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  • Writer's pictureFilipe Leitão

The Perfect Time to Start Your Journey as a Media Composer

The composition of soundtracks has always been seen as a niche career, often reserved for those with access to expensive studios and connections within the film or game industry. However, with technological advancements and the widespread availability of content distribution channels, now is the best time for new composers to enter the market. Here are some reasons why this is the perfect moment to start your journey as a soundtrack composer.

Laptop for music production

Accessibility of Technology

Nowadays, the technology to create films and music is so accessible that you only need 1-2 devices. The barrier to entry has never been lower. For example, with a laptop and music production software like Ableton Live, Cubase, Studio One, or Logic Pro, you can create original scores at home without the need for expensive equipment or a professional studio. Platforms like GarageBand and Reaper also offer powerful tools that are available for free, allowing you to start composing with quality resources. Additionally, there are various free or highly affordable virtual instrument libraries, such as Musio, which offers access to quality instruments from Cinesamples for just $49 per year for my students, an exclusive educational discount.

Widespread Access to Distribution

Thanks to the internet, the power to release films and music is no longer restricted to major studios. A classic example of this phenomenon is the film "The Blair Witch Project," which was independently released and became a global phenomenon, grossing millions at the box office with a minimal budget. This demonstrates how independent artists can achieve success without relying on major studios.

Platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and SoundCloud play a fundamental role in this scenario, allowing independent artists to reach global audiences without intermediaries.

Film composers can leverage these platforms to release their creations directly to the public, build a fan base, and potentially attract the attention of film directors looking for musical talent for their projects. This broader access to distributing content has been crucial for diversifying the entertainment industry, opening doors for new talents and innovative ways of storytelling through music and cinema.

Explosion of Independent Projects

Since the pandemic, many people have started businesses and pursued their dreams, including film and game production. This means more potential directors for a composer to collaborate with. The pandemic encouraged many to explore new careers and creative projects, resulting in an explosion of independent content. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have also enabled filmmakers to raise funds directly from their fans, resulting in more opportunities for composers to get involved in innovative projects. Additionally, these platforms offer the possibility of directly contacting directors and producers of independent projects, allowing composers to offer their services to create soundtracks for these projects.

Accessible Musical Education

General and composition-specific musical education is more accessible through platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Many professional composers share tutorials and tips on how to create soundtracks, offering free or affordable resources for those who want to learn. For example, YouTube channels like Guy Michelmore’s offer comprehensive lessons on soundtrack composition, from music theory to production techniques. My YouTube channel also provides exclusive and practical content in film scoring and music production.

Location Is No Longer a Barrier

You no longer need to live in Los Angeles to break into the industry. With global connectivity and remote work becoming more common, composers can collaborate with filmmakers from anywhere in the world. For example, Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, known for his soundtracks in films like "Arrival" and "Sicario," achieved international recognition while working primarily in Europe. This demonstrates that it is possible to succeed in the film industry without moving to a traditional hub like Los Angeles.

College as a Collaborative Opportunity

College presents an unparalleled opportunity for collaboration among students. At Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), for instance, music students pursuing the media scoring have the unique chance to create original scores for film, animation, and game projects produced by students from the Cinema, Photo + Film, Kinetic Imaging, and Computer Science departments. This cross-departmental collaboration not only allows composers to work with future filmmakers and visual artists but also provides invaluable real-world experience. By engaging in these interdisciplinary projects, students can build a diverse and impressive portfolio, enhancing their learning and professional development. These experiences are instrumental in preparing students for successful careers in the entertainment industry, equipping them with the skills and connections needed to thrive.

Below, you can see my students showcasing their work to Cinema students.

When applying for a film scoring program, it’s crucial to choose a university that also offers majors in visual media production. This ensures abundant opportunities for collaboration. This integrated approach is what makes Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) so special, fostering a rich environment where media composers can seamlessly collaborate with peers from various disciplines, thereby enriching their educational experience and preparing them for the professional world.

This truly is the best time to start composing music for media projects, especially at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). With lower entry barriers than ever and a wealth of resources available, VCU offers limitless opportunities for aspiring composers. By studying media scoring at VCU, you can network and collaborate with filmmakers and producers from the Cinema, Kinetic Imaging, Photo + Film, and Computer Science departments, gaining invaluable real-world experience. Securing paid jobs and building a social media presence as a composer are essential steps, and VCU provides the perfect environment to develop these skills and connections, preparing you for a successful career in the entertainment industry.



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