Branding, Networking and Getting out There

My Metal Brand Perspective

Oh Branding……you taunt me so and place me among the shelves with the baked beans and tinned ravioli.How this word to me evokes a somewhat faceless, soulless position and at the other end of the scale i see myself with a cattle brand iron stamped firmly on my arse.

So what is branding to you?? Do you understand it and its importance??

Well 99% of consumers already know it all too well. We respond to advertising, we are saturated with new ideas, catchy slogans, logos, huge billboards, cinema and tv spots.And when we head for the supermarket, we are buying into the colourful packaged E number, sugar laiden produce with a confidence and certainty. We feel that we are almost getting that much better when we buy the well presented product with the jingle in our heads, whether you actually want it there or not.

So how do you make branding translate into what we do and what we are after??

Therein lies more confusion as we are all taking our leads from what we see everyday but im not convinced we are separating ourselves and our branding away from other markets in a way that says ” im  composer, this is my awesome music, now grab and knife and fork and taste the fucking sunshine” Already we are thinking of selling but sometimes we cross over in and out a little confused. Imagine how it leaves a client feeling??

So far be it for me to proclaim im a dab hand or master at branding because im not. I have tried some very simple logo ideas and what i have learned from this is only one thing. It pays to wear a half decent suit when you goto a meeting, so why not a presentable front door to your growing empire?

The tools for the job in hand are now many fold , and its hard to ignore the wealth of wordpress templates and flash driven home screens. The best way to research a good solid website for example, is to go and hit up 20 known composers and see what works for them. How the site is essentially quite simple and has just a handful of obvious pages to visit. You need to show off your history, a small bio giving an idea of the wonderful journey you took and a contact request form page.Above and beyond this, it can start to become messy. Maybe a news feed page from the home screen.

You often find great examples of how branding evolves when you look at a lot of established rock and pop acts over the years and to understand its not as easy as it might first seem .I can think of at least a dozen acts that were launched with great success that had only half a basis of an image, artwork for the singles and albums, the clothes and styles that would define them. It takes time and even the biggest and best examples tend to shave off a bit here and hone a bit there.

To have ‘some’ form of branding to me says, effort. I have rolled out of bed and made a conscience effort to be presentable and indeed professional. Your brand needs to lean towards the area of the market you are heading for. It seems like stating the obvious but i have seen a fair few sites that were massively noisy with way too much content and no clear means to just sample the wares and pick up contact info. I mean thats the main aspect imo, let me heard some work and let me contact you. Dont make me hunt through a sea of crap to do so.

Onto networking. Im thinking each part of this blog could have been the basis of an extensive series of ideas,  but i think you can make this too complicated and convoluted. Again, looking at how you respond as a consumer should tell you all you need to know about getting out there.

Looking at the way it used to be is an education it in itself. Bearing in mind that pre 1996 ish, next to no one was using the internet in any big practical way. We def were not uploading hours of music and having such a hands on experience as we do now. And bear in mind the dark age before the internet was the time when work was always local to you.

You really did need to live in the city you would end up trying to sell to. You had to be local enough to drive over to a studio, or tv studio, or at least be in a few miles so you can get a courier to race over finished DAT tapes and CD’s of the latest mix.There would be a desk somewhere with a 100 CD’s per week piling up, all with more lavish artwork than the next, trying to find a way to catch the eye.

I recall even resorting to home made presspacks with pictures, a t shirt, brochure and CD’sof my work. And all at great cost at the time. Just to run off a couple of dozen and including postage and time etc, it cost a lot!

No one would listen to you as you were giving them unsolicited work. You couldn’t get into a performing rights organisation because you had nothing aired on tv and to get anything aired, you guessed it……you needed a PRO!

It was a huge catch 22 and it made things next to impossible. It was really a case of being local and using the place you live as your hub. Getting into actual meetings face to face or else be forgotten and never thought of again.

So that was a slice of then, and we know that in this day and age, we are just a email or upload away from the other side of the world. Its painfully easy to connect and record. To drum up work, make friends, remote session, grab the skills of people who up until the last 10 or so years, you need to fly over with a ton of crap and work the session with them at enormous costs and usually all on you.We are all essentially spoilt brats and we know we are.

We have everything we could dream of that we had no chance of obtaining a decade or so ago.What used to be a huge desk, a wall of synths,a ton of outboard is now contained neatly in one box that remembers everything, is polished and instant and frees up the process unlike anytime prior.

So networking became actually easy to do now but unbelievably hard to make an individual impression or anything unique to you. The globalisation phenomena now positions you back on the producers desk like a CD stacked up and largely ignored.

So you need to think about the whole package. Combining your branding, your product and having some marketing tricks to play to steal the show, or at least for just a few minutes.

Everything in real world marketing is all based on one big component and thats scheduling and regularity.

There can be a right time and a wrong time. Ok globally thats complex but for the sake of what your aiming for , i would tend to think about promoting through the social networks around lunch time onwards for the people on the west coast of the USA. Im not going to cry myself to sleep at that point of certain territories dont see it at the right time. Im going to build this campaign to the point where others will re post and link to what you are saying and doing, therefore doing the work for you, overlapping all time zones and different days.

Its a seed you sow and the scheduling is very important. In the same way a tv show or ad campaign runs like clock work. Tv episodes that came up same time same place each week, its not just a booked slot. Its pitching to a demographic or who would be watching, the best time to show them and how much you show them.

Having a regular posting of new music, or a regular blog,website updates, gives people a chance to climb onboard.It also feels more assured and professional to take this approach.Having several different oulets for what you do also maximises exposure across all the platforms and promotes a natural state of overlap.

Lets say you have worked on a demo and beta test for a new sample library. It helps you in the first instance by having that association. You post up the demo, they post up the demo. You link to their you tube demo and tutorial work throughs, which shakes hands in a way with the friend who made that video. You tweet it with links to demo and vid, trending the new product.

Being a part of a community which is all very intertwined and connected to one another, is a big deal. You really have so much to learn from those guys. And you can make some great friends in the process. But in regards to networking, taking some time to repay that effort and support goes a long way. It is a little Utopian but it works. You show some interest and support your peers, they are inclined to take a minute or so on your latest offerings and spread the word with their friends and friends of friends and so on …….
If you leave out the community and abandon the venue in which you all reside, it will come back and bite you. No one likes a blow hard who just sells endlessly with their huge news and screw everyone else. Its important to know that the audience you are trying to hit isn’t ALL composers. I mean realistically composers don’t readily hand out their gigs to everyone anymore than a electrician or plumber would. And they don’t exactly spend all day hiring additional ghost writers. If they did, it would begin and end quite sharply.

So the power of the community i speak of isn’t exclusive to just us. Each one of us knows lots and lots of people. They all have minds of there own, make there own educated decisions based on whats out there. So they will see what you are prattling on about as that overlap of connections grows further and further afield.

Networking isn’t all finding clever ways to be noisy. It can be a way to solidify branding. To add depth and weight to the thing you are pushing. Networking is a way to find good players when you need them, the best software and tools you need, Networking is a virtual handshake to get you in the que to be listened to. It can used and abused quite easily as with most of the above mentioned vanity postings etc.

If you spend time being genuine and actually invest in OTHER PEOPLE, you will find this repays you along the way. I mean again with the Utopian ideal maybe but i have seen it working well. You spend some time and endorse, support and follow your peers, they do the same for you. To the extent you dont need to spend all day cringing over how great your latest blah blah is, our friends are recognizing this and are happy and willing to do this for you, as you do for them – full circle.

Being part of the community is one thing but its key that you aren’t a huge pain in the arse. That you don’t spend all day trying to bum along with the A set of Hollywood composers like you play golf every weekend or you chat about there family pics like you were there last Christmas. You really weren’t. You have to respect the personal space and friend bubble and genuinely build that association and friendship like any other in the REAL WORLD.

Make announcements and create some excitement. I mean again, its common sense isnt it. You get last minute teasers from your latest show and ad teasers, trailers saying something great is coming. Dont just blab endlessly about all the stuff your doing and how awesome you are. Meter your news. Create some pause and delay between pretty day to day stuff and super huge things.

Its human nature, people WILL  come back to find out! Its compelling. Oldest trick in the book maybe, but its a classic that hasn’t overstayed its welcome.

Rotate your news. Think about the content. our looking for potential new clients, growing the brand, creating a sense of awareness for your brand among peers(who share as above), and not being boring. Thats just the worst thing. You gained followers, people who want to keep coming back, tagging you, feeding of the excitement and then you go and post 5 cues on one day, tell the world about some ideas you have new projects, all on one day. over and over.

Saturation in the market is the biggest enemy, so contributing to it from inside your own tent? it is madness. Your audience will just block you and tire of you.

Networking is about joining all the pieces of the puzzle together. Its connecting all your platforms and creating a channel for your greatness to shine through. Lastly and by no means least, is attitude.

There is a difference between social and commercial energy in your attitude .No one on gods earth likes a negative person. It can literally dampen our day.Remembering the old saying opinions are like arseholes, everyones got one, thats what you sound like when you hit the soap box for too long, over and over. People switch off or worse, you become a self parody and recognised as a guy who is always looking for a fight or a way to kill any positive vibes and momentum.

Now being motivated need not mean power quotes from Socrates, Nietzsche, Plato, Oprah and ‘that guy who wrote all the 80’s Athena motivation posters’. It just means being positive. Convey the energy and enthusiasm you have when your loving music, loving the job. This kind of genuine love for what you do is highly infectious. I am constantly drawn to people who are passionate and so into what they do. It never comes over as a ego out of control. There just so damn excited about getting that far, your almost sitting next to them as they type. And you want to see more.

All of this may seem a weird way to network and you might be thinking this isnt what i signed on for. Its not networking to find new clients, But you are so wrong. So very wrong. It is about the complete package. The interaction, the content, the diversity, the regularity of information etc. There isnt an old telephone exchange with a terrifying 1940’s operator shouting at you as you beg to be connected to one line, its sophisticated, powerful, and still in its infancy.

No one has tapped this to its full as of yet due to the very nature of its evolution, which is just 100mph in every direction. But it should stop you. Just write down a basic outline of stuff you can post up, videos you can get online, promote those around you, make a schedule and just be on the radar once or twice a week. Networking and brand is a big thing for us. We mostly do not have staff, a PR or indeed PA. Most of us have to be all departments all of the time. So no, dont expect to have the formula that works for you in one day. No more so than expecting to become a first rate mixing engineer because you bought the Waves collection 6 months ago. Give it time and create that groove that sells you at your best


Making the Transition and Setting goals

A good friend of mine asked me recently about making a transition from one career to the next. This is something i can speak of and i think there is a core element of this movement that negates any previous vocation or position. That is to say, it doesnt matter what you’re currently doing, it matters where you want to end up.

Ill briefly explain where i was and then where i have ended up hoping that in some way, my words make some sense for you.I longed to be a composer for as long as i recall. Actually thats a lie, i wanted to be an active musician/ music maker in some capacity no matter what it took. So at the age of 15, we had a very special thing happen upon us at our secondary school.

We had a professional recording studio built onto the school. I mean that’s pretty amazing for a state public school and its only now in later years i realise what a privilege that was. So i spent ALL my time trying to duck out of all my other lessons and head into the studio. My mentor was a hugely experienced performer, composer,producer,arranger and MD. He had a catalogue of very big clients he had toured with, produced etc and i knew i was in a great position to learn.

Now from being asked to make half of Kajagoogoo cups of tea, stripping SMPTE on quarter inch and programming drums on some very random albums and sessions, i also got down time. A ton of down time.

So what would you do??? use this time , this precious time to the maximum and practice all your new skills, or would you toss it off, be a true arrogant teen and know better?? Well despite all those huge blessings,i was the fool. Fucking clown shoes i tell you. I had a guy who taught me every secret he knew about this business, showed me how to handle clients, and understand several areas of the trade i knew little to nothing about. My response was to fumble around with his eldest daughter and pretty much ignore his best intentions..

Fast forward a few years and i began my career in freight forwarding. This my friends took me right up till approx 2010 to understand and appreciate i needed a way back out. 20 years of lifting and carting around cargo and boxes. Loading trucks and all manner of hard graft shit. So i needed a way back into music. I’d bought and sold a ton of synths, screwing around with a single core pentium pc with a basic controller and a Korg Triton rack. I really just spent so much time not knowing what the hell i was doing that when i look at where i am now, i have NO IDEA how i got here lol!!!!

But the way it all started was this. i started listening again. to music, to people. And thats the biggest factor in all of this by far. you listen to those who do know what they’re talking about and you learn to research the market place and understand the place you wish to be a part of.

I stopped writing all the self indulgent, arty farty nonsense crap that only me, the missus and a handful of polite relatives would sit and nod to. I mean its fine if you want to be an artiste, a creative who has no compromise and wants to remain a true, free Yoko like spirit. But the price 99% of us pay, bearing in mind genius is a bullshit word smacked around the place all day long, is a life slightly more ordinary and progressive than this. If you only want to create “art”, then writing for tv, film, radio, advertising etc, really isnt for you at all. It is a job after all. And don’t be telling me its all just a utter joy day after day cos it really isn’t.

Its like it is for anyone who has to live from their musical earnings. From a rock band , big solo singer to a chap like me writing in humble means but making it work. ITS FUCKING HARD WORK. And no it doesn’t stop being hard work if you’re Jon Bon Jovi. Ok, so you get the Heather Locklears and a huge mansion, a pub in your garden and every luxury car and private jet you could wish for, but those work days are LONG and full of intense hours. Everyone works hard when it comes to finding any level of success. It’s not discriminating and it favours no one. So just get one thing perfectly clear. Making this all come together will mean stopping those excuses you keep posting all across Facebook.

The stuff you tell everyone why you cant. You’re just too busy to put in the work, or as above, you wont compromise your art. Well step 1 is quit. Seriously. If working savage long hours doesn’t work for you and everything you compose feels like you’re selling out, then you need to do something else. i dont know, fucking hug a tree, get some 9-5 job that doesn’t require anything above or beyond, but don’t even bother with music.

No one is telling you this?? Is this the advice you’re not getting from friends??? Well i’ll be honest and lay it out as i see it and as it applies to my findings and those around me.

So the big question, and lets for a minute assume we are doing something full time and want to find a way to get into writing music for a reason, a paid reason, and how to make this a transition that wont bankrupt you. How can you make it work.

Well as we have now got into how hard you need to work i’ll tell you what i needed to do, and you can do your own math and apply some basic tweaks to your hours etc.

I worked at least 40 hours per week. On a permanent night shift. Some weeks it is closer to 45-50 hours. I get home and try to get to sleep as soon as possible. By the afternoon i get up and within 30 mins i’m writing music. i write cue after cue., whatever it may be. Practice and push. Try all the styles and sounds you hear in tv everyday. Then you stop for dinner, then you have an hour or so to say goodnight to your very young child, kiss the other half good bye and back to another night shift.  Whatever you do now, regardless of what hours and shift pattern are, how many times you hit the gym or help out a relative to the shops, you are still gonna have some time left. But that time is called “sanity time” .

Now sanity time is what we humans don’t declare to others. Its a few hours but cos we use up so much of our time during a day, we don’t class these sanity hours as real time we can use. We just say to ourselves, if i write music in my only spare time, i’ll surely die. When in fact, it rarely comes close to a life and death tussle between a boxset of your fave tv show and that near death bright light lol!

You have to start saying, those few hours? i need to invest them . Like any saving or investment, time isn’t a commodity we see as a monetary asset. We don’t imagine “time” will pay the next mortgage instalment but in the long-term, and provided you work hard during those hours??? It is a huge asset worth more than any quick fix.

I spent a long time just honing up. Bringing back every skill i ever had. Remembering what everyone had told me and all the guys i brushed off when i was a kid cos i thought i was going to be the next massive Trevor Horn in my day lol. Then its a case of finding the work. Who wants this music?? Are they agencies, website opps? What are they and how do i get on board??

So you start having conversations again with those in the community. The people around you have pretty much every single answer you ever wanted to know, about EVERYTHING. Seriously. So get some names, some companies to hit up. For all the hours you wrote, gather your finest 3-5 cues and make a reel. A 30 second a piece reel collage to fire off. This is the most sobering and tedious part of trying to find a way in, and this part is perhaps the most hit and miss. Some will listen, others will plainly just not. But it takes a lot of rejections and some half decent replies to start finding a groove with what you are doing.

So you go back over and over, revising cues to make them work, finding new ways to get that technique down. And come up, resurface and try again, and again till you just simply wonder if this was all a huge waste of time. But here’s the thing, you’re prepared to work this hard, you are investing “time” and you are improving even if you don’t see it.

I strongly recommend retrospective listens of all your early works as you plot across this mission. Its healthy and its extremely telling. It shows you tricks you forgot or misses, it highlights the way it didn’t work to the way you know it now does. Its a big plus for any composer. So go ahead and cringe, but its a valuable tool for you.

If you spend the time listening to your peers, and keep your eyes and ears peeled, you will start to gather some decent contacts. Some ok companies to climb on board with. So after all the re writing and getting it right, you stand a great chance of them listening and not throwing the CD in the can or deleting your URL from their page. And it only takes one bite of interest to fuel you onto the next stage.

Having someone show even the slightest belief in your work can move mountains over night.

Now from my experience it was finding an advert asking for some ‘up in your grill’ high tension cues. I had swooned and re hashed some ideas based on a bunch of Bourne cues i had heard. i mean i got deeply into the punch of it, the surprise, the sharp mix and then i thought, well i have heard a ton of this on tv. Its everywhere. So i see this ad and it says a show on Discovery needs high tension action cues contact blah blah….. so i did. On the basis i have nothing to lose at all. I had already written a trillion ok to bad cues, so it was time to send off a few that MIGHT , finally, be in the ball park .The right format structure, the right pauses and edit friendly points. The strong ending sting etc.

And i had got this one right. I was asked to write 10 more of those as the producer was loving them. Great!  I get paid. I’m working full-time and being paid half decent cash here. What a bonus and should i just regard this as supplemental income?? Is there anything in this at all???

You recall i said about sacrificing your spare time??? well when someone does want you to write music and pays you, and its for a half decent sizable channel, those hours are going to be more intense. And the weekends??? That’s time you will invest too. You now need to start thinking about being better, faster and having some more current sounds and tools to do the job. So i did exactly that. I had a wage and some income i could spend on this stuff and slowly but surely i’m expanding this pallet and also writing more rounded cues. So you learn to trust your writer’s instinct and start becoming more efficient and more flexible. If its genres you don’t know, make them bloody genres you do. And do it fast. Spend more of those hours listening and honing.

Submit more and more and you will see you and the client base start to become mutually happy with the way things are going. So this all carried on for quite a long time. For me time is all supremely precious. Every hour and every day is a chance to meet at least one goal. So set yourself targets you can reach, but always present yourself with something you cannot do, and find bite sized ways of combating this flaw, for want of a better word.

After a year (that is an eternity for me btw), not only had i written a few hundred cues, but more and more were being placed, published and set to good use. Now this next part need not apply to man nor beast and i know i have written this publicly before but it meant a huge amount to me so for one last time, ill make it public once more.

My father in law became very sick very quickly. I had suffered the loss of my mother in 1998 so you would think part of me was amply prepared for a return visit from this serious illness but i wasn’t. It knocked me and my partner for six. It was something surreal in a movie or a compelling weekly show but it didn’t belong in our world. And you know what i’m going to say, so skipping forward for all concerned, my father in law passed and in a period of no greater than 5 short months.

I have a 3 nearly 4 year old son, a mental crazy busy career loading lorries and decent wage and prospects, but nothing at all in my heart. And for that first time ever, his passing hit me like a brick. I asked myself what i was waiting for?? When do we start living?? When is it ok to take risks and to run with it??? I have a mortgage, a hour consuming job, a life at home, so how do you make such a transition???

Rather boringly i revert you to the paragraph at the opening when i said you work hard. When you STOP making excuses about time, the art, compromise and the bullshit. i just sat down with my partner and a bloody good accountant and we talked about what it would take. I spoke to the head of the company i was writing most my music for and i said, what can i do to make this a full-time job?

I’m a lucky guy in one respect cos i had built up a lovely relationship with the boss. He had become a friend to me. And he basically said, this works for both of us – i get a ton of great cues, you get to follow your dream. So we both made the leap. I write a chunk of music per month and i get some upfront cash and my back end. I also write for several other libraries and i add in cues as i go, writing as much as i can.

The wage drop was huge, yes. The stress went up a fair amount too, but you already guessed as much. But this is over two years on from the big leap. I have my own company, i am paying my way, i am enjoying this job. Its what i was meant to be doing but can you just walk into this and not expect a huge change??? It will change you on so many levels. Your appreciation of yourself is no bad thing either, but you will see just how remarkable you are when you invest “you” into this. You use those hours, you earn less for a long time and you have to beat down a lot of doors with the promise of rejection.The bottom line is the following and i apologise for such a huge ramble!!!

Start using all the hours you REALLY HAVE. Stop making up lots of excuses about how you wont sell out or wont learn new things. Stop letting any and all negative bullshit into your world, onto your radar. start listening, believing and improving. The transition from one career or place to another is always going to be a risk. Life is a risk so get over it. You do only get the one shot and its never too late no matter what you hear. You can crossover from pretty much any industry and any commitment into a chosen musical career. But no one will do it for you, your bitching moaning and pity wont pay any bills, and it wont allow you to grow and become any better.

Negative people will destroy everything you have and all you believe in. Its about a life changing amount of effort and drive. Its about setting down some goals you can tick off. A long and constant series of small doable goals.When you tick them all off as you go and then dare to look back, you will have grown – trust me.

I want to break into a few more blogs about how to get some networking going, how to promote what you have and who you are, creating something and then building on this. And this is coming soon. I’m kind of on this big journey with all of you, my friends and colleagues , and i appreciate all the time you take to read this, and then come talk to me.

How to build your audio empire

I wanted to break into this subject and i have been scratching my head for colourful analogies, simplified methods and means to write at high volume.

And then it dawns on you, no one is exactly the same and the work we undertake is just as diverse. So this is a specific attack on sync music/ placement audio. Id love to be able to be the guy who tells you how to score 10 minutes per day, buy i am not that guy i will say by my own admission.

But writing say 3-4 cues per day for music libraries?? yes i can help and maybe give you a new plan of attack to build the stock you need to cover your immediate bases, and also give you the means to invest your time better for a continuous top up of new material.

So without further ado. If we assume for one moment that writing for music libraries is something you dont already do, this could perhaps motivate and help you more as we arent trying to break old habits for starters.

The biggest obstacle, and i say this due to a high volume of emails that seem to point to one specific area, is simply “motivation and ideas”.How do i begin to write lots of music when i havent got a ton of fresh ideas and what chance do i stand of writing say 10 in one week in this sorry state??

The main piece of advice i would give, as it has served me very well, is to try and watch as many of the likely show types you will be competing for. Now im not suggesting you get all up in your TiVo and start recording En masse episodes of here comes honey boo boo or a whole season of toddlers in tiaras. Nor would i say its an easy prospect to endure a whole cycle of Americas next top model if this isnt the kind of tv you would normally watch

But certainly program your head around a bit of each. Whether this be competition type shows, news based, comedic, shows with more a trend base to them ie:hip hop cues or the classic safe groove based cues that prop up many an episode of cake boss etc.

Get yourself a nice broad range of typical types you will need to write in. Research is everything as it teaches you the art of a simple but utterly effective cue that is respectful of a dubbing track ,is useful for editors and has some colour about it, an energy if you will.

Now the format for most placement tv cues falls into this. They tend to be as short as 1 minute flat. They can range up to 3 times that duration but a overwhelming majority serve their purpose up to a minute 30.

Why???? well its basic math for everyone here. A minute 30 is enough time to establish an intro, a 8+ bar main theme, some variation and build, a break down section, a reprise of main theme with a nice solid ending that can be cut to sting if need be.If you write long form, then you wont capture the in/out nature of the cue.Remember at all times the likelihood of airtime for your music is approx. 3-5 seconds and if you are very lucky and the scene calls for it, it can run over that minute, Drop back in later over and over as recurring motif of sorts for that episode.

But placement cues rarely run up to a minute.They just dont. Most shows can pack in well over a 100 placements and longer shows double this easily.So don’t be thinking a 3 minute cue gives you the glory.

The key thing in any cue is it has some variation, it does something. It can edit relatively easily and provide options for the editorial team.

Ok so you have swotted up on genre cue types and a working format. So whats next??

How do we go from being familiar with our market to writing huge swathes of music week in week out??? Well composing in any scenario is about building muscles.Its just as relevant to sit down and practice composing as it is to sit and devote time to an instrument. Learn its unique timbre and response to technique and dynamic.

The same applies to writing lots of music. You need to flex your musical muscles and then comes your ability to trust music a little more. You discover so many new tricks and techniques for moving a theme dynamically and creating something of “use”.

Now lets just eradicate the elephant in the room when it comes to all things “music for hire”.I get really annoyed when composers who excel at this market are criticized heavily for not being a real composer because there not scoring and therefore story telling. But this is just incredible bullshit. Its insulting and the proof in the pudding to this lifelong gripe is when good composers who haven’t written for this market come into it to “make a little side cash” and quickly realise its a lot harder than they thought. Ok so its not all going to get you an Emmy and the biggest networks and studios wont all start banging down your door, but its hard honest work and their is an art to it.

Skipping hint number one:not researching at all = A much more painful process of understanding your role. So ..well..don’t skip it!

What i find as the key to writing high volumes of this music, having understood my target genres, is to center at first on the ones i feel most charged and excited about.

So lets begin here and by all means nominate your personal strong suit and follow me here. So my choice will be action cues. Modern high tension, in your face action cues.

I want to end up with say, 20 of those. But that number in a row will bore me to tears plus im gonna run out of big ideas pretty soon. So its just kidology for the cure.

Divide this into sub genres and instruments. Write one at a mid paced tempo, grab your main instruments whether they include orchestral accents, string or horn beds and modern percussion etc. Take a look at the next cue 20-30 bpm higher, change key and start thinking about exploring all those libs you keep buying. You know those big sample sound sets you think will be useful and end up in the bottom shelf of the HDD for months on end. Start ignoring a huge template and start thinking immediate instinct.

You now have a couple of cues so lets try some more lighter tension. Break it down a little.Use some more sympathetic mid range instrumentation and create something less frenetic but just as meaty in substance. Work your way down the scale till you have some quite simple but effective tension cues. Maybe just some custom pulses, piano and accents. Light percussion and atmospheric beds. Now by the time you worked from ball breaking “look at me” high action cues and cruised into light emotive ones, you already have the best part of 10 tracks already.

Then grab the elusive and so misunderstood comedy genre. Now this ranges from bittersweet sickly Tom Newman dramedy to flat out Desperate housewives, very colourful and dare i say “twee” sign posted comedy, complete with plenty of comedic stops and pauses.

writing 10 cues in this style is not as hard as you would think. Is comedy easy?? not remotely, again do our research and practice those muscle building phrases and short ideas, but when you click and start to understand this genre, working from the very trendy sickly comedic style right across to blatant cartoon like styles, will give you an enjoyable ride and then , you look back and you have a set of 10 before you know it.

This is what i would suggest for a good 5-6 main genre types. Break it down into as many sub groups as you possibly can. identify at least 4-5 cuts into these sub groups and this gives you new ideas, new places to go.

Go compare!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol ok next part. There is no law, no ethic, or no precedent that states you cant learn a thing or two by listening in to your peers. If you know half a dozen guys who place well into this market, do the sensible thing  and go listen to their work.

Not only will it give you new angles to apply to your thinking, it will show you just how far you can go. I mean its really limitless but seeing a few other guys doing this can give you a palette booster. It can kick start parts of your brain and make you that bit more adventurous with arrangement and instrumentation.

If you become bored with the genre you are on, you never have anything to fear. You go back to your big list of main genres, look at all the many sub splits and then run off 2 cues in that, head off to another do the same.

By fueling all those places constantly, you will be completely shocked at your output.

You combine all the tenets to this mission as follows.

you researched the market and endured the tv shows!. you researched and understood the format and needs of the cue in its duration. you listened to the cues that are placing and then you made it easy for yourself with a huge list of places you love to go musically, but will just constantly inflate your stock.

The cure for any overall familiarity for me, is to throw in a wild card once in a while. Hear something you are convinced you cannot do, and keep doing it till you can. Then you have another main genre to work with, its sub groups

By the time you walk past a solid 12 months of this, its not unreasonable to suggest you have written anywhere between 200-500 cues. One years work alone. And this journey will hone the shit out of you, it will fast track teach you things you cant learn if you just take 2 weeks to write a couple of ideas down.

It makes it very easy to be under pressure when you write high volume. In fact your response rate is super sharp and refined. You have learned to trust your inner muse, you have all the tools in your head in place to overcome road bumps and musical problems.

You will become very well rounded and a much richer composer in mind if not yet in wallet! but having a good 500 cues, you are well on your way to a lot of success with placement.

The next thing will be understanding all the companies out there, the type of deal that will work for you, and making sure you get the maximum from all your work.

But that my comrades in arms, its another blog for another day!