Getting Started

I often receive emails, letters and telephone calls from young musicians who fancy a career in the media. The question most frequently asked is "how do I get started?"

There is no such thing as a "standard" method, and every composer working in films or television has his or her own story to tell. But there are some prerequisites.

Most importantly, you have to have some material available for potential customers to hear. You should compile a CD or tape which demonstrates as wide a range of material as possible, and many short items will be best – always remember that those listening to your music will be busy people with little time or patience to wade through extended masterpieces.

In some respects things are easier for young musicians than they were ten or twenty years ago. The wide availablility of relatively inexpensive computers and music programmes means that demos of high quality can be assembled at home or in a college workshop. Professional guidance is also widely available at universities and music colleges - which was not the case when I was a student!

In other respects, things are more difficult. Getting yourself known in the television and film industries is certainly no easier than before, because there are a great many young composers trying to break in. There is simply not enough work to support the number of people who would like to be doing it, meaning that things are fiercely competitive. And we are living in difficult times with ever decreasing music budgets. I would always recommend that a budding media composer has a second string to his or her bow.

You should send your music to producers and directors, having established that they have a production lined up. Names and addresses can be found in tomes and periodicals such as "The Knowledge", "Screen International", and "Programme News". You will probably receive no response – but it is essential to remember that you only need a favourable response from one producer or director to get you started.

Good luck!
Christopher Gunning~
August 2008
August 12, 2008 |

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