then indeoendents and now many composers are coming out of music production houses. Composers were broadway composers in the 30s,40s, and 50s, then we got many jazz guys in the 60s and 70s and now we are in the age of the synth programmer-rock and roller.
Every interview I’ve ever read from the past, composers didn’t know how or where they were going to work. (Remember the 70s after Shaft was unleashed? Goldsmith was scoring tv).
Our economy is in a state of flux. It will rebound and then more opportunities may become available. Yes, the film industry is becoming decentralized, but just like baseball or any other sport, while people will go see the Hartford Crocodiles or whatever, they will always want the big league and the top of the heap. So, yes many smaller opportunities have cropped up but there will always be a Hollywood and big budget films. With that, there will always be name film music composers.
My last point is this, as composers I think sometimes we don’t take the time to invest in other important areas. My training is as an actor-director. I never intended be be either but the training I received in script and character analysis has proven invaluble as a composer who communicates with directors. Bottom line is this: We need to speak their language, understand their fears, understand their concerns.

By The3rdManable on August 5th, 2010 at 7:57 am

A few points. First, a disclaimer. I am a bedroom composer living in Los Angeles. I rented a studio space for a few years, and realized it was not sustainable. So I am not an elitist. That said, I want to make the point that composing for music libraries is not film composing. The creative processes are completely different. Most library music is used to fill space. It serves no active dramatic roll. I am not making a value judgement on it’s quality, by the way – simply on how it is used. Film music, on the other hand, custom scored to a dramatic scene, is inexorably attached to the visuals. It serves a purpose dramatically. And so while I wouldn’t dispute the point that the term “working composer’s” certainly enjoys a broadened definition, I would ask composer’s who right strictly for libraries to reserve the term “film composer” for those composer’s that actually….compose for film (not simply 35mm film per se, but you get my gist).

Regarding the mention of Battlestar Galactica – keep in mind that the reason Bear managed to retain a live music component to his show is that 1.) He constantly fought for it 2.) He basically re-invested every dollar he made into the production of that score, living solely off residuals. Those of you writing solely electronic scores for film/tv – have you waged that war? I know it’s tough – there’s just no money in the budget – but it’s a war that can be fought piece by piece, cue by cue, player by player.

Finally, I wanted to bring up another segment of the film/tv industry hit by the same crap we deal with. There has been an onslaught of “competitions” put out by major brands to create an “ad” for the company and perhaps win a $10,000 (or less) prize. Because of the availability of cheap, HD video cameras, there is an equivalent to the “bedroom composer” phenomenon in the advertising world. Thousands of “bedroom film makers” submit for these competitions, and some submissions are quite good, if not better then the work being created by multi-million dollar ad agencies. Oh, and the companies end up owning all rights to the submissions (music as well).

So basically, it sucks ass all around for content creators. Musicians sure have born the brunt of it so far, but don’t worry – editors, ad men, writers, actors – everyone’s getting hurt now. The question is – is it all worth fighting for? And if so, how? I’m young enough that I’m quite concerned what I’ll be doing 20, 30 years from now if I stay on this path.

By Mark Northam on August 5th, 2010 at 8:48 am

Great points, 3rdManable. We are witnessing the evolution of the business into something that is quite different than any of us expected, even 10 years ago. With the move to direct licensing (See DMX story on our front page), even residuals are no longer sacrosanct.

The question you ask – is it all worth fighting for – is important. By the same token, we work in a marketplace where the forces of (over)supply and demand have not been kind to composers. And who will do the fighting? Composers as individuals? Composers collectively under some sort of union or guild that some are allowed to join and others do not qualify for?

One thing for sure… if any of us wish to influence the outcome and create a more positive future, we must get involved. Far too many composers sit back and hope others will do the “hard job” or get their “hands dirty” dealing with the tough business realities we all face. Sure, it’s nice to sit back in the studio and write music all the time, hoping that others will take care of business. But that’s not how things work, and if the last 10 years have demonstrated anything, it’s that taking a passive approach to composer industry issues is not an effective way to improve things.

I don’t know the solution(s) to all this, but I do know that if more composers get involved, that represents our best hope to move things forward in a positive direction. Being involved means standing up against anyone who devalues custom score music. Being involved means taking an active role in shaping our industry for a better future. And being involved means not waiting for someone else to get the job done…

By kid-surf on August 8th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

>>”And being involved means not waiting for someone else to get the job done…”

Agreed. I set out to do just that. So, what I did was; I went out and created my own TV show, at least on paper thus far. My deal calls me a “creator/producer”. What happened was I got sick and tired of waiting around for someone else to take me to the promised land. It occurred to me that my best shot was taking myself there. But this meant that I’d need to create the content myself.

My story goes like this: I had met with a composing agent at a boutique agency who agreed to hip-pocket me explaining that 99.999999% of the work I was to secure on my own, that they would then do the deal and that there was a chance in hell that I’d be put up for gigs that their bigger composer passed on. I agreed to this, what the hell. Days later I met with a composing agent at ICM. He was on about how difficult it was to get his clients work. He asked me who some of my favorite composers were. I pointed to the poster over his shoulder and said “that guy for starters, I wouldn’t mind having his career.” And I was being sincere. Agent says, “believe it or not I’m having a hard time finding him work.” Somehow we landed on the subject of screenwriting. That was my epiphany moment – why not write something myself, and produce it, and direct it, and therefore score it.

A year and a couple of scripts later I found myself represented [as a screenwriter] by arguably the hardest agency on the planet to find representation from and I was taking meetings from prodcos that wouldn’t have given me the time of day as a composer. It was a strange experience sitting down in those meetings and hearing the statement “We love your work…tell us what you’re looking to do.” Or having my meeting interrupted by a phone call, a long phone call, and when the producer returned to the room stated “Sorry, that was Brad [Pitt] kinda had to take it. But here is what Brad likes _____.” They spoke this way as if I was used to it. See, I was used to [as a composer] people who don’t matter, and will never matter, treating me like I was just barely as smart as their pinky toe and about as valuable as a cigarette ash on a windy day. Pulling onto the studio lots was especially surreal, particularly when I rounded the corner on the Universal lot and saw the sign for Amblin Entertainment. My stomach dropped as I thought “what in the hell am *I* doing here.” Took me several of these types of meetings to understand that these were ‘my’ meetings, that I was supposed to more or less drive these meetings in the direction I wanted them to go as a person who now creates content [Although, I'm still afraid of my agents]. It took me a minute or two to realize that these people actually saw me as having tangible value. I wasn’t used to that as a composer, not at all.

The most surreal moment thus far was when my agent called stating “You’ve got a deal with _____. Congrats on your first deal. This is just the beginning.” Then came more surreal moments as I sat with a room full of producers and studio execs as we discussed ‘my’ TV show. It’s like, okay, this isn’t a joke or pretend, this is real. What a trip. I thought, “Hmmm…I guess I no longer need to meet with idiot directors with their hollow promise of back end, or fees like $2,000 to score a million dollar indie, or ghosting for a studio composer who stiffed me more than once.”

BTW – should also mention my phone call with an 800 pound gorilla of a film producer. He calls me, he’s speaking in a hushed voice, in the background I can make out what sounds like a director giving directives. Yes, this producer was calling me from the set of a big 150 million dollar film. Says to me “how would you like to get paid to write a movie for me?” You already know what my answer was. Couple days later I’m sitting in his high rise office reminiscent of a James Bond film. We’re sitting across a sleek round table from each other in low, ultra-modern seating. I can almost hear the blood pulsing through my ears it’s so quite. The producer is sitting silent, I’m waiting for him to speak. Suddenly, he leans forward stating “Let me explain some of the bullshit of Hollywood that you must ignore.” From that moment on, as I sat soaking up his wisdom, I felt as though I was having one of those Godfather moments, sans the cuban cigars. Again, I couldn’t help but think “what am I doing here, I’m just a composer and here I am sitting across the table from one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood and he’s being startlingly candid with me.” The producer took me under his wing in some respects.

Point is: These things rarely happen to a composer. Thus, I do recommend not waiting around for someone else to get the job done. True, I’m taking the very long way around to writing the music I want to write. But who knows more about what the music should be than the guy who created the TV show/film?

This is my mantra: “Life ain’t a fucking dress rehearsal”. This falls in the realm of what an agent said to me many years ago: “You aren’t a blond with big tits, act like a your own agent until you have one.” ~Blond Agent with big tits.

p.s. If my TV show ‘goes’, ironically I will only write a cue here or there. I would hire a composer and do my level best to fight for original music that is inventive [not interested in library music, AT f-ing ALL]. I’d also fight for a decent music budget. BUT, it would be up to the composer to prove, to me first of all and secondly the network, that a music budget is warranted. Yes, I get it, it would be a near impossible feat. Then again, it’s nearly impossible for a composer to turn right around and do what I’ve done in a matter of 2 years [not that I'm a 'made man'...yet]. I’m used to fighting impossible odds. Why stop now?

Yes, be proactive. Absolutely. I’m trying to do my part in this battle as well as, hopefully, inspire someone to get off their ass and go make it happen!

By Kia Muze on August 9th, 2010 at 11:54 am

Congrats to kid-surf. Yes in this economy, we must all diversify. Your story is awesome :-)

By DP on August 9th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Hey Kid Surf,

what a great story – vintage Hollywood! Congrats! Keep in mind – you must really have something going for you as a writer/creator, otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten very far with most of these folks (and it comes through in this little story, it’s entertaining to read). For every story like yours, there is a cafe down the street filled with young writers pouring their soul and wisdom on their hard drives, willing to work on spec and falling for the hollow promises of directors for the ‘back end deals’. I’m sure they’d be pretty pissed if they found out that a freakin’ composer is living their lifelong dream after being at it for only a couple of years, while they’ve been honing their craft, reading the books and the manuals and studying and discussing the works of the masters since they were kids. Perhaps one of them will say, screw it, I’m gonna just start writing some tunes again, hook up with a director looking for music for his/her new movie and whose movie ends up being the surprise hit of the summer, and find themselves getting chased by the same big time film score agents who’s attention you were trying to get.

Best of luck, in either career!

By Mars Lasar on August 15th, 2010 at 9:19 am

I’ve seen many of these changes in content value since I started in sampling technology in the 80′s. The only thing that has any long term value is your royalties, make sure you get them!

By Brian Corber on August 19th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

But, surely, the AMCL will come to the rescue?

It might, but don’t call me shirley.

Blame, in part the AFM dmanding hat series’ scores be originally written and performed for every show.

Th classic TV scores are from the 1960s: Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Star Trek, the Irwin Allen shows. Maybe some from the 1970s including Columbo, when Billy Goldenberg and Gil Melle were still scoring,

By McKenna Rowe on September 9th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

While I agree it’s a real shame how the industry has changed, and I miss the more substantial theme songs and scoring for the TV shows of yesteryear, I cannot help but interpret the tone of this article as being rather bitter, and that you are poo-pooing people like me who have gotten our “bits n pieces” placed on TV.

Don’t forget that many of us “working composers” actually DO work very hard on our music, and that only snippets of the greater/more complex original works overall are what are ultimately used in the shows. The “old days” involved bigger budgets and an inside boys club when it came to acquiring “real” composers. Now, as you say above, nobody wants to “waste time” with too much music in shows, and they reach out to the teeny tiny indie composers because we are cheap and fast/easy to work with. Since there is no other way to develop a relationship with the people producing these shows, we are taking to only known route we have right now.

Anyone who is signing over their copyright is a fool. No question about it. I never do that. I continue to own the rights to all my music unless it was a work for hire track that I specifically wrote for my client.

So, again, while a lot of aspects of the current industry are saddening, please don’t put down our hard work or the quality of the music. believe me, I’d love to do a full score with a live orchestra if I ever could.

By Rob Simon on September 24th, 2010 at 8:54 am

The one thing everyone must keep in mind is that personal relationships will always win out over demo submissions, attractive library budgets and and an influx of extra-geographical talent. Most of the work I have gotten has come from people I have met in Los Angeles. Lets be fair to Johnny Bedroom working out of St. Louis – it is not the same as living in a music hub like NYC or LA. While music libraries do accept submissions from around the globe, that is highly different than scoring to picture. Yes, the industry is changing and live players are used less and less – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Electronic synthestration is fast, effective and with the advent of better sample libraries emerging monthly, a completely professional way to not only accomplish the same goal, but provide a product with a much lower overhead and in a much faster timeframe. Yes, it’s essential for the “working composer” to diversify and do everything from ad pitches to indies to ghostwriting to networking for that paying show. I do not see this as a bad thing…being as film composer no longer exists as an avenue for someone to dream up scores and have other people play them for hire. Being a working composer now requires a person to actually produce the music themselves using a modern set of highly evolved tools. Lets not allow a personal backlash against technology harkening to the benefits of the old days erase the value of being able to actually produce one’s own music without having to rely on someone playing it for them. Adapt, evolve or perish – that has been the rule of evolution and survival since the dawn of man. Yes the business is changing more rapidly than ever, but I for one am invigorated by the challenges of making it work in a changing environment – an environment that demands the nurturing of personal relationships – and lets be honest, those relationships are not going to come from Kansas. I say cheers to working in a business that forces one to grow and adapt to keep-up – thank god we are not stuck in a stagnant model that requires a budget to pay someone else to perform music one person conceives. Let’s take responsibility for our own product and be honest that living in a production hub still maintains severe advantages to working on the periphery.

By Yadgyu on September 25th, 2010 at 7:15 am

I think composers are far too emotional these days.

This business is one where you have to change the game, adapt to the game, or die. Why waste time arguing about how composers are being marginalized? No one cares. That is why it is up to you as an individual to look out for yourself.

By Axel Foaly on August 6th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I sure hope composers are emotional these days Yadgyu

Their music would be pretty poor otherwise

By Dwayne Ford on April 15th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

There was time not that long ago that I was making $7,000 for scoring a one hour documentary. I did this with “new” technology (i.e.) high quality samples and a lifetime of studying music and simply knowing how to make it sound good. My POP music has been getting airplay since the early 70′s and in some countries my name is very well known. Some might even say famous. Well, guess what. Music libraries have wrecked my life, destroyed any hope of a comfortable slide into old age and have simultaneously “dumbed down” the quality of films everywhere. And for what? So that a few well connected business moguls could get rich. This country is failing to live up to it’s previous billing as the greatest country in the world. Oh, it’s still pretty nice to be able to live here in Southern California, but that’s only because of the weather. The end of an era is at hand. This is what it looks like: punks with no talent will be creating music for media using their iPads and Garage band. People will think it’s good because all the real composers have either died or starved to death or, and this is the sad part, have failed to pass their specific craft on to the next generation. Right now my fondest dream is to be able to die before I’m broke because I’m too old and stubborn to be a greeter at Walmart. I still compose music in my studio and ironically, it’s the best music I’ve ever done. No one will ever hear it because of the new paradigm. It’s not how good you are, it’s whether you are willing to live in Hollywood and kiss enough butts to get you some meaningful work. I am not, so here I am. Talented, skilled, capable and very nearly broke. Hopeless? Not yet. I am still alive and able to do astounding things from my little project studio. It’s who you know – full stop.

By Swapneel Ghosh on December 22nd, 2013 at 9:51 am

You’ve made some really good points. But in the end it is about top quality of production and good music. Yea obviously those who work with live orchestras are way more talented in terms of conducting and all the other stuff,etc. But it isn’t necessary that they are better ‘musicians’. And many people don’t even get a chance to learn all these in Music Institutes but if they have that inner musicality and can compose brilliant stuff, then why not score ? Posers and wannabes are terms used for people who claim to be big shots but can’t even make good compositions.

By Ray Mizzi on May 20th, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I live in Australia, here is an example of my developing piece. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX7OqhTDwDw&feature=youtu.be

I wish I could just get backing to be able to do a bit of writing that counts.

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