What does “success” look like, for you?
What do you want, and what would make you happy?
Are you already on a path there?
In this episode of The Trailer Music Composer’s Podcast, Rich discusses some tools to use that will help you attain life and work satisfaction.
Hey guys, welcome to another session of the trailer music composers podcast. In this session I wanted to cover something which actually I think is kind of life changing. Before I do that, I’m going to put a caveat, I think that’s the right word, I’m going to put a caveat into the episode, you may hear a rhythmic tapping the whole way through the episode, it’s because I’ve chosen today, a glorious sunny day to wear flip flops or if your Australian to wear things, not like that, British crowd. So you know, you may want to sample that and use that as your ticking in the next trailer cue.
Anyway, this thing I want to cover today is one of those things again. I feel very, very privileged to have the hindsight of someone who has gone from a composer in my bedroom to a very well paid award winning composer in another room in my house. Which is this idea of choice. So some of you may or may not know, I think some of you do that I went through a spell of writing books about creativity and inspiration and improving your life because I feel like this stuff is something I’m incredibly passionate about. You know I just did it, produced them, sent them out, great, earned a little bit of money, got a few fans, great. And hopefully changed some people’s lives. You know that sounds really like overly dramatic when I say that, I don’t mean you know I’ve changed your life, I mean you know for the better, brought something good to their life.
Anyway what I wanted to talk about is one of the books I wrote, I gave it away as a freebie really because it was so short, it was more of a booklet. I gave it like a cheesy marketing name just because I couldn’t think of any way to describe what I’m saying. I called it ‘The 10 Minute Method’. That sounds like a sexual act doesn’t it for us aspiring 10 minutes. But what it was actually about was the idea of choice.
So the reason I’m relaying this to my hindsight thing at the moment was because you know I can work very little hours, I can spend lots of time with my family, I can put time into passion projects of my own, and when I do get to work my work is writing music. And it’s amazing and I get paid very well to do it and I’ve won some awards, I’ve had some recognition, you know I’m living the dream that I hoped for myself. And I can think to myself ok well now let’s assess my life now to then, or then to now. What has changed? And that’s the beautiful thing, I can look back and go oh actually, there aren’t actually a lot of things that have changed. And this is why I want to talk to you about choice.
I’ve been talking to a lot of you who are aspiring composers or even those of you who are professional composers. You know I guarantee a lot of you, myself included, there’s still even though you’ve made it, in your eyes made it, other people’s eyes made it, there’s still a little bit of dissatisfaction. You know the grass is always greener and that.
So I wanted to talk about choice. You know every day we make choices, right yeah, ok, I’m going to have bran flakes over bacon and eggs, as a vegetarian I probably wouldn’t have bacon anyway. So bran flakes over the eggs. So that’s one choice we make, we choose whether to get out of bed or not, or to lie in, to hit snooze, to have a cold shower, hot shower, you know all these endless choices.
I’ve talked about decision fatigue before, but this isn’t decision fatigue, what this is is you guys and myself making a choice. Because what that choice is, and I don’t mean like a choice between the righteous path and the path to evil, I mean a choice on what you spend your time doing because you know what the stuff you spend your time doing is the stuff that you will still be doing when you’re successful. And that’s the really amazing thing you know, actually if you want to be a writer the thing you choose to do is write, if you want to be a composer the thing you choose to do is compose. If you want to be an actor you choose the thing is to act. And that’s the really vital thing you need to practice and you need to love it. I don’t mean like love it constantly like unrealistic unending love for this thing. I mean you need to enjoy it. You need to feel curious about it, it needs to be driven behind it. Because it’s the thing that you’ll still be doing in the future. Yes you might be getting paid more, but you will be doing it.
And that’s the thing you know. So often I had this glamorous idea in my mind, well I’ll say this bit first then I’ll go on to my counter argument. I had this glamorous idea in my mind that actually you know once you make it some of these things I won’t have to do. And actually you still have to do them, but you then have the choice to pay someone else to do it. For instance mixing, you know you guys should know by now that I don’t really mix my own stuff, I am capable of doing it, but I don’t like doing it, so we get Toby Mason who is an amazing genius of a man to mix all my music that’s released through Elephant and Mammoth. And I love that. I love that isn’t part of my process anymore. Obviously there is a view in the audience going well technically Richard it is part of your process, because the way you write, yes, yes, yes, yes I will be doing some balancing, yes I will be doing some tactical EQ, yes I will be doing some of that but I won’t be then having to sit there and think about oh my head room and all that jazz.
So that’s one of the choices that I choose not to have that in my process because back then the stuff I was doing is still the same, and I’m talking about when I was, so I made the tactical choice to work enough hours to pay all my bills teaching music, but also chose to not work all the time so that I could hone my craft which was writing music. So I was still doing the same thing, I was doing back then I was writing music in all different styles because I love creating, you know back then I had a blog somewhere I’m sure, recording, I’ve always had lots of projects and that’s the wonderful thing I still do. And the reason I’m saying this to you is this hindsight thing, if you guys, if you want to be a trailer music composer that’s what you need to be doing, because you know what, that’s the thing, you will still be doing in all those years time when you’ve made it and you’ve got your rewards and you can buy all the organic cacao powder for your porridge.
It’s a wonderful realisation actually, you can choose to do what you want with your time. And you’re probably going doing, yeah, and the reason I’m saying this is because that’s not actually my main point, the main point is because you know what, if you’re unsatisfied doing the things you’re doing now, you will still be unsatisfied doing he thinks you’re doing now later. You know the money will change things, obviously it gives more freedom and not so much stress about things like that, the awards will change things because you can be like hey I’m an award winning composer now rather than I’m a composer. But it won’t change the fundamentals, if you’re unsatisfied writing the music that you’re writing now, what will make you satisfied. It might be that actually I don’t want to write music, I want to be a playwright, or it might be that you know actually you’re wright Rich, I am unsatisfied in my nine to five because I want desperately to be a trailer music composer, I’m going to speak to my boss and be like dude can I have like a day off per week? A pay cut. I know Tim Ferris talked about this in his amazing book the four hour work week where he’s like quit whining, go see if you can get some time off work. And that’s the thing.
So then we move on to the second phase of this realisation that you know stuff will still be the same the say to day will still be the same the quotidian of your life will remain. You get up, you eat, you do a bit of work, you eat, you do a bit of work, you eat, you do something fun, you go to sleep. Probably not always the same thing you know, there will probably be some people in there in other activities, so you have to think, ok, if that’s the case, if the stuff I’m still doing now will be the stuff I’m still doing then and I’m still unsatisfied, but I know the things I’m doing are the things I want to be doing how can I deal with that dissatisfaction?
And I talk about you know obviously going for walks, the answer is kind of dig deep to find out that that dissatisfaction really is, whether it’s just plain jealousy that they’re achieving and you’re not or whether it’s maybe something a bit deeper like a spot of depression, you know whatever it is. You need to dig deep into that and if you need help, you need to get help. But also you need to have tools. I’m a huge, huge fan of having tools and I don’t mean so I got my hammer and I got my drill and I’ve got my screwdriver. Admittedly yes, I do have those tools, but I don’t carry them around with me for those moments when the blues monster comes in. and when I say the blues monster I’m not talking about a horrific monster that plays blues riffs at me constantly. I’m talking about those moments when you’re on a downward cycle. Because we all have them, we all run cycles. Everything we do is cyclical whether you appreciate that or not, its fact. Everything is cyclical. It’s just sometimes the cycles are longer or shorter, or sometimes they’re so imperceptibly short that you don’t see them as cycles, which kind of is like nice microcosm, not even microcosm, a nice reflection, a nice metaphor for music, you know these vibrations in the air that are happening so fast that we perceive them as sound.
So, what do we do, we’ve got these I’, already dong, Rich I’m already doing the things I want to be doing, I get up, I write music, and then I go to bed, but I’m unsatisfied, I’m still having problems feeling like I’m doing the right thing, I’m on the right path.
Now I want to introduce you to a few friends of mine ok, that are going to really, really help, and they all kind of centre around the idea of I say journaling, but it doesn’t have to be journaling you know, I mean for me this is mild therapy. Because I’m often talking to you about my own things because I know as a creative person you think along the same lines as me, or at least you don’t hopefully you do now, or if you don’t great it’s always good to have slightly differing views., it creates dynamism. So they centre around the idea of journalism, of space and of thoughts, I’ve talked about getting space in your life by walking and meditating and stuff like that.
But the other thing is journaling you know, just sitting down with a pen and paper and writing, just asking yourself big questions, what do I want with my life, why do I feel so rubbish and just be honest, I used to be terrified of writing what was actually going on in my head just in case someone actually realized how crazy and insane I was. But you know after years and years of doing it you go oh, this isn’t so bad, in fact some of this kind of poetry. And a lot of you will probably have dabbled in lyrics at some point in your life anyway. So you kind of have been doing journaling in some form or another. It’s just taking a thought and making it palpable, you know something tactile that you can hold and look at. And also getting it over your head.
So you know I used to do the amazing thing called morning pages from Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way, which if any of you have read you will know how amazing it is. If you haven’t read it check it out because it’s super awesome. It’s a lovely kind of approach to creativity which I love, obviously I’m a big spiritual guy, I’m not a big, you know five 10 and a bit, but I mean I’m big on spirituality. The morning pages are basically when you just wake up first thing in a morning and you just write whatever comes into your head. I remember the first few pages I was just like I’m tired, I’m still tired, oh my gosh I’m still tired. Why am I so tired. Because you know this was back in the day when I had to get up to go to work, where I’d have my sort of hour-long drive to get to work. So I’d have to get up half an hour earlier to do these morning pages and it was a bit of a hassle but actually it, what it often showed me that the problems I had going on in my head aren’t problems they were stories I was telling myself or they were just thoughts that were creating an emotional response in my body and obviously as you know the mind, the brain doesn’t know the difference between a real or imagined thoughts. So if you have a bad thought your body will respond in a psychological way to that thought. So if you remember a bad situation hey guess what you’re going to start pumping your body full of adrenaline.
That’s why worrying and stressing is so difficult. Such a difficult topic, because actually we all know this is pointless and we all know it probably is doing harm, but blimy is it hard not to write. And that’s why journaling is quite good. And you know I actually don’t recommend you just sit down and just think, and just go you know right, why at the top of your page, I actually think this is a huge one in which you should start a process of gratitude. Not necessarily journaling, of being grateful. This is something that’s come late in my life, I think I was rather an ungrateful child and I feel like actually I thought the world owes me stuff, but actually the world doesn’t owe you anything, you make of the world what you will. And gratitude being grateful for the things I have has been a huge thing.
I’m not necessarily saying about sitting down oh thank you for this meal, that type of thing, those of you who aren’t into that. I’m not going there, although I do like doing that. I’m saying let’s approach, just take this gratitude thing and use it as a way to shift our dissatisfaction. So if you’re thinking ok well I’m doing all the stuff I will be doing in the future while I’m successful, I do massive braaams and huge epic builds but I still feel like my music is rubbish and I still feel sad. You know obviously seek help, but try this as well, you know try being grateful. And what I mean is this, like actually I‘m sure amidst the endless dissatisfaction with your sample libraries you probably have some amazing sounds going on there. And if you don’t you probably have a microphone, i.e. I have a microphone right here in my hand in this iPhone.
And that’s how I record these podcasts. I was really worried that my microphone wouldn’t be good enough and you know what I do these podcasts and walk and they’re often windy and no one really complains and if they do I’m sorry guys I had to fit this into my busy schedule of being a family man and the composer. And plus I love being out in nature it’s awesome, I digress.
Being grateful for the things you have, so you sit down and you’ve done your track and you’re like ok, I don’t like this, I’m feeling sad, am I a failure, I’m just such an imposter, stop. Take a moment, maybe just write this down, you know what I’m super grateful for this, you know what I’m super grateful for that, I actually have the time to sit and write music. I’m super grateful that I have this wonderful podcast to listen to when I’m looking for inspiration. I’m super grateful I have all these amazing sounds, you think about 20 years ago would you have had that stuff at home, no. Gratitude for what you have enabled you to use those limitations as a good thing. Flip flop, flip flop. That was a dramatic emphasis by the way, dramatic pause.
And again this is all to me too. I’m not exempt from this by any means. I am so incredibly grateful. I have a phone that I can walk around in a wood and talk into without looking so crazy because it looks like I’m on the phone. If I was walking around with my Zoom recorder doing this everyone would be like right he’s bonkers. But the context has shifted, I’m very, very grateful for this phone because I get to communicate to you guys all you know, all seven million of you, no it’s definitely not that high. I am super grateful for whatever it is. Just approach this daily, you will notice such a big difference. And also you might even notice an immediate shift in your mood.
Because then what you’re doing is you’re changing your energy right, you’re changing your vibration, you’re no longer this slow sad vibrating thing. You’ll increase, this energy will increase, you will feel better. And you might be able to re-attack that track that you’re feeling sad about, you might even start being like you know what, I’m really grateful for everything I have, I am an incredibly lucky person. I live in a safe world, well a safe part of the world you could say, you know, I have clean air, I have clean water, I have food readily available round the corner. That stuff is just amazing.
But we want to use this gratitude tool, and this journaling thing to help us through those moments because you know what as creative people our mood swings can be very, very big. But they, we can also learn to understand them so that we can then be more productive when we’re working and we can be more positive when we’re working. Because again the vibrations you put into your music go out into the world. So if all you have is like an SM57 and Cakewalk Pro then do something with that. Do something with that and be grateful for those two amazing tools. If all you have is a cracked version of Reason, hello, me back in 2007 use that. Because you know what, my cracked version of reason landed me a placement on a national ad campaign that over three years gained me £60,000. I mean isn’t that amazing. But at the time I was like I don’t have Pro Tools, I can’t afford Outboard here, I don’t have anything decent, I’m rubbish.
But I didn’t understand gratitude them I didn’t understand the true appreciation for the situation and now I’m like ok well I have the money to buy all that stuff, but I don’t want to buy it because I have so much stuff, I have too much stuff, too many sample libraries, too many of this, because I can’t even, you know some people are like have you seen this in Omnisphere, and I’ve used Omnisphere for blooming ages and I still haven’t opened out really. Honestly, it’s just one of the embarrassing moments when I oh you know this sound in that library I go, I didn’t even know there was a piano in that library.
So here we go, I’m just going to sort of sum up a little bit now because the breeze is picking up and I feel annoyed when the wind is blowing into my microphone because then it’s like (makes wind sound). So you want to think about this. Where do I want to be in five years, what do I want to be doing them, and if you’re not doing it already you need to start. If you’re like you know what when I’m rich and famous I’m going to give 10% of my money. If you’re not doing it now you won’t be doing it then. If you want to tithe your money start doing it now. It doesn’t feel less difficult when you earn more money, and I will tell you it feels maybe a little bit more difficult tithing 10% when you earn more money.
If you want to be like you know what I want to be like a really peaceful meditating man or woman when I’m rich and famous and amazing, you need to be doing that now. If you want to be a master of trailer music, then, then you need to practice mastering it now. Do you get me. And if you are doing those things, if you’re doing those things you want to be doing them, but you’re still unsatisfied you need to get a piece of paper and a pen and ask yourself some really important questions. What do I really want. I don’t mean like I want outboard gear, I said outboard gear again didn’t I, I want a jumbo jet, not one of those things, I mean like how do you want to feel, do you want to feel calm, do you want to feel like productive, do you want to feel busy, whatever it is. Think about how you’re going to feel and then what stuff is going to make you feel like that. If you want to feel calm and you’re already meditating what is going to bring calm into your life.
I’m going strangely sort of psychoanalytic here, but this stuff is so important and so many people just don’t talk about it, they’re like yeah being a musician is all about producing quality tracks and selling it. That’s it. No it’s not, you have to be a good person too. I’ve got to be a good person, man, stop bullying me. You have to think about your life in a holistic way.
And this is, I’m talking about myself again guys, don’t forget to meditate Richard, Ok. you have to think about what you can do to get there to get there and what you can bring to your life now that will accelerate you there, because you know what if you’re doing everything now, that you want to be doing then, and if you feel entirely satisfied with your life, do you know what, that probably means that you’re going to get there faster. Because the times in my life when I’ve been happiest, the things I’ve wanted have come to me quicker, and having the amount of trailer placements I get when I’m on holiday or that I get when I’m walking in the woods playing with my kids you know with my family, it still astounds me, its like its my birthday today. Oh yeah, two people have just bought my course, amazing. Because you know what, what you’re doing is like, I mean I’ve talked about this with your music, you’re just this beacon of energy right, and as we know with resonant strings or sympathetic strings, sympathetic resonance like will resonate with like.
So when you’re there vibrating this lovely happiness and it’s like yeah, I love everything thank you, trees are awesome, then what’s going to happen, I’m not trying to say an army of trees are going to come at you, if the good stuff you want is going to be there. That’s why it’s really important to think about what you want, and not just like I want seven awards, 17 placements per year and £200,000 per annum. You want to think about, I want to feel content with my life, I’m going to feel calm, I want to spend time, you know you want to figure out everything. Because winning the awards and earning all that money and getting all those placements it won’t fix all those other things. But fixing all those other things may just help you move forward with your music.
I mean I’m going to go, I probably will end up diving super deep into this in another episode, but I just want to bring this to your attention. Think about what you want, your life is about choice, your career is about choice, choose the things you want to do now and do them, because those are the things, if you want them then in the future you should be doing them now.
You know I was really, I want to be one of those people who’s like yeah, I just work a little bit in the morning and then go surfing. Or something like surfing, so I make sure that I do that now. I am so glad I did because you know what I get to be around when my kids are growing up as opposed to you know I’ve got to work super hard until they go to uni and then I’m going to retire. Yeah, I’m not knocking that if that’s your choice, it’s your choice awesome, you know if you have your own path, I have my own path, I don’t have any right to judge but you need to establish what it is you want, make those choices to do those things now and if those things still aren’t bringing your satisfaction try a little gratitude, try a little bit of journaling, see if that helps.
You guys are absolute legends again. I’m absolutely gobsmacked by how much love I’m getting for this podcast. It’s just yeah, it’s like if I had socks on right now I feel that they would literally fly off my feet having my socks blown off me. I feel like that sounds really rude, I don’t mean it like that I feel like there’s an English expression oh you just blew my socks off in a good way. That’s the kind of expression I’m like, but one thing, I would just love to ask you guys one favour, add lots of lots of listeners and lots and lots of lovely emails, comments, messages saying how much you guys are enjoying it and I absolutely love that.
But do you know what, I would love to ask you one favour. He says stepping into a hugely windy part of the, actually it’s a golf course just here now., I’d like to ask you one favour guys could you spare me one minute perhaps even 30 seconds to post a review, just a little comment, give me a rating on iTunes. That would just be so wonderful. A couple of you have done it and that’s amazing and I’m really, really grateful that you have and I just ask this favour. Please leave a review and a comment. It just completely lifts my mood when you guys share the love.
So thanks for listening guys you’re absolute legends, I wish you all the best in your endeavours to be trailer music composers or production music composers or you know Smash Hits, on Spotify whatever it is, because we’re all on our life paths together and it’s not a competition. I am always going on to another podcast episode here aren’t I. I’ll quickly summarise.
I grew up thinking the music was like a limited thing, there’s only a few spots for you guys you’ve got to compete with each other madly, no you don’t one man’s success, one woman’s success does not prevent anyone else from succeeding. We’re all in this together guys. Let’s help each other out and I hope I’m helping you move forward.
You’re absolute legends, thanks guys and I will speak to you through my iPhone and iTunes etc in the next episode, take care.