Mike here, and I had the great opportunity to interview Gregory Tan, one of the successful members of Professional Composers (you can join for free here).
He has had a very interesting career as a composer, and has even found work as an in-house composer.
Hello Gregory Tan, we are honored to have you share your story and wisdom here on Professional Composers.
Question 1: First, can you tell us how you got into the world of composing? For example: your musical background, and the story and journey that finally made you a full time composer.
I started out as a musician, picking up the violin at the age of 6, eventually completing my classical syllabus at 16. Along the way, I also took piano lessons to help me with my theory examinations.
Shortly after, I picked up the electric guitar and started experimenting with a variety of music genres – this ranged from metal to funk, to blues and jazz. I guess the genre selection mellowed with age, but I soon found myself gravitating towards my classical roots more and more.
A close friend of mine passed on in 2013, and I decided to write a song for his family despite never having written anything prior. Friends who heard the piece told me that it sounded like something they would see in a commercial or film and suggested that I consider turning this into a career.
Shortly after graduating in 2016 from my university in Melbourne Australia, I headed back home to Singapore and found work in a new music technology company as an in-house composer.
Question 2: You are working as an in house composer. How does that work in practice, and how do you enjoy being employed compared to being a freelancer?
As an in-house composer, I look after the audio recordings, voice-over work and compose the music for the brand commercials that the organisation owns. This different from being a staff composer at a label which gives advances to their writers etc.
I still freelance in my free time as that gives me a variety of work apart from writing corporate sounding tracks. For instance, all my game audio work has come from freelance projects. It’s very different from working in-house as there’s a very different kind of expectation these external organisations have of you.
They’re paying you on a project basis as opposed to my in-house work where it’s salaried as per any other corporate position. With freelance work, the margin for error is way smaller as the first impression usually counts. With in-house work, there’s a level of familiarity that changes working dynamics.
Question 3: When you get a new client, and a brand new project. Can you sum up your general work process from start to finish?
When I get a new client, I’m always concerned about what he or she or the project is trying to achieve. I then tailor my workflow to meet the expectations of whatever is going on. For me, setting expectations at the start is key, so a high level of communication via the establishment of a relationship is important. This gives me a clearer vision of my purpose.
For example, with my game audio projects, I’ve always asked for the feel and the vibe they’re going for – how many tracks are required, their purpose, their timeline, and any game demos they’ve developed so far. I also ask if there’s a certain genre of music they’re looking at.
Question 4: What are your future goals as a composer? Any specific fields you want to focus more on?
I intend to move to the US with my wife in the near future. From there, I look to expand my repertoire of composing for films and video games 😃.
Question 5: Where can people learn more about you, and listen to your music? For example your website or social media.
I blog and upload samples of my work consistently on my website at www.gregtanmusic.net. My music can be heard off my soundcloud as well. Everything showcased there is from past projects I’ve done for clients. The link is at: soundcloud.com/gregtanmusic. I’m also active on Instagram at @gregtanmusic😃.