How to get work doing soundtracks?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Chris DeVoe, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    A good friend of mine is a talented songwriter and musician, but the pandemic has made it impossible for him and his family to make a living touring around and playing music.

    He's had a few songs on movie soundtracks before, but those pretty much fell into his lap, when the music supervisor already knew his music.

    How do you actively pursue this? Is there a place you advertise your skills? Are there private forums to connect composers and directors?
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  2. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Friends in the biz helps.
    Otherwise divine intervention.

    Think with this virus thing musicians / thespians are looking for other work .. construction/ gardening.
  3. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'm sure that there are people in the business among their existing fans, and I suppose they can just make it known that they're looking for soundtrack work.
    longdist01 likes this.
  4. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Good to luck to anyone seeking work.
  5. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Any other suggestions? Does IMDb Pro have tools to make this easier?

    I fear this is going to be the usual situation where the small handful of people working in a field do anything they can to discourage anybody new from getting into the field, thinking they're eliminating potential competition.

    But realistically, the music supervisors and directors are looking for a specific style for their soundtrack - which might not be met by any of the people already working in the field.
  6. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    Practice, practice, practice.....
    Oh, wait! That's 'How to you get to Carnegie Hall?'!
  7. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Spy magazine actually tested that back in the 80s. They had a person out on the street about four blocks from Carnegie Hall asking people how to get there. Almost 70% of the people gave the punchline. Fortunately most of them also actually gave directions as well.
  8. pig bodine

    pig bodine God’s Consolation Prize

    Syracuse, NY USA
    My friend and I tried this around 35 years ago, and it wasn't until the 5th person we asked said "practice." We said "Thank you," and gave him$10.00
    longdist01 and Chris DeVoe like this.
  9. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, UK
    In the UK it's definitely a case of who you know and also being an established musician definitely helps, back in the nineties I helped someone who did a soundtrack for a Hollywood film, their soundtrack didn't get used, but that's a different story, back then the money involved with a Hollywood budget was very good, but even though they were pretty well established, had previous soundtrack work and a good publishing deal they were dropped in favour of a big name, I guess the best advice is to start at the bottom and make friends with up and coming indie directors or people in TV, if your friend already knows music supervisors then milk those connections for everything they are worth.
    All Down The Line likes this.
  10. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    My friend has an IMDb listing already (though incomplete), and, like everyone else, he has to stay home, so working the Hollywood party circuit is not an option. And "home" is in rural Indiana. But he just got a fiber connection.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  11. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, UK
    I'm not sure it's about the Hollywood party circuit, I know three people who have done proper feature film soundtracks and as far as I'm aware only one has been to LA parties and he absolutely hated them, one person got their films because they knew and had previously worked with the director early on, I'm not sure of the specifics for the other two, but I'm pretty sure it's also about who they know, I also know one successful, non feature, director and I think she pretty much works with people she knows some possibly from when she used to direct music videos, the same with games soundtracks, I know a person involved with those and a lot of that was who you knew. The labels I'm involved in have a publishing company with LA representation, we've never got close to getting anything in a major film, we did come close to getting our catalogue extensively used in a UK TV show, but I suspect we were just being used to keep the price of someone else's music down, in my admittedly limited experience it's a very closed shop where people like to work with familiar faces. If your friend already has connections then location doesn't matter he should be seeing if anyone has any work he might do keeping his name in the frame, not sure how many productions are currently proceeding anyway, at least over here, good luck to him.
    longdist01 and Chris DeVoe like this.
  12. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    I used to be Howard Shore’s music copyist. I can tell you how he broke into doing soundtracks. One day he got a call from David Cronenberg asking if he’d like to try his hand at doing music for a film of his. Howard and David and Lorne Michaels were all high school friends in Toronto. That’s generally how these things work.
  13. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Victoria, Canada
    I only know someone who worked on a grade z indie genre film soundtrack, and again, the knowing someone thing and all that... it paid something anyway but didn't seem to lead to anything more other than a proper CD release (which is much better than most of the film was). Earlier he knew a guy who did something similar that got an LP release, which seems cooler now (again, the LP was much better than most of the indie genre film, I got a copy of both these things... because of who I know... relish any swag that comes I say).

    How did Stewart Copeland get to do Rumble Fish? It must be nice to work on something that's actually really amazing all around!
    Dubmart and Chris DeVoe like this.
  14. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I'd say you have to do several things:

    1) move to LA
    2) get an agent
    3) start networking and meet with as many filmmakers, directors, producers, and studio music supervisors as possible
    4) hook up with other composers in the hopes that when they turn down work, you might be able to get a recommendation from them.

    Because of the number of productions shut down right now, it's very tough out there.
  15. TheSeldomSeenKid

    TheSeldomSeenKid Forum Resident

    Hey Chris
    Maybe @Vidiot who works in the industry can provide any advice for you to pass along to your friend. Maybe, there are a few other SHF Members, who work in the industry, but I do not read the Visual Arts Threads, as much as the Music Threads, so not sure.

    Edit-Wow, talk about timing as saw he just replied a moment before my post!
  16. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Didn’t the police guy do the Equaliser ( tv show)?
  17. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    No idea but I do know the owner of the Brisbane Music Express Store named Reece has done film score music for US films of some nature & you could perhaps email him?
    Chris DeVoe likes this.
  18. nosticker

    nosticker Forum Resident

    Ringwood, NJ
    I know someone near me who has scored a bunch of indie films, no idea what he gets paid. I know that he worked with a couple of minor stars doing narration for TV specials and I imagine it sprung from that.

  19. TheSeldomSeenKid

    TheSeldomSeenKid Forum Resident

    I forgot to mention, but sounded like Chris' Friend is looking to write Songs to be on a Movie Soundtrack(that he did in the past if I read Chris' Post correctly), and not write an entire Movie Soundtrack, which helps if your Name is Ennio Morricone, or more recently, Johnny Greenwood(Radiohead), and even Thom Yorke(Radiohead) did the Soundtrack for 'Suspiria' Movie a few years ago, that I really liked more than his Solo Albums. That Movie looked good on the YouTube Trailer and saw it was a Remake, so now I want to see both versions of 'Suspiria'. Actually, read that the person, who did the Soundtrack for the Original Movie, also made a Good Soundtrack.
  20. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident Thread Starter

    He's had songs on soundtracks, but would really love the opportunity to do a full soundtrack.
    TheSeldomSeenKid likes this.
  21. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, UK
    He did, not long after "Rumble Fish" and I assume the two combined put him on the map, but although he's done a ton of soundtracks he's never crossed over into the big budget Hollywood side of things, which I suspect may be because even Stewart Copeland doesn't know the right people for those gigs, I think the only soundtrack release of his I have is "Rumble Fish", I'm not sure how many others even got a CD or LP release except for "Highlander II".

    I have to be somewhat circumspect, but the amount of money people were getting paid for Hollywood soundtracks twenty years ago, or at least the one I know figures for was very good, if the budget for music hasn't gone down it's a very well paid job and beats streaming or trying to sell physical product.
    alexpop likes this.
  22. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    He must royalties for Police stuff. Nice guy.
    Dubmart likes this.
  23. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    I understand many talented people from rural Indiana have gone on at Kroger's.
  24. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    BTW-I know Copeland’s arranger in LA. He doesn’t orchestrate his own work.
  25. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, UK
    I'm not sure many of the guys coming from a pop/rock background do, it's not a skill set they have compared to those from a more classical background, it's funny when you see a single person credited for an orchestral soundtrack which has actually been created by hundreds of people, some of them don't even credit the orchestras, or at least not very prominently.

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