Unexpected Career Paths You Can Take As A Composer
Making a living as a composer, like most other jobs in the creative industries, is tough. Luckily the skills you learn as a composer are easily transferable to a number of different jobs and industries.
In the past, if you were a composer, there wasn’t a huge range of opportunities available. In the distant past it was limited to writing music for performances, religious gatherings, and theater. The rise of radio, TV, and film in the 20th century gave composers an increased number of platforms for their music to be featured in.
Many people still think of traditional roles such as composing for film, music directing or teaching as the limit to what they can do in the industry. However, with the internet and new technology becoming prevalent in our everyday lives there are a host of opportunities available to composers.
It’s fair to say that the worldwide gaming industry is booming. It is estimated that the global gaming market will generate $152.1 billion in 2019, with a growth of 9.6% each year that will see it become a $300 billion industry by 2025. The good news for composers is larger profits means larger budgets, which means larger amounts set aside for soundtracks.
Despite this, soundtracking video games is still not on the minds of many aspiring composers. But it is certainly a career path to consider, especially as games increasingly resemble films and require epic orchestral soundtracks to match. An increasing number of prominent film composers are creating soundtracks for video games.
Henry Jackman is one such composer. In an interview with Music Times he explained the appeal: “...these days doing the music for video games is a completely different proposition than 1982. They've got time and a budget and you can record orchestra properly and it's not that dissimilar to doing the score for a film.”
Video games also provide an avenue for composers to get creative, with many gaming soundtracks being amongst the most innovative pieces of music of recent times. Playstation 4 game “Blood & Truth” features a soundtrack that combines a symphony orchestra with grime music, while Inon Zur experimented with unique ways of playing traditional instruments in his compositions for Fallout 4, one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time.
Pop Music Industry
The global pop music industry is worth billions of dollars a year and the skills you learn as a composer are easily transferable into many roles within it. It may not seem obvious at first, but there are countless producers, songwriters and arrangers working behind the scenes of most popular hits and albums. While the in-depth education and knowledge of music theory an average composer has is not essential for these positions, it is certainly a massive advantage.
The knowledge of how different chords and melodies are used to convey different emotions and how people will react to music is extremely useful when trying to write a hit song. The knowledge of classical music and the musical canon means a composer will have a pretty good concept of what works for a pop song.
Even in hip-hop music can the application of the tried and tested techniques be used to create a hit song. This was brought to attention by Take a Day Trip, the classically trained producers of the 2017 track Mo Bamba by rapper Sheck Wes. Responding to criticism on Twitter, they pointed out that the song uses a tritone, a technique they say is common in classical music to build tension.
There are also many opportunities worldwide, with producers from western nations increasingly becoming involved in industries in Korea and other parts of Asia. The K-Pop industry is of particular interest as it is common for songs to use orchestral parts, as well as more complex song structures, which means plenty of opportunities for composers and arrangers.
Production Music Writer
While it is the dream of just about every composer to be specially commissioned for a blockbuster movie or TV show, these types of commissions are generally reserved for the very top tier of composers. Fortunately, there is a much simpler way to have your music featured in movies, TV, Youtube videos, video games, ads or anything else that needs music.
Creators are increasingly turning to stock music libraries to soundtrack their work and as a composer, you can submit your work to be featured in these libraries. For many people, production music writing is a way of making a bit of extra cash, but there is also the potential to make a decent living with some writers estimating they make $30,000 - $40,000 USD per year.
Like all careers in the music industry it can be competitive getting your work featured in a music library. However, the skills you learn as a composer in relation to conveying emotion, building suspense and creating a story will give you a head start over others trying to break into the market. Booking a real orchestra through a service such as Musiversal will also give you a clear advantage over others using VSTs for their tracks.
Some platforms to submit your music to include Premium Beat, Pond5, Audio Network, and Artlist.
Are you the type who loves making playlists on Spotify? Or going a bit further back, loved making mix-tapes or CDs for your friends? You’ll be happy to know that these days you can get a job doing exactly this.
In the past, job opportunities for musical curation and programming were limited to just radio and perhaps a few Music TV programs and channels. With the rise of internet radio, streaming platforms and businesses looking for an extra edge, there are now countless opportunities if you have a knack for playlist creation.
Streaming giants such as Spotify and Apple Music employ music editors to create playlists for different moods, genres, and different markets. Many businesses are also looking for playlists curated especially for their stores and workplaces. It is possible to do this freelance or you can work for larger companies that proved this service such as Mood Media.
With the sheer scale of music available at the click of a few buttons, the human touch to help individuals and businesses navigate through it all and find the right music is perhaps more vital than ever. To enter this field you will usually need an encyclopedic knowledge of music as well as an ability to match music with certain moods - both skills that many composers will have.
Here at Musiversal we have the goal of empowering musicians and furthering their careers by offering live studio recordings at an affordable price. So check out the sessions that are available to you!