TMCP 025: The Two Biggest Struggles Faced By Any Composer

TMCP 025: The Two Biggest Struggles Faced By Any Composer

You in store for a VERY excited Rich in this episode!!

Rich talks about the two biggest problems that face composers, especially as they are just starting out.

And not only that – he has a solution.

Here are the links that Rich mentions in the podcast:

protege.school
and
protegefreeweek.com

Transcript:

Hello guys, welcome to another episode of the trailer music composers podcast. In today’s episode I wanted to cover two of the biggest problems faced by not just trailer music composers, but any kind of composer of any kind of music.  And those two problems are this.  The first one knowing how to translate the ideas that are floating around your head, how to translate those into not just good sounds, but you know sounds that people can relate to, sounds that people want to listen to and sounds that people want to buy, music that is palatable and sellable.

Now the other thing is then how do you get that music out there?  Now this, you know I’m going to cast my mind back many, many moons to when I first started out as a composer.  And you know back then, this was what, 2005, back then I wasn’t planning on being a trailer music composer, I wanted to be the next Danny Hoffman or you know as close to that as I could possibly get because Danny Hoffman is an absolute legend.  

Anyway, so the problems I faced were this, how do I get better as a composer and how do I then get my music heard?  And I was trying to approach those things all at the same time.  So obviously this is the thing, as a composer it’s not just like you do a course that’s like this will make you a good composer.  You know, there’s so many aspects to being a better composer.  You know for instance with the music production side out of the way your grasp of theory when it comes to harmony, when it comes to melody, when it comes to rhythm, when it comes to orchestration, all of these things and how they all come together.  So then you’ve mixed, then you’ve got recording, then you’ve got mastering, you’ve got this whole, you know as a composer it’s kind of like you have to sit there with like a whole table of different hats and be the master of all of them.  And I found that, I don’t know about you, but I found that incredibly daunting, but I persevered and I endeavoured to be better.  So I sat down and did all the research I could, if there were, back then I can’t think of any courses that were available that weren’t astronomically expensive or that just weren’t quite what I wanted, i.e. they were more sort of classical music based or sort of really sort of beats heavy sort of stuff.  Which both of those things I live, but I wanted kind of like the be all and end all of course.  So I persevered as I’ve already said, which was great fun, but then what happens is this.  You start to produce this music and then it’s like oh great, I’ve just got this music sat on my hard drive.  So what am I going to do with it now?

And there lies the next problem, the problem that is what do you then do with your music.  And then we open up another cupboard of a ton of different hats.  You know not just salesman, but marketing, and these days social media manager, you’ve got all these roles that you have to fulfil as a composer now, which is fine, but it’s a lot of work.  And back then 2005 I struggled with a lot of this stuff, I didn’t know where to find, how do I get my music out there, great I’ll get a ‘MySpace’ page, that’s pretty much what I did, and then just sat there twiddling my thumbs, I think I did start a blog which admittedly I wish I’d persevered with because it would be huge right now, but we had a ‘MySpace’ page twiddling your thumbs like no ones listened to it today and no ones commented, which admittedly is still the sad state of affairs it is today on most social media platforms, you know ignore them, don’t go into vanity metrics Rich you know, oh someone’s got to like my post.

Anyway my sad admission aside, those are the two, sorry guys I’m walking on that sea of nachos again aren’t I, let me just, I don’t know why, but I always seem to go, I do these podcasts in the woods and there’s a path and for some reason it’s almost like I’m being sidetracked by my thoughts into the sea of nachos which is just dry leaves for those of you who are salivating at the mouth.  I did side track didn’t I, here we go back on the normal path.  

And that was the problem I faced, how do I get better as a composer, how do I get the music out there and it just felt like I was sending tentacles everywhere trying to desperately find, back then 2005, finding stuff on the internet was pretty tough, every website you went on to looked absolutely dodgy.  You know and ‘Myspace’ seemed to be the thing, and finding out about becoming a better composer was a case of going to the library and reading a book.  Not the same wonder it is today with YouTube and all these course platforms etc. etc. 

And that is what has been on my mind this whole time I’ve been doing these courses, this whole time I’ve been sort of making sure I give back to the composer community because do you know what, like when I was first starting out I found it so scary and so daunting, and there were a couple of very kind composers who responded to my emails with you know the classic advice which I found myself giving as well, keep at it man, you’re doing well, persevere.  You know when you’re in that situation and someone replies, I apologise to any of you who I have sent that email to, when you hear that and you’re at the start of your career, you’re like ‘bog off’.  You know thank you obviously, but at the same time you’re like ah man, where’s this fast track, you know where’s this sure shot?  Do do do do.  Anyway so I apologise for those views.

So I understand how frustrating it is, I really do and that’s where my heart is when I’m doing these courses, and that’s where it is when I’m doing this podcast.  I’m essentially looking back at myself with some very sentimental trailer music playing, looking back to myself going ‘come on Riche you can do this little guy, you know keep working hard’.  And actually look, I’ve got all these lovely nuggets of information for you, little clues, which I’m hopefully passing back on to you, which you know it’s my service to the industry.  And that is where my head has been for the last, I don’t know a couple of years now, probably approaching three years now since I started doing courses and things.  And I’m absolutely loving it, you know I’m absolutely loving helping you guys.  And the feedback I’m getting from this podcast, from my YouTube videos, from my trailer music school has been phenomenal.  And I just absolutely love helping you guys.  And that is where this wonderful thing happened. 

So those of you who don’t know, I am a writer for Elephant Music, with Vikram Gudi.  And I also write for Mammoth Audio which is also Vikram Gudi’s baby, one of his many babies, one of his many businesses.  And I have had great success with both of those companies.  And obviously I was one of the first writers on board with Elephant when it was launched, because I’ve known Vik before he launched Elephant, we started our careers at the same time as those die hard fans of you would know.

And me and Vik got to talking this has been on the conversation for years now, we’ve been talking about this since I started this course, I started the course and Vik was like dude I want to start a course.  So he started spit balling about it, you know combining his knowledge of the business with my knowledge of the practical elements of the composition and the production.  And it never really came to anything, we talked about it and we were like yeah, cool, let’s do this.  And nothing really happened with it until, when was it last year, 18 months ago perhaps, not last year, what was it 2018, till 2018 when I was like look Vik I’ve got all these students who do my course, is there any chance we could collaborate and run  competition for my students where the best tracks get published on an Elephant Music album?  And he was like yes.  That’s, as any of you who know Vik would say, huge.   

So we did that, we ran a competition and I can’t remember how many of them got on there, it was a 21 track album, so there we quite a  lot of students on there, it was about 15 students, some of them did multiple tracks because they really impressed us, and it got published and a couple of them have got placements, trailer placements off the back of this competition.  So they are now like published trailer composers.  And that was such a learning curve for me, but also it was, both Vik and I were like this is fantastic, you know it was just great to be able to give back to the composer community.  

And we you know started talking about this, we were like hang on, this is really fun, this is really cool, why don’t we join forces properly, why don’t we create a school where we can do exactly what we did in that instance and what we did there was we set a brief as per industry standards, so if you’re doing an album for any music publisher you would get a brief, if you were doing a pitch for any trailer or ad or whatever you would get a brief.  Some of them are bare bones, some of them are highly detailed.  Some of the advert briefs you can get are just like I’m not sure I need to know the colour of the paint on the walls at the time, but you know thank you for the detail.

So we set a brief, we send it to the students, but we send the students a course that teaches how to do music in the style of the brief. Because this is what we’ve found with that release, we did this release, it was called ‘Onyx’, it was dark sound design.  We found that a lot of students and other aspiring composers did not know how to do dark sound design, because whenever people think about trailer music they think it’s just epic music.  So I got a ton of tracks that were good, but just were off brief, it was like this is actually an orchestral track, it’s a great orchestral track, but it’s not dark sound design.  

So  a huge part of that process was actually me kind of educating and Vik educating those people in how to approach writing like that, which was huge learning curve for them, and for us.  So we decided yes, let’s do this school when we set a brief, we then produce a course so they understand how to respond to that brief and then they submit to us and we give feedback on their tracks.  And then those of the best tracks we then publish.  And what I mean by that is we and them out to, I say ‘our’ it is ‘ours’ now but obviously it’s mostly Vik’s network of contacts in global contacts in the film, the trailer, the game, the TV, the you name it, that world.  All his contacts.  So essentially we will be publishing the best tracks and that is the beautiful premise of our school that we have started called ‘Protege’.

I’m absolutely the moon about this project, it’s huge.  Because I’m looking back to myself, blimey 15 years ago and I’m thinking if I could give this to me then, I would have absolutely jumped out of my pants, not in a sexual way, but in a very excited cartoony super fast way, absolutely jumped out of my pants.  You know where they jump out of the stool and all that’s left is their socks, their shoes, their trousers and their pants, because they’ve rocketed up to the moon, I would have absolutely jumped at this course.  It’s not only are you getting an absolutely niche education, you know you are also getting guidance from, excuse me I didn’t bring my own horn but I am going to blow it, two multi-award winning composer and producer duo.  It’s absolutely huge, I mean when do you get that.

And then, if you impress them, the judges at that time, I say judges, all of a sudden I’m thinking a bit ‘X Factor’ you know me and Vik, if the track shows us that you’ve got merit then we will then publish in our company as a published track which them gets pitched for trailers for films for TV, for games, you name it.  And that absolutely blows my mind.  I mean I still think to myself, hey I want to do this course.  Obviously I am doing it because I’m producing a large part of the video content, and this is the beautiful thing, we are educating and also providing that network of opportunities.  There was a dramatic pause there, which was just huge.  

So to give you some finer details I’m mean just in case you haven’t realised it, it’s kind of sales pitch, but it’s also explaining what’s happening because I’m noticing a few people are coming to my trailer music school being like ‘hey can I get on the Elephant this way?’  and actually I’m removing that from the trailer music school and I’m putting it into Protege.  And that’s what me and Vik are doing.  We’re saying hey if you guys want to learn from us and be distributed and published with us then come to Protege because that’s where it’s going to be.

And what will happen is this, it’s a whole year long course, it’s not like a traditional online course when it’s like do it whenever you want as fast as you want, here’s 10 hours of video, there are 30 weeks of courses, spread out over a year in five week terms, so first term is five weeks, second term is five weeks, third term is five weeks, etc. partly because I want to be around as a dad during my kids school holidays, and also because I think everyone needs a break, you know 30 solid weeks of work would be crazy.  So that’s the way it’s structured.

And within those five weeks each week has a brief has a course, has a workbook, has feedback from myself, Vik and out team of producers and also a weekly call with hotseats where me and Vik will talk through the strongest tracks or the tracks that have jumped out to us for one reason or another and speaks to you as composers.  There are limits placed on this course.  There are only 100 places for this year-long course.  And the beauty, this is where it gets, I’m actually jumping up and down low guys, if I was on the nacho wood floor you would hear it, maybe I should move over there.  

The beauty of it is this right, say in week one, this is what excites us, say in week one right we give you the brief, you do the course, you send us a track and it blows out minds, Vik will send it out, boom, send it out to his contacts.  So you could potentially have your track placed within the first term, because sometimes the turnaround is that quick.  And then he’s amazing, you’re a jobbing composer.  And I just, yeah, I’m very, very excited by this, I cannot wait for it to start, the course launches on the 7th September, we have already opened the doors for like an early bird submission, so we have already sold quite a few places, and it’s kind of blown out minds as to how many places have gone already and we’ve barely done any marketing, this is actually my first marketing to you guys.  And most of you probably know about it anyway.  But if you don’t this is just huge.

So I won’t give you more details, I will just say if you want more details you can head on over to protege.school, yeah we’ve got one of those cool quirky names because protege.com was gone of course protege.school where you can find more details, but essentially its 30 weeks of courses so 30 whole courses.  Which admittedly if I was charging you for that course that I’m doing each week it would be £300.  You know £300 times 30, £9000.  Which obviously our course isn’t that expensive, but it is an investment and I really want to highlight that to you, it’s an investment  in yourself and your career, because the beautiful thing if it is with a lot of courses I’ve done the courses to guys, I know where you’re coming from, a lot of the courses.  You do the course and it’s like ah ok, done, now what do I do?  

I did a degree, three years of study and you’re like yes, this is amazing, I know everything under the sun and you leave and go, oh know I don’t do anything and I especially don’t know how to get paid to do this.  And what we’re doing at Protege, is we’re teaching you everything we know, Vik’s running business videos, business videos within each of those 30 weeks as well, so he’s teaching you everything he knows about the industry.  I’m teaching you everything I know about my end of the industry, which is you know sitting on your own in your room writing music.  Because it’s awesome and fun.  And then we’re also saying hey if you’re good enough maybe you can get paid, here you go.  And we’re putting our money where our mouth is, because obviously our reputations are at stake if the tracks you submit are rubbish and we send them off and they’re rubbish, then we won’t get any placements they’ll be rubbish. But it’s not going to be like that because we both have a track record Vik and I of mentoring students who then go on to get placements.  And that’s the plan.

So once you’ve done the year, hold on Rich, what happens after I’ve done the year’s course?  Am I just going to be abandoned you know?  I understand why you think that, but no, obviously we will be offering every student who signs up the chance to stay, they will stay because it’s going to be awesome on our books as a composer.  Because obviously the school is only one aspect we are launching a publisher to go with this who will be releasing music much like Elephant does, much like Mammoth does, but on a larger scale.  And that’s the idea, we are training you up to be awesome so that you can then carry on being awesome for us and for yourselves.  And that’s just so cool, I mean it’s so cool, and the thing that makes it extra specially awesome is that you sign up for the course, you then become part of the community, we have a membership site for those students who do sign up where it’s kind of like your own little private Facebook group.  But it’s more than that, so you sign on to the website much like my trailer music school is at the moment, you sign on to it and those of you who have done the free protege course, you sign onto it, you’ve got the course, you’ve got the activity feed, you’ve got forums, you’ve got groups, it’s all very, very exciting.  And then once you’ve signed on there and you’ve done the year long course you stay there as a graduate.  So you still have the network, you still have access to me and Vik, you still have access to our producers, you still have access to the support and ah it’s just beautiful.  I look at it and I think I didn’t come up with this, no me and Vik didn’t do that, no that’s way too cool.  

But there’s no other courses like this.  Yes there are high end production courses, yes there are chances to get an internship with a company, yes you can send as many emails as you like to publishers to get placed, but you know how many of you has it actually worked for when you haven’t built up the relationship first?  And that’s the trick, so I once, a little anecdote here, I once used to work for a company that used to deal with advertising music, in London, and I went up to meet one of the supervisors there, and she said to me hey Rich, how come you didn’t just reach out to us sooner, and say, funnily enough I went to university with her but I didn’t realize that until afterward, how come you just didn’t contact us and see if we’d use you as a composer?  And I said if I had emailed you without building the contact, if I’d emailed you cold and just said hey I’m a composer listen to my reel can I work with you, would you have listened to, read the email, listened to it, and then got back to me?  And she said no on all accounts.  And there we go.   That is the catch 22.  It’s really hard to get work as a composer if you don’t have the network.  It’s really hard to build the network if you don’t have work as a composer.

And that’s a struggle I had for years and years and years, and I was lucky enough to actually get into a network through a friend, which I mentioned in the first episode and that is what, we’re trying to essentially solve the problems for new composers.  The first problem being how do I become as good as this, how do I write like that, how do I produce music in this way?  Tick, tick, tick.  And then now what do I do with it, how do I sell it?  How do I get this placed on a trailer, how do I get this on a game?  Don’t worry we’ll sort it out for you.  That’s just the beauty of it, I mean obviously we cannot guarantee anything, we’re not saying if you sign up you’re going to get a placement because that would be false and you know you still have to put the work in, and you still have to produce good work.  So you know at the end of it, if your tracks aren’t great, sorry you just have to keep working on it, but you still have the support network to help you get better. 

So I’ve noticed this in my trailer music school, where sometimes the composers send a track and it’s not that great, or at least it could do with a lot of work, but then they work on it with another composer giving them feedback and then they re-submit it and it’s just banging and its awesome.  And that’s the beauty of it, and that’s one of the reasons this has kind of sprung up to me was the way the trailer music school has been working, you know those of them who signed up for a year have been in it for the year, those who signed up for a month dipped in for a bit and then dipped out, so I didn’t get a chance to build a relationship with them, so they missed the opportunity to have the relationship with me, that sounds really terribly arrogant, you know what I mean. They weren’t there for the long haul, whereas those who signed up for the year, for the long haul, who put the bigger investment on the table, they had skin in the game, so they put the work in.  and do you know what they’re going to reap the rewards.  

And that is the beauty of protege, you’re investing in yourselves, and we’re going to invest in you.  And that just sounds so awful.  Sorry if I’m getting way too excited about this, but I’ve been waiting to do this podcast for weeks and weeks and weeks.  I was just thinking when is the right time to do it, I don’t know if it’s the right time to do it.  The right time is now and I’m going to send it out next week.

So like I said if you want more information you can go to protege.school  for it.  The other thing is, if you want to test out the school we have a free week for you.  So what we did is we just built a separate website, and we put one of our courses on there.  We thought hey guys what if you want to taste it first, test it first, we give you a brief, we show you how to respond to it with some video courses and then you upload it and get some feedback from us.  Go to protegefreeweek,com/register.  The URLs will be in the show notes by the way just in case you’re scrabbling to grab a pen.  But yes and the feedback from that has been huge, I mean it’s just been great.  And that the thing that’s been really, really wonderful, like both Vik and I genuinely want to help as many composers as we can without obviously spreading ourselves too thin, hence the limited numbers.  We genuinely want to help you guys.  And we genuinely want to share your successes and celebrations because the other thing is having the community of composers is huge, it’s so important.  I have absolutely loved having my trailer music school community, they are absolute legends and I’m so excited about the protege community, it’s going to be absolutely rocking, and especially once the placements start rolling in because they will, I’m not guaranteeing any of them, but they will.  It’s just going to be absolutely massive, it will be like we’ll have to do high five calls all the time.  Don’t quote me on that obviously, busy man you know.

So yeah, if you want to get into trailer music or even production music, get your music on TV shows, whatever it is, seriously have a think about this, I know I would, this is kind of like a cathartic thing for me to give back to my far self who this is all I ever wanted was guidance from people in the know, was courses to teach me very specific things like how do you do that cool trailer music sound?  How does he get that weird horror music sound that he does?  You know all those questions, there’s tons of them, there are literally tons of them, and then within each thing, you know what do they use to make that weird stutter sound?  I mean that still runs through my head every time I hear a piece of music, mmm how did they do that?

And then on top of that you have a chance to submit and get feedback, every week your track will get fedback upon, guaranteed, which is massive, because actually in the industry you won’t always get feedback, I’m no talking about if you’re doing library music because obviously they’re producing an album, I’m talking about if you do a brief, you might not always get feedback.  Sometimes you just send, especially in advertising, you send a track off and it just dies in the distance.  And then on top of that you get the opportunity for it to be sold and placed and licenced.

I know I’m sounding like a broken record going over three points but I like saying it out loud, I still think this is just absolutely mind boggling, and I cannot wait to get this started because it’s going to be massive, it’s going to be massive, and it’s going to be huge for those of you who have decided to invest in yourselves and join us next, not sext September, September 2020, the 7th of September 2020 Protege launches.  And after that there will be no more students enrolling, it’s going to be doors open and then they close, because obviously we’re not going to accept people mid way through the year, so if you want to get your stuff together, I was going to say get your, you know ‘shirt’ together, but I try to keep this a profanity free podcast for any families listening.  If you want to get your shirt together, you’ve got until September, but I would recommend booking your place now, because they’re going fast, and a lot faster than I thought they would, not to reveal my surprise, but as with any business venture there’s always a slight bit of hesitance about the launching.  And it’s been massive, you know we’ve had placements in tons of industry magazines and blogs and stuff, and it’s just been great, being featured and having that exposure.  Because I think so many composers would benefit from this, I mean it’s kind of like actually this is how I made a living as a composer, this is exactly how I made a living as  a composer, I am literally giving you all of my knowledge.  So trailer music school you’re getting a few of my courses guys, whereas protege I am just unloading, not like that, come down, 30 courses.  

And the thing is, the other thing is it’s not going to be the same 30 courses because we want to keep it relevant.  So the following year it might be a different 30 courses, hopefully not because that’s a lot of work, but we will keep it relevant because at the end of the day we’re training you to produce the best work so that we can sell it.  And if that means that next year we drop the cinematic hip hop, which we probably won’t because that’s pretty much evergreen, and we replace it with I don’t know banging Japanese taiko drums then that’s what we do.  Because we want to keep it relevant.  Not that we’re going to be following trends, but trends are important in the trailer music industry, and advertising, well let’s face it, it’s all advertising really isn’t it the stuff that we’re doing.  Game adverts, film adverts, TV adverts, primers, whatever it is.  Our music sells something else so it has to sound cool and amazing.  And sell the right mood.  And that’s what we’re doing.

Now I’m very aware that I’m going to, I have been blabbering on, I’m going to reach myself going full circle in a minute and not just on my walk, but also on the conversation with myself, to you guys, I’m aware that you’re listening, thanks podcast audience, you guys are absolute legends by the way.  I just feel I need to put this in here.  You guys are absolute legends.  Like the amount of feedback you guys have given me on this podcast has been huge, and it’s been so wonderful to hear that these random rants and my random interviews have been helpful and insightful and not just the rantings of a slightly crazy man, although probably in those parts you’re a bit like skip that bit.  Thank you for listening guys because you’re absolute legends.  And just before you reach to press stop, because I’m like you, I don’t really care about the very end of the podcast, this isn’t the very end of the podcast, I was just adding a very small thank you to my podcast audience for being such legends.

So yeah, I want to return back to where I started, the two biggest problems for any composer learning and mastering your craft, and getting your music out there.  And you know that last one has a caveat of, and actually earning money from it, you know and that’s the real trick you know.  And I don’t know whether Vik is going to be listening to this but Vik is an absolute master salesman.  You know I’ve worked with lots and lots of companies, and he really does excel at it, and that’s what we want to break for you guys.  We want to break those problems down, we want to give you the skills to master your craft and then give you the channels to make a living from it.  That’s what we want.  We want to be able to come out at the end of this and be like you know what, we had 100 students join us, and 100 students are now doing this full time, or 100 students have now decided to keep this as their side hustle because it’s sweet and they still love their day job, but just wanted to give it a try.  You know whatever story it is that you have going on in your life whatever you’ve decided this year is going to be the year that you go for it, we want you to succeed, we want to come away from this with 100 absolute success stories.  And we are going to try our absolute darndest to make sure that happens.  

So those of you who know me and know my rantings and ravings and know my courses will hopefully know how detailed I go when I go into my courses.  I like to know that you have got the thing that I’m trying to teach, and I like to make sure that you have all the tools you can to use my knowledge as a springboard for your success.  And the same goes for Vik, we want you guys to be as good as possible and to then go on to achieve what it is you want to achieve, whether it is  get your first placement, whether it is earn a living from what you’re doing, ir whether it is just carry it on as a side hustle, we want to make sure that we give you every chance we can.

So yes. How to solve those two problems, I really, really do think this protege school that we have started Vik and I is an absolute game changer.  I’m not just saying that because we created it, but it is education, mentoring, opportunities, continued opportunities, professional development all wrapped up in one course.  It’s just brilliant.  

Guys thank you so much, so, so much for listening and i really do appreciate it because some of you are probably on here to be like ok Rich, I just want to hear you do some epic hits again, and thank you so much for listening, I really do think you guys should check out protege.school  and go check out our full course.

Now the thing is if its not for you protege we also have a YouTube channel where we’re putting out YouTube tutorials, so we’re putting you free content, we also have another podcast called composer stories, which is interviews with composers who are actually composing for a living, trailer music composers, library composers, game composers, you name it, obviously I’m one of them that’s interviewed which was fun, but yeah that’s hosted by Guy Jones, he’s on the protege team, a very talented composer.  Great singer, so we’re also giving back more, we want to give back more, we want to give free content to you guys, like another podcast, like more YouTube content.  And that’s just going to keep going and keep growing because we want to help the composers community thrive.

Music.

Yeah, anyway you guys are absolute legends thank for listening and I hope you have a good day, over and out.  See you.

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