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notice_me_maestro

Earning an income as a composer

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Hello, I was just wondering if any of you guys make money from composing. I have a few questions for you:

 

1) What are some composing related things that you do to earn money?

2) Is it possible for composition to be someone's primary source of income?

3) How do you find jobs? Is it through networking?

4) Do you need credentials such as a portfolio or a music degree to do this? Is going to conservatory instead of university necessary, or worth it?

5) Anything else I should know?

 

Thanks, everyone!

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1) commissions, orchestrations, competitions, busking on the street, teach composition, etc.

2) possible but rare, look at the great composers, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.

3)Networking. Thats it.

4)You do not NEED a music degree or portfolio, but It is highly suggested that you have both.

5)Have fun. Be Yourself. Make some music for yourself. Not all music you make you will like but may sell quickly. Website: The Portfolio Composer

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On 5/20/2018 at 10:50 AM, notice_me_maestro said:

1) What are some composing related things that you do to earn money?

The money is mostly in composing for media like film, tv, games, and advertising. From a business perspective, each has their pros and cons, but it has been my experience that video games are the most difficult to make a living with due to indie market saturation coupled with falling prices. Only the biggest games at the highest price-point make any real money, production budgets are significantly lower than elsewhere and they never pay royalties.

On 5/20/2018 at 10:50 AM, notice_me_maestro said:

2) Is it possible for composition to be someone's primary source of income?

Kind of a silly question 😜

Plenty of composers make a living at it, but it's important to not succumb to survival bias when planning your career. Because statistically, most don't.

On 5/20/2018 at 10:50 AM, notice_me_maestro said:

3) How do you find jobs? Is it through networking?

The hard truth about this is that it is about 90% sheer luck. The other 10% is through networking and referrals.

People over-estimate the payoffs of "networking". Yes, meeting people is important and ultimately necessary, but realistically: You have no idea who you are going to meet, where you are going to meet them, and MOST people will not require your services. Most directors, game developers, etc. tend to work with the same composer for pretty much their entire career!

So don't try to work with Spielberg; try to work with the next Spielberg. This involves working on student and indie projects for little or often no pay just to starting getting experience, IMDB credits, and some semblance of a portfolio. 

On 5/20/2018 at 10:50 AM, notice_me_maestro said:

4) Do you need credentials such as a portfolio or a music degree to do this? Is going to conservatory instead of university necessary, or worth it?

You definitely need a portfolio. You don't need a piece of paper from a school, but you need the kind of knowledge (and more) that a music degree offers. Whether you learn that by self-study, working under more experienced composers, or actually getting the degree is up to you.

To stand a fighting chance, you should know music inside and out. Harmony, part-writing, counterpoint, the scales, the modes, orchestration, writing for pop ensembles, etc. all while having your own sound and don't become Zimmer clone #1347324988753.

On 5/20/2018 at 10:50 AM, notice_me_maestro said:

5) Anything else I should know?

I'm a guy who has actually managed to make some money with composing music before I was drinking age (In the USA, anyway) but I have a far more "red-pilled" outlook on this than most:

You should know that pursuing composition as a career and putting all your eggs in that basket (not saying you are, but hear me out) is a very, very risky endeavor. You have to be prepared to accept that, to no one but fate's fault, your career may never provide enough income to live on no matter how skilled and well-connected you are. The supply tremendously exceeds the demand. What most don't talk about in this subject, or realize until it's too late, is that pursuing this career inevitably requires you to dedicate a lot of time to it that takes up time for other things in life that are also fulfilling until you "make it", and keeping this up for too long without payoff has consequences. 

I know it's something no aspiring composer wants to hear (when I was a teenager with professional music aspirations put my fingers in my ears to it), but we all need some contingency plan in the event music never works out long-term. There has been a number of studies recently regarding the mental health of musicians, and they're finding it's on a serious decline. Why? Most of this depression comes from a decreased sense of self-worth from not making enough money, or hitting new milestones in their career. 'Cause If you're still working some dayjob you hate in the mean time, the future can start to look increasingly bleak with each passing year that you're not doing much with music and trust me...as you get older, the years just go by faster.

So I guess what I'm saying is: "Don't get discouraged if you don't get a lot of jobs with music, and remember that life has more to offer." Unfortunately, a lot of passionate musicians can forget that.

 

 

Edited by AngelCityOutlaw
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One more piece of advice: Dedicate half your working time to composing, the other half to self-promotion. Sorry if this sounds cynical, but that's the way things are--you have to get people to hear your music.

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