Want to make music? To be your own boss? Work flexible hours? Then becoming a music production writer may just be your calling.
A job that boasts a good steady income, flexible hours and creative freedom, music production writing allows for someone to work from the comfort of their own home, on something they care so passionately about.
A music production writer often works from the comfort of their own home studio. Here, they produce seamless works of art, which are made available to music libraries to be used in TV and radio productions, film and documentaries.
Nowadays, ad agencies and companies are requesting more original music than ever, and the rise of original films and documentaries has further increased this demand. Netflix alone releasing an estimated 126 original series/ films in 2016, a figure that has continued to rise.
One hit can make or break a career, and in music production writing a hit could lead to full time writing for TV shows/radio.
So you like the sound of this? How do you take the leap of faith and kickstart your career in music production writing.
1. Get the Gear
Investing in good quality equipment is crucial to getting a good sound. The most expensive is not necessarily the best. Make sure you do some research and get building a home studio with good quality equipment that will get you your best sound.
Source the right room with good acoustics, an area for a workstation and somewhere you can guarantee won’t be interrupted too much.
For a basic set up you will need:
- DAW (Start with Garage Band, progress to Logic, Adobe Abelton, Cu Base, Protools)
- Audio Interface(Behringer is a personal fave)
- Headphones (Studio standard phones)
- XLR Cables
- Pop Filter
- MIDI keyboard
- Studio Monitors (You’ll want good monitors so be savvy and shop around)
- Microphones (Good quality microphones are vital so really do your homework before forking out $700 on a microphone that you may never use. Learn the difference between the carious polar patterns and dynamic/condenser mics, the best mice for voice/drums etc )
Other items microphone stands, DI boxes, various plug-ins, headphone amps and a good chair where you’ll be sitting all day!
To take it to the next level you will need to acoustically treat the room with bass traps and acoustic panels. There are various methods of acoustically treating a room so do your research on what will be needed and what will work in your space!
2. Music Education
No formal qualifications are required to become a music production writer, however, an extensive knowledge of how to record, mix and master is hugely important.
Along with this, you will need to have an extensive and varied musical palette and knowledge of the various genres and music styles.
Your music must be recorded and mixed in the highest quality (if the quality is not good they will not buy from you)
There are various recognised college and online courses, not to mention the million online channels and tutorials available to demonstrate how to get the best sound.
Learn how to create a good track, study the basics of songwriting, how to build tension, create a mood etc.
Listen to as much music across the board as possible, to understand what chords, notes, structure and instruments actually work. How samples are really significant in reaching a broader audience and how to use them.
In Pitching, you are making a first impression, and we all know there’s no second chance at a first impression.
Your pitch should be clear and concise, outlining your specific area of expertise.
In an ideal world, your pitch will be successful in sellin to a music library who will the distribute and sell it to clients.
- Pitch with a resume, clearly structured and well written.
- Only ever pitch with music that is 100% ready – high quality, professionally recorded, produced and mixed.
- Offer 2 or 3 of your best pieces, displaying an array of your music which evokes various emotions; suspense, sorrow and joy.
- Various independent production libraries exist and may be easier accessed for someone beginning their production writing career.
- Use various keywords that describe your genre, the mood etc. to be as specific as possible.
Examples of music libraries include Extreme music, Platinum music, Universal Production Music, FirstCom music, Spirit Production Music, Music For Sport
In this situation, you are essentially an entrepreneur, running your own business and you should be professional and savvy about your work.
No-one will want to work with someone who is sloppy and inconsistent, regardless of how good the music is!
- Be neat and tidy in your work, in your pitch, email correspondence and always be polite!
- Save your work in folders, clearly labelled and consistent in format.
- Produce and offer music in both the vocal and instrumental variety (to give an idea for them if they were to add vox).
- Build close relationships with main clients, ad agencies and music supervisors. Add a personal touch to an email, it really is the little things that count!
Every person teaches you a lesson, and remember that. Each encounter you have is significant and important so be curt and polite, and always connect with that person via email/social media etc.
Develop good relationships and seize every opportunity that comes your way.
5. Learn the laws
Possibly the most important factor to consider in the offset of your music production career is to learn the laws that protect you. How to monetize your product through royalties and awareness of music business regulations such as licensing and music publishing laws.
It’s important to become a member of either ASCAP, SESAC or BMI who will be on hand to help you with your music rights.
To really earn your place you need to understand the landscape and your role within it.
These simple steps can surely prompt you to kickstart you to begin a successful career in music production writing.
Many of the greatest music production writers started out small in a home studio building up a profile over the years.
Composer Jeff Beal worked on various films and TV commercials before making his mark with “Riptide”. Since then, Beal has enjoyed great success along with various numerous Emmy Award nominations for his compositions since the rise of Netflix original series House of Cards.
Many parallels can be drawn between the career of a music production writer and Beal who composes, records and mixes his own scores for various shows including HBO’s eminent series Carnivale and Rome.
Great prosperity lies ahead for those willing to hone their talent!