Composing Music is a Business--- Who Knew?
Stop me if I'm wrong, but I bet many of you have piles upon piles of business cards like I do... mainly sitting in some obscure drawer that you’ve filed away in some part of the house. Yep, that’s the drawer that you keep thinking “there’s where I’ll get my first paycheck in this business”.
While for many of you this might be true, but you actually have to work this pile to make it happen. For me, it’s been a long hard journey to even get my first video game credit, and I had to work for “free” in order to do it! (By “free” I mean I took all of it on back-end in the form of royalties and sales commission). My first video game credit didn’t come from that pile of business cards that I racked up at the Game Developer’s Conference in 2015, either. Just a random forum at the right place and the right time.
Staying on top of the many contacts that I met has been a daunting task, especially with the extremely HOT leads that I thought were my greatest chance of success. It’s only been four months and games take forever to create, and it’s really hard to sit idly on my hands. That’s why keeping organized has helped me so much to realize, “hey, you want to make it in this business, you have to be patient.” I keep a regular day-job while I try to make the dream-like transition into creating music full-time. I have made calendars upon calendars with reminders of when and how I am to contact my business relationships.
Every week, a day before I’m supposed to contact someone, I have an email sent to myself to remind me. It has the phone number, contact’s name, and email address, so I can choose the method to contact. If he didn’t respond to my email last time, I’ll call him this time or vice versa. It’s not about selling yourself to these people at all. It’s about being on the fore-front of their brain when they finally do realize they need music for their game. We’re like wizards to them; like when they ask us to create some music it’s as if they’re asking us to shoot a fireball from our eyeballs or something. That’s why it’s less about the music you make and more about the people you know and meet regularly. Don’t give up--- a little advice I should take myself sometimes, even. Pushing your relationships further is hard work, especially for the sensitive soul like myself who doesn’t want to force himself on anyone.
There are genuine ways of pushing yourself on people without being, well, pushy. Force them to talk about their projects and inevitably it will lead to a logical place where you can throw in your musicianship and expertise.
Then hand them a card, they’ll hand you theirs, and you’ve begun a business relationship (whether it leads to a music placement or not). You can forever badger them in a friendly way, and if they keep thinking of you as a fun person to work with because you loved their ideas and their games, they may eventually reach out to YOU instead! Weird concept, I know, but eventually ducks fall into place.
Landing the first job is tough work, but after that, references and asking about other projects from your previous clients becomes easier and easier. Don’t give up, and keep pushing your relationships further.