Have you ever had a time when everything seemed to pile up, all at once? You are trying to stay afloat on a sinking ship? Well, these last two weeks for me have been quite the adventure (to say the least). Around the end of July 2018, I was in the process of moving from place to place. At this point, I barely finished scoring a short film and was ready to pack up my studio gear for the weekend move. However, out of the blue, I was offered a golden opportunity for a music project. Out of respect for client, I will not name anybody or go into details... BUT what I can say is that this type of opportunity does not come by very often.
This opportunity was so enticing that I had to go for it. The challenge for me was that in order to land the gig, I had to write three original tracks as a sort of "try out" since there were other composers being considered. These tracks were to be knock-offs from other existing film scores and pop songs. Let me take a moment to explain the concept of a "knock-off:" There are many times when an advertising agency wants to license a popular song for their commercial but it will cost upwards of $20,000 to do so from the artist/publishing company. So, what they will do is hire someone like me to write a piece of music that has the same vibe but with a different melody (among other things) that will make it sound familiar enough to the audience and without having to pay the big price. Think... generic brand handbags versus name brand handbags.
So, to go back to my story, this great opportunity required me to deliver three knock-off tracks in one week. My time was limited, and at this point, the new place we were moving into was not finished yet, so we ended up staying over my fiancee's brother house. We packed and stored everything to a storage facility while taking my computer, work desk, MIDI controller, computer monitors and studio headphones to the temporary stay. I didn't want to risk any damage to my studio speakers so I stored that with the other things. Now, the composing process took place during this time even on the day of the U-haul transportation. I wrote a few hours every day til the deadline and was able to deliver on time. I felt very accomplished and was satisfied with the quality of work under the circumstances. The reason why I am sharing this with you now is because there are a few things I've learned that can help you along the way when facing an obstacle.
1. Deadlines Bring Out the Best in You
When you are running around like a chicken with their head cut off, having a destination point or stop watch will at least give you a direction or something to focus on. Having a deadline will give the push you need to keep going, even in the times of desperation. I find that I work best when I am given a deadline. Sometimes, you may have to give yourself one, whether that be in music or in writing a book or whatever else that may be.
2. Have A Good Process in Place
Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and the star of TV show, The Profit, touts his success to the formula of "People, Product and Process." I've learned from him that you need to create a process that is well-thought out, with every step intentionally and carefully created. Learn what you are good at and play to those strengths to create a process that is efficient and gets the job done. I find that I work best when I am organized and write down the goals for the week. Another example is that I have a checklist to go through before I deliver music to a client. Is the track in DVD quality (48 khz and 24 bit)? Do I have the markers set to the correct region so they start and end where I intended it be?
Other parts of my process includes using templates that already have loaded up all the sounds I regularly use... ready to go! Any shortcut keys that I use are automated with macros. The batch exporting feature in Cubase rapidly renders all of my stems, ready for the mixing and mastering stage.
3. Trust in the Process (& Have Faith in Yourself)
These two things go hand in hand. If you have a good process in place, then the more successful you will be. And, in kind, the more successful you are, then the more faith you will have in your capabilities. I believe that I wouldn't have been able to deliver the three tracks on time with out the process and the faith. Once you are committed to a challenge, the process takes you the majority of the way, but the faith is what takes to the finish line.
In conclusion, I learned a lot about myself in these last weeks. You may be wondering if I landed the gig. No, I wasn't selected for the job, but I did the best I could with the time I had. Put your best foot forward in anything you that you do. Eventually, you WILL be recognized for it. (Below are the three tracks I made.)