2018: the year of the open mind
It's around this time of year that it's natural to reflect on the months gone by, and especially if you run a small business. My year has been, well, unexpected. I started out by doing a couple of voice over jobs, launched Real World Sounds and recorded eight broadcast-ready sound packs, proceeded to make six music library albums, launched an audio brand for kids, did some more voice over and soundtrack work, created a sound environment with foley and voice over for a Ted Talk art installation and more.
It has been very fulfilling. For many creative people it helps to concentrate on one area and develop their skills and networks. For me the wide variety of work this year has been so rewarding, that I know it's the way forward. It's so easy to put yourself into a category: composer, painter, sculptor etc. If 2018 has taught me one thing it's this: it's not for you to put yourself into a category, others will do that for you. My voice over clients don't care that I'm a composer. It doesn't matter to my composing clients what else I can do. I'm known to them for that thing.
My new year's resolution is to keep developing creatively. There are things I have planned that will feed into this, and for everything else my mind is wide open.
Have a very happy New Year and a creative 2019.
Types Of Plane (Or Is It Santa's Sleigh?)
The last month or so has been a busy one, with various voice over and sound design jobs supporting the launch of Screenless.
Screenless means high quality audio content with music and sound design; no screen required. You can read all about it here.
When I realised that the final Wibbly Rhyme of series 1 - 'Types Of Plane' - would be released at the beginning of December, it seemed to me to be an opportunity to Christmas it up and release it as a single. I roped in some friends for the Wibbly Rhyme and the single (shout outs are coming, thank you thank you thank you), and it is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever recorded 🤔
I would like to ask for your help (note the word 'help' and not 'money'!)...it would be so appreciated if you could support this release by doing one, or more, or all of the following:
- buy the single
- stream the single
- add the single to your Christmas playlists
- rate the single
- leave a comment wherever you buy / stream your music
- tell your friends
- share the single on your social media channels
- share this post on social media
- share the release posts on social media (next week)
Like I said, even if you do one of those things I would be extremely grateful, it all helps! If it means the little 'uns spend slightly less time glued to the telly box this Christmas then I would consider it job done.
All the best,
p.s. As a thank you in advance, here's the artwork.
Well, a curse and a blessing really. I realised the other day that my mood is directly tied to the amount of creativity I'm consuming. I previously thought it was tied to stress levels, general contentment etc. It wasn't until I was flicking through Twitter (oh, the irony) and seeing new things being released or created that I noticed my mood physically changing.
I saw some new animation transitions for the next Android OS (see, the curse of the creative brain). I saw the band Lo Moon tweeting and made me think of their debut album I discovered this week. I saw Paddington 2 has been released, really looking forward to seeing that. The Last Jedi deleted scenes? I'll put the kettle on! Oh, and the look and feel of that Blue Zoo animated short 'Via'...it all came out of the brain of concept artist Izzy Burton. How cool is that?
I then saw that Will Belcher of Aardman is nominated for an animation award for Shaun the Sheep. I saw that composer and sound designer Matt Bowdler invited female composers to make an album using his soundsets and sample libraries to celebrate International Women's Day and raise money for Women's Aid.
On top of that I'm busy creating. Two library albums are at the mixing stage and I'm gearing up to release my first Real World Sounds sound pack next week.
So if you need to add a spring to your step today, look around at all the new things being created. You won't have to look very far.
It was such a thrill to be invited to talk to Wez Allard on Skwigly's animation podcast series: Animation Composed. Skwigly has been my go to website for animation news for a long time, and if you're interested in animation it's well worth checking out.
You can listen to the podcast below (I'm around 52 minutes in, but it's a cracking podcast if you want to listen to the whole thing).
Source (with bio info and track listing): Skwigly website
Children's Media Conference (CMC) Sheffield 2017
As an ex-teacher of key stage 1 children I've found a place as a composer that feels like home: children's media. The projects and productions I've been involved with so far in the kids' media world have been a wonderful experience, and so it's no surprise that when I first attended the Children's Media Conference in Sheffield last year I found myself surrounded by people who feel the same.
CMC is a wonderful celebration of the fantastic story telling and experiences we grown ups can provide the younger generation. Everyone seems passionate about the need for getting it right, about helping young people with certain issues, about the responsibility the industry has as a whole to give children a positive experience as possible.
That's why I'm going again this year. Of course it's a chance to have some meetings and network, but on the whole it's a chance to listen and learn, to recharge the inspiration batteries and to remember why the children's media industry is so valuable to our society.
If you're going feel free to say hello!
On a Facebook group recently someone asked about the benefits of subscription websites, where you pay a monthly fee and have access to job applications. I thought it might be useful to anyone looking to get into the business of making music to talk about my experience of them. At this point I have to point out this is merely MY experience - I have no idea how successful they are as a whole.
Over the years I've dipped in and out of these services. I won't mention any by name as the experience has been the same. You pay a fee, read the slightly detached ads (major label requires...feature film needs an outstanding composer etc) and apply blind. This could be a cover letter or a pitch (yes, often you have to work without a pitch budget or even contact with the potential hirer). Many times I've done this and many times I've not succeeded. By the way, I've learned to not use the word 'failed' after realising it's usually nothing personal, more that your take on it doesn't fit with the hirer's take; it doesn't mean you're not good enough.
Anyway, I've never been hired through a subscription website, and I think I know why. If there are, let's say, 100 applications for a job, there's a one in 100 chance of getting it. In contrast, for a regular TV pitch process generally a handful of composers are invited to pitch (again, I'm talking about my own experience). In addition you should be able to speak to the producers and decision makers to find out how best to approach the project, either verbally or by finding out their likes and dislikes. Very often finding out what someone doesn't like is a good steer. The bottom line is that everyone wants the best for the project, so decision makers will want to give you the best chance to succeed.
But surely the subscription websites allow access to those companies. How will I be included otherwise?
My simple answer: take the tenner a month and save it for networking events, for conferences, for lunches and informal gatherings. Get to know who you want to work with. Do your research and make it personal.
How to network is another topic entirely, but ultimately talking with human beings about shared passions is much better than paying to become a number.
Tommy Vs Cancer
EU: in or out?
There's an important day around the corner. On Thursday, 23rd June, the good citizens of Britain will decide if it wants to stay in the European Union or go it alone. I've found the lack of impartial information sparse at best, and less so with regards to how it will affect me personally and in my work.
The reason for this is that it has never happened before. No one can say for certain how things would be if we left the EU as no country has ever left. On the flip side, no one can say how our membership will be affected by staying in, given that a vote to stay in will probably be seen as approval of every penny being sent to Brussels, when in fact most of us don't know how much is spent on membership and what the club benefits are.
So I'm conflicted. The TV series I work on was made possible in part by access to a European fund. Would the TV industry in the UK be as healthy (or healthier) out of the EU?
One thing I am certain of is that this will be a vote of emotion. The people I have spoken to are divided between those (like me) who have more questions than answers, and those who feel strongly about one or the other regardless of the facts and figures. I'm guessing those people will be more likely to vote.
I'm interested to here what you think. Do leave a comment here or on FaceTwit and let's have a conversation. If the media wants to report the personality battles going on then fine, let's figure it out on our own.
All the best
Coffee: check. Notepad for marking down timings: check. Final edits for the next batch of Scream Street episodes: check (and they're brilliant!). Cue sheet template: check. In-ear headphones so I won't feel like I've had a box over my head all day: check.
These are the forms I have to fill out in order to get royalties when my music is played on the telly. Scream Street is coming back folks!
Posts by Gareth Davies.