WHY BEING A COMPOSER IS ONLY 25% ABOUT WRITING MUSIC

Being a TV/Film composer is a strange occupation to say the least. Whether you like it or not, when you 'become' a film and tv composer, you also become a businessperson. Your needs are simple - look after your business, and your business will look after you. Whether you like it or not, in the early stages of your career, you'll probably be forced to take care of several things. These are:

  • Business accounts and general finances.
  • Website maintenance and design and general management of domains.
  • Dealing with clients and keeping them happy. Probably taking them for drinks/dinner.
  • Sending and receiving invoices. Making sure you get paid is IMPORTANT!
  • Checking emails and replying to them within an hour. Not necessary but I always prefer to.
  • Networking. This is probably one of the major points out of them all.
  • Social media presence and image. 
  • Learning about general business strategies.

The list goes on, but these are a few points regarding what is expected of us all. You might have noticed that not one thing to do with actual creativity or music related activities is on that list. I've had a couple of people email me in the last few months asking for advice about how to get into the industry, my reply is always that the best thing is to network and be yourself. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how good you are because if you don't know anybody, it's unlikely that you'll get any work. Harsh, but ask anybody in the biz and I guarantee they'll say the same thing. 

Orchestrating for a feature film at Abbey Road Studio 3 in September 2017. Sat next to Producer and Score Mixer Rich Aitken. 

Obviously, once you become more successful, a lot of those bullet points can be passed onto other people, for example accountants or assistants/ PA's who can keep everything in check for you. I highly doubt the likes of John Powell or Thomas Newman deal with many, if any, of the bullet points above. Hans Zimmer on the other hand I can fully imagine wanting to know his quarterly figures. That's not an insult to any of those composers, just that they run their businesses in different ways. It's no secret that Remote Control is a big business venture with lots of in house composers/programmers etc. For this to work, you have to watch your numbers very carefully. Out of all of the Hollywood composers, Hans seems to really have this head screwed on in the business department. For example, the Masterclass series that Hans presents is a stroke of genius to appeal to more people (and to turnover a bit more cash on the side).

This is called the 'Music Business' - so treat your business like any other functioning business turning over money.