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Topic: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    Here's something i'm wondering ... how is it to be a composer ? I'd like to ask this to every composers and especially young composers : can you easily make a living out of it ? Or do some of you need to have a work ( not necessary linked to music business ) beside to correctly "finish your months" ?

    To composers who studyied = How was it when you finished your studies and got your diploma ? Lot of paid music projects waiting for ? Or did you have troubles to find gigs ?

  2. #2

    Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    Well I am no longer young but I can tell you that the following is more true than ever:

    In the world of commercial music (TV, Film, Radio) nobobdy gives a big rat's ~~~ about what training you have. It is about connections and commercial credibility which only comes from having worked on commercially successful projects, which is a constant scramble to try to get.

    Successful composers range from those who can do it all like me (compose, orchestrate, conduct, sequence) to "hunmmers", guys like Mark Shaiman and Danny Elfman who require help in many those areas.

    In the end the client doesn't care who does what, only that they like the end result and that the project is commercially successful.
    Composer, Logic Certified Trainer, Level 2,
    author of "Going Pro with Logic Pro 9."

    www.jayasher.com

  3. #3

    Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    Well, as you probably know, there is no universal answer to this question, it depends not only on a type of music one does or on the country of residence, but also on the plain quality of the produced music, something that can't be compared or measured. I have many contacts around the world with composers of different types of music and every one of them has a story of his/her own and economical situation which is specific not only to their countries, but also the good old "how well they do it". I found that many of them complain about their pays and blame both the cultural policy of their governments, the tough bread of the composing bussiness, their employers, their managers all the way to their destinies, when in the end when I hear their work I am pretty surprised that they get any scoring jobs at all. On the other hand, a lot of them do increadible work, and yet they are only part-time composers due to a lot of different reasons, both universal and problems specific to their part of the world. I live in southeastern Europe and I can tell you that things here are everything but nice. All true values were gone here with the entrance of the capitalistic society which is something that the mentality here is incompatibile with to say the least, and it resulted is the gradual loss of every part of humanity and true values of the world where things were still done not only to get some green. This situation is heavily reflected in the music bussiness where with every new year there is less and less interested in instrumental music, acoustic music and epsecially orchestral sound. Also, the very approachable and affordable prices of computer hardware and the development of software technology eases the process of becoming a composer more and more with every new IT year, and the entrance of broadband in the ISPs' offer in the last years reduces the need for original music as there is more than enough anonymus instrumental sound on eMule, torrents, albumbase etc., and if the product you need music for is of a very limited release (like theater plays or any other small productions that needs programatic music), no one has any fear of being sued. I've seen famous american composers' scores being used across media, do you think they'll be afraid copying me? And even when you get hired, the money is so small it seems hardly worth bother. Well, I'm speaking about my part of the world anyway. It makes us sad, worried and angry at the same time. For instance, for the last theater play with 38 minutes of music, I got the same amount of money as for a play two years earlier that had 18 minutes of original score.

    However, it is a universal rule that music is like a bird, and the bird is defined by its wings ... And if love gives you wings ...

  4. #4

    Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    A few years ago I gave a lecture to music major students in upper secondary school. "Living off of music" was the theme. I felt I could make a contribution to them in their seat since this theme was what I felt utterly confused about when I left my musical education.

    I had not planned on saying what I eventually ended up saying; I just couldn't keep it in:

    Don't go trying to live off of composing. And if you still wanna have a go at it, then you better have sharp, unscrupulous elbows and a great passion for doing ‘smart’ choices, as opposed to ‘want you want’ things. You will need to make stardom or else you will starve so hard you wonder why you even got the idea in the first place.

    What a thing to say to young music majors. But it's their future we're talking about and what I said is likely realistic too. After all, a big part of education is passing on to younger folks what worked and what didn't for us.

    This was not a reflection on music, or the commercial value of music. This was just a reflection of the prevailing social climate for living off of arts - in this part of the world at least.
    Kid: When I become an adult I wanna be a musician.
    Parent: Son, you cannot become both.

  5. #5

    Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    There is such a fine line between making a great living and starving. Jennifer Hudson was a nobody a year ago, got kicked off American idol, and then one an Oscar. I bet she'll do well finacially. Then there is the other people that got kicked off American Idol that will go back to Starbuck's or Walmart.

    It has always perplexed me that a dude like Hans Zimmer or Danny Elfman can make millions writing music. I bet there are people out there that can write equally as well that are working day jobs. Music is a fun thing to do. I've said it before you "play' music not "work" music. A lot of us do it for free. With programs like Acid and Garageband people are creating their own music, some good some bad, some wuith no skill or taste some with plenty.

    Man, I still dream of getting rich writing music. The funny thing is I would spend all of my free time writing once I got (get) rich. In the end, I don't thnk any of us really do it for the money. I bet if you did the math, you'd find out you'd be better off buying lotto tickets

    All the very best,

    Darren
    www.darrenpasdernick.com
    "Every time you play a wrong note God kills a kitten."

  6. #6

    Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    This is an interesting thread, as I am trying to get a foot on the ladder here in the UK having supplied demo's to Ogilvy and Mather in the past.

    So far I have heard nothing on the CDs that I sent out in early January and even the libraries have not even bothered to contact me...


    Oh well back to the drawing board then..

    Luckily I am also performing and holding educational workshops and also doing photography here and there.....

    One day... or I will put some of it out for another album...
    www.sounds-and-images.co.uk

    And now also at Flickr!

    http://flickr.com/photos/sounds-and-images/

    www.myspace.com/simonfielder

    NorthernSounds.NET.
    View Simon Fielder's Profile at NorthernSounds.net

  7. #7

    Post Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCarter
    Here's something i'm wondering ... how is it to be a composer ? I'd like to ask this to every composers and especially young composers : can you easily make a living out of it ? Or do some of you need to have a work ( not necessary linked to music business ) beside to correctly "finish your months" ?

    To composers who studyied = How was it when you finished your studies and got your diploma ? Lot of paid music projects waiting for ? Or did you have troubles to find gigs ?
    As with most things, if you're committed, thick skinned and prepared to accept the rigors of the territory, you have as much chance for success as anyone else. This industry, like any other, is not a walk in the park and you have to be prepared for what's involved. This does not mean that you should avoid it since there are risks involved and that inevitably it will take time (in some case, a very long time) to establish yourself. Experiencing life is about choosing these paths and taking risks so that you accomplish your goals. Without risk, there is no payoff.

    A musical education has absolutely no bearing on success in the industry whatsoever. The strength and relevance of your work along with your personality not to mention being at the right place at the right time and building the right relationships is what this industry is all about.

    Guys like Zimmer and Elfman are successful for all the reasons I've mentioned, not to mention the talent and sensibility they bring to the table. This is something that is always overlooked when these composers are mentioned. The art of film scoring is far, far more than writing music that stands on it's own. It's about servicing the picture, achieving the director's vision for his film along with keeping producers and the studio happy while falling in line with all the politics and red tape inherent to the system. This is a juggling act and simply being a great, trained composer is not enough. The days of the studio staff composer are long gone and they're not coming back. Competition is stiffer and more widespread than ever. The advent of various technologies has opened the floodgates for anyone and everyone to try their hand at scoring to picture. Quality and consistency has dropped to all time lows as have budgets as a direct result. Interestingly enough, there seems to be enough work to go around if you're running in the right circles which bring me back to my original point -- It's all about relationships.

    Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely. Personally, as a result of the things I've mentioned, I've been fortunate enough to do this full time for several years and make a very good living. I believe it's possible for anyone else who applies him or herself.

    My two cents,

    Best,

    Kaveh Cohen

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    Kaveh, Your two cents was excellent. Joseph

  9. #9

    Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    It's difficult--sort of like being on a suicide mission--very, very risky financially, especially if you are unwilling to compromise your artistic vision. But, definitely worthwhile if you have the passion and courage.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2004
    Location
    Boise, Idaho, U.S.A.
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    Angry Re: How is it to live as a composer ? economically speaking..

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashermusic
    Successful composers range from those who can do it all like me (compose, orchestrate, conduct, sequence) to "hunmmers", guys like Mark Shaiman and Danny Elfman who require help in many those areas.
    Jesus Christ, when are people ever going to learn? Elfman isn't a damn "hummer", which you would know if you ever heard his mock-ups (and I doubt Mark Shaiman is one either). You tell one funny story about having to hum a theme in an airplane bathroom and you are labeled forever. Everyone just forgets about the part when he was WRITING IT DOWN when he got home later that day.

    If you ever have a big feature to score, I would love to see you try to get the MIDI Mockups done for the director/producers and orchestrate it in a week by yourself, on top of conducting the score while trying to rewrite the cues that the director wants changed at the last second. Please don't underrate a composer unless they really deserve it, and most of them don't.

    Ok, I'm done ranting.

    James
    "PRODUCER TO ARTIST: I don't care if that grace note on the snare hit in bar 9085 works! This is dub 'n bass acid house penis, not ~~~~ing house dub 'n acid bass penis with a twist!" - Nick Batzdorf

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