Archive for March, 2013

March 10, 2013

BEHIND-THE-SCENES MUSIC

We are exposed to music every day in the media and it’s easy to forget that people actually work very hard behind the scenes to bring us entertaining content. These people never receive standing ovations for their work — and outside of a few in the industry, no one knows or cares who they are.

In the mid-1990s, I started composing music for production music libraries. Production music libraries have large catalogs of music that are available to license in television and film productions. When music is needed, and the production doesn’t have a full-time composer or music staff, TV or film producers search through these libraries to find the right music cues for the project. Once they find the right piece of music, they pay a licensing fee to use it in the project. The publisher and composer normally split the profits from licensing.

Since I started this venture, my production music has been placed in over 150 television episodes, specials and films. Most projects are produced and broadcast in the U.S. A large number are then syndicated around the world.

Performing Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP, of which I am a member, collect royalties from broadcasters when the music appears on these televised shows. The royalties are then distributed to the publishers and composers whose music was used. While royalties from instrumental music can be extremely small for each music cue, the number of times they are broadcast can add up to a nice little bonus check for a composer.

Unless you are a staff composer, there is no notoriety or credit given for composing/producing music that is licensed through a production music library. On a lot of my licensed work, you will only see “Music by: Pump Audio or Getty Images or Warner/Chappell Music.” And because I never know what productions are using my music, I don’t find out which shows I’m on until I see royalty statements, which can arrive up to a year later.

If you are a composer or songwriter, don’t overlook this opportunity to make a little extra money from your hard work. It’s unlikely that it will ever be enough revenue to sustain you. But it is a great way to supplement your income.

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March 7, 2013

CHOOSING MUSIC OR ART OVER MONEY

In a recent issue of the Reno Gazette-Journal, a Voices From The Arts column caught my eye. The headline was “Young artists aim for something lasting” and it was written by Sarah Lillegard, the arts and programming director for The Holland Project.

The Holland Project is a Reno organization that encourages and supports young people who are passionate about art and music. It’s similar to Seattle’s Vera Project and gives like-minded kids and teens opportunities to learn, network and showcase their creative projects.

What grabbed my attention was that Lillegard shed light on a universal truth about wanting to become a professional artist, musician or composer. You can’t go into it for the fame or money, because those aren’t guaranteed. You do it because you love it and you can’t imagine spending your life doing anything else.

Lillegard wrote, “Living in Reno, the art that haunts and speaks the loudest isn’t always in the established galleries and museums, but at coffee shops and one-night shows. Beneath the white walls and exhibition’s cards of this town, there are generations of young artists making work with a fierce determination.”

She said that most of these aspiring artists are well aware that they may have a difficult road ahead of them. They could play it safe and learn a trade, but they are willing to take risks and make sacrifices for the sake of being happy.

Lillegard explained, “Having watched parents work middle-income jobs to little or no satisfaction, these artists have a want for more, even if it means that money is less.”

As I’ve previously mentioned on my blog, my parents were less than thrilled when I announced my intention to become a professional musician and composer. They wanted me to play it safe, to become a plumber. I know that they were worried about my future and I appreciated their concern. But I knew that music was the only career path for me.

I’m glad that organizations like The Holland Project and The Vera Project are out there to help young people explore the possibilities of careers in art or music. Some participants may find that they don’t have the drive or desire to pursue art or music professionally — and that’s fine, too. Learning about art and music will always improve your life and make you a well-rounded person.

For more information about The Holland Project, visit http://www.hollandreno.org/

For more information about The Vera Project, visit http://www.theveraproject.org/