Four Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Career As a Composer

1. Arguing with the client, insisting that what the client wants is silly, old fashioned or just plain wrong. It then follows that you don’t implement requested changes with enthusiasm, or at all.

Whether you like it or not, it’s their project and you are a part of it. By all means suggest an alternative path or point out – diplomatically! – why something might not be the best idea. But if they want a task done another way it’s your job to do it. The clue is in that word ‘job’. That’s the difference between writing for yourself and being paid to make music for someone else. Your clients are your lifeblood and the greatest source of new work. Treat them how you would like your service providers to treat you.

2. Writing only the music you love writing and not what the project needs.

You love John Williams and come what may you’re going to churn out that pastiche on every job. That’s not writing media music. Writing for Film and TV is finding an original voice that brings some magical extra dimension to the project. That’s what we aim at and normally miss, but if you don’t go for it then you’ll never get close.

3. Getting stuck in time. Working composers have to reinvent themselves from the ground up every five years. If you don’t do it, your work-tree will wither and die.

The world turns, styles change. People are always looking for something fresh and different. It’s in the nature of creative people who make films, TV shows, Games, or whatever. If you don’t match their creative curiosity, they will eventually pass you by. Save the carpet slippers for another day and do something uncomfortable. It’ll do you good!

4. My music sounds better than some of the stuff I hear on the TV therefore it follows that I should get work, If I don’t it’s just down to not knowing the right people.

Probably not true. There are a thousand reasons as to why bad music ends up on TV; being better than the worst isn’t a reason to expect to get work. You have to be better than the rest, not acceptably mediocre. Always strive to be better, to learn more and to stretch yourself. ‘Who you know’ is sometimes true, but it’s also a cop out. Write better music and you stand a better chance of getting where you want to go.

About the Author
Guy Michelmore

Guy Michelmore

Course Director Guy Michelmore is an award winning film composer. He has scored over 8 animated films for Marvel and over 200 episodes of TV for networks all over the world. He also has a detailed knowledge of sampled orchestration and contemporary techniques in film scoring.

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