February : Work Recap
Ok - I know I’m few days late on this blog post, however I haven’t forgotten to write about what I worked on last month. February was a busy month, but things didn’t really start to pick up till the second half of the month when I decided to take on some new challenges. Let’s talk about what happened.
ON THE MUSIC INDUSTRY SIDE OF THINGS
This month started out no different than most months for me; I was asked to write some custom music for a trailer by one of my publishers which was actually a lot of fun to tackle. The deadline for the track was roughly 4 or 5 hours which is such an adrenaline rush for me. When I first started taking on customs a four hour deadline really stressed me out because you overthink everything, but the more I work on customs the more I realize that overthinking is a luxury you just can’t afford as a composer. When deadlines are that tight you’ve often got to trust your gut and go for the first thing that comes to mind. There isn’t much time to waste scrolling through presets, or even making original sound design for a project. Often more times than not I’ll think of an idea and jump right into that without second guessing myself. I could see how having a template could be beneficial when doing work like this, but at the same time you never know what a trailer editor is going to want for their project and the sound they’re looking for could be completely opposite of the tools you have pre loaded. For this particular custom the publisher had a reference track for me which makes my life one hundred times easier because I’ll know what type of tone or setting the track needs to be in, and I can get writing that much faster.
As the second half of the month approached things began to get a lot busier for me as a composer because I started to setup some new goals for myself. I decided to dedicate most of February to sound design - specifically designing risers. I want to start getting some of my own SFX tools into the hands of publishers and editors to use, and creating risers was a great place to start. I set a goal for myself to make a minimum of 10 - 20 unique custom risers entirely built from scratch each day (I think that was an easy, realistic goal to set for myself… anyone can do that, and you’ll be surprised how fast you’ll build up a collection of SFX).
So I dove right into sound design sampling anything I could find around by apartment from bowed electric guitars, custom made synth patches all the way down to recording power saws and fans. The more material you have to work with the better. Get weird with it, not everything you sample will be amazing, but fiddling around with these sounds not only teaches you a lot about sound design, but it also teaches you a lot about production as a whole. The lessons I learned from sound design this month are going to help me when producing future tracks.
I made risers for 10 days, and by the end of it I was able to send 201 unique risers off to my publisher. Focusing on something specific like that helped me set new goals for myself as a composer.
Quick tip: If you’re looking for some new tools to use for sound design I highly recommend checking out the “Endless Smile” plug in by a company called Dada Life. I used this tool a lot when building this set of risers, and it really helped my sounds “get there” when it comes to making them sound extremely intense.
SIDE WORK THIS MONTH
Aside from making music there are a couple of things I worked on throughout February that helped me move forward with myself as a composer during the slower parts of the month.
I wrote an article earlier this month titled “The Top 5 Trailer Libraries Under $100” that talked about some of my favorite tools to use when making trailer music that won’t break the bank. Here’s a link to that if you missed it.
I love reading people’s recommendations on new sample libraries to add to my collection, and I thought it would be a good idea to return the favor to the community.
I also uploaded episode four of “The Thought Collective Podcast” this month too. This episode has been my favorite so far because its the first episode where I brought on a guest to talk to, and let me tell you… This episode was much longer than previous episodes. I think it just feels more natural to talk to somebody rather than yourself. I think when you talk to yourself you run out of things to talk about a lot faster than if you were having a conversation with another person because you feed off the things each person has to say. This episode features by good buddy Donovan Kelley who goes by the name “Don”. He is a hip hop artist in my local area and recently put out an album called The Eviction Notice. It’s an album with 11 tracks aimed for fans of artists like Post Malone and Lil Uzi Vert. As a composer I think it’s really important to listen to different genres or music (especially with trailer music) because a lot of the music we write is influenced by pop culture music, and it’s constantly evolving to fit new trailers. If you take a look at some movie trailer that have came out over the past year or two you’ll see that some of them really have hip hop styled influenced tracks whether that be an original composition or a “trailerized” cover of a song, pop culture music makes a big impact on what we do in this industry.
Here’s a a video of the latest podcast episode for those who are interested (The Thought Collective Podcast is also available on iTunes as well so just search for it on the podcast app)!
This month I found out that I had 3 placements for various TV shows which is always exciting! All these placements came from tracks I wrote back in 2017 which was pretty cool too. I use a website called Tunesat to track my music placements, and I noticed that I had some music used in a TV show called Outback Truckers on DMAX. The thing with tunesat is that it doesn’t always catch everything so a lot of times you may have a track used, and won’t know it until your publisher lets you know. That was my case in this situation… tunesat only showed that I had one track placement this month, but my publisher informed me that there were actually 3 tracks for 3 different shows. A nice little added bonus at the end of this month i’d say.
Patience is the name of the game in this industry and sometimes it’ll take two years before certain tracks you write find a home somewhere. I think a big reason I felt like such a failure in the early parts of my career is because I didn’t have nearly enough patience when it came to placements. It’s easy to get caught up in things on social media when you see friends and other fellow composers share their placements when you don’t have any coming in. My philosophy and motto for 2019 and the rest of my career is to be twice and patient and work twice as hard. Placements aren’t everything, and I think what’s more important is that you love what you’re writing. That’s the type of thing that helps career longevity - There will be periods of time when things are going great, and placements are frequent and there will be other times when things are slow for you, and it seems like everybody else is much more successful than you are. Don’t overthink this kind of thing, just focus on writing better music, and ways to improve your craft as a whole.
February has been a good month overall I’d say, and I’m really excited for what March will bring. There are a couple of new publishers that I’ve started writing for, and I think that this coming month will be an even busier month than February was. I’ll let you know what happens! Thanks for taking the time to read this guys, and feel free to connect with me on social media as well.