How to make a living as a composer (part I)
Becoming a full-time composer is a dream that many people have. But actually doing it is something requires you to be actively engaged in building your career. Some people enjoy networking, attending parties and reaching out to others. But not everyone is an extrovert and that doesn’t mean that they don’t build amazing careers. You just need to figure our what’s right for you.
So, let’s check 3 things you can do to start building your career as an independent composer.
1. Compose more!
The first thing you have to do if you want to advance your career as a composer may seem a bit obvious, but is fundamental. Start composing everyday. By doing this you’ll start gaining the experience you need to pitch for big projects. Always strive to improve your composition, production, mixing etc… in every new piece you compose. It doesn’t have to be perfect each time (nobody ever in the history of music reached perfection. No, not even Bach), but you need to have a healthy dose of self criticism to always be checking if your work is really reflecting how much you are worth as an artist and composer. If the music you’re making is not yet at the level you need to pitch for large projects, then just keep improving your skills.
There are many ways of improving your composition and production chops that don’t necessarily mean attending a music school. You can watch youtube videos, collaborate with others in composing and producing your music and hire live musicians to play your music in order to make it sound professional.
2. Always work at the highest level
Compose a lot and learn, but only release your best work. As a composer, you have to stand out and the best way of standing out is by making something unique and high quality. These sound hard to quantify, but if you want to improve something you need to be able to measure it, so we’ll try to quantify these.
Something unique might mean that you’re composing music that doesn’t obviously mimic another composer that you admire. If you can stay away from that tempting situation, you’ll probably be making something somewhat unique or heading there.
Something high quality means that the composition, voicings harmony and etc are consistent and don’t show basic flaws that could be unpleasent to the ear. We’ll not go too deep on this one because it could get super music theory-ish. High quality also means that you need to produce your music like a pro. Don’t release music that sounds like an unfinished mockup or lacking in originality. That’s cool to show your family, but please don’t let that be what represents you out in the public. If you want to build a reputation and a following you’ll have to output amazingly produced music. The best way of producing your music well is by collaborating with others. Hire live musicians to record your tracks, hire a producer, hire a mixer. There are services online that you can use to do this like musiversal.com to hire live musicians and soundbetter.com to hire producers and beat makers.
3. Share your music with others
Did a tree really fall in the forest if nobody heard it? The answer is yes, but nobody knows it did! Don’t let your music be that tree. Be ready to share your music with the world, starting with your friends and people on social media. Make a professional website or a Facebook page and start learning how you can get exposure without being annoying on social media. A good way of doing this is by collaborating with other people. If you work on a piece of music with 3 more people, you will have a network 3 times bigger so everyone will get 3 times more people listening to their music. But to be worthwhile sharing your music you need to be outputting really good music. You want people to start sharing it.