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If you’re a passionate musician grinding it out (literally!) at a coffee shop or any other exhausting day job, you’ve probably spent many long shifts daydreaming about more fulfilling options. The truth is, in today’s crowded cultural landscape, being a talented musician with a great live show and record is not enough to sustain most people. Unless you are one of the lucky few who achieves big-time success, you will always need a side-hustle to supplement your passion.
Rampant Content Creation: Good News For Musicians
One of the best day jobs a musician could possibly hope for, of course, is scoring film and television. Getting your foot in the door of this industry means that you still get paid to do what you love: make music. While it can be difficult to break into this industry without a connection, the good news is that because we seem to be accelerating towards the peak of content creation (in terms of film and television), there is actually a high demand for musicians who can reliably deliver the goods.
Gatekeepers and Nepotism: Mixed News For Musicians
Because the entertainment industry is largely an insular beast, it can be exceedingly difficult to get a foot in the door. Cold calling and emailing will seldom yield positive results, so unless you have a friend in the industry, it can be frustrating. Increasingly, however, there are resources for talented young people who are ready to work. The CIE Tour, for example, is an initiative that came out of the Will and Jada Smith foundation that matches young people with mentors who can guide them in the quest for meaningful employment.
Skillsets and Challenges
If scoring films is something you’re really interested in, it requires focus, patience and perseverance. Writing original music in your basement studio is difficult enough, but when your product is being scrutinized by directors and producers who may demand endless revisions, you’d better have a Zen-like attitude and be prepared for anything.
Furthermore, musicians who are self-trained and mostly play by feel will likely need to up their theory game in order to meet the requirements. The ability to create custom tunes to fit happy, scary, sad and chaotic moods means understanding the guts of musical composition. Taking Hans Zimmer’s masterclass online may be a good way for savants to glean technical knowledge.
Important Points to Remember
Here is a basic list of things to keep in mind in order to navigate the industry with intelligence and grace:
You Have to Start Somewhere– If you’re starting out, no job is beneath you. You aren’t going to book the new Spielberg film off the bat, so if you get the call to score a diaper commercial, thank your lucky stars.
Practice, Practice, Practice – More so than in writing pop music, virtuosity and technical knowledge are imperative when scoring film. Take this as an opportunity to expand your musical talents and vocabulary.
Network Hard and Remember Humility – Take every opportunity you see to hit up an event where you might connect with folks in the industry. At the same time, listen carefully and try not to talk too much or too confidently – it will set you apart from the competition.
No one ever said that breaking into the entertainment industry was easy – but most things worth doing are incredibly difficult.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.