I hear it all the time…
…in fact, let me correct myself…
…I hear lots of reasons why people who are passionate about scoring films, TV shows or video games aren’t pursuing actually getting any work. And for many, this reasons can be stripped back to one of two things:
“I lack confidence in myself and/or my music.”
“I’m worried I don’t have enough experience.”
First of all, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone. From newbies to those with impressive credits to their name, more people than you think have these concerns.
If one (or both) of these are holding you back, you must check out the video above.
In this video I’m going to cover:
*How to know if there’s a real problem, or if it’s just a fear.
*An easy way to replace any fears with pure self confidence.
*The stress-free, relaxing approach to getting scoring work.
*The truth about imposter syndrome (from a big-time film composer).
Whether it’s a fear, or a “real” problem with either confidence or experience, this video will show you how to smash through it.
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In this video I’m going to cover some points to help anyone out there who wants to go and get work scoring films, tv shows and video games, but is struggling with either or both of the following challenges:
Either a lack of confidence in yourself to get paid scoring work, or a feeling that you have a lack of experience and so aren’t comfortable pursing this kind of work just yet.
If that sounds like what might be holding you back, we’re going to help you with both of those today. I’m going to give you 3 tips to move forward with your scoring career even if you’re worried about a lack of experience or a lack of confidence.
I’m Michael from Music For Income, I’m a professional TV composer and author of the Amazon bestselling book, An introduction to writing Music For Television.
For great insider tips on actually getting work scoring films, TV shows or video games, subscribe to the Music For Income channel and hit the bell to be notified when we post a new video.
If you go to our playlists here on YouTube, you’ll see that we have videos categorised by a bunch of different things to get your music earning, but this video falls under the category of scoring films, tv shows and video games.
So you want to get work as a composer scoring films, TV shows or video games, but you feel your lack or confidence or lack of experience is holding you back. And by the way, in moving forward with this video, I’m going to make two assumptions here: 1) That you can write music to picture in your DAW and (2) that you feel that the soundtrack music that you write is good overall.
So why have I lumped these two issues in together in this video? Why haven’t I made one video for people who don’t feel confident enough and another about lack of experience? Well, it’s because they work hand in hand. You see with experience comes confidence in yourself. Plus, under both confidence and experience worries is the fear that on some level, you’re not good enough. And if that stopping you from getting started finding scoring work, this fear is actually robbing you of your dream. So let’s look at the ways for you to get past that and find and enjoy great work scoring films, tv shows or video games.
Our first factor to consider is weighing up something called perception or procedure. So what does this mean? Well, it means that before you do anything it’s essential to figure out whether it is a problem with your perception of the situation, or something that actually requires a procedure, i.e., you need to do something about it now before you move forward.
Here are some procedure issues: You can’t write music to picture or your samples sound really, really bad and dated. With these issues, you need to do something about them before you can move forward with getting scoring work.
But for many people for whom confidence and experience is holding them back, it’s a perception problem. Maybe you feel that people won’t hire you because you have a quiet character. Or you think that without more credits there’s no point trying to go and get next level scoring work. So with this, you think certain things are issues, and they may feel very real to you, but are you 100% sure that these things hold people back?
Put another way, do you have certain rules around the confidence level that you should have in order to get scoring work?
Do you have other rules around how much experience you should have before you approach people to get scoring work?
In the words of Tony Robbins, are you basically “should-ing all over yourself?”
So once you identify these rules that you have, you need to ask yourself, “are these rules true?” What made you form these rules? Did you see someone successful and make some presumptions, some perceptions, about how you had to be, or where you had to be in your career?
Now, obviously some rules are true. Like I said, if you can’t write music to picture, it’s crazy to try to get scoring work until you can. But other rules we have for ourselves often aren’t true and only serve to hold us back from getting started. We’re never going to be great at absolutely everything. Whatever you worry your weaknesses might be, mixing, production, theory, of course keep working keep working to get these better. But stop to evaluate this: are your challenges here so huge as to stop you from trying to get any scoring work at all? Be honest with yourself, but don’t be overly hard on yourself.
In his book, “the code of the extraordinary mind” Vishen Lakhiani coined the term “brules”, which is short for bullshit rules.
Here’s a brule for example: “Hard work equals success.” Now yes, if you want to be successful you will need to do a good chunk of hard work. But sometimes working hard, but in turn sacrificing all other areas of your life to get ahead, doesn’t lead to a happy and successful life. Sometimes a few really good decisions can put you way ahead of the pack. So working smart is often more important than working hard. And at the end of this video I’ll give you a free resource so that you can start working smarter on getting scoring work for yourself.
Here’s another subconscious brule that can be applied to lots of musicians and composers: Your success should look like someone else’s success. Nobody would deny that scoring a huge hollywood blockbuster film equals composing success. But for many people, success is supporting themselves solely from writing music, even if nobody ever hears of them. For others success is just once seeing their name on the credits of a film, TV show or video game. These are all valid. What success looks like to someone else, doesn’t have to be what success looks like to you.
So which brules do you have that you are blindly following? I’d urge you to jot down your beliefs about when you feel you’d be ready to get work scoring films, tv shows or video games. What has to be in place for you to feel you’re ready? Is it a clear goal, like, buy better orchestral samples? Or is it a wishy washy goal? Look at each belief and ask yourself: does that definitely have to be the case for me to start scoring projects? Are you waiting for the stars to be perfectly aligned before allowing yourself to start? What might be a more appropriate rule or belief? For example, what if you started to believe that fortune favours the brave, instead of that you had to be perfect on so many fronts before you even start?
Let me share with you one of my old brules: That you need to have already scored a TV show before anyone will let you score a TV show. This is not only nonsense, but is a belief that caused me stress and held me back for quite a while. What I eventually replaced that with was a belief that every successful composer had to go through their first gig at some point and you just have to do the very best you can when that happens. When you see a kid riding a bike with training wheels on, is there ever a right time to take those training wheels off? No! At some point when the kid looks good enough on the bike, you’ve just got to take those training wheels off. And here’s a great point within that analogy: useful as training wheels are, there are things, like balance, that that kid can only learn once those training wheels are off.
When I scored my first TV show there were a whole load of things I had to find out as I went along, but I got through it and it was fine. Decide to do your very best and overdeliver and you too will be fine.
So when you identify one of your brules, how do you change it? Well, the good news is that our brules can be changed in an instant. When you notice one of your brules, just ask yourself this question: what else could be true? What else could be true? Then find a better belief and you’ll find evidence to support it if you look around you. Because you’ve got to believe something, so why not make it something empowering?
And by the way, if you had a brule around your composing work, oroyur life in general, and found a more empowering way forward to change that belief, write it in the comments – it might just help out a fellow composer looking at that!
Here’s the second tip if confidence or experience concerns are holding you back: Climb the career ladder gradually. I speak to composers every week who want to get as quickly as possible up the ladder to those big gigs. Now if you’re watching this video to help with lack of confidence or experience, you probably have the opposite issue, and I’m here to tell you that’s good, because you don’t want to do work you’re not ready for! Firstly, you’re putting extra stress on yourself trying to deliver on big projects before you’re ready for them. Hans Zimmer said, when speaking of scoring his early Hollywood films, “everything was like a compromise and a heart attack at the same time.”
Getting to bigger jobs in a measured and steady way ensures that you’re not adding to your stress AND that you’re more likely to do a good job!
Secondly, when I spoke at length to Thomas Golubic, award winning Music supervisor for Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, he said this about composers that jump too quickly.
The more scoring jobs you start to get under your belt, the more completed projects, no matter how small, the more your confidence grows and the more your insecurity lessons. Plus, out there scoring is the only way you’ll learn certain important lessons about being a composer, no matter how good you are musically. So by deciding to climb the ladder slowly, your confidence will build with your credits. And for those of you that obsess about having to have a huge amount of experience, your challenge after that will be to not get stuck on each rung, but to move up to the next rung, and the next. The sweet spot with your scoring work should be pushing yourself just a little out of your comfort zone. I’ll tell you of a great resource later on for actually finding out where to get those perfect next level gigs for wherever you are own your career. But for now just remember, you’re meant to climb the ladder gradually. Then, when it’s time, push yourself up the ladder into a slightly uncomfortable, or should we say slightly more “thrilling” experience.
Tip 3: Imposter syndrome is part of the job. Seriously. You’ll mostly hear about this in the well documented composer concept of the “fear of the blank page”. The fear of the blank page is when composers start a project or a cue and they just have nothing, just a metaphorical blank page in front of them, waiting to be filled in with music. All of us composers start a project and we’re a little bit scared. If we are not, we are probably not doing work that challenges us! These fears usually take the form of: What if the client hates what I write? Am I good enough to even do this job? Understand that these are normal worries for most composers and usually just mean you care.
I spoke to award-winning composer Paul Leonard-Morgan about this. He’s scored massive films such as Limitless and he told me how often he feels fear before that start of a project.
So, to recap – for our first point, remember to ask yourself: is this problem one of perception or procedure? Do I genuinely have things to learn that will 100% stop me doing a good job on scoring projects? If you do, you have an issue that requires you take a procedure of some sort. You need to take action to rectify the issue. But my guess if you’re watching this video is that it might be more of a head game. More of a perception issue than a procedure issue. Remember that these perception issues are mostly very normal feelings and if you let them hold you back from pursuing scoring work altogether, you risk wasting years telling yourself, “I’ll start when…” “I’ll start when I have more experience,” “I’ll start when I feel more confident”, “I’ll start when I’ve written more tracks” etc. etc
Climb the ladder gradually, enjoy the projects you do and remember that for the vast majority of us, from the top composers to those just starting out, we all feel like imposters from time to time. Just decide to “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
So if you’ve realised that you actually are ready to take that next step into finding scoring work, how is the best way to go about finding it? Well, I want to tell you about a great resource for getting scoring work.
If you can write music to picture and you are serious about finding great scoring work that is perfect for you, no matter what level you’re at, you can sign up at the link below for an eye-opening free training on a great way to get paid scoring work. We’ll even tell you the essential skillset you must develop, that clients looking for composers to score their projects prioritise even more than confidence or experience. Plus you’ll hear directly from award winning composers, a hollywood composer agent and an international networking expert. And all for free. If you’re serious about getting scoring work, you need to check this out.
Click on the link below to grab this free training before it comes down and don’t forget to like and subscribe if you’ve enjoyed this video. Catch you next time!