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Is it still possible to make a living from music?

Does Music Pay?
Does Music Pay?

It would seem that with the abundance of musical download sites available, which in turn has produced quite a large number of pirated tracks available to the public, that making a living from music would be a moot effort. Yet, for those of us who like to compose musical scores and refuse to go silently into the night, there is hope. There is revenue which can be made within the music industry if one just knows where to look and how to present his or her talents. Here are a few tips and tricks to ensure that your passion stays alive and your wallet stays full.

Know the market

Be honest, there are certain regions of the country that cater to certain genres of music. One would be hard pressed to make a living as a heavy metal rocker in the Bible belt states. This is not to say that it cannot be done, but it would be difficult. If your passions run differently than the general musical desires of the area in which you live your options are basically limited to either moving or picking another genre. Many great musicians fail simply because he or she did not research the areas in which their music is in demand. Just like a swimsuit model cannot do well in the arctic, so it is with certain genres of music in certain regions. Apart from popular belief, all country music has not originated out of Memphis, all rap music is not from Compton or Atlanta, and Gospel music is not always from states in the south. That being stated one should realize that these places are known because they are typical to the genre. One should take note.

Think outside of the box

By this I mean think outside of the cd box. A musician is more than a compact disc sale. Seek out revenues from sources that utilize music. Some great areas for this would be radio networks which generally use stock music and music libraries to make commercials. Offering a unique track would not only bring revenue but would also encourage more business should the tune be catchy enough. Another area to explore would be television. Every state has broadcasting companies of substantial size. Yet, every state does not have musical producers of substantial size. However, if one were to try to watch any television program which contains no music what so ever, you would do so in vain. Every program that is on television has a musical track of some sort whether this be in the introduction to the show, stock music, sound effects, background music, or emotional setters the music of a television show greatly is in need. Tapping into this resource is a great way for any musician to provide a substantial and steady income.

Go cinematic

With the availability of more sophisticated equipment available to the general public, the number of independent filmmakers has also greatly increased. Now, common sense would dictate that for every independent filmmaker who seeks to actually have his or her work produced, a composer is needed. One should realize that unless you are very, very good one is very likely to start on C class movies. There is nothing wrong with this, everyone has to start somewhere. Do not let pride determine your outcome. Looking at great composers one will see that these cinematic legends did not start at the top. Hans Zimmer (who is considered one if not the top cinematic composer of today’s time) started doing solo projects and did so for years before finally landing Rain man and going on to work on such films as Gladiator.

Be professional

For some reason I have met several aspiring composers that lack the decorum needed to secure the most basic job let alone make a career as a professional composer. It is understandable to some point that due to the digital world and the way in which interaction has become greatly diminished that one could forget the typical etiquette that is needed to secure a financially substantial contract. Therefore remember the following:

• Dress for the industry – If one wants to look like a professional, then one must dress as though they are already deeply involved in the industry. Research into the proper attire shows the potential client you are more than a novice.
• Have a demo ready – Many music industries have time to listen to a short demo. They really do not want to hear a full CD. Bring your best qualities forward in a minute or less. Make sure that the client knows that this is a musical selection of your talents. If they like how you can compose a dynamic score for a minute, they will ask for a larger scale composition.

Remember, the music industry is a critical part of our culture. There are many avenues in which a person can successfully make a living in music. However, like anything else in life one must have the determination and the dedication to work the career in which he or she is called. One can only dream to be on the top ten playlist for so long. Action will make the dream more apt to become a reality.

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