Archive for November, 2012

November 17, 2012

EXPANDING YOUR REACH

To quote Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here …”

The same is true for composers whose work speaks within a larger project. Their names are usually buried at the end of the credits, which most people will never pay attention to. How many people actually stay in the theater to read the credits at the end of a movie or dig through documentation to find out who composed the music score for a game? Most people only remember whether they liked or disliked their entertainment experience.

So it always amazes me to hear from fans who actually care enough and take the time and energy to send me an e-mail or post a note on my blog, Facebook page or YouTube channel.

Getting to the point of having my music reach so many people has been a lifetime commitment, though. And every composer has his or her own path and learns different skills along the way.

I started out playing in school bands and rock bands. In college, I designed and co-built my first synthesizer, which enabled me to offer more diverse and unique shows. Exposure to this music was limited to those who came to my shows or heard my recordings on the radio.

I then moved on to being a product specialist/clinician for synthesizer manufacturers because of my knowledge of both music and technology. While it offered almost no exposure for my music, I learned a vast amount about music technology. That enabled me to start composing for games.

I never thought that my pinball games would expand my reach. But I uploaded a montage of my pinball music to YouTube recently. Much to my surprise, it is one of the more popular videos on my channel. It seems that there are fans of old school pinball music who love that Lo-Fi audio experience.

Because of my pinball experience, I was able to join FASA Interactive, creating music for the “MechWarrior 3” and “MechCommander” video games. Because of the success of those games, FASA Interactive was acquired by Microsoft Game Studios. That led to scoring the soundtracks for “MechWarrior 4” and its expansion packs, “Rise Of Nations” and a host of other smaller projects.

When I left Microsoft in 2003 to form my own music production company, it allowed me to score the soundtracks for “Rise Of Legends,” “Civilization Revolution,” “Defense Grid” and several small projects.

I am now a full time composer/sound designer at IGT, the largest manufacturer of slot machines in the world. My music is heard in casinos on five continents. I could have never gotten to this point without the notoriety I’ve gained by reaching out and seeking publicity throughout the years.

Beyond the body of work, I always made a conscious effort to keep my name out there through personal contact and writing published feature stories for newspapers, music trade magazines and game Web sites.

These days, it is a given that you need to have a Web presence. My Web site, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, blog and YouTube channel all contribute to creating publicity for my work and reaching a wider audience. While you may think that it’s not necessary to continue pursuing more visibility when you have a great job, quite the opposite is true.

Although I work for a large company now, all of my individual work contributes to the overall success of the company. When you work on creative teams, you are motivated by others on your team. If I know that a colleague has received patent awards or worked on world-class games, films and TV shows, etc., I am inspired to do my best work.

When you aspire to be a musician or a composer, exposure is key to building a fan base and a successful career. You will start small and you must never expect that the world will come knocking at your door just because you were the most talented kid in your school.

If you commit to a career in music, if you truly believe that you can withstand all the obstacles that will inevitably be thrown in your path, and know very deep in your heart that this is the only thing that you want to do for a career, you have a chance to succeed. Let the world know that you have something valuable to contribute by expanding your reach and making it easier for people to find your music.

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November 6, 2012

“HIGH STRUNG” RIP-OFF ARTISTS

Some interesting things have transpired since I published a blog post (on Oct. 7, 2012) about two Eastern European rap artists who used the “High Strung” music from my “Rise of Nations” original soundtrack, without my knowledge and without giving me credit as the composer.

A “Rise of Nations” fan from Finland had pointed out their videos on YouTube. I looked at and listened to the videos and ascertained that indeed they had taken my original recording of my original composition and tried to pass the music off as their own. In addition to blogging about these rip-off artists, I posted the following comments below both of their videos on YouTube.

“The music that this artist is using is ‘High Strung’ from the ‘Rise of Nations’ original video game soundtrack. I am the composer of this music. This artist has used my music without my knowledge and has not given me credit. I don’t know if he obtained permission from the copyright holder (Microsoft Corp.). If not, he is violating international copyright law. If he is making money from this music and has not given me credit as the composer, it is blatant theft of intellectual property.”

Lo and behold, when I checked back a few days ago, one of the artists had entirely removed the video from YouTube:

The other artist’s (Nazar) video is still on YouTube, but he has disabled and omitted all comments:

As a reference, here is my original song “High Strung”:

Coincidence? I think not. It’s apparent that these music pirates have come to the realization that they’ve been exposed as thieves. And now they don’t want their fans to know that they stole someone else’s music.

I reported the copyright violations to my performing rights organization, ASCAP. I was informed that it would be difficult to track the amount of money that is owed to me by the artists and that recovering the royalties would likely require hiring a copyright attorney. Unfortunately, doing this would be prohibitively expensive, especially because we are dealing with international copyright violations. And there is no guarantee that even with the help of an experienced attorney, the money would still be there to collect.

It’s aggravating that these artists may just get away with what they’ve done. At the very least, they’ve been “found out” and they know it. Do their fans know or care? Maybe not. But they should.

Bottom line, theft of intellectual property is a crime. Whether you are a recording artist or a consumer of music, know that when you make money from someone’s music without their knowledge and without the permission of the copyright holder, you are a criminal.