Towards the end of 2018 I was a panelist and mentor at a Film and TV composers convention in Los Angeles, California.
The panel I had spoken on were critiquing tracks that were played for us at random from audience members and also talking to them of the suitability of these tracks for Production Music Libraries and where we felt improvements could be made.
Whilst at this convention, I made sure I checked out a load of the other panels, all on various topics within the Film and TV composing arena. However, one panel really sparked my imagination, touching on a topic that so many people wanting to transition their careers into music come up against: lack of time.
One particular panel was made up of 5 very down to earth guys who have made music their full time income whilst transitioning from another career, or whom had chosen to keep their day jobs and make some excellent part time income from writing music for Music Libraries. They spoke about balancing their writing around their commitments including family life with young children.
Transitioning to Music Full Time
First up was Matt. Matt is a single father who used to be a full time college professor. He quit being a professor when his income from music was greater than his teaching income. Matt noted how it was almost 5 years to the day that he replaced this income with writing. He set himself the target that if his royalty income hit his teaching income and stayed there for a year, he’d quit the teaching job.
Maybe you feel that 5 years is quite a long time? Stay with me…
When Matt decided to set himself this challenge, he decided to write 50 tracks in his first year: 1 piece of music per week. Matt said “In that first year I really didn’t know what I was doing! I was just clicking buttons and opening up plug-ins and saying “Let’s try that!”
“It was 50 tracks of garbage, but I made them! It was all learning.”
If you’re reading this I imagine you’re a little more familiar with your studio than Matt was? Do you feel you could write more than 1 track a week? Even if the answer to that is no, with the right formulas right from the start, you can write music that actually gets licensed. The vast majority of Matt’s in this early year didn’t, adding to the time it took his income to grow.
But more on that later. Back to finding time.
Matt’s daughter is 4. He’s a single dad having made this work around looking after a baby too. “Of course, when I’ve got her, all progress ceases I don’t just leave her inside while I go out and work! When I’ve got her, she’s all I do. When I don’t have her, music is all I do.”
Finding Time Around Your Main Job
Keith was another panelist. He has a wife and a daughter. “Before I had a kid I just came home from work and I could record until dinner. Now I really have to find the time to pick and choose when I do that.”
Keith uses his time at work to get prepared for writing: “I had a call from a library I work with who are looking for a certain style of song. So whilst I’m at work I listen to a whole bunch of songs like that, working out what instruments I need, what tones I need.
“I’ll come home and programme the drums. Then we’ll all hang out and have dinner. Then I might duck down [to the studio] and lay down a bass or guitar line, then I’ll come back up. At the end of the night my wife will take my daughter for a bath, so I’ll know that I have 10 or 15mins to polish up that guitar track. I’ll then come back up and read her a story. Then I have the choice to finish the track until midnight, though that may mean a night on the couch! I want to be a father first and foremost.
“It’s ALL about knowing what you need to do beforehand to maximise your time. So instead of going through 100 different snare sounds, you’re going down to the studio knowing exactly what you need to do. You need to be ultra focused when you don’t have the luxury of time. When I had my daughter I had to make an adjustment to my creative process. I had to train my brain to do thing this way. I was like “Ok, I have to structure this.””
Trust me. If these guys can do it, you can too. Sure, it’s not a get rich quick scheme, but most sustainable sources of income aren’t. Matt spoke of taking 5 years to replace his full time income. The interesting thing to me is that, when I was researching what upcoming composers wanted in an A-Z course about becoming successful in Production Music, less than half of the people questioned wanted to make full time money. Most were happy with adding a great part time income. So that will reduce the timescale straight away.
Either way, with the right guidance, you can shave some serious time off of these trajectories.
If you wanted to replace your job completely and it took 3 years, what were you doing with this time anyway? Cast your mind back 3 years ago from today. What were you doing? What if you had started then?
What if you start today?
If you’re serious about making either a full time income or a great part time income from writing music like Matt and Keith have, Music For Income’s “Library Music That Sells” course will save you time getting there.
You’ll get expert advice from formidable industry experts on topics such as track formulas that Libraries love (regardless of genre), how to approach and form relationships with Libraries, organising your time, avoiding the mistakes that most composers make writing production music, plus a huge amount of other information to avoid you wasting years trying to figure out what works.
If you want to learn more about the Library Music That Sells course, sign up for 3 free lessons via the “Courses” tab above. Already seen these lessons but got some questions on whether the course is right for you? Drop us an email, (following address separated to avoid spam – join it all up to email!!) info @ musicforincome .com .
Great articles, I intend to devour them all.. Thanks Michael
Glad you’re enjoying them, Curley!
Wow this feels like it was written for me! I’m so close to clicking buy for your top tier Michael!
Be a pleasure to have you onboard, Ryan!
Just what I needed for extra inspiration thank you Michael!
A pleasure, Anthony!