I remember a few years back when i wanted to begin writing music for commercial usage. I wont say “music for media” as no other generic bland label turns my blood as quick to be honest. I posted up a few of my tracks to a forum, and the response i got was unexpected and it did shock me.
It wasn’t high praise, a pat on the arse and a nod from your peers. It was a critique and a fair and brutally honest reaction to my work. You know what? It smarted.
I felt immediately like a failure. Day one out of the gates and i suck at this. Lets down tools and sit with a bowl of lemons all day.Well once you pry yourself away from a little self prescribed pity, the next step is making a big decision. Its a decision that will affect you for a long time to come. Simple put, do i take constructive criticism or do i basically say “screw them all, what do they know”?
Recently, i have had emails, ive read posts online with all manner of would be composers trying to strike out and wondering why on earth the industry isn’t clawing at their portfolio. What does one have to do to catch any breaks at all.
And the culture now is one of, i kinda deserve this shit. I went out and bought the latest string library, i bagged some amazing percussion samples, i have a decent DAW to construct in, so what gives??
Well heading back to our decision we made, if you chose to ignore anyones feedback when it wasn’t all sparkling and ego basting, then you are in for a very long haul experience.
I felt quite angry, how dare this person say it was written clumsily and that the form and structure weren’t remotely commercial, and the sounds were “ok” and the mix was so-so.
How dare this one person that i looked up who had spouted, and his accolades, his multi film scoring career, tv advertising back record, hugely successful tv writing and say to me i needed a lot of work and my music was a hobbyist at best.
But after what was a day of sucking on said lemons ^, i turned that corner. Well of course what he is saying holds water. Not only due to this distinguished career he had undertaken, but he had nothing to gain by just lying to me. I honestly couldn’t see any posturing in a new composer with weak material rocking this guys world where he would be making it up.
So i stopped making excuses. Ok so he said my writing structure was too song like, and i hadn’t written it for any seeming purpose. So is it for a show reel, scored work, tv placement etc??
Having played back my finest 3-4 i had to conclude he was 100% accurate in his critique. Id confused the issue with no actual target for the music. I wasn’t writing for anything, anybody, merely to please myself in the most self ingratiating, indulgent manner. There was little to no chances of anyone else liking it at all at this point.
But ive been writing for so many years, what gives??
Well its the story of just because isn’t it. Just because you have a lot of experience in one area in music doesn’t qualify you to leap headlong into the next.
It was fair to say there was something not at all right with my attitude at that point and the mechanics of the music on several levels.
So with a swift change of attitude, ie:not treating those you ask of to listen like lepers purely because there honest critique doesn’t gel with your ego.
And studying as hard as possible to understand what does what and in what medium.
Learning the rules of audio engagement if you will. Understanding how your music will effect the product your selling. Will a 12 minute epic opus show anyone you can write for promotional trailer work? – probably not.
Will a selection of full on rock tracks illustrate your ability to morph, to adapt and be versatile in a constantly changing market?
To understand what someone needs from you as a composer, writer, creative etc, is 90% of the battle. If you understand all those things, and you have the skills you built up over the years, making that transition isn’t going to be quite as hard.
What does get old and tiring is when you DONT change your attitude and adapt.
But surely i can write anything i want and eventually someone will recognise my amazing chops and sign me up and the rest is history?
I would imagine the sheer batting average for that philosophy is about as low as you can get. Maybe count them on one hand over decades. Dont allude to being the next Thomas Newman and just cant catch a break, everyone’s wrong, why are they listening?
There is a big difference between being heard and being acknowledged.
You know sometimes the music you have right now, this minute, is actually bad.
It can be just awful despite all our best intentions. Yes you are being heard but no one will take time out of a busy day to delicately tell you why you suck so much.
You’re going to have to self medicate and fix your own wounds.
If you start getting things right, if you work really hard, and i mean REALLY fucking hard, you invest in some decent sounds and equipment so your hands aren’t tied behind your back, you will get some feedback slowly but surely.
Ranging from, yeah i liked that first half, your programming is great. You might not win the ultimate prize of “this is a great cue, totally see this in XXXXX”
But just don’t blame everyone. the world at large when you don’t adapt. When you refuse to hear feedback that your family or friends didn’t make.
I read so many comments recently of why cant i sell more music?? Is it the market place right now?? Where else can i send my music??
How about you don’t for a while?? Maybe your not selling because your not listening or growing.If you still think everyone’s an arsehole and you deserve your spot, good luck with your other job and prepare for a life less gratifying.
For those of us who slept past decent education, myself being one of them, go and study. Less facebook less moaning, less blaming and study.
The main overall reason you are not selling music is 99.99999% all you, not your lame excuses.