Thanks to my colleague Brandon Egerton of Sideman Music Services & Consulting for letting me know that Full Sail University recently posted our Hall of Fame panel from last year, on the topic of Music Business 3.0. Take a look at our insights into where the music industry is headed, and the areas that young artists and music professionals should focus on:
I was recently interviewed by Nastaran Tavakoli-Far, a writer for the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, on the culture and challenges of musicians’ practice spaces. In the piece, I discussed how new technologies can help bands practice remotely, which may be less expensive and less disturbing to neighbors. Take a look: Musicians Tell Themselves: Keep it Down!
Take a look at the recent NPR article, “Where Are Your Musical Blind Spots?“
As music industry professionals, we are often tasked with working with music that we may not personally love, but that we can hopefully find an appreciation for. This is vital to being successful in the industry, as early in your career you will most likely be working for a company such as a management company, music publisher, record label, or marketing company that already has an established catalog or roster of artists. Would you turn down a potential client or job because you don’t love the music? While it’s important to maintain your integrity throughout your career, it’s also vital to recognize the value of music for target audiences that may not include you. For example, the Kidz Bop compilation series is targeted to listeners who are aged 8 to 12, and releases are made of children singing cleaned-up versions of popular Top 40 hits. The series has amassed widespread appeal amongst its audience, and has become the cash cow for the record company Razor & Tie, producing nine gold-certified albums. The company is able to use the profits generated from the series to invest into more artistic, adult-oriented projects.
So what are your musical blind spots, and how will you learn to value music outside your own tastes? It could be the key to building a sustainable career.
Recently a student asked, how detrimental is it to not have an online presence as an aspiring music industry professional? We asked the Music Business faculty and came up with some “rules of the game” and recommendations. Check out my full article on the MBBS Blog.
Jason was also kind enough to answer some questions from Full Sail University students:
Q: How do you submit score as a new composer? – Kevin Green, MBBS Graduate
A: The Catch-22 of any industry is that if you haven’t worked on anything, no one wants to work with you. No one wants to hire an unproven talent. There’s not really a “submission process” – go to local game networking meetings. Find people in town – developers with small projects and small budgets are more willing to work with new composers. Get your foot in the door and establish relationships – that’s what it’s all about. We’ve all heard it before – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know – it’s the same in games. Obviously you have to write good music, and be patient – you may need to knock on doors for a year. When I first started 8 years ago, there were a lot less people going for these jobs. I’d suggest – and I did this too – to have a website with music examples. Please don’t put 20 different styles of music. Anyone can pull up a drum loop and put a guitar loop over it. Find what you love to do, whether you think it’s commercially viable or not. For me, it happened to be orchestral music for action/sci-fi. Unless you’re creating a music library, you don’t want to have “Comedy,” “Action,” “Drama” – everyone wants to show that they’re a well-rounded composer, but then you become a musical “jack of all trades” and master of none. Go for your strengths – go for less pieces that sound more original than more pieces that sound like everyone else.
Q: What was it like working on score for a game as iconic as “Star Trek”? - Eric Perkins, MBBS graduate
A: Star Trek was one of the few instances where I knew it was a brand name, a franchise, before I got involved. It was a great excuse for me to buy as many Star Trek toys, DVDs and soundtracks as I could, and study and analyze everything. I totally immersed myself in it – I picked apart the Goldsmith and Horner scores. My first reaction to a new job is always, what toys can I buy? What music can I listen to? What can I analyze and study this week? Getting to do big space themes was really fun – everything I’d hoped it would be.
Recently a student approached me with the question, “What is the best method for finding a credible artist manager?” Many artists, even at the early stages of their career, aspire to find a manager who can help them navigate the business side of their art. Since artist managers generally work on a commission-only basis (generally 15 to 20% of the artist’s earnings), it often seems like a Catch-22: the artist needs a manager to help them make a living from their music, but cannot attract a legitimate manager until they are already bringing in steady revenue.
Please visit the Full Sail University Music Business blog to read my recommendations for artists in this position.
Recently I had the honor of interviewing legendary composer Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin”) about the inspiration and creative process behind Disney’s 50th animated feature, “Tangled,” based on the classic tale of “Rapunzel.” Menken recently received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a well-deserved milestone for the man who holds more Academy Awards than any other living person. Check out the interview, featured as the top story right now on TheComet.com.