Would you like to be the next John Williams and compose sweeping melodies like Star Wars? Unfortunately, that is the dream of literally tens of thousands of aspiring film scorers. If you want to succeed, you will need to separate yourself from the pack. Here are a few key ways to increase your odds.
Location, Location, Location
While it’s true that with 21st century connectivity you can work from nearly anywhere, your chances of getting hired improve dramatically with proximity. Producers and directors like to look at their composers face to face and have them in the room. This basically means you need to live in Los Angeles or New York City. Once you have established your career over years of good work, it’s possible to leave these two cities, live elsewhere, and work remotely. However, you will still be hopping on the plane frequently to go where the business is.
It Ain’t What You Know…
It’s who you know. This is the number one rule of the entertainment industry, and the primary reason location is crucial. Most composers get their first breaks into the film industry because a director knew them and liked them. Network like mad. Make friends with up and coming film directors. Get to know their work and discuss it intelligently with them. Work as a copyist or arranger in Hollywood so you can meet people. Make those connections and keep them.
Get the Gear
You have to acquire and maintain a basic film scoring studio. It’s best to do this over time so you aren’t outlaying a huge sum of money upfront. Let your gigs buy your gear. You’ll need a desk top computer with the fastest CPU you can afford, a digital audio workstation, sound sets, and some type of MIDI keyboard. This is the bare minimum. In addition, you need on-site IT support Los Angeles for cloud services and connectivity. You will be storing huge files of music and video in the cloud, and good IT support will make sure it stays there.
It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing
Practice your craft. If you only compose symphonic scores in the style of Alfred Newman and the director wants uptempo jazz, you’re fired before you begin. Learn how to write every style of music quickly and well. Then when opportunity comes knocking You’ll reply, “Why, yes, I can write you 2 minutes of that.” And you’re booked.