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Composing for Film - training wheels?
Old 17th August 2019
Gear Nut

Composing for Film - training wheels?

Hello Kind People,

I am a composer/songwriter, and I also have worked with Synthesizers and Sequencing since the 80s, as well as having plenty of experience with Live Audio and Mixing as well as Recording/Engineering/Editing in the Digital Realm.

I work with Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Cubase, Finale, Sibelius and so on.

So the "composing the music" part I got. I can knock out music pretty regularly and consistently.

My questions are more about the "logistics" of Writing for Image - Film, TV, Game, and other similar Media.

I'm not expecting to be John Williams or land any huge Hollywood contracts.

But what I would like to do is maybe write some music for some local productions, such as any local Documentaries, or local Radio or TV program (so I'll certainly do Radio work too) - local PBS stuff for example. I'm thinking maybe Training Videos for corporations - we have a big Military presence.

I also have a secondary interest, and that's putting some music up on a Licensing Library - which I know little more than that they exist and it's a place were companies can go and buy (or license) music to use in their own productions. I understand you can make some money off this. I don't expect to get rich off it - or even have anything at all licensed, but I am interested in exploring it - if it's a worthwhile venture, if there are "targeted approaches" that are more effective, and so on.

I have many questions:

1. How do I go about getting my examples (portfolio? "reel"?) to potential clients? I have made some short (20-50 seconds) Example videos with my name and contact info and a title that tells the style/genre/subject matter, etc. and have even posted them a Vimeo in a private account that requires a password to access it which I could provide for clients who want to see samples. But are there better ways - sites specifically geared to this (and if so, should I remove that contact info from the video itself since it could get out and every weirdo on YT has my number?).

2. How much do I charge? Paid up front? On completion?

3. If I'm freelance, do I just take care of my own taxes or will they W-2 me? Or should I get a business license?

4. Where can I find example Contracts? What about how Licensing works in these situations?

5. The logistics of dealing with files and formats, and getting the music to them in a way that's effective and painless for both parties.

6. How do companies find music for their projects - if they're going to get something from a Library Service, then I have to be more attractive to them (cheaper) than the Library (but I'm not going to sell myself short nor do I want to devalue what we do as a whole).

7. That brings up the secondary interest, which again I know little to nothing about. I can write music, and I could upload it to some site, but, really, how do potential clients find me - or is it just a crap shoot - you post and hope you picked some good tags so people can find your music?

That's enough to start.

I'm fine with recommendations for reading at various websites, but I'd also love to enter in one-on-one discussions here to get more personal experience from members who have experience and expertise in these areas. Ideally this thread could be a repository for those questions being answered - and more asked, and more answered by anyone who's kind enough to participate and share their wisdom. I see searches/suggestions here often result in questions with few replies. so I was hoping for a little more in-depth discussion.

Thanks so much for your time.
Old 17th August 2019
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
Originally Posted by stevieotomy View Post
I have many questions:
Yes. Yes you do. I'll try to answer one of them.

Originally Posted by stevieotomy View Post
2. How much do I charge? Paid up front? On completion?
Ask what their budget is first. It may be more than you were planning on asking for. Or it could be less, at which point you can try to get them to be realistic. Whatever it is, plan on "the job" taking 2-3X's as long as you expect, and budget accordingly.

50% non-refudable fee up-front - PLUS whatever musician fee's might be required, with the balance upon completion.
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