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HomeBlog9 Steps For Launching Your Production Music Composing Career

9 Steps For Launching Your Production Music Composing Career

Here’s a list of absolutely crucial steps you should take for launching successful production music composing career.

DISCLAIMER: All things written in this article are derived from my own experiences. I am not saying that any of this is absolute way to do anything but all of these things helped me a lot so I’m hoping they’ll do the same for you. Enjoy!

1 –Listen, Explore and Learn!

 
I know we talked about this in one of the earlier articles but I can stress enough how important all that is! Even if you are coming from the rich musical background, don’t presume you know anything about production or trailer music! Learning the right way to soak in production and trailer music, finding the right starting information, making with work habits, managing expectation and making your way through the community. If you missed what we talked about refer to this article for in-depth explanation.
 
 

2 -Make Music Every Day!

 
Even thought you may struggle with a busy schedule that includes: work, school, family, social life, etc. You should always try and find time to compose at least for 20-30mins every day! You need to have that composing muscle always working, always practicing, always improving. The only thing that will get you to where you want to be is the consistency! There is no magic YouTube tutorial to help you work or practice less and avoid making tons of tracks until you get your skills to a certain acceptable level.

 

3 – Register Your Music With A PRO

 
It doesn’t matter if you are planning on working as a full time composer or you just want to have a nice hobby, you need to protect your intellectual property – your music.
 
This means registering with appropriate PRO (Performance Rights Organization), obtaining you IPI/CAE number and registering your music.
 
Let’s take this step by step.
 
In order to protect your music, track music usage in broadcasts (TV, Radio, Streaming) or sales (CD, Vinyl, Stream, whatever) you need to register with a PRO.
 
Performance Rights Organization (PRO in further text) is there for you to track, collect and when needed enforce collection of actual money on your behalf. Most of the countries have their own PRO. In USA that’s usually ASCAP or BMI, in Europe that’s usually PRS (UK), Gemma (DE), etc. You can find full list here.
 
So go ahead an pick your PRO. Keep in mind that if you are planning to work with USA publishers it’s worth considering to register all your music with USA PRO and have your royalties collected a bit quicker.
 
Having said that I will elaborate and say that you don’t have to live in USA to be member of let’s say BMI. Also you can have more than one PRO representing you in different parts of the world. For example, I am represented by HDS-ZAMP from Croatia even though I live in Bosnia and Herzgovina. Also bunch of my tracks are published in USA so rights are collected through ASCAP or BMI and forwarder to ZAMP.
 
Most of the time the publisher will register you track for you through PRO associated with them who will then forward the usage listings and actual funds to your key PRO.
 
Now you are probably wondering, how do they know who am I? How do they know to whom to forward the money?
 

That’s where you IPI Number comes on stage. This is the number that you will get from your PRO upon first registration with them. Consider that your unique artist ID, similar to your social security number (used in USA) or personal/tax ID number (used in Europe).
That is your composer ID number. Every contract you sign will have that number. Every publisher you talk to will ask you for that number. Every track you register will be routed through that number. So once you get it, keep it close. If you are planning to be an active composer, you will need it A LOT!

In general registering music (or yourself) with a PRO is fairly simple. Most PROs will ask you for your basic details upon first registration. Meaning your name, address, bank details, artist name (if you have any) and they will posibily ask you to submit few tracks with them so they can see and hear that you are living and breathing human being and a proper composer. After you send all that you will probably get the contract and they will assign you with your IPI number.

 
When you finish doing all this, submitting new music is usually done through a web portal or user area at your PROs website.
 
Keep in mind that tracks being published by your publishers will not require you to register them. Publishers will do that for you. You only need to register your tracks if you are planning on having a public release that you will do on your own. Or maybe you got some tracks you are using for promotion only. Or like in my case, my PRO actually asked me to register EVERYTHING even though they get the same data from my publishers, they want to all collected from both sources so they can verify the data.
 
IMPORTANT NOTE: It may take months or even years before you start seeing money in your PRO account.
 
Why?
 
Well procedure of collecting royalties and sync fees in an elaborate endeavor. Even though PROs may do their best to collect that money for you as fast as possible it may still take tons of time for all data to get collected, sorted and verified. Same goes for actual money coming from broadcasters to PROs. Also if your main PRO is not the “first hand PRO” (like in my case – USA usages are colleted via BMI or ASCAP and then forwarded to ZAMP) it may take even longer. I’m just now receiving money for music that has been used in 2019/2020.
 
Start Your Music Composing Career
 

4 – Sign Up For ContentID Service

 
One of the super sweet ways to make money when you are just starting your music journey is YouTube Content ID service.
 

What is YouTube ContenID service?

 
In short that is a service that helps you register, upload, track and monetize your music on YouTube. There’s tons of services out there offering this, for all kinds of percentage cuts but I will talk only about ones that I’ve used and still using and those are AdRev, EMVN and SourceAudio.
 
As far as I’m concerned you can pick any of those. I’m working mostly with EMVN. I started with them, they offered me a really nice percentage deal, they also helped me license some music in Asia (EMVN stands for Epic Music Vietnam) and they are all about Epic Music. They have regular payouts every month, and that was an instant pick for me.
 
I have some music on both AdRev and SourceAudio but mostly band stuff. They offer really great service too. It’s just a matter of habbit for me now.
 

Why should you register your music with ContentID service?

 
Well let’s say you are just starting out, and let’s say you have a really nice and catchy Epic Hybrid track or maybe you simply made a track that you used for practicing something (like in my case I wanted to nail that sound design they had in Sicario trailer and ended up with this) and let’s say some epic music channel picks it up and posts it like it happened with my track. That track made over 10k$ in Content ID alone! Keep in mind that figure is usually much higher for tracks with gazillion views out there!
 
So by all means, register your music with ContentID service, upload tracks, send them to epic music or trailer music channels, post them on your own channel and you will start seeing progress/earnings in no time! It took only 3 months for me to receive first “nice” payout – and all I did was post a track! That track is still earning money after more than 3 years of me doing absolutely nothing! Isn’t that sweet?
 
 

How do you register music with ContentID service?

 
For most of the ContentID services procedure is simple:
  1. register an account
  2. upload your tracks
  3. fill out track data
  4. save and publish

And that’s it. After that it’s all on you. Put your tracks in the right channels, put it on your own channel. Promote it!

There’s a list of nice YouTube Channels in one of the previous articles, that may be worth checking out! Click here!

ContentID services will offer you whole range of services that you can use like: they willl allow you to whitelist certain channels and allow them to use your music without payment. For example if you have your own successful YouTube channel you may want to monetize it on your own. Or someone has reached out and paid you the license to use your music in their video. There are also ways to ban and take down video who use your music without authorization.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are working with a publisher read carefully are you allowed to post track on ContentID services on your own. Most of the publishers will do that for you and track those usages themselves and give you the appropriate percentage or no percentage depending on your contract. Point being: when you sign up with a publisher and they start promoting and pushing your work for you they expect compensation for everything they do and if you get to work with a nice publisher it’s well worth it!

5 – Collaborate With Others

 

In my opinion, this one is not a MUST but it’s a good thing to do.

I did several collaborative tracks and albums and it really helped me improve my creative process by just watching and analyzing someone else’s.

It’s also a superb way to learn new stuff. Music is an art form and no two artists think alike. You will pickup tons of new tricks and new ideas for approach. That’s for sure!

Composing alone, in your room is fun! Just like with tennis, it’s fun to play against the wall. But it’s much more fun to have someone to hit that ball back to you.

That’s why, over time you will want to expand, include live musicians, have guests on your tracks, etc.

Every collaborative effort was super fun and huge learning experience for me so I really recommend you try working with others.

 

6 – Optimize Your Creative Workflow

 
First piece of advice that I want give you here is this: DON’T go on the internet and start reading like crazy how everyone else is working and try to apply all that to your workflow right away. You will get mess, you will get overwhelmed and you will probably end up with the workflow that doesn’t really work for you.
 
There are several things that you can to help you find the workflow that fits your needs and those are:
 
  • Try to find the part of the day when feel the most inspired and ready to work.
  • Try to find some tracks, movie, book, playlist, landscape, person, anything that can help you get in the zone for composing.
  • Setup your DAW and your templates to fit YOUR needs. Don’t just copy someone else’s.
  • Use tools, libraries and plugins that you already took time to familiarize yourself with.

All of these points are SUPER individual. They are not technical, can’t be taught to you, to find your optimal workflow you need to explore yourself a bit and find these on your own.

All of these things sound super philosophical but they are not.

Some people work better in the evening, I myself I’m the most productive super early in the morning. Some people get inspired by music I get inspired by taking a walk. Some people have 1000+ tracks VEP orchestral templates, I have bare bone template with just routing and basic FX in. Some people hate OTT compressor I love the hell out of it, etc.

Here’s the example of us having the discussion on building templates. There pretty huge names in the industry involved so feel free to take a look. Pretty much EVERYONE has a different approach and a different type of template or no template at all! Click here to read  the discussion on Facebook.

If you feel like learning more about templates check out this page from my friend Nicolas Schuele.

Start Your Composing Career

7 – Avoid Overwhelming Yourself

 
This happened to me a lot, still does. Let me explain why and how.
 
You are upcoming composer and you just want to get signed and have that first gig/placement. You will do anything for it, you are dreaming about it. In meantime you learned a lot and your skills have grown exponentially. You are now actually a decent composer.
 
Up until now you were receiving this type of response when you send the reel to a publisher: 
~ “Sorry you are just not right fit for our label”
or
~ “Sorry you need to improve your skills for to be able to work with you”
or the super polite ones saying:
~ “Even though your music is great we are not accepting new composers right now”
 
Now, without even noticing, they start responding in a positive way, contracts are coming your way, opportunity is behind every corner and you accept them ALL! You worked soooo hard for them, gave up all kinds of thing sin your life! You deserve it! Ohhh eternal glory, oscars and hall of fame here I come!
 

BUT

 
When you find your self having to deliver 10 full albums that year along with trailer tracks and custom tracks and your own promotion and personal life. You will end up by burning out, your music quality may suffer, you will end up delaying things endlessly, etc.
 
Try to weigh your options and your schedule before accepting work. Publisher want the same thing as you, they want you to make your best music cause good music is easier to sell. No one will want to by mediocre stuff or if they want they will offer you some crappy fee. Try to avoid that. Research publishers, try to find the best match for you and for your interests and then focus on things that you can realistically fit in your work day/week/month.
 
At some point I had 23 active contracts. I was signed to 23 different publishers! And I was submitting music on few websites on top of that! I burned out in  just a few months I had to take a 2 month break just to get my head back in order, revise all my contracts and pick the publishers I really like working with. I advise you do the same as soon as those positive emails start coming your way!
 
Also don’t fear or sweat about rejection: I was rejected 87 times before I got my first contract. Yes I kept track of my rejections cause I used them all to learn and try to see what I did wrong.
 
Start Your Composing Career
 

8 – Find Your Muse Or A Reset Button

 
One of the most common questions in the community  (beside what’s the best string library of course) is:
 
~ “Hey everyone, how do you deal with writer’s block? Any tip or advice will help! Thank you!”
 
This is again, something that is crucial to composing process in my opinion. It’s also something that no one can teach you but I can give you some ideas. So can the community.
 
I will write from my own experience.
I find that the best way to end writer’s block is a “reset”. To me every time I get stuck is because some idea, melody or thought is stuck in my head. It can be consciously or subconsciously but something gets stuck and prevents me from getting those creative juices going.
 
For example, can’t really start composing an orchestral piece with Rohan Theme playing on the loop in my head!
 
It was a pure accident that my dog was bugging me to go out for a walk and a crap fest in the middle of me working on a super urgent custom track.
 
When I cleaned up all the dog shit and got back home I realized that a simple walk with a completely unrelated task helped take my mind of things and gave me the clean slate and an open mind to continue working on that track! So I started doing that all the time. Every time I get stuck I just take a dog out for a walk, or take my car for a short drive, or just walk by myself in the park.
 
All of those things are like reset button for me. And after every reset inner muse comes out and start giving me glorious ideas. This is working for me, it may not work for you but it’s worth a try. So go ahead, look, try and find your reset button or your muse! Anything to help end writer’s block!
 
 

9 – Avoid Being a Spammer or a Pain in the Ass!

 
And finally the last step contains a list of things to avoid. Avoid being impatient, spamming the community, being hasty, blaming your shortcomings on gear, someone else or the industry. Can’t count how many times I’ve heard something like “Ahh I have no chance of success cause the industry is reserved for the select few” and that’s bullshit. Do good work and you will get noticed.
Anyway, I will again refer you to one of the earlier articles with a nice list of things to avoid! Check it out!

MARKO TICA

Music producer, composer, sound designer, live sound engineer and multi-instrumentalist. He had his first live TV performance at the age of 5, made his first album in high school, and has since produced and composed music for all genres. As a producer, he worked with various pop, rock, punk and metal bands along with mixing and recording music in live and studio settings. For the last 5 years his passion has been focused on production music and composing for media. You can hear his music in various Hollywood trailers as well as TV networks like: BBC, HBO, DISCOVERY, NETFLIX, MTV, E!, VICE, RTL and many more.

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