What's new

My regrets of higher education in film scoring

Michaelt

Senior Member
is notorious for ripping off the classical catalogue more than most.
...only among those who take the most cursory glance at this stuff and come to the most cursory conclusions. Most of the typical examples of this people cite in his music are pretty tenuous.
 

JonS

Senior Member
...only among those who take the most cursory glance at this stuff and come to the most cursory conclusions. Most of the typical examples of this people cite in his music are pretty tenuous.
Don't take me out of context. I said,"Some of them like John Williams are incredibly talented, but many are not nearly as talented and just got lucky. And even John Williams, as brilliant as he is and as much as I adore his scores, is notorious for ripping off the classical catalogue more than most." So I think Williams is the most brilliant of all and rarely is anyone as talented as he is. However, not every single thing JW writes is from him, that's all. But way more than a cursory glance of JW is littered with the classical catalogue, so you aren't paying careful attention.
 

Michaelt

Senior Member
Don't take me out of context. I said,"Some of them like John Williams are incredibly talented, but many are not nearly as talented and just got lucky. And even John Williams, as brilliant as he is and as much as I adore his scores, is notorious for ripping off the classical catalogue more than most." So I think Williams is the most brilliant of all and rarely is anyone as talented as he is. However, not every single thing JW writes is from him, that's all. But way more than a cursory glance of JW is littered with the classical catalogue, so you aren't paying careful attention.
Nothing was taken out of context. I was responding to that particular statement. And I'm paying attention just fine.
 

Bernard Duc

Active Member
You just are not aware of the vast multitude of talented composers that will never make it no matter what they do and how hard they try. Talent doesn't rise to the top, that's complete bullshit. The most successful are the most lucky, that's all. Some of them like John Williams are incredibly talented, but many are not nearly as talented and just got lucky. And even John Williams, as brilliant as he is and as much as I adore his scores, is notorious for ripping off the classical catalogue more than most. This is true in most industries, not just the film biz. There are endless numbers of talented people that never make it no matter how hard they try in every industry in the world, that's life. You don't have to agree with me, but when you've been around long enough you will find this is an axiom of truth.
You might not get to work on huge films but making a living writing media music is definitely possible and luck has little to do with it. When I was in college there were a few students who had all the required quality and now, four years later, they all made it.
 

JonS

Senior Member
You might not get to work on huge films but making a living writing media music is definitely possible and luck has little to do with it. When I was in college there were a few students who had all the required quality and now, four years later, they all made it.
I am only talking about working on major Hollywood studio film and television productions, so I have no clue what you are referring to.
 

Arbee

Senior Member
Luck might get you in the door, but it’s talent, communication skills and work ethic that will keep you there.
Agree 100%. And I've known plenty of exceptionally talented folk who are difficult to work with and think they're just unlucky.
 
Last edited:

JonS

Senior Member
We are talking of "making it" in this industry. Looking at it as only scoring major studio films or TV production seems to be horribly reductive.
My comments were about what I have experience and knowledge of which is composing for major Hollywood film and tv productions. I can't speak to any other part of the business. So how one succeeds in the video game biz or in the music library business is not something I can speak about. Certainly, many professions in the world are not nearly as impossible to succeed at as wanting to become a successful film and tv composer. But when people are talking about how easy it is to become a successful "media composer" I have no clue what they are talking about. It is near impossible to become a successful film and television composer and requires mostly luck as everyone is talented, persistent and hardworking who pursues this career. It's not talent that determines someone's success in this industry, it's purely luck. But how one succeeds writing jingles or music library music or video games music is not something I can speak about in any way as I don't have any experience in those segments. I know there is huge money to be made as a video game composer if you can get regular gigs on major video game releases. But there's very little money to be made in the independent film world, and doing small media projects can be hard to scrape a living on. So, how does one make enough money to not have to have a day job so one could support a family with children eventually saving up enough for retirement and paying for your kids college educations, I don't know if that's feasible being a "media composer" if one is not doing major films, tv shows or video games. But, I don't know. I do know that the pay is substantially "reduced" for smaller projects and one would have to be overwhelmed with work to make a decent living. I think making it entails making enough of a living that you don't need to work a day gig and provides enough funds to support and nurture a family. I don't think getting one gig means someone has made it unless its a long running tv show that pays well with backend royalties, which likely will lead to other projects. I am not trying to insult anyone, just sharing my experience. I know composers who frequently do independent films and smaller budgeted movies, but they could never do those gigs if they didn't have a major day gig that was not being a composer which provided them the funds to do these projects with horribly reduced budgets compared to major Hollywood productions. I don't consider anyone making it in an industry if they can't quit their day job to get by and work at nights and weekends at being a composer when the gig appears.
 

Gene Pool

Fact-based Member
My comments were about what I have experience and knowledge of which is composing for major Hollywood film and tv productions. I can't speak to any other part of the business. So how one succeeds in the video game biz or in the music library business is not something I can speak about. Certainly, many professions in the world are not nearly as impossible to succeed at as wanting to become a successful film and tv composer. But when people are talking about how easy it is to become a successful "media composer" I have no clue what they are talking about. It is near impossible to become a successful film and television composer and requires mostly luck as everyone is talented, persistent and hardworking who pursues this career. It's not talent that determines someone's success in this industry, it's purely luck. But how one succeeds writing jingles or music library music or video games music is not something I can speak about in any way as I don't have any experience in those segments. I know there is huge money to be made as a video game composer if you can get regular gigs on major video game releases. But there's very little money to be made in the independent film world, and doing small media projects can be hard to scrape a living on. So, how does one make enough money to not have to have a day job so one could support a family with children eventually saving up enough for retirement and paying for your kids college educations, I don't know if that's feasible being a "media composer" if one is not doing major films, tv shows or video games. But, I don't know. I do know that the pay is substantially "reduced" for smaller projects and one would have to be overwhelmed with work to make a decent living. I think making it entails making enough of a living that you don't need to work a day gig and provides enough funds to support and nurture a family. I don't think getting one gig means someone has made it unless its a long running tv show that pays well with backend royalties, which likely will lead to other projects. I am not trying to insult anyone, just sharing my experience. I know composers who frequently do independent films and smaller budgeted movies, but they could never do those gigs if they didn't have a major day gig that was not being a composer which provided them the funds to do these projects with horribly reduced budgets compared to major Hollywood productions. I don't consider anyone making it in an industry if they can't quit their day job to get by and work at nights and weekends at being a composer when the gig appears.
My kingdom for a paragraph break. :)
 

Kyle Preston

I accidentally do things on purpose
But when people are talking about how easy it is to become a successful "media composer" I have no clue what they are talking about.
Who has actually described this process as easy?


My opinion, which no one asked for, the single most important career question to ask yourself: Are you a media composer or a recording artist?

An honest answer to this question requires a caboodle of self-awareness. And that self-awareness will help carve a career path for you.

Moreover, if you do this for awhile, it becomes obvious that one of these paths is a zero-sum game (if you win, someone else loses) and the other is a positive-sum game (if someone else wins, you win too).
 

TonalDynamics

Noodler Extraordinaire
So, I just have to get this out of my chest since things are just fcking bad right now...

As the title suggest, I have a master degree in film scoring. I decided to take this route of studying music on higher level for 5 years (bachelor and master degrees) as my first choice in criminology didn't work out. I wanted to study music so bad. I really wanted to focus my time on my passion.

My time during my master degree was awesome. Got to experience a lot of things and got to work on exiting stuff. Got to assist an established composer for his projects which together with my education, was a great experience. There are many positive things to say about this period in my life.

2 Years after my master degree, here I am today, kinda broken, financially.
Its been a lot of struggles. First year after my master degree, I was able to stay afloat from assisting mostly. But for 1 year now, there are no assisting jobs for me to do (not because of bad relationship, just not enough good paying work to need an assistant). My own career hasn't really taken off, no film/game projects has come across me. Only rejections. I get to write trailer music tho which always helps me to have something to work for.

But when corona happened, I tried to be 1 step a head and actually get a day job to bring in some money. I got one at a supermarket and started working there in late June. However, today I got told that this week, my work there ends. The thought was that this was a "summer job" (that was the description of the position) that could turn into more. But unfortunately it stayed as a summer job. So here I am, having to worry about money again..

As my music work don't really bring in any income, I now have to search for a new day job. And thats not always easy....So after reflecting on this, and with the struggles I have. I start to regret my past decisions, rather than getting an education that could turn into a good paying job, and work with my music from there.

I'm 27 years old. I'm starting to see friends around me having kids and houses, having something built up. I have nothing of that, nothing built... Somehow I thought I would be in a better position than this. I know this kind of career can take a long time to build, but fck me....

Sorry for the rant and my poor english... but damn, this is hard. Maybe I was to stupid to not see this coming for me.. Am I thinking about this wrongly?
I felt this post very much.

You have to be kind of crazy to try to 'make it' in the music biz', or any form of entertainment business for that matter.

It's always a risk, and never as 'safe' as a traditional profession (but it's also that same type of courage that makes you capable of producing authentic works of art).

Or, you just have to love the craft and have immense passion for it.

Or, you have to be born into it (like Bob Dylan's son for instance, although Wallflowers does have some good songs, but being Dylan's son helps)

Or, you have to be REALLY confident in your own abilities, to the point that you believe if you keep producing and making connections long enough, good things will happen (this is how most success stories go)

Or, any combination of those things to where it's enough to make it through the 'lean' years such as you're in the midst of now (LORD knows I had mine)

You're still young. Chin up, and decide which of these items (or none of them) describes you best.

Cheers
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
This is my take...

one secret to being a (succesfull?) film composer is to have money...

for other careers in the entertianment business as well.


have money to pay for housing and bills while you are an intern sometimes up to 2-3 years.. (get your foot in the door).

have money to pay for housing and bills while you have a crappy assistant paying job.

have money to pay for housing and bills while you practice and wait for that next movie/gig.

have money to go out and socialize and network with the high end crowd that can get you some gigs in LA.

so you need to have at least 40-60K a year minimum of extra cash to pay an income in LA.

it might take 5 to 15 years to "make it".

so about half a million bucks. it can be family cash. it can be renevue generating cash like a side biz or renting out properties etc.

and thats not mentioning connections.


No matter how much education you have or how close you sound to john williams... the above is more important.
not that the other stuff doesnt matter... but without money you wont meet poeple. you wont make it. and you won't be able to practice, get demos or further your career.

Im sure you have that once example of a composer who did make it.... and i probably have 20 others who had money to begin with. just try looking at your favorite film composer wiki page and extra polate the money fact.
Like Brian Tylers grandad. his music is fine and all.. but.. you know...
same with junkie xl and just "hanging out in LA and nothing was happening" story he mentions..

well, my take at least, living in breathing the LA E industry for 20 years in all capacities.
 

ed buller

Senior Member
A huge part about being a successful film composer is dealing with YOUR ego and other peoples. The successful ones for the most part completely ignore theirs, and are seemingly not all bothered by their clients.....The people skills required are almost bottomless.

best

ed
 

Arbee

Senior Member
A huge part about being a successful film composer is dealing with YOUR ego and other peoples. The successful ones for the most part completely ignore theirs, and are seemingly not all bothered by their clients.....The people skills required are almost bottomless.

best

ed
John Williams appears to me as one of those rare folks who has that perfect balance of exuding extreme confidence and sublime humility, all at once. As well as a monster talent of course!
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
one secret to being a (succesfull?) film composer is to have money...

for other careers in the entertianment business as well.
I may put a slightly less acerbic spin on it, but this is the truth for most people starting out today that no one likes to discuss. Most people don't have a pile of cash on which to rely, so there is no shame at all in doing something else to support yourself.
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
A huge part about being a successful film composer is dealing with YOUR ego and other peoples. The successful ones for the most part completely ignore theirs, and are seemingly not all bothered by their clients.....The people skills required are almost bottomless.
I've also found that ignoring your ego does not have to mean allowing people to abuse you. There is a difference.
 

JonS

Senior Member
Who has actually described this process as easy?


My opinion, which no one asked for, the single most important career question to ask yourself: Are you a media composer or a recording artist?

An honest answer to this question requires a caboodle of self-awareness. And that self-awareness will help carve a career path for you.

Moreover, if you do this for awhile, it becomes obvious that one of these paths is a zero-sum game (if you win, someone else loses) and the other is a positive-sum game (if someone else wins, you win too).
Easy in the sense that there is some predictable structured path to success as a film a tv composer. There isn't. No Union protects composers, and making it as a film and tv composer for Hollywood productions is very difficult if not near impossible if that is what one sets out to do.

It may be more tenable to become a media composer for small budget projects, but how one makes a living doing that is beyond me. There are only so many projects that happen in Hollywood every year, so usually a small set of A-list composers get these projects as each one has a relationship with the director of that film or the producer of that tv show. These relationships are almost impossible to forge and if one is lucky enough to get hired over and over again by the same director or producer one can get an agent and make it in the biz. This is just not something that going to music school and being talented will guarantee in any way. Talent and persistence won't matter nearly as much as sheer luck.
 
Top Bottom