On Landing Composing Jobs (Part 1).

So over the last 2 weeks, fellow composers have been asking me how I've managed to end up scoring for Films, TV and Games. To be very honest, there's no surefire way, although I must say that there are HEAPS of ways to screw up and never land that composing opportunity you've been working hard for.

Let me start by saying that I don't have large amounts of experience composing or landing tracks in Films though I would love to someday. I do have a fair share of experience writing for games, network TV and brands, however.

Who is this blogpost for?

This article is written for composers and producers that are already stellar at their craft and are competent in churning out music of all genres in little time and are sick of pinning hopes on the music library placement circuit. If you aren't at this stage, may I suggest you spend the next few months or even years honing your craft.
 

Composing for TV:

To be frank, the information I'm sharing with you here does not guarantee results. That depends largely on the parties involve, but trust me when I say that you'll hardly find anyone else being so open with the "tricks of the trade" (whatever that means). In a nutshell, here are the steps:

  1. Watch TV shows that you enjoy & can see yourself writing similar styled music to what's already being used in their episodes.
     
  2. Start off with TV cues as they are the most generic and can be reused multiple times.
     
  3. Have a good catalog of such cues, and the next time you watch that TV show, stay for the credits and look for the music supervisor listed there.
     
  4. If the show is reputable enough, the music supervisor's email can likely be found if you trawl the internet hard enough.
     
  5. Email that individual & start off by telling him/her what you enjoy about the show and how the music used has inspired you as a composer to write similar sounding cues.
     
  6. If you are daring and confident enough, ask HOW you can write for the show and pitch it forth in a way that you are ADDING VALUE through the SERVICE of composing instead of going "yeah, I want royalties and bragging rights so your show is a great place for me to start and my songs will take your viewership to the next level".

While there's no guarantee of a reply and you can always follow up with another email or call after 2 weeks, this is me breaking down the "cold email" method towards "establishing relationships" that many veterans in the industry talk about so cryptically.

Composing for Games:

Landing video game gigs are in my experience, way easier than landing Film or TV gigs. The short answer is simple: contact game developers or companies and ask if they need someone to provide music or sound effects for their products:

  1. If you're starting out, look for indie game developers. "Indie" doesn't mean "free". Unless you are sure that composing for free would grant you some returns in the future, (such as composing for a game with new technology involved - i.e. VR etc), do not write for free.
     
  2. In the indie game circuit, there are indie game development companies, freelance developers, but there are also specialists who develop games on very niche platforms alone, and the largest and most obvious one would be the mobile game devs.
     
  3. Through your smart phone's app store, find a game you'd like to compose for (or confident that you could compose for). Find the company that made the game and get in touch with them. Most companies at least have a social media page or a website.
     
  4. Remember, pitch by OFFERING a SERVICE they NEED. Don't turn it around and make yourself sound thirsty or desperate. Music in games is extremely important, so if you can show why they need your compositional abilities, you've won.
     
  5. This is the game changer (no pun intended). If you can find a footage of a game scene/map/landscape etc. floating around online, get your hands on it, remove the existing audio and add YOUR own (be it a soundtrack or SFX)! Send it to that developer you're already talking to and watch what happens.
     

In a world where the bedroom producer/composer is king, and anyone with a cracked version of FL Studio or Ableton can write music, how does one stand out from the crowd?

The simple answer is by offering a service that your competitors cannot. Most game developers aren't rolling in cash. They would like to save as much as they can (as per any other company). If you as the composer can provide sound design services OR better: learn game audio integration software (commonly known as middleware), they'll have a higher incentive to hire you. Yes, software ranging from Unity, Unreal Engine, Wwise, FMOD and so forth.

I understand that there's a whole chunk of information here, so please take your time to read it. I'd probably expand more on this if there's more demand for me to, but writing this with a flu and a growing backlog of work has not been easy. So before I sign off, let me reiterate this final and important point:

DO NOT SUBMIT TO "PAY-TO-PLAY" SITES.

That means, do NOT submit to sites that have "music supervisors" listening to your work for a fee before passing it on to their mystical contact. I'm not going to name specific sites, but a google search will reveal many. I'm not saying these sites are fake and scams, but the chances of you making it through their "criteria" and "gatekeeping" methods are slim. I could go on about this, but that's for a different story.

Please leave a comment below if you've got any thoughts or methods on how else composers could get scoring gigs for multimedia!

Until next time, here's the promotional trailer of Hero Sentry, a VR game I composed for that will soon be released on STEAM, playable with the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive systems.

Greg.