Can You Make A Living As A Composer?

Lisa Cheney, Master of Music in Composition

Music composers have been around for decades, but this industry has greatly evolved now that most music is being made on computers.

People often ask if it is possible to make a living as a composer and the truth is this:

Making a living as a composer is possible when one is involved in commercial work such as advertising and TV. However, without the proper connections and relationships, this can be a very tough industry to thrive in. Having the right industry connections will help you land more work and be able to earn commissions on a regular basis and make a living.

It also helps to niche down and venture into a specific industry to have more focused approach.

Let’s get into the various sub niches of composing:

Composing and directing

Composing involves the writing of original musical work by the composer.

compositions can be written and sold to various industries that have a use

for written music.

Furthermore, composers can write their music and go on to direct the final production of the work.

This is common in film, where composers are asked to bring in their work

and ensure that it is performed in the right intended way.

An example of composing is song writing, where a writer composes a song

and then sells the lyrics or writes and is basically involved in the creation of

the composition.

Scoring

Scoring is the process of writing and creating music in order for it to

accompany video or any other kind of work.

Composers in this scene write music with the intention that it fits or adds

more description to an existing work.

Musical composers that niche down in this area will have the advantage of

getting commercial gigs because the earning opportunities in this space are quite big.

The most common thriving industry that works with composers for scoring is the advertising industry.

In this space composers are usually asked to score for commercials, ads, and

other promotional material that can help the company achieve a certain goal such as increasing sales.

Arranging

Musical composers sometimes add to an already existing piece of music in

order to change or alter it to make it something unique, this is what is called arranging

Composers may use a piece of music and then go on to add their own instruments or alter specific elements.

This is all done to improve the composition and make it better or make it fit a specific set standard.

Composers can niche down to arranging and seek out opportunities wherever this skill set is particularly useful.

Television

Composing for television is also another great way a composer can earn an income and possibly a living.

Making music for television will involve making themes for certain

programmes, and basically anything else that involves music for TV.

When a TV network hires independent composers, they are basically looking

for original music that they can use exclusively.

The earning potential here can be quite good and it can be a good place to

make connections and find your foothold in the TV World.

Film

Music for film will involve compositions to accompany the overall theme of the film.

All music will be created to accompany the film and help in giving it a full description.

This will involve specific compositions for various scenes, which will be cued to start and fade out where it is meant to.

The earning potential for film is quite big because film, movie and TV show

budgets are usually large and a fair amount will be given to the people to responsible for the scoring.

Video Games

Composers may also be called to work on compositions for video games.

this may involve music, sound effects and other compositions to accompany the game.

Composing for video games can be very highly lucrative especially if the

composer is contracted to work on a video game that is being developed by a large corporation like Sony.

The earning potential can be substantial even for short compositions lasting under a minute.

Therefore a compose with connections to get into this industry will have huge earning potential and can rightly make  living.

I have a full article detailing how much video game composers make Here.

Is being a composer a good job?

Being a composer is a great job because it allows you to work on your passion whilst having control of your own time.

The working conditions can also be unique because you get to work with

different creative people which can have a positive impact on you.

Plus, owning up to your reputation and becoming a brand in this career path

can allow you opportunities that can continuously pay you.

Furthermore, in an industry like this you don’t need to have a formal education to get started.

if you are skilled or talented enough you can make an honest living.

is it hard to be a composer?

Being a composer is not an easy career to flourish in.

The fact is opportunities will not always come your which means that you’ll have some periods when you have no employment.

It is a quite competitive field that will eventually mean you having to relocate frequently to chase opportunities.

Plus, Composer is not a one man career therefore people that are not open to work with others will find it pretty difficult to thrive in this industry.

How many years does it take to become a composer?

There’s a lot to becoming a composer and the duration it takes you to learn will greatly depend on what you wish to achieve.

You’ll need a year to atleast have a firm introduction into music while you

play with the concepts you learn, plus another year to get to a point where you know what you’re doing.

By year 3, you should be able to fully compose music.

Keep in mind that learning how to compose is a continuous journey and will require that you continuously learn.

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