We’re all familiar with the bug. The gnaw. The call to the production religion. It starts at a mate’s flat, or perhaps watching a live set thinking, “Oh, that looks shiny…” and ends with you at 4am trying to keep your sanity while working out which snare sounds more… you know… snare-ish as you do your third mixdown of the same track. Production as obsession.
Then comes the the age-old problem: how do you get your sound out there? Live performances and DJ sets have long been the accepted route for producers sharing their sound. However, in recent years, a growing number of producers have gone down a different route – film and TV. At entry level, the pay is better (you’ll get something for your track, whereas releasing on a minute imprint may not get you anything at all, initially). On top of that, you get time to focus purely on your own production, without the distraction of DJing or other tracks. So, how does it work?
As a first resort, sites like Music X-Ray and Music Gateway provide active projects that producers can pitch tracks to, with active requests for anything from Asian pop to rap and electronica. For those of you who don’t feel quite ready to get your pitch on just yet however, here are a few ideas to get you rolling:
Making the Right Kind of Music
Mirwais’ Disco Science from one of the best movie soundtracks of all time: Snatch
It sounds obvious, but music that does well in TV and film is different to music that does well on the dancefloor. There are, of course, crossovers, but in the bulk of instances this remains true. Think about the kind of music you want to make. Is it weird sci-fi electronica? Beached-out easy grooves? Work out what works with your current production style and build a YouTube playlist of relevant TV or film soundtrack footage to assess and take cues from.
Get Really Creative
We loved this film. We also had no idea what was going on. Maybe an electronica rework would help?
That playlist you made? It’s more than just an ideas board. It can be used to launch your portfolio. Yppah of Ninja Tune renown has had a long list of TV ad and film work. His method is simple: he takes film/TV footage – individual scenes or trailers he likes the look of – rips them from YouTube and re-dubs them with his own music. He actually watches the video on loop whilst working chords. Do that, and re-upload it, and you’ll quickly find yourself with an impressive and engaging portfolio, at no cost.
Take Advantage of the Open Format
Independent movies are often the most exciting as far as soundtracking goes
Conventional, or ‘performance’ electronic music – aka that which is intended to be signed to a label and played on dancefloors or on somebody’s gym playlist – has a Byzantine network of bureaucracy around it. Major labels, indie labels. Agents. PRs. Booking agents. Distribution partners. The film and TV (or ‘sync’ as it’s known) side of the industry is, well, a bit less complicated. Get smart with your own portfolio. Track down independent film companies and find their in-house music selector via email. Build a list of these (if you’re feeling really ambitious Mailchimp is very easy to use and pretty cheap) and start sending regular updates on your latest tunes. It may feel more ‘bitty’ than just steadily building a conventional Soundcloud or Facebook following, but in this space, it’ll likely get your more results.
Work Out Where You Want to Go
We’d love to work on a horror movie. And then never, ever sleep again
Whether you’re an aspiring TV producer, aspiring techno producer or aspiring athlete it’s the same mantra: have an end goal, and build steps towards it. In the conventional music world that’s relatively easy. “I want to get an international tour”, “I want to headline X festival”, “I want my music to lead to a relationship with a B-list international R&B star.” (Just me?). With film and TV music, the same applies. Do you want to end up soundtracking a Hollywood blockbuster trailer? Do you want all your tracks to be used in one series of a gritty British crime drama? Work out what looks best to you, and start positioning yourself early.
For aspiring producers, film & TV production is a far less explored area than the more conventional music industry, so why not make the most of this? Our Online Music Production Master Diploma is the most comprehensive course available on the internet, covering everything from composition skills (including composition for film and TV) to how to pitch and respond to clients’ requirements. If you want to break into the music industry, there’s no better foundation. Additionally, students get the opportunity to sign their music to our in-house label Point Blank Music, where we’ll help them land their own sync deals.
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