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How does a composer get work?

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TequilaShot
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How does a composer get work? 2012-08-17 23:13:17 Reply

Hello everyone, I'm very new here on Newsground and have been composing and posting a couple of my pieces on here. I started out making music as a hobby but wondered if I could make a career out of it? I', studying at my college to get a degree in music composition and wondered if there's any specific way to join a development team to beome any sort of sound man. I notice so much talent on here and would love to get something under my belt with a project on here to show to a hiring company but I really have idea how to shmooz my way into a project. I've done messaging and noting artists if they needed a musician but I haven't had much luck with that.

Thank you for your time if you've spent it reading this. =)

Adam-Beilgard
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-17 23:21:13 Reply

Network. When people need work done, they think of who they know and have worked with, first. This means looking for every job out there and taking them. This also means doing 90-99% free at first, until you've established a name for yourself. After a while it'll pay off. As long as you're 1) professional 2) personable and 3) a decent writer, the referrals will chain together, a la dominoes.


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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Blackhole12
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 00:40:03 Reply

Networking is a huge part of it, but you also have to work on selling yourself. I've gotten numerous offers simply because people heard my music somewhere. It's a combination of networking and exposure. Note that they compliment each other, because networking gets you exposure and exposure gets you people to connect with.

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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 01:18:49 Reply

Network, as has been said above, is one of the most important things you can do. Upload a lot of music: different styles, different emotions, game music (which is usually melodically driven) and film scores (which tend to be much more about creating a mood; although, you can still have strong thematic material).

Of course, one of the other important factors is that you have to be good. And, unless you're Mozart or Beethoven - and I can 100% guarantee you that you're not, because those kinds of composers come maybe once every few centuries, and if you were already that good then you wouldn't be here asking how you get hired - the way you're going to get better is by practicing. A LOT. Most of what you write, especially when you're just starting out, will be crap. When i started composing when I was 8 years old, 100% of what I wrote sucked. Nobody, besides my immediate family, has ever heard most of those compositions, even though I wrote a lot of them.

I'm not saying that to be mean, or to discourage you from working toward a goal. It's a fact that a lot of people seem to forget: all the contacts in the world (probably) won't help you get hired if your music sucks. And if you want that job, you're going to have to work for it: you're going to have to stretch yourself to try new things or learn new techniques, so every new track is better than your last (the worst thing you can do is plateau, and get into a habit of "Well, that piece was pretty good; let's keep writing like that").

Of course, what you can do to help yourself get better depends on what, specifically, you want to do. Do you want to score video games? Films? Become a singer-songwriter, or a songwriter for another act? Do you want to focus on orchestral, electronic, rock, 8-bit, or a combination of them? If you want to focus on orchestral soundtracks, then you're going to need to study a hefty amount of music theory: once you learn the 18th century 'rules' used in classical music, then you're allowed to start breaking them; it's one of the ways the Romantic composers pushed the scope of orchestral music in new directions.

I think I'm going to stop there before this becomes a 10,000 word rant.

MaestroRage
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 02:50:06 Reply

At 8/17/12 11:21 PM, Adam-Beilgard wrote: Network. When people need work done, they think of who they know and have worked with, first. This means looking for every job out there and taking them. This also means doing 90-99% free at first, until you've established a name for yourself. After a while it'll pay off. As long as you're 1) professional 2) personable and 3) a decent writer, the referrals will chain together, a la dominoes.

There is some truth, but also a lot of potential disaster in this statement. Before I go into that, I recently wrote a few posts along with some good fellows on how you would make it as a freelancer.

http://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1309732

So when you have time, read over that and maybe some of it will help you. Now what I don't like about Adam's post here is that it implies you do ALL projects for free. This is an error because if you do projects that have a budget for audio for free you are 100% guaranteed to be "that free guy" in those developers eyes. You would not believe how many dev chats I have been a part of and they forgot I was the composer and some of them go "as for music, we'll just find somebody to do it for free. There are so many out there".

Now, if it's for smaller projects (like the ones you'd fine here on Newgrounds), then for sure. Getting a few casual games under your belt, on some revshare would be great. I would STRONGLY suggest working on rev share projects over projects for passion. For example, I would actually love nothing more then to write RPG music for RPG Maker with some nice developers. It's a guilty pleasure of mine, but it's hard to demonstrate your commercial appeal with these games that to be honest most often don't go anywhere.

So don't do them for "free". Unless it's a school project or student project with no commercial value. If the game is aimed to be sponsored at the very least do rev share. As for what kind of percentages to expect, look to around 5-25% depending on content and expected return. More of that available in that link.

Good luck!

TheBenjerman
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 04:28:42 Reply

At 8/18/12 02:50 AM, MaestroRage wrote: don't do them for "free". Unless it's a school project or student project with no commercial value. If the game is aimed to be sponsored at the very least do rev share. As for what kind of percentages to expect, look to around 5-25% depending on content and expected return. More of that available in that link.

Just wanted to throw something in here. I have nothing wrong with working for free as long as the project doesn't make a profit. As soon as anyone starts making money off of their work, everyone who contributed should get some sort of cut. If you do a for-profit project for free, that is basically saying that your work is worthless. Occasionally if the developer is paying everyone out of his/her own pocket and not expecting to make a profit I will work for free/credit, but even then I'll work under some sort non-exclusive agreement where I have the option of making a bit of back-end off of my work down the line with music libraries, production companies, etc.


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jarrydn
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 05:08:35 Reply

my work is worthless, couldn't care less if someone profited off of it. they're obviously more on the ball than i am haha


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Adam-Beilgard
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 10:37:37 Reply

At 8/18/12 02:50 AM, MaestroRage wrote: Now what I don't like about Adam

I didn't say ALL. I said 90-99%. And I said at first. As in "don't get discouraged if you can't quit working at BestBuy right away"

WHY DO YOU PEOPLE HATE ME?


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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MaestroRage
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 12:13:38 Reply

At 8/18/12 10:37 AM, Adam-Beilgard wrote:
At 8/18/12 02:50 AM, MaestroRage wrote: Now what I don't like about Adam
I didn't say ALL. I said 90-99%. And I said at first. As in "don't get discouraged if you can't quit working at BestBuy right away"

WHY DO YOU PEOPLE HATE ME?

I was bullied by a kid named Adam when I was in grade 6. Ever since every Adam i've found has felt my passive aggressive wrath >:u!!!

Even still your percentages are a bit off ;3

Adam-Beilgard
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 16:15:29 Reply

At 8/18/12 12:13 PM, MaestroRage wrote:
At 8/18/12 10:37 AM, Adam-Beilgard wrote:
At 8/18/12 02:50 AM, MaestroRage wrote:
I was dumped by a kid named Adam when I was in grade 6. Ever since every Adam i've found has felt my passive aggressive wrath >:u!!!

Now I see

How does a composer get work?


...the four right chords can make me cry
Some mellow jazz

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TequilaShot
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 19:20:19 Reply

At 8/17/12 11:21 PM, Adam-Beilgard wrote: Network. When people need work done, they think of who they know and have worked with, first. This means looking for every job out there and taking them. This also means doing 90-99% free at first, until you've established a name for yourself. After a while it'll pay off. As long as you're 1) professional 2) personable and 3) a decent writer, the referrals will chain together, a la dominoes.

Wow, first thanks everyone for the feedback and time spent giving advice, really appreciate it. No directly speaking to you Adam, I had a feeling a huge part is knowing who's who and having a big network. I hate to say it but I'm a introverted chap so I'm not the best at shmoozing and being in THE group but I'm working on getting over that. I'd definitely work on a non-commercial game for free and see if my music catches anyone's ears and just get my foot in the door. Currently I'm studying theory and voice leading since I've grown a love and passion for orchestral music and the composers who use it like Nobuo Uematsu and Yoko Shimamura.

TequilaShot
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 19:34:42 Reply

At 8/18/12 01:18 AM, RampantMusik wrote: Network, as has been said above, is one of the most important things you can do. Upload a lot of music: different styles, different emotions, game music (which is usually melodically driven) and film scores (which tend to be much more about creating a mood; although, you can still have strong thematic material).

Of course, one of the other important factors is that you have to be good. And, unless you're Mozart or Beethoven - and I can 100% guarantee you that you're not, because those kinds of composers come maybe once every few centuries, and if you were already that good then you wouldn't be here asking how you get hired - the way you're going to get better is by practicing. A LOT. Most of what you write, especially when you're just starting out, will be crap. When i started composing when I was 8 years old, 100% of what I wrote sucked. Nobody, besides my immediate family, has ever heard most of those compositions, even though I wrote a lot of them.

I'm not saying that to be mean, or to discourage you from working toward a goal. It's a fact that a lot of people seem to forget: all the contacts in the world (probably) won't help you get hired if your music sucks. And if you want that job, you're going to have to work for it: you're going to have to stretch yourself to try new things or learn new techniques, so every new track is better than your last (the worst thing you can do is plateau, and get into a habit of "Well, that piece was pretty good; let's keep writing like that").

Of course, what you can do to help yourself get better depends on what, specifically, you want to do. Do you want to score video games? Films? Become a singer-songwriter, or a songwriter for another act? Do you want to focus on orchestral, electronic, rock, 8-bit, or a combination of them? If you want to focus on orchestral soundtracks, then you're going to need to study a hefty amount of music theory: once you learn the 18th century 'rules' used in classical music, then you're allowed to start breaking them; it's one of the ways the Romantic composers pushed the scope of orchestral music in new directions.

I think I'm going to stop there before this becomes a 10,000 word rant.

I've made video game, orchestral, electronica, trance, drum n' bass and some island music so I'm glad I've followed your advice naturally but I've also been told I should stick to one and master it.

Oh good lord, I never even fancied the idea I was some sort of genius or prodigy. I started becoming interested in music around 16 and began making it on my computer at 20 so it was something I found I I loved later in life. Some of the old music I made I was thinking of uploading it here but thought, "Naww, this sounds so shittier then I remember!! D:" so I definitely understand that point.

I want to be a video-game composer, that's something in life I've found I have such a passion and love for. I want incorporate orchestral music into it too so I've taken theory and composition classes but the instructor was so dry and I don't think a lot of the material stuck to me so I've more or less been making music that sounds good to my ear and let it come out of me organically. I'm close to getting a AA in music composition and I want to throw myself into the course so I know I have to buckle downs and master Theory and voice leading completely. Thank you for the long comment, I had no idea I'd already get 8 replies back, very chatty community here ^^

TequilaShot
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-18 19:43:43 Reply

At 8/18/12 02:50 AM, MaestroRage wrote:
At 8/17/12 11:21 PM, Adam-Beilgard wrote: Network. When people need work done, they think of who they know and have worked with, first. This means looking for every job out there and taking them. This also means doing 90-99% free at first, until you've established a name for yourself. After a while it'll pay off. As long as you're 1) professional 2) personable and 3) a decent writer, the referrals will chain together, a la dominoes.
There is some truth, but also a lot of potential disaster in this statement. Before I go into that, I recently wrote a few posts along with some good fellows on how you would make it as a freelancer.

http://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1309732

So when you have time, read over that and maybe some of it will help you. Now what I don't like about Adam's post here is that it implies you do ALL projects for free. This is an error because if you do projects that have a budget for audio for free you are 100% guaranteed to be "that free guy" in those developers eyes. You would not believe how many dev chats I have been a part of and they forgot I was the composer and some of them go "as for music, we'll just find somebody to do it for free. There are so many out there".

Now, if it's for smaller projects (like the ones you'd fine here on Newgrounds), then for sure. Getting a few casual games under your belt, on some revshare would be great. I would STRONGLY suggest working on rev share projects over projects for passion. For example, I would actually love nothing more then to write RPG music for RPG Maker with some nice developers. It's a guilty pleasure of mine, but it's hard to demonstrate your commercial appeal with these games that to be honest most often don't go anywhere.

So don't do them for "free". Unless it's a school project or student project with no commercial value. If the game is aimed to be sponsored at the very least do rev share. As for what kind of percentages to expect, look to around 5-25% depending on content and expected return. More of that available in that link.

Good luck!

I'll definitely give your link a save and reading as I see this is a side project that takes a lot of work, knowledge and know with all to accomplish. Thanks for pointing what devs would see if I made my work free on a commercially viable project and latter clearing up in yhe replies. I'm at the point were I need any experience so I'd look toward a Newsground video or game to work on free and get some work and experience in my virgin belt. I'll research rev projects as well to see what projects and opportunities are there.

I didn't fool myself that this would replace my job as a burger flipper but I know I'd much rather be spending 8 hours a day doing something I love and respect. I want to give people music, not cholesterol =p

I'd respond more but this is something obvious that I need to read and study more from your link and crating my skill by studying theory. Thank you for the advice and your time, nice to know there are fellow people out there who care enough to take time and give advice ^_^

Poniiboi
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Response to How does a composer get work? 2012-08-19 07:50:22 Reply

At 8/17/12 11:21 PM, Adam-Beilgard wrote: Network. When people need work done, they think of who they know and have worked with, first. This means looking for every job out there and taking them. This also means doing 90-99% free at first, until you've established a name for yourself. After a while it'll pay off. As long as you're 1) professional 2) personable and 3) a decent writer, the referrals will chain together, a la dominoes.

I don't agree with this at all, and I have the experience to back it up. If you know what you are worth, you do not have to give your services away for free.

The reason most people have to do that is because they either 1. do not have the wherewithal to manage themselves and make themselves sound like true professionals over the phone, or 2. they have not truly BECOME professional.


no, really...DON'T CLICK THE PIC

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