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Advice regarding # of active clients, next steps in career, etc.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
Advice regarding # of active clients, next steps in career, etc.

Hi Gearslutz Music for Picture friends,
You all have served as an invaluable resource over the last four years as I’ve gradually made the transition into more and more music composition and sound design work. I love the wide range of talented people (Charlie Clouser WTF!) who frequent this forum and take the time to offer up their knowledge to newcomers like myself. So thanks everyone.

I am hoping to hear your advice regarding career paths and trajectories moving forward. For context, information on my present income streams is summarized below.

Currently, I have one stable client doing hi-end boutique composition and sound design for big brands. I get around 1-2 gigs through them a month, each paying an average of 1000-3000 USD depending on the scope of the project and whether the work is selected by the brand. I then have off and on work with a decent exclusive library paying up front for tracks (300 USD) plus backend, with an average of one to two requests a year for 10 tracks each. This is followed by non-exclusive libraries, libraries for non-broadcast media (like Marmoset), and other no fuss libraries (Jingle Punks) that I can throw tracks at whenever I’m not getting active track requests. Total yearly income should come to around 30-40k through music for 2020 (I freelance in another field as well to stabilize my income).

My question is for those who are further on in their career. Assuming you are self-employed/freelancing like me, what steps did you take to transition your music work into a solid, full-time career? I imagine there was a time when you were transitioning from partime to fulltime composer. I’m sure everyone has different experiences, but I’d love to hear your advice regarding the number of active clients you aim for, whether you generally rely on one or two main clients, whether you are focusing more on churning out volume, etc. Essentially--business advice for someone making progress in their career, but still not 100% there yet.

Hope this question makes sense!
Cheers!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

....I’ve gradually made the transition into more and more music composition and sound design work.

Cool - good for you!

...what steps did you take to transition your music work into a solid, full-time career?

Everyone's path is different, but for me, it was basically churning out cue after cue after cue. I got hooked up with a few good libs in the beginning (cold calling), and once in, I just kept feeding them music. All non-ex/re-titled stuff. No money up front, 100/100 split on the PRs. I then hooked up with a couple more libs, and kept feeding them music. I was writing so much, that I got good at it real quick. Then one day, the musical dir. from one of the libs calls me (OMG - an actual telephone call!!!) and says, hey - your stuff sounds really good - if I send you some briefs and temp music from time to time, would you be interested in doing some exclusive cues for specific shows with a small amt of $ up front? What was I going to do - say no?!?! Soon after, I started doing that, while still churning out the non-ex cues. About two years goes by, and one of the guys at the aforementioned lib leaves to build up his own lib, which was already in place for years (there was some temp partnership there, or something). He calls me, and says, hey, I am so-and-so from The Music Lib... your stuff sounds really good - if I send you some briefs and temp music from time to time, would you be interested in doing some exclusive cues for specific shows with a small amt of $ up front? What was I going to do - say no?!?!

Then, I get a call from another lib that I was not already with - same thing. And then another. And then another. And then it just steamrolled. Call it luck, call it talent, call it whatever you'd like... it works. Either way, I love what I do, and I do well for myself. So my advice would be to get hooked up with as many libs as you can.... b/c you never know. Member Desire Inspires posted a list here not too long ago.

Cheers.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Hayat View Post

Everyone's path is different, but for me, it was basically churning out cue after cue after cue. I got hooked up with a few good libs in the beginning (cold calling), and once in, I just kept feeding them music. All non-ex/re-titled stuff. No money up front, 100/100 split on the PRs. I then hooked up with a couple more libs, and kept feeding them music. I was writing so much, that I got good at it real quick.

Cheers.
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! It's much appreciated.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Potential fatal mistake - have one, two or three clients who need 120% of your time combined. Danger zone. Been there, done that, almost quit the biz afterwards. One died, one moved to Japan to work there, one got embroiled in an infamous "Hollywood" divorce which took him out of the game for a decade. One day, too much work. The next - nothing. A month later, nothing. 3 months later, nothing. 6 months later, nothing. It took a year PLUS to rebuild a career from scratch. All my "little" clients had moved on because I was giving too much time to the big money makers.

The more clients who have minimal requests of you the better. More longevity, more flexibility, more safety in long term survival. Having most or all your eggs in a few baskets can be really fantastic - or fatal.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
jazz4's Avatar
 

For me it was a case of being broke for a while but not doing anything else other than chipping away and trying to get better. The work picked up when I got some pretty casual representation who have been feeding me production music work every couple of weeks where I’m writing for a few briefs at a time. On top of that I’d get the odd commercial and started writing “boutique” tracks for networks to have in their library and a direct line to their shows.

My backend money was enough to live on and gave me enough time to keep writing, getting my stuff out there, pitching for jobs, take meetings.

Those reps grew their management company and have taken on phenomenal music supes with great contacts and experience to keep me busy.

It was really a case of not getting too disenchanted and keeping at it. Trying to be versatile while not spreading myself too thin. Having something that people come back for.

Making connections with talented, lovely people who know how where to place you is very important.
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