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“That’s a very competitive field. Now I realize that this is quite an unusual way for two, aspiring Film Composers to begin an introductory Blog. But since my Composing Partner Eric Nedelman and I formed our partnership for San Diego-based DKW Musicworks in 1996, this has been THE response we’ve gotten from almost EVERYONE, family, friends or others, when we stated our Career Goals, and the one response that probably 99.9% of aspiring and successful Film Composers alike, have heard as well.

But whether one admits it or not, it’s the single, most important response we’ll hear, one that will be THE Driving-Force for our Journey; which is why I felt compelled to name our Blog as such, and why I’ve chosen to kick it off it, by focusing on this, particular statement.

At first, you’re naturally put-off by this response, since there are SO many negative ways in which to take it; ‘What, am I not talented, passionate, or disciplined enough?’ And when it’s coming from loved-ones or friends where you expected the most support, you either think or say out loud; ‘Well, thanks a lot! I didn’t expect that coming from you, what do you know anyway,  you’re not a composer, you’re not me, you don’t know about the Business, how it works, what I’m capable of, it’ll be different for ME…,’ etc.

But after the initial shock wears off, you must admit to yourself what really bothers you about this response: It’s TRUE.

The harsh reality is, Composers have ALWAYS outnumbered the jobs offered in the Entertainment Industry, whether they’re for Film, TV, Radio, or newer media that’s been popularized over the last couple of decades, such as Video Gaming, or Online sites. And most of those jobs go to those Composers who already “In.” So to hear what you already know to be true, and from someone you expected to get a boost from, can be quite defeating when you’re your just coming out-of-the-gate. However, aside from the “unexpected”, it’s what one does with this statement, which will dictate the course of their careers.

As seasoned Composers who have spent more time trying to “Break-In” than getting “Breaks,” aside from the most obvious, there are three Key things Eric and I have learned, along the way:

1. Being Talented Or Having Connections Are NO Guarantee.

I’m sure there are many Composers out there who, along with their bruised egos, have fallen by the wayside, for assuming that because they were “Talented-Geniuses”, they would immediately stand-out and get work. But fact is, there are many more so-called “Untalented” Composers who get steady-work in Hollywood, than there are talented geniuses. And, while we never considered ourselves to be “Geniuses” as Musicians, in the beginning we both naively assumed that because we had talent, it wouldn’t be as hard, or take that long for us “to make it.” And later on, assumed that using “Family Connections” such as Eric’s Cousin Kelli Ross, former Vice President at RCA Records http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kelli-ross/8/b55/4b5, would finally “open doors” for us.

But when things didn’t end up happening the way we thought they would, we quickly ate and absorbed the slices of “Humble-Pie” that were handed to us, and wisely applied them to our continuing efforts.

2. Promotion, Promotion, Promotion!

Like many Musicians who “just want to create,” the one thing Eric and I have been VERY lousy at is “Self-Promotion,” with me much more than Eric, as I could get totally lost in Composing pieces and hoped that just by posting it online, or sending out demos to a select few it after they were done, would be enough. But it takes constant PR to even get an Agent that can get you work to pay attention to you; And after Eric finally called me on this, forcing me to admit this weakness in myself, timed with reading an inspirational post from online friend Anne Marie Howard’s Blog, (http://queenofeverythinginc.blogspot.com/), I vowed to take it Head-On, beginning with getting our own Website up and running, and using services such as Facebook, ReverbNation, Google+, Constant Contact , and renewing our former, joint TAXI Music Service membership this year, all in an effort to jumpstart our promotional efforts. And though we’ve dealt with some initial setbacks, such as choosing to use “Flash” to create our site, over the standard HTML that people have more access to, we took it as another slice of that “Pie” to eat, and are moving forward.

3. It Won’t Happen Overnight, So Stick With It

As you’ve probably figured out by the “Seasoned” comment, Eric and I have been going at this for quite some time. And unless you’re one of the lucky few, I can guarantee you will NOT “Make-It” overnight. But this is where the statement, “That’s a very competitive field” really comes into play, since there will come a time when even the most confident Composer will reach a crossroads, when it’s taken longer than they thought to achieve a degree of success as a “Working-Composer,”  when the self-doubt that you’d managed to keep on the Back-Burner for so longs comes forward, and you begin to ask those questions, the ones you were hoping you’d avoid because you were SO sure you’d “Made-It” beforehand: “Am I really as good as I think I am, or have I been kidding myself all along? Do I want to keep pursuing this, or join the “Real World,” find a steady 9-5 Job, and raise a family before it’s too late?”

Though Eric and I have never doubted our “abilities” to the point of giving up, and managed to balance Music with the “Real World/Life” for the first few years, starting in 1999, we’ve both dealt with a series of events, Good and/or Bad, where Music and Life  have collided, with Music taking the brunt of the blows: Marriage; Caregiving for, then losing a Loved-One; Having to study abroad; Getting a home, and a full time job outside of Music to keep it; A surreal, 4-year period where we didn’t even have a Working- Studio; Welcoming new family members; and, dealing with a late family-member’s betrayal, with a huge mess left behind that has yet to be completely cleaned-up.

At certain points, one or more of these events have put either Eric or me at that “Crossroads-Moment,” where we considered throwing-in-the-towel. And living in a “Paradise-City” such as San Diego, where it’s WAY too easy to kick-back and to NOT do things outside of the usual on a regular basis, a city that makes L.A. seem like a far-away foreign country in comparison, can make an agenda like ours especially challenging.

And any ONE of these events could compel an aspiring Professional Composer to just “forget about it,” and sadly, for MANY who have experienced similar issues, it has.

But thankfully, Eric and I share two “Voices” inside of us that will simply NOT leave us alone to settle for anything less than what we’re capable of achieving in our lives: A Passion for Music, and Tenacity. And as long as these two voices are constantly nagging away, we cannot, and will not give-up.

So join us on our Journey, as we Blog about working towards our ultimate goal to become Film Composers, including the “Non-Musical” High and Low moments that will accompany our efforts, which can’t be helped but be put Front and Center, initially; After all, it is “A Very Competitive Field.”

~Derwin

 


Comments

06/27/2016 2:02am

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My personal take on this is slightly different. For me, if music is something like a job or something you do to earn money, I don't think it can bring out the best in you. I maybe wrong because some people might say if you are good in something, you will definitely get paid eventually to do it. I say there is nothing wrong with that. Just make sure your music comes from the heart and not a desire to have a successful business.

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Why would they ever say that “there’s no business like show business”? Well, we know how dirty entertainment business there is. Even if you’ve got great talents or connection, if you don’t have the cash to flash then you’ve got nothing. It’s a money making business. You have to break something before you gain something. You have to go with the flow and be one of the flocks because if not, you won’t get the chance. The competition is great in your chosen field but once you’ve make a spot, that’s the start of it all. I believe you can and so hold on to your dream because you’ll surely get there.

07/11/2016 7:25am

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07/12/2016 11:53pm

Whatever career you choose to pursue, there will always be a competitive field. And I absolutely agree with the 3 points you stated. Being talented and/or having connections are no guarantee. But, they do give you a slight advantage over those without. You also definitely have to have a great promotion. In any business, it is very important to get your name "out there". It is an absolute must to be the top choice of people. And finally, it will certainly not happen overnight. Things like this take so many endless nights and a lot of blood, sweat & tears to accomplish. Thank you for sharing this kind of post.

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09/04/2016 2:26am

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12/19/2016 12:29am

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