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How to Find Film Scoring Jobs Online

A Guide to Becoming a Film and Game Composer on the Internet

As a film or game composer in today's digital age even if living in LA isn't an option you're
at a tremendous advantage: No matter where you are in the world, you can use the Internet as
a tool for finding work, furthering your musical education, marketing yourself, and even
transferring audio files to clients or "attending" job interviews via Skype.
What's more, the Internet has brought with it an exploding demand for various forms of
multimedia, like videos, games, and apps, meaning there are unlimited opportunities to sell
your music online and get it placed on a successful platform. While you likely decided on this
career path for a love of creating music, there is potential for financial reward if you're willing
to persevere.
Of course, the incredible level of accessibility the Internet offers also means that the film and
video game composing industries have become much more competitive than in days of yore.
Your chances of success will depend largely on your ability to market yourself and keep a steady
supply of work coming in, but the good news is that the Internet can make that a whole lot
easier for you, too.
If your undying dream is to move to LA and become a Hollywood film composer, consider that
there are a lot of talented composers who never make it into the blockbusters because the
nature of the business is that it often depends on factors out of your control, like being
discovered by the right person.
With that said, there are a lot of factors that do come down to you: your determination to
become the best composer and producer you can possibly be, build your network, and get busy
securing clients.
The following guide was written to offer aspiring composers a broad overview of the
opportunities available to aspiring composers who want to get their foot in the door and
pursue the art professionally. It's meant to offer a starting point for your journey, equip you
with some career path ideas and marketing tips, and, most importantly, to inspire you to take
at least one action today (and, for maximum results, every day thereafter!). After all,
"Knowledge without action is futile."

Up first is a bird's-eye view of some of the main career paths available online for film and game
composers. Next, we'll cover an overview of skills that working film and game composers will
often be called upon to use at some point during their careers. Finally, we'll lay out a step-bystep blueprint for taking action that you can put to work immediately to get your career on the
right track.
**Disclosure: I am an affiliate for certain products and services recommended in this guide. If
you purchase items through these links, I receive a commission, at no additional cost to you. In
some cases, I am able to offer an exclusive discount when you make a purchase via my link. I
personally use many of the products and services featured in this guide (and many of them are
free!). If you find a product you're interested in, please consider supporting Midi Film Scoring
by purchasing through my link.
Now let's get started!

Part One: The Big List of Online Opportunities for Film and Game
Composers
1. License Your Tracks to Production Music Libraries
You can get your music into films, shows, and TV and radio advertisements by submitting your
tracks to a production music library. A music library is a company that represents a catalog of
music (commonly referred to as production music, stock music, and sometimes "royalty-free"
music) and serves as an intermediary between composers and media agencies. Some libraries
are exclusive, some are non-exclusive, and others give you a choice.
If the company is exclusive, then that particular library will be the only company allowed to
represent your music and pitch it to ad agencies and music supervisors. The advantage of this
particular arrangement is that most libraries will pitch exclusive tracks before they pitch nonexclusive ones, because many clients do not want to purchase a cue that was synced to another
ad or video.
If a library is non-exclusive, then you can submit the same track to multiple music libraries. This
may be beneficial in the long term because you increase the number of outlets and
opportunities for your music to be discovered.
Most libraries will not pay money up front, but you can expect to earn royalties if your music
gets placed.
While the topic of music libraries comes up a lot on film composing websites these days, it's
important to keep things in perspective: Library work is spec work, which is by definition a
numbers game. It can take years to build up a large-enough portfolio to see any amount of
significant results.
In time and with patience, some composers do see a substantial portion of their income come
from library sales, but starting out, it's better to look at it as a way of diversifying your portfolio
as a composer while pursuing other (more reliably paying) opportunities.
I've included a list of popular production music libraries on page 23.

2. Score Short Films, Independent Features, and Web Series


Indie film and video creators are always looking for quality music scores to complement their
productions. You can work with independent filmmakers who are producing their own features
and pitching them to festivals all around the world, offering your music the opportunity for
excellent exposure.
In the beginning, you can expect to work for modest compensation (or, in some contexts, for
free). As you add credits to your portfolio, you can request more payment.
Scoring shorts can be a great way to form relationships with upcoming filmmakers (and add
credits to your IMBD profile!). If you work with a talented director, there's a good chance their
film will gain some exposure and your name will get out to the industry.
There are lots of online message boards catering to video producers and indie filmmakers, so
your best bet is to pick one or two, make a point of posting regularly, and work that forum sig!

3. Create Music for Video Games and Apps


If you're into gaming and your dream is to create the type of music that takes a game to the
next level of awesomeness, then you're in luck: The opportunity here is tremendous for
qualified composers.
These days, video games and iOS/Android apps are constantly being developed and are in need
of music to complete the developer's vision. The best way to get started in the game industry is
to build relationships with independent game and app developers.
You can use gamer resources like GamesIndustry.biz and Gamasutra to check on the latest
games in development and research what kind of music they're looking for.
Developers often work on a game or app for up to two or three years, and it's important to
approach them at the right time. Find the ones who are approximately a year into
development and tell them you're interested in working with them on their project. Most will
employ you in a "work-for-hire" capacity, where you'll be commissioned to compose for an
agreed-upon fee, and the company will retain ownership of the music. Depending on the
terms, you may or may not be credited for your work.

As a video game composer, you can either work for yourself as an independent contractor or
seek employment with a company as a junior audio designer or something related.

4. Become a Sound Designer


Most forms of media are in need of a suite of sound effects in addition to the musical score.
While the composer's job is to provide the music bed, the sound designer's duty is to provide
the unique sounds that complement and complete the project.
A production will have specific needs that require you to generate and manipulate sounds to be
used as effects, whether to imply action or serve as an atmospheric soundscape.
You can locate these jobs by contacting post-production companies, game developers, and
sound editors. Payment is usually on a work-for-hire, per-project basis.

5. Develop Samples for Sound Libraries


Composers in the digital age rely heavily upon sample libraries, virtual instruments, and other
packaged sounds or "presets" to enhance their MIDI mockups. Many producers and composers
purchase royalty-free samples and use them as inspiration to create their own compositions.
These samples are allowed to be used as part of a composition, as long as they aren't played in
isolation.
If you possess the suite of skills and the entrepreneurial spirit required to undertake such an
ambitious task, you can build your own business around this insatiable appetite for new sounds
(but be aware that this undertaking is not for the faint of heart!).
You can record your own samples, layer sounds, and create loops that match the vision for the
library you want to create. Be sure to keep your samples meticulously labeled, with good
naming conventions and a logical presentation.
Subsequently, contact the sample library retailers that work in your specific genre and pitch
them your sound pack. You'll be paid each time it's sold through the sample company. In some
cases, the company will want to buy your sound pack outright for a one-time fee.

6. Sell Your Sheet Music


You can offer your sheet music for sale on your website or via a publishing program (or both). If
this is something you're interested in, make note of the following tips:
Be the go-to person in your niche: Selling your sheet music can be a good source of extra
income if you specialize in an unusual or rare niche, like medieval dance tunes for mandolin or
Andean folkloric music for quena (a bit over the top, but you get the idea).
As an example, one of my favorite arrangers sells guitar music books in various world music
styles. I consistently see his work come up at the top of the results when I'm searching for that
type of music, because competition in the niche is scarce. I've bought his stuff in bulk at times,
not only because he's an excellent arranger, but also because he's apparently one of the only
suppliers in the genre, and if he stops selling his music for whatever reason, I'll have a hard time
finding it elsewhere.
Build a YouTube following for your niche music: If you love to write ambient music or
stunningly beautiful minimalistic piano pieces (think Ludovico Einaudi or Michael Nyman), set
up a YouTube channel and play your tracks against aesthetically appealing visual backdrops.
Build up a following and sell the sheet music or audio directly from your website or through a
popular third-party platform like iTunes.
Publish your work on Amazon: You can offer digital and even print editions of your songbooks
on Amazon, which offers a non-exclusive self-publishing program and royalties of "up to 80%."
Join a digital publishing program: Another way to sell your sheet music is to join a digital
publishing program with a reputable distributor. SheetMusicPlus.com, the world's largest
digital sheet music retailer, offers its Digital Print Publishing program, where you can selfpublish your digital sheet music (and accompanying audio files, if you wish) on their highly
popular site. You're also permitted to submit fresh arrangements of public domain pieces.
After you submit a certain number of pieces, they'll even give you your own publisher page,
kind of like an eBay storefront for composers!
This is a great place to put all those seasonal and other types of topical arrangements you've
been cranking out, like Christmas music for concert band and so forth the type of stuff that
music teachers and grade school band directors would be all over.

The program is free and open to beginners, but each piece undergoes a short review and
approval period by their staff to ensure it's up to snuff. As of this writing, you earn 45%
royalties per sale on the price you set for your music. Best of all, it's a non-exclusive
arrangement and you retain all rights to your work.
Of course, to see maximum results from the program, you'll still need to market your work. See
page 22 for marketing tips.
J.W. Pepper also has its My Score program, where you can "promote and sell your
compositions through the world's largest sheet music network."
Finally, there's ScoreExchange.com (previously SibeliusMusic.com), a big online marketplace for
digital sheet music. This is also a great place to get full scores for free if you're looking for a bit
of fresh study material.

7. Miscellaneous Gigs for Working Composers


While the following gigs are a bit more off the beaten path, they're viable opportunities that
the musically minded freelancer can do online. These can be regular side gigs or ways to earn a
quick buck while you build up your credits.
Transcribe or copy sheet music: Music educators and performing artists often need tunes to be
notated so they can hand out sheet music during classes, rehearsals, and performances. You
can use industry-standard music notation software such as Sibelius or Finale to create
professional scores and lead sheets (if you're transcribing guitar music, use a professional guitar
tablature editor). Most of the time you'll be paid a work-for-hire fee to transcribe a piece of
music from a recording, video, or performance.
One way to get this type of work is to offer it as a service from your own website. For instance,
if you have a lot of experience writing big band arrangements, you might offer your services
transcribing circa-1930s recordings and tailoring them to the ensembles of your clients, who
might be gigging musicians looking to add some rare classics to their repertoire of
performances.
You can also find these types of gigs on freelance sites (see pages 23-24).

Offer online music lessons: If you have a strong background in theory, harmony, composition,
or even production, you can offer online lessons from your website. Lessons can be conducted
via Skype with the help of desktop sharing software, and course materials and assignments can
be transferred via email or Dropbox.
Write articles and blog posts for music-related publications: Web-based publications need
content to stay current, and lots of it. The sheer number of online publications creates a huge
opportunity for composers and producers to write articles, tutorials, and reviews to be
published on music and audio-related websites and blogs. If you're a musician and a halfdecent writer, you're a prime candidate for these jobs.
With a lot of web-based writing jobs you'll work as a ghostwriter, which means the client
retains full rights to the work (i.e., can claim themselves as the author of the work, modify it,
and so forth). In other cases, however, you may be offered a byline (a blurb containing a brief
bio and perhaps a link to your website or social media account), which can be an immensely
effective way to promote yourself. I cover strategies for landing these types of gigs in more
depth on pages 23-25.
That concludes our overview of online career paths for film and game composers. Even if
you're already a working composer, you may wish to try out some of the side gigs we covered,
such as teaching, writing, etc., to add some variety to your routine and refresh your creativity.

Part Two: Stuff You'll Need to Know to Make Your Clients Happy
I'll go into some great resources for skill development in Part Three of this guide, but for
starters, here's a list of skills that film and game composers and sound designers are frequently
called upon to demonstrate in their work. You should gain at least a basic level of proficiency in
these things as soon as possible.

Music Theory and Harmony


Understanding the fundamental elements of music, including rhythm, harmony, melody, and
song form, is essential for a composer. You should be familiar with the various scales, modes,
chord types, and harmonic progressions. Developing your ear is also important so you can pick
out these elements in popular music. Musictheory.net is a great free resource for learning
introductory theory.

Arranging & Orchestration


As a professional composer, simply knowing how to program sounds into your sequencer isn't
enough. You must also know how to write idiomatically; that is, you should understand the role
of all families and instruments within an orchestra and be familiar with common orchestral
configurations and stage placement, as well as instrumentation concepts such as range,
dynamics, tone, and transposition.
Other important topics of study include:

Part writing for common instrumental configurations (e.g. four or five-part horn
combos)
Common voicing structures
Arranging for a rhythm section (keyboard, guitars, bass, and drum kit)
Writing in both classical as well as various contemporary styles
Fundamental arranging and composition techniques, including modulation, modal
interchange, reharmonization techniques, and counterpoint

You should also be able to notate a professional-looking score using industry-standard software
such as Sibelius or Finale. This will come in handy when creating complex arrangements and
orchestrations!

Musicianship Skills
Technical clumsiness hinders musical expression: If you only know how to play a few basic pop
chord progressions, your compositions will suffer for it. Mastering at least one instrument will
help you immensely when it comes to getting your musical ideas down in a tangible form.
Keyboard is arguably the most useful instrument for a composer to learn how to use. Due to
their intuitive layout, ultra-polyphonic capability, and (in some cases) assignable faders, MIDI
keyboard controllers are especially helpful for sequencing and recording automation data.
Classically trained pianists, while capable of playing virtuosic passages, are often lacking in the
area of improvisation because they learned to play everything by rote. If you really want to
take your creative expression to the next level, a quality keyboard method will help you get
there. I use and recommend PlayPianoTODAY, a fun set of video tutorials authored by awardwinning author David Sprunger. If you set aside just a few minutes a day to work through the
material, you'll be surprised at how quickly your improvisation skills improve.
The more instruments you can play (and record yourself playing), the better. Even just adding
one or two live-recorded parts or layering your virtual instruments with recorded tracks can
make an entire MIDI'd composition sound infinitely more realistic.

Production and MIDI Technology


Knowing the ins and outs of an industry-standard digital audio workstation (DAW) such as Logic,
Cubase, or Pro Tools is a necessity for today's composer. Your DAW will be your primary tool as
a composer, so memorize shortcuts and keyboard commands to maximize efficiency and time
spent creating.
In order to create MIDI mockups that are as realistic as possible, you should understand the
fundamental concepts of music production and MIDI orchestration. Get comfortable working
within the DAW of your choice to do the following:

Perform common routing tasks such as multitimbral sequencing


Perform common editing tasks
Work with virtual instruments and apply a variety of instrumental articulations using
keyswitches
Apply MIDI continuous controllers (expression, modulation, and volume) and velocity
for ultimate realism

Apply tempo automation


Perform mixing tasks such as working with effects plugins, panning, automation, and EQ
Understand SMPTE time code and scoring to picture

Synthesis and Sound Design


An oft-overlooked skill among aspiring composers is the ability to create your own sounds using
a synthesizer, either from scratch or by modifying existing sounds. Begin by gaining an
understanding of the elements of synthesis, including pitch, amplitude, and timbre. Then learn
how to generate specific types of sounds using oscillators, filters, and modulators.

Audio Engineering and Mixing


Mixing skills are critical to film and game composers, as your demo reel needs to sound as
polished as the songs on TV, film, and radio. Master the principles of compression, EQ, reverb,
and pitch correction to make your tracks sound "radio-ready."
Sometimes, you may also need to record live instruments such as acoustic guitar, horns, and
vocals. You'll need to know how to get the best sound out of each of these instruments by
choosing the proper microphones and using the correct mic placement.
You should also have an understanding of acoustic best practices so you can optimize your
home studio and avoid any sound distortion issues.

Music Business
It's essential for freelance musicians to gain a good grasp of how copyrights, royalties, PROs
(performing rights organizations), and licensing agreements work. You should also be familiar
with various titles in the industry, such as publisher and music supervisor, as you'll be in direct
contact with these types of people on a regular basis.

Social Skills
Most gigs will come from the relationships you develop; therefore, interpersonal skills are
imperative. The music business is in many ways about who you know, so prepare to network
on a regular basis, whether it's through building a presence on social media and relevant online

forums, or by getting out there and attending industry events with business cards in hand. For
best results, do both.
Become proficient at establishing genuine connections, and you'll soon find yourself being
called upon to help out with new projects and opportunities that will advance your career to
the next level.

Self-Discipline and Work Ethic


Be willing to work fast and for long hours, often in solitude, and for little or no money at first.
The beginning can be tough, but with relentless ambition, talent, and an honest passion for
music, you'll eventually succeed.
Create a schedule for yourself so you can meet tight deadlines, and follow up with all of your
prospects. Stay on top of emails and phone calls, and never let an opportunity go by.
Someone gave me a good piece of advice that to become better than most people at
something, all you need to do is read three books on the subject. While reading three books
won't make up for years of focused study, it can quickly level you up in an area where you were
previously lacking, and that might be all it takes to land your next gig.

Part Three: How to Improve Your Skills and Land Your First Gig
In this section, I'll be going over some resources and strategies that you can start putting into
practice today to start mastering the skills and taking advantage of the job opportunities that
we covered in the previous two sections.

1. Acquire the Right Tools


A basic studio setup for film and game composers should include the following:

Digital audio workstation (for an excellent low-cost DAW for beginning and pro
composers, you can't beat REAPER at $60 a license and a fully functional 60-day free
trial)
Industry-standard music notation software (Sibelius or Finale)
MIDI keyboard controller
Monitor speakers and headphone monitors
Sample libraries (to start with, you'll want a decent orchestral library like the immensely
popular East West Symphonic Orchestra)
Expression pedal or breath controller for controlling mod and expression data (if you
don't have already assignable faders on your MIDI keyboard controller)
For game music composers, an industry-standard sound effects engine for creating
adaptive music (FMOD and Wwise have free noncommercial versions)

Musician's Friend offers international shipping options on a lot of great gear. They run a regular
promo they call their "Stupid Deal of the Day."

2. Get Educated
There are many resources available online to help you hone your skills, from software tools to
books, video tutorials, and online courses from accredited schools. The following are a few of
my favorite resources.

MOOCs
A MOOC (massive open online course) is a free course you can take online with thousands of
other participants. Many of these are offered by top universities. You can browse MOOCs
using aggregators such as CourseBuffet.
Here's just a small sampling of music business, production, and composition-related MOOCs
available at the time of this writing:
Berklee College of Music MOOCs:
Introduction to the Music Business
Introduction to Music Production
Songwriting
Jazz Improvisation
Modern Musician Capstone "The top 10 students who complete the capstone course
will receive a $1,449 scholarship toward a Berklee Online course of their choosing."
Other MOOCs:
Fundamentals of Music Theory (The University of Edinburgh)
Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition (National University
of Singapore) I took this MOOC and I highly recommend it!
Fundamentals of Rehearsing Music Ensembles (The University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill)
Introduction to Digital Sound Design (Emory University)
Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering (University of Rochester)
Critical Listening for Studio Production (Queen's University Belfast)
New World, New Map: GPS for Today's Music Industry (West Virginia University)
Introduction to Acoustics (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology)
Courses & Tutorials
Lynda (Audio + Music Tutorials) I'm a huge fan of Lynda. They specialize in software and
technology tutorials in general, and music producers in particular will find a wealth of in-depth
courses here. For $25 a month or $250 a year, you get access to the entire library. I've always
gotten more than my money's worth. Whether you want to learn music production, mixing and
mastering, post production, audio engineering, recording, music business, or how to make the
most of your music notation software or DAW (REAPER, Logic, Ableton, Pro Tools, etc.), you can

find it here. If you're more of an interactive learner, there are project files you can download
and work on with the Premium subscription ($37.50).
Example Courses:
Film Scoring with Pro Tools
Producing Music for Advertisements
Getting Started in Audio and Music Production
Selling Music: MP3s, Streams, and CDs
Getting Started in the Business of Songwriting
macProVideo Don't let the name fool you: Windows users can take advantage of these
tutorials too. macProVideo even has tutorials for FMOD (game composers take note) and
Native Instruments.
**At the time of this writing, get a 20% discount if you purchase a course through the
following links:
Orchestration:
Orchestration 101: The String Section
Orchestration 301: The MIDI Orchestra Enhancing Realism
Music Composing & Scoring
Music Scoring 101: Creating Moods and Styles
Studio and Recording: Composing for Commercials
Game Audio
Game Audio 101: Demystifying Game Audio
Game Audio 201: Creating Music for Games
MIDI
MIDI 101: MIDI Demystified
FMOD
FMOD Studio 101: Introducing FMOD Studio
Kontakt
Kontakt 301: Building Sampler Instruments
Kontakt 302: Advanced Instrument Design

Music Business
Music Business 101: Copyright and Mechanical Royalties
Music Theory
Music Theory 102: Harmony
Music Theory 106: Building Chord Progressions
Music Theory 201: Jazz Theory Explored
Studio & Recording Techniques
Art of Audio Recording 101: Introduction to Recording
Art of Recording 203: EQ
Art of Audio Recording 302: The Mix
Audio Concepts
Audio Concepts 104: Delay and Reverb Effects
Synthesis
The Foundation of Synthesis 101: The Synthesis of Synthesis
Berklee Online
If you have the budget, Berklee College of Music offers several courses of interest to film and
game composers at Berklee Online. For-credit courses are $1,449, while non-credit courses
cost $1,200. Berklee Online offers online certificate programs (including "Orchestration for Film
and TV"), and they recently began offering bachelor degree programs (including a degree
program in "Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games").
As a Berklee student, you also get lifetime access to the exclusive Berklee Music Network,
which includes a regularly updated job board and discounts on gear and services offered by
industry retailers to Berklee students.
I have taken several arranging and orchestration courses online with Berklee, and my
experience has been very good overall.

Affordable Software Tools and Services to Help You Study


EarMaster (affiliate link): Ear training is an underrated skill that makes you a "natural" at
playing by ear and expressing more sophisticated musical ideas. With this fun program, you'll
learn to recognize and transcribe music by ear: intervals, chords, inversions, progressions (both
standard and jazz), scales, rhythm, and melodies. If you ear train for just 10 minutes a day, it
won't take long before you start noticing big results.
There are other ear training programs available, but I use and recommend this one because it
does everything I need it to at a great price. The software is available for both PC and Mac
users, and you can get a trial version before committing. It's currently a one-time fee of only
$59.99 to make this lasting investment in your musical career.
SmartMusic: Created by MakeMusic (Finale's parent company), SmartMusic is actually
intended for helping students practice their instruments by playing along with sheet music
onscreen, but with its vast library of digital sheet music (including band and orchestra titles and
rhythm section transcriptions by top West coast jazz musicians such as Wynton Marsalis), it's an
invaluable score study resource for arrangers. It currently costs a trifling $40 for a yearly
subscription.
mySongBook: This is a lesser-known but very useful service that I stumbled across when I was
looking for full scores for study purposes. They bill themselves as "The Best Guitar Pro Tabs,"
but they actually have a good selection of full rhythm section scores of popular arrangements
(classic rock, jazz, pop, etc.) for as low as $0.99 a piece.
Staple Reading Material for Film and Game Composers
There are tons of great books to help you improve your craft, but I have found the following
books to be especially valuable reference materials.
Orchestration:
Samuel Adler. The Study of Orchestration (Third Edition).
This iconic work is divided into two parts: Instrumentation and Orchestration. It's an excellent,
in-depth reference to the orchestra, covering information idiomatic to each family, including
instrumental construction, range, and tone; articulations; and scoring techniques. The book is
packed full of useful diagrams and score excerpts. There is also a complementary multimedia
CD set available.

MIDI Orchestration:
Paul Gilreath. The Guide to MIDI Orchestration 4e.
A comprehensive guide to MIDI orchestration beginning with a broad overview of traditional
instrumentation and orchestration and then moving into sequencing techniques, effects
plugins, mixing, and virtual instruments. The diagrams of effective voicing structures for each
family of the orchestra are helpful references.
Arranging:
Ted Pease and Ken Pullig. Modern Jazz Voicings: Arranging for Small and Medium Ensembles.
While this book is styled as a resource for jazz musicians, in many ways it doubles as a "Part
Writing 101" course that can be translated to any other genre, which is why I have included it in
my staples list. It covers creative ways of voicing chords and harmonizing melodic phrases for a
small ensemble. However, this book is less beginner-friendly than others I have included here:
It reads like a supplementary text and seems to assume some knowledge of Berklee chord scale
theory. Still, it's one of my favorite arranging references.
Ken Pullig and Dick Lowell. Arranging for Large Jazz Ensemble.
A good followup to Modern Jazz Voicings, and a valuable resource if you're interested in
learning how to write big band charts.
Dan Moretti and Matthew Nicholl. Essential Grooves.
A lesser-known book and a useful primer on rhythm section arranging in many popular styles:
soul and motown, funk, hip hop, rock, jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian (samba, bossa nova), and
Afro-Caribbean (reggae, calypso). Comes with a CD/DVD set.
Music Notation:
McGrain, Mark. Music Notation: Theory and Technique for Music Notation.
Learn how to notate scores like a professional an essential skill for working composers.
Film Scoring:
Schifrin, Lalo. Music Composition for Film and Television.
A film scoring "recipe book" by the talented Hollywood composer Lalo Schifrin (Mission:
Impossible), covering genres such as action, suspense, horror, love, comedy, and ethnic and
period music, as well as fundamental film scoring concepts such as syncing to picture, the role
of dialogue and sound effects, and cinematic devices. Helpful score excerpts are included.

Mancini, Henry. Sounds and Scores.


This book has comparatively little text; rather, it's filled with score samples written by film
composer Henry Mancini (The Pink Panther, Peter Gunn). An inspiring and visual guide to
orchestration with a jazz and big band slant. A CD is included.
Davis, Richard. Complete Guide to Film Scoring: The Art and Business of Writing Music for
Movies and TV.
Good book, albeit with a misleading title. It's a great briefing on the film scoring industry and
business and includes interesting interviews from Hollywood film composers, but it won't teach
you how to compose music.
Video Game Scoring:
Hoffert, Paul. Music for New Media: Composing for Videogames, Web Sites, Presentations
and Other Interactive Media.
For composers interested in writing music for apps and games, this book is a nice introduction
to adaptive (a.k.a. dynamic or interactive) music and video game scoring. A complementary CD
is included.

3. Build a Demo Reel of Songs, Instrumentals, and Cues


Start building a catalog of genre-specific music that can be licensed to different media outlets.
Create various lengths of your tracks (0:60, 1:30, etc.) and have both vocal (if applicable) and
instrumental versions available.
Most Requested Genres:
Cinematic orchestral cues
Corporate video soundtracks (check out video production company websites and listen
to their demos to get a sense of what sells)
Upbeat and happy pop/rock
Feel-good electropop
Urban and energetic hip hop
As a film or game composer, you're being hired to create incidental music (film) and adaptive or
interactive music (games and apps). Therefore, you should strive to demonstrate this in your
portfolio by syncing your cues to games, animations, trailers, or film clips rather than simply
directing clients to "standalone" audio files.

It goes without saying that your demos should be your best work and as well-produced as
possible.

4. Work on Your Web Presence


Make a professional website or blog that features your very best music and demonstrates your
versatility as a composer. Use a music player that's easily accessible from the homepage.
You have a couple of different options when it comes to setting up a website. The fastest and
easiest route is to use a reputable free website building service such as Weebly or Wix (you can
make a website for free and upgrade to better features as you need them); however, if you're
willing to get a little technical (or hire someone else to do the technical stuff for you), you may
wish to consider setting up and hosting your own website for better long-term control of your
assets. You'll need a domain name and a host, and I also recommend installing WordPress and
a premium theme. Below are the services I personally use:
Self-Hosting Resources

Hostgator affordable hosting service with good tech support (at the time of this
writing, get 25% off your hosting package when you use the promo code MIDIFILMSC
on checkout!)
Namecheap domain name registration at an unbeatable price
WordPress.org free open-source blogging and content management software to help
you get your website up with little or no coding necessary (but you can edit the source
code if you so choose)

Awesome WordPress Themes (to make your site look and work great!)

StudioPress offers the powerful Genesis framework, which is optimized for ranking in
the search engines, and a selection of child themes (my personal choice!)
Elegant Themes (affiliate link)
ThemeForest
Mojo Themes
WooThemes

Tips for Marketing Your Website

Set up profiles on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter (make sure to
Tweet regularly!).
If you're not on there already, get a SoundCloud account to showcase your work.
Write guest posts for online music and audio publications in exchange for a link to your
website. This is a great way to gain traffic and (in some cases) rankings.
Keep a regularly updated blog on your website.
Network in industry forums.
In some cases cold emailing prospects can be the way to go, but be aware of anti-spam
legislation.

Target Niche Internet Radio Stations


A lot of smaller, niche radio stations are on a budget and are constantly in need of fresh, quality
music. Plus, they tend to cater to a small group of devoted followers who could become your
devoted followers, too. You can either submit your music to these radio stations or purchase
advertisements for your website or YouTube channel.
iTunes Radio, for example, has a large selection of Internet radio stations, which makes
prospecting easy. You can search for radio stations by keyword. Continuing with our ambient
piano music example from before, you could filter results with keywords like "ambient" or
"spa," listen to these radio stations, write down a list of stations to contact, and then navigate
to the artist submissions section on their website.

5. Contact the Right People: Music Libraries, Supervisors, and Developers


Contact game developers, indie filmmakers, animators, video production companies, and media
agencies just make sure you comply with CAN-SPAM and other anti-spam legislation. (For
instance, don't send cold emails to Canada or certain parts of the UK!). Be sure to send links to
your website and never email attachments. Keep your messages brief and focus on serving the
needs of your prospective clients.
Composing for Production Music Libraries
When applying to production music libraries, don't be afraid to contact the owners directly
through the website as opposed to just signing up. Some production music libraries specialize
in a specific type of music, such as movie trailers. Some libraries only work with established

composers, and others are open to everyone. Also, libraries have different terms of use and
licensing agreements, so be sure to review these carefully.
**The following list of production music libraries is intended to give you an idea of the variety
that's available. While most of these are very well known libraries, I don't personally vouch for
any of them. Be sure to do your own research before signing up!

RevoStock
MusicLoops
APM Music
Music Dealers
Killer Tracks
AudioJungle
Beatsuite.com
Jingle Punks
Audio Network
Pump Audio

Composer Job Boards: A Caveat


There are a few film composer job boards and membership sites floating around the Internet
that require you to pay a fee to join. My advice is to be very cautious of investing your time and
money in these types of sites, and always do some background research. If the website in
question hasn't had any positive feedback or if the Internet is strangely silent on the matter, it's
probably best to avoid that site and focus instead on marketing your own website (or apply to
gigs on freelance bidding sites, as I recommend in the next section).
The only film composer job board I can recommend is the Berklee Music Network, and you
have to take an online course with Berklee to be granted access.
Land Your First Gig on a Freelance Bidding Site
A freelance bidding site is a platform where clients can post jobs and select from a pool of
applicants who apply to the job, and the website takes a cut of the transaction. While nothing
beats obtaining private clients through your own website and marketing efforts, freelance sites
can be a way to pay the bills in the meantime (or land your very first composing gig!).

Don't let some of the low-paying clients scare you off: There are good gigs available on these
sites from time to time, and you can land decent repeat clients if you persevere. I often use
freelance bidding sites as a client, and I have worked with composers and sound designers who
have had success with them as freelancers the key is perseverance.
You don't have to pay anything to create a freelancer account and apply to jobs, though there
are premium plans available with more features, such as the ability to apply to more categories,
apply to a greater number of jobs per month, and view stats (like how much your competitors
are quoting for a job).
You can find a variety of work types on these sites: audio editing, mixing, producing, composing
and jingle writing, recording, sound design, and even freelance writing for music-related
publications.
I recommend picking just one of the following sites to focus on initially and creating a killer
profile before you start applying to jobs:

Elance
Freelancer
oDesk
PeoplePerHour
Guru

Telecommuting-Friendly Job Boards


If you're interested in writing articles for music and audio publications (either for cash or to
promote your own website), the ProBlogger job board has opportunities from time to time,
many of which offer decent rates or a byline to promote yourself.
Another useful resource for professionals of all types looking for telecommuting and flexible
work arrangements is FlexJobs. The website does charge a nominal membership fee
($14.95/month or $49.95/year) for use of their service, but their satisfaction guarantee means
you can get a refund if you're not satisfied.
FlexJobs has screening criteria that makes it difficult for the average Joe to post a job, so the
quality of employers is generally of a higher standard than you sometimes see on these types of
sites. (Some FlexJobs employers offer full-time positions, benefits, and salaries.)

FlexJobs makes it easy to filter for the job criteria you want according to category (e.g.
Education & Training Jobs, Entertainment & Media Jobs, Writing Jobs), telecommuting level
(e.g. "100% Telecommuting"), schedule (full-time, short-term, etc.), and more.
Alternately, you can use the site's search feature to bring up listings in multiple job categories
that contain your keyword, which might be something general, like "music," or something more
specific, like "theory teacher."
For example, at the time of this writing I typed "music" into the search field and selected "All
Telecommuting" as the telecommute level. Among the jobs listed were several online music
teacher positions, a customer service job for an entertainment agency, various writing or
copyediting gigs for online music publications, positions for music curriculum creators, and
even graphic design and animation jobs for music-related projects.
By the way, if you have other skills that can be done online say, web design, graphic design,
content writing, or anything like that this is a great place to find work (music-related or not)
that allows you to stay flexible in terms of schedule and location so you can continue to pursue
composing gigs. Something to think about!
Job Search Aggregators
Job opportunities for composers are sometimes posted on the following sites (you may wish to
use keywords such as "telecommute" or "remote"):

Indeed (job search aggregator)


Simply Hired (job search aggregator)
Ad Hunt'r (search all of Craigslist)

Searching for gigs is time-consuming. You can automate the process by setting up Google
Alerts for relevant keywords.

6. Network at Events, Conferences, and Seminars


The Internet is an amazing way to find work all over the world, but there's nothing like
establishing relationships face to face. Attend music and game conferences and join film
composer associations to make personal connections with potential colleagues and executives.
These events are also a great way to stay up to speed with changes, trends, and developments
in the music industry.

Music Seminars and Associations (U.S. & Canada)

ASCAP "I Create Music" Expo


Billboard & The Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference
Screen Composers Guild of Canada
SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada)

7. Make a Great First Impression on Clients


Finally, polish your interview technique. A lot of interviews nowadays are conducted via Skype,
so it can be helpful to have a cheat sheet ready.
~
That concludes this guide to online opportunities for film and game composers! I hope you
found one or two useful tips or resources that will help you take your composing career to the
next level starting today.

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