Hello composers, I’m sure you want to get high paying professional projects as a composer, right?
In this article I have interviewed Hillel Teplitzki, a professional composer and educator within music. You can learn more about Hillel on his website: www.hillelteplitzki.com.
Now let’s learn how you can find professional paying composer gigs! =)
1. Where/how do we composers find professional paying jobs?
There are many places us composers can find jobs these days, I would even dare say that there are more than ever before. It can range from getting in touch with a game developer on social media to running into a film director at a festival.
However, this is easier said than done, since in our profession there is a lot more supply than demand. This leads to situations in which someone shares a cool project online and is immediately spammed by composers (even when the project never mentioned needing music).
This can really hurt the moral of composers and make them feel like another face in the crowd, however, in my experience, this method of constantly spamming your website or the same Soundcloud playlist on posts rarely works because it fails to achieve two very important things.
Firstly, your portfolio needs to be impressive and in the style of the project. Without this, you don’t have a way to show you can handle the needs of the project.
Secondly, and I know this sounds obvious, but you need to show that you’re not a jerk. Try to show some personality beyond just the link to your music. Interact with the person and show that you are actually passionate about their project and not just working on it for the money.
This is of course just the tip of the iceberg and if you are interested in learning more about the mindset of a content creator when selecting a composer, I encourage you to click HERE to read the fantastic article by Adrian Chmielarz from the “Astronauts” studio, which deals exactly with this topic.
What is your opinion on “Free Work” when starting out as a composer?
Working for free is always going to be a controversial topic in our community. While I can definitely understand the appeal for composers who are just starting out, who deem it is necessary to improving their portfolio, in my opinion it unfortunately usually causes more harm than good.
I believe that the moment you receive payment for your work, any payment, it makes the job become official. Without this, there are small things that can cause tension, for example, when there are requests for many revisions or to starting tracks from scratch.
Besides, this sometimes causes content creators to believe that there is no need to pay composers whatsoever, since they can always find someone to do the work for free. This mentality harms all composers, regardless of their level of experience.
How can we “climb the ladder” for projects as composers?
This is a great question which I feel even every composer, no matter how successful, will still struggle with. While there is not one specific method I can describe, I will say this.
While expanding our portfolio is necessary, something that can be even more important is expanding our relationships. Not only with content creators but also with other musicians.
Some of my biggest gigs (such as working on a AAA game I cannot discuss at this time) actually came from long lasting relationships with other musicians.
So the next time you approach someone only to find out they don’t need a composer right now, I urge you to maintain a relationship with them, it can really pay off in the future.
Networking, finding, and building relationships. How to do this “the right way”?
I could honestly discuss this topic for hours so I will do my best to summarize the most important stuff.
First things first, become more active in our community. This means to start going to conventions, being active on social media and preferably building your own website.
It is also important to be polite while doing so, our community may seem huge, but it really isn’t. Word gets around very quickly so if you act like a jerk, people will remember that and avoid working with you.
While there are many ways to network and to build relationships, there is always one common important thing, and it is to be genuine.
I can’t stress enough the importance of this since to seasoned people in the industry, it is extremely obvious when they are approached only because they are successful or because their project is cool.
For example, I feel that something which helped me get the lead composer position at ExNi Games was that unlike other composers who were messaging them, while I remained professional, I also nerded out with them about the Dark Souls series and anime. Showing your personality can really be helpful in distinguishing yourself from others.
How do we pitch ourselves professionally to get the high paying jobs?
If you want to pitch yourself in a professional manner, you need to act and talk like a professional, while still staying genuine.
Every composer has their own ways of achieving this I suppose, but some of the things that proved helpful in my case was for example, having several payment plans ready for clients and having contracts ready for each plan. It is small things like this that create the impression that you have been doing your job for a while and that you probably know what you are doing.
That being said, like in my example with ExNi Games, don’t be afraid to show that you are passionate about your profession.
Do you think it is important to move to LA (or any specific place) to succeed in this game?
This is another controversial topic and slightly more difficult for me to answer because we all have different definitions of success.
In my case, I feel that being in LA surely helped my goals, however, I know tons of people who are very fulfilled and have never set foot in the US entirely.
One thing I have to say though, is that LA is surely not for everyone, so I would advise anyone who is considering to move there to at least visit for a while first. Moving to LA without knowing anyone or anything about the city is very difficult and can cause a lot of unnecessary hardships.
Please share any more tips you have on how we composers can get professional projects.
In my opinion, one of the things that proved most helpful to me was constantly having one big (albeit realistic) goal at a time. Then when I achieved that goal, I would move on to a bigger one and repeat this cycle indefinitely.
The reason this balance is so important is because if your goals are too big, you will have to endure many disappointments, and if your goals remain too small, you won’t grow as a musician.
So find the balance that works for you, get some determination and optimism and go get it!