Our fourth Webcast where Sarah will be discussing music production with 3 composers.

 

 

Discussion Topics:

  • Their process in creating new music
  • Pros & Cons of stock music libraries
  • Directing music composers
  • Fun projects & stories from previous work

 

Panelists:

 

Sponsor:

 

PEER to PEER Video & Film Industry Referrals

 

Sarah Marince:

Hello everyone. Happy Wednesday. Welcome back. This is episode four of crew talk. This is pretty exciting. And today our topic, we have three composers here. We’re going to be talking about music production. This is very exciting. I am Sarah Morin’s. I’ll be your host today, along with my three panelists of composers, we have Tony Clark, Susan Lockwood and kind of level, hello everyone, and hello, to all of our hello, to all of our audience members. We hope you’re staying safe and healthy wherever you are. And thank you for taking some time to join us this evening. We have some very exciting questions lined up. I have some questions on my end, and as always, if you’re tuning in and you have some questions, we will take those at the end. So start thinking about those now, and if they come to you during the webcast, type them into our chat box and I’ll get to those at the end.

Sarah Marince:

So hello to our panelists. Thank you. The three of you for being here this evening, this afternoon, wherever you may be. I’m an Orlando, so it’s seven o’clock here, but if you don’t mind guys, I’m just gonna dive into some of my questions, cause I know that’s why our audience is here. So music production, here we go. And the way this works, anyone can take the question. It doesn’t have to go in a specific order. So if you want to go ahead and answer first, and then someone wants to piggyback off that we can do it that way. So upon taking on a project, what steps do you go through to prepare or get the creative juices flowing?

Susan M. Lockwood:

That’s a good question. Yeah. I’ll go first on that. I think the first thing I do is the, if there’s any material they can give me any visual material. If I’m writing to V to a moving picture or to some sort of other kind of composite picture or something like that, I want to understand the genre, what I’m working in what they’re looking for, how I can serve the project essentially. Cause that is my job, right, is my job is to, is to contribute to that project. So I need to understand the vision where they’re going, what they already have, anything they can show me or give me if I get a chance to talk with a producer super early on, then I really love to know kind of what they had in mind. What, what were they thinking? You know, is it a Western or is it, you know, is it dub? Like, what is it, what would you like to have on here? That’s kind of how I approach it from the source material itself and then from the, from the producers and the people involved. Awesome. Tony, your head, you want to jump on that?

Kenneth Lovell:

Well, I would say if yeah, I totally agree. I totally agree with Susan. And I would also add to that, that a lot of times I’ll ask for three different tracks that they like three separate references. And, and maybe it’s something about timbre and tone. Maybe it’s about tempo. Maybe it’s a genre thing, maybe just an overall group or vibe thing or are, you know, and I find that that asking for three separate references that they like something, you know about those that helps me to kind of triangulate in, on you know, getting closer. So, you know, try to get closer to that bullseye. And whenever, if they can’t give me three things that are three references, I feel like they probably don’t have a clear idea of what they want. And I’m like, are you pretty sure you’re ready to talk to me? So, you know that’s what, that’s really what I would add to that as well.

Tony Clark:

Yeah. And just to, to kind of add to that, I’ll often ask for three movie inspirations that they have in their head that they’re thinking about. If they’re working on a Western, have they been watching a lot of, a lot of Sergio Leone or something like that? I always want to get the script early. That’s one tool I think is important and then photographs. A lot of times they’ve already gone out and shot photographs of location and then I want photographs. And then I take a walk.  I just, I leave, I gather the information and then I go for a walk and just kinda assimilate it and then come back later and kind of think about it.

Sarah Marince:

Very nice. Alright. So what’s your typical workflow from start to finish once you do have the project?

Susan M. Lockwood:

First one thing I go for let’s say I have picture, right. And I have, I have something that’s close to lock or anything even remotely close to what they’re going to be doing. And one thing you have to realize is you’ve probably the first thing you get is not the last thing you’ll get right, is you most likely will get versions. The first things I’m looking for is is a feeling inside of me, which is very hard to explain, but possibly, you know, I’m sure every composer goes through this. Like, what do I, what am I feeling? What is this telling to me? And then once I have a general, like a groove or a thought, then I’ll start trying to lock down even something as basic as a tempo, what is the temple of the visual that I’m looking at?

Susan M. Lockwood:

And I try to match that to a BPM or a field. And that’s, that’s generally my starting point. It’s so hard to say because it’s really project dependent. But if I feel like if I can get the structure of the piece that I’m looking at, then I can begin to shape the thoughts that are out here into, okay, it’s going to fit. I’m going to want to peak here. You I’m gonna bring it back a bit here. This is a male voiceover, let’s say, or this is male actor speaking. So I’m going to stay away from these registers. I’m going to write up here or down here, but I’m not going to be here. Those kinds of considerations. That’s the, that’s the vague starting point. But you know, after the walk, like Tony said, after you go for a walk and come back, so very important, get on the page, right on the notion page. And that’s generally where I start.

Tony Clark:

Yeah. I would say like my very first step is to get into conversations with the filmmaker. And talk about what they’re trying to achieve. If I’ve got film, then we’ve got a lot more to talk about, and then I’m going to be like a three year old and I’m going to, why them to that? Why did you do this? Why is this character acting like this? Why did you pick this color? Why, why, why, why once I really can understand his or her vision, then I can begin to think about art. And like, like you were saying, Susan, about ebb and flows and things like that. And then we can get into instrumentation and orchestration and the detail of where is there going to be music? Where is there not going to be music? You want music here? Why does your story not tell the story you needed to tell right here, if not, what do you need the music to do?

Tony Clark:

Do you need it to help tell the story or switch the story? And then we get to writing and then they get to changing the, the film over and over again. I always ask for the greatest copy, the color graded copy. I I’ve had, I’ve had it come and it’s red and that’s, that affects me how I’m going to write something. If I see everything in red, it’s an emotional thing. And then they regrade it to blue and green it’s over at that point, it’s a start over at that point. So, you know, then the nitty gritty comes. I think a lot of people think we just sit down and start writing music and it just, doesn’t, there’s so much thinking and talking and questions and lapse of time where you can’t even get in touch with the filmmaker for, because they’re busy.

Tony Clark:

I mean, I get it. I mean, they are completely busy people, especially when they’re, I love the word that you used as an emerging storyteller where they’re trying to do everything. They’re trying to wear every hat. So that’s that’s kind of what my process, and it always starts big, broad, broad strokes, and then get down into the net and the grits and the fine tuning on the detail. But always just the story, you know, what’s going on in the story, what’s going on with the character what’s going on with the scene. Maybe there’s not a character in the scene, maybe it’s horses. How do you like to horses? You know,

Susan M. Lockwood:

I’m laughing because I did one with horses. It’s been great.

Tony Clark:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. The cartoon dogs, it’s like, what are these dogs doing? Why are they doing this?

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah, I think that’s the important thing is communication. And I think you can foretell how a project is going to go from how good your communication is to because many times I’d say any misses, you know, glaring. This is that we might have as composers. A lot of times, I don’t want to blame it on the director, but I will blame it on the communication, not being clear or timely, you know? I think a lot of times that, you know, we need that as, as Tony and also Susan said to try to get in the head of the composer, I’m sorry, of the, of the, of the director. And if they’re not allowing us to have that time, you know, and be able to kind of really feel it out. You know, it takes a lot of patients, you know, for a director to, if they really appreciate and value what we do, I would say to new directors, please give us that extra 15 minutes.

Kenneth Lovell:

It’s going to make your film so much better. And it’s going to make us be able to feel confident because I think as a composer, I mean, what I mean I can speak for myself is I’m constantly like, Oh, that was terrible. If you hit myself again, thank you. May I have, you know, more pushups or whatever. So I’m constantly hard on the heart, on my sleeve when I’m doing this. And so I really want to feel like I, I have a good shot and making you happy and making your film better. And I feel like that communication is key. At least for me.

Susan M. Lockwood:

One more thing to add, which I bet you both my colleagues have done, but we, we, none of us has mentioned as yet is one thing I ask a director or a producer or something like someone I’m working with in the early stages is what do you not want? What if I put down, you know, a dubstep here? Are you gonna vomit? Like, or, or if I, you know, if I give you this big orchestral moment, you know, is that not like, what do you not want? And that can, Whoa, that can save you time. Right. Cause, you know, save you time for sure. So that’s a key question to ask. What do you want specifically? What do you not want? That makes sense. That makes sense. So do you use mostly mini software instruments or real instruments?

Susan M. Lockwood:

It’s a mix for me. It’s mostly in the, so it’s right now it’s mostly mini instruments, but we, I, I all, if I can write it into the contract and get it in the contract, I always like to add a clause about sweetening. And for I’m sure my fellow composers are familiar with that, but if you’re not familiar with that phase phrase, it is bringing in a live musician to, let’s say you’ve done most of the track committee, but you know, you’re, you know, a cellist who’s awesome. So you reserve the cello part to be played by a lot, a real human being, which is always better, always better. That’s called sweetening the track. It’s adding a human being to a otherwise a mini track or something like that. So I always add that in to see if that’s possible to do so. I’ve, I’ve worked both ways. I haven’t worked with a large ensemble recording yet, but I’ve worked in the box and then in the box with sweetening and then with me playing it.

Tony Clark:

Yeah.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Whatever the contract can, it’s part of that is in the guys who speak to this as what can the contract bear like what what’s in the budget.

Tony Clark:

Yeah. What’s in the budget. Yeah. And that’s like I also play guitar. I see guitars on your wall. So I’ll try to mix, I’ll always try to blend them a natural instrument. Like you said, Sweden, you can go down to the university in your, in your area and find a really good violinist, a really good cello player. And if you can just get that, feel that warm and then just bed it with, with virtual instruments, it’s a whole different game at that point. Now, if the budget allows, then I’m going to pump out, pump out an orchestration and have it orchestrated properly and, and have it you know, send it to the European symphony to afford. But that comes very rarely at my stage. Now they want that the composer, I mean the movie makers and right here, I want these amazing strings. It’s like, you pay me a thousand bucks. It’s like, yeah. But, but we, I think each, we all agree. We have learned with our craft to take what’s in our box and make it sound really accurate, you know, as accurate as possible to where some people will hear it and go, that sounds live. You know, that sounds like a real players, which is like, yeah. You know, thanks. You know,

Kenneth Lovell:

It was all my 10 finger orchestra. Right. It’s awesome. I love that. Well, I, you know, honestly, I, I don’t do a lot of orchestrated music. I’m not an, an orchestrator. A lot of times I’m called to do very eclectic, strange music. So with that in mind, I do a lot of actually real instruments. And I just, because you know, like the water phone, I’m a big fan of hand bells and I have a lot of tune, percussion things that I love and I’m a guitar player. And then I, I really try I really try to you know, where I might not be the best orchestrator the sounds that I capture and create and sculpt will have a unique quality. And so in that regard, I, I don’t have a lot, I mean, obviously I use samples and things by will end up affecting them, like to where you can’t even real, you know, you might not realize what it originally was. So, you know, for good or ill on, that’s kind of been my lot. So luckily I don’t have to worry about that so much. And a lot of the you know, the music that I’ll get hired to create. So, and if I do, I’ll be, I’ll be calling Susan or telling you say, Hey, could you orchestrate this for me because, Oh my God, I’m not an architect.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Awesome. Point two, because you need to build that into your schedule. If you are going to, if you’re going to use, you gotta book studios, you have to produce parts, you know, versatile factor, be sure you’re not paying for that. That’s like, that’s the taking sure. You, as the composer are not paying for that, that is in the contract. Yeah. You mentioned that

Tony Clark:

It does take a lot of people. I mean, that takes a Mitty person to really tighten up that Mitty an orchestrator to make sure that what you wrote, someone can actually play. Yeah. That gets complicated and then convert everything to pro tools.

Susan M. Lockwood:

It’s longer. It’s just, it just takes longer, but it’s a joy for me anyway. I love doing it, but it just takes longer. Oh yeah.

Sarah Marince:

I was going to ask, do you like collaborating with others or prefer working solo when creating music?

Kenneth Lovell:

Should I start that one? I love collaborating. I always have and but a collaboration, like for me, if I need something in particular and I have a project now I will find the best person that I can within that network. You know, like say if I did need a Viola player, well, you know, I will, you know, arrange sessions with them. And we will collaborate because they are the violist, you know? But with all well, knowing that, you know, the project is, you know, they can do whatever they want. They’re kind of in, under the same encumbrances as me being like Susan said to serve the project, you know? So it’s not like suddenly let’s, you know, we’re going to go into the jazz thing. Right. Let’s do a jazz number. You know, it’s not like that.

Kenneth Lovell:

It’s more like, Hey, I need some deal on this. Could you come over? You know, kind of thing. And I, that, you know, I truly enjoy collaborating. Whenever it’s, you know, whenever it’s appropriate and when I can pay them, I never ask people to do anything for free, but I have to be sure to, you know, otherwise, you know, I will end up doing something in the box or whatever, but, you know, honestly, you know, I tend to sit in a small dark room for, for large portions of my life. So I do enjoy the interaction of a collaboration.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Yeah. I’ll second that in the way to keep something like that on track, let’s say you’re using, you’re using a studio, you’ve booked some studio time, or you’re working with the violist or the singer. How I approach that as I come in prepared with what I have to get, I have to get, do some takes. And I’m thinking of one where I was working with a singer and she was great. We knew what we had to get. And then, and then for a couple of takes, it’s like, dude, you’re just do your thing. What can you do? And she produced some things that we ended up using because they were, you know, she’s a similar, she’s like, well, if I were seeing it, I would do this now to comes. And you’re like, thank you, thank you.

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah. And it’s a big help, right. Because you know, and there’s also a trust thing there, you know, you obviously listened to her singing first and you said, she’s got a great voice. Come on over, you know, you trusted that. You could get something good. And that’s truly the, you know, the essence of a good collaboration is that when there’s enough freedom that they can be themselves within your construct.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Exactly.

Tony Clark:

I don’t know if this is collaboration. I don’t know what you call it. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to. It is I might work with another composer where they’ve got a feature length film. They’ve scored all the main scenes and they need like the minor scenes scored. So they’ll send me motif, they’ll send me all the instruments they’re using Sydney, what they’ve scored. And then I’ll score that in like really fast, like last year, I think I had three days to do 12 scenes. So it’s always like, you know, I need this now. And it’s like, cool. You know, we can do that. I think that’s the best, the closest to collaboration. Now there is the, Hey, you know, violinist bring over, you know, a cellist or something like that. But kinda like what Susan said, it’s more like, you know, this is what we’ve got to get done. You know, here’s, here’s the notes. I need you to play, play him with all your heart. So but that’s the closest I think I’ve ever been to collaboration was, you know, co-writing with another composer for a film.

Kenneth Lovell:

That’s really cool. I’ll bet. That was, yeah, it was, it

Tony Clark:

It was an intense, but it’s amazing when you were forced into a small box, how much you can explode that box, how much you can get done. There’s some theory behind that, you know, if you’re given no time to do something, you get more done in that time.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Amazing. Isn’t it? Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Marince:

So what are some of your favorite pieces of software or equipment to use?

Susan M. Lockwood:

Oh, I got, I got stuff for that. Well, first of all, if I’m doing anything, it’s my fender Strat the, in the, if I’m doing anything, guitar based, it’s the Gibson and the fender. I love those guys. They have two different tones too. So really depends on what I’m doing. But guys, if you can get, I don’t know if you guys use this, but Omnisphere. Yeah. From this fear, fear is huge. It’s packed. It does everything. All the big commercial houses are using it, which, which is great for you because in that way, you’re kind of mirroring their rig a little bit. You know? So if they’ve started an Omnisphere and you’re like, Tony, they’ve say, Hey, you know, we need you to score these other four things. Here’s our sound palette. Oh, we’re working in Omnisphere. Great. You’re done. I like East, West. I like some of the stuff they do for their strings libraries. And I really been looking at spit. I love Spitfire labs, their free stuff is great. It’s great. And I’m looking at their symphony orchestra that they just put out BBC symphony orchestra. Ooh, never ending story, right?

Tony Clark:

The never ending money pit.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Gosh, those are my staples though. I would say, because you can eat to your point that you’re sort of making it, you can buy and buy and buy forever. It won’t make you a better composer. It will make you spend, it will give you more choices. And as Tony was saying, it’s better. It honestly is better to be limited. It really is.

Tony Clark:

And, and I would agree I’ve got the Omnisphere. Now there are some people making sounds for Omnisphere, which if y’all, haven’t heard of this guy, he’s a composer out of the UK does a lot of the BBC dramas and it’s called I’m finished. And it is absolutely phenomenal sounding stuff. It’s very modern, very, you know, coming up sounds I love his stuff. What I love about Omnisphere it mixes itself. Have y’all noticed that when you, when you layer a bunch of Omnisphere sounds, you’re done. It’s like perfectly in place. I love, absolutely love the London, contemporary orchestra, Spitfire library phenomenal. And then the British drama strengths from Spitfire. I like East, West I’ve got their subscription. I don’t know how to say this, that you really got to kind of get tweaky with east-west. Yeah. I agreed, you know, to get it to sound in, in the pocket. And then zebra Han Zimmer’s dark is, is a nice, I like using zebra to make sounds as a synthesizer. It’s a, it’s really straightforward. Those those are my go tos. I’m the sphere. If I’m doing strings and orchestration, I’ll go to Spitfire east-west odd and weird stuff on the sphere.

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah. I recently I’ve been really enamored by, you know, native instruments and the main thing that I’ve been using this, it depends on the project of course, but I really like reactor. I don’t know if anyone’s ever messed around with a reactor. That’s kind of like the ultimate fun box. I mean, it is really crazy. I mean, I don’t even, it seems like it’s on another level of sound generation and which I, I really enjoy. And a lot of times, you know, I don’t like necessarily things out of the box so much. So what I’ll do is I’ll rehab things through my studio and my get through dark cabinet or that kind of thing. You know, just to try just to try to blow my own mind actually, just like, wow, that’s bizarre. Like, so a lot of times I’ll, I do have a pretty nice live room.

Kenneth Lovell:

So I’ll ramp for my studio here, play the whatever virtual instrument I’m doing and then Mike get in the room and, and then I’ll just create a sound palette for whatever I’m working on and then almost use that as samples. So a lot of times I’ll cut and paste those and blend those, you know, to picture or what have you. I don’t know that that process has worked pretty well for me. Just kinda keeps me even though it’s an old bike, it might be an older version of something, but by the time you write for five pedals or whatever, it’s, it’s a new thing thing. And and I don’t think one, I don’t think one approach is better than the other. I really don’t. I mean, I think there are amazing things, you know, and as you know, the software doesn’t, I mean, it’s a tool, you know but at the same time I think our bread and butter is creativity.

Kenneth Lovell:

You know, that, I think that’s, that’s the true thing. I was thinking about this interview today. And I was like, you know, for us as composers and I don’t mean to cast any shade on our video editor, friends, and not even the director, but know the editor will show up, but he’s got a hard drive full of stuff. And he’s basically, co-leading, you know, it’s like seeing one, there’s a script you’re following with us. We’ve got no script. I mean, I show up in my timeline is empty. I have to have that timeline full by tomorrow. It, no, I mean, that’s like a real, that’s a real thing with us as, as composers. And I think people don’t realize that they were literally taking, going from silence to music, you know, and I think that’s sometimes a lot further than from, you know, hard drive 500 takes to collation. One to, I mean, I know there are separate things, but you know, as a composer and, and you guys too, as, you know, fellow composers, I think that’s something we have to Pat ourselves on the back for occasionally, because we’re going from silence to finished, you know, and that’s from creation from nothing to creation. That’s our world.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Yeah. The the software doesn’t write the music, no matter what you have, that is the creativity that does it. And it’s the creativity when you’re, when the project that you’re on is something that’s hard, like an asprin commercial or something like that. You know, it’s not, you have to find the thing in that, that you can bring your creativity to, to give it that final Polish. That’s what they’re looking for. Otherwise they wouldn’t ask for a composer.

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah. You guys do a lot of work with advertisements or is it mostly film stuff? Sorry, Sarah.

Susan M. Lockwood:

I’ve done a mix. I’ve done a mix. Yeah.

Kenneth Lovell:

As you can probably tell from me, most of my stuff is advertisement. Like I do lots of jingles and you know, that kind of thing. And occasionally I’ll do like a doc or something where I’m you know, a long form thing. But for the most part it’s is like 32nd burn. I mean, it’s gotta be, it’s gotta be perfect, you know, for it’s only 30 seconds, but there is no fat, you know what I mean? It’s, it’s gotta sound amazing. It’s gotta sound like Justin Bieber and it’s gotta be done by tomorrow from written to produce the master to broadcast, ready to go, you know, so I’m always like a fireman I’m like you guys okay. You know, waiting for the bell to ring.

Sarah Marince:

That kind of goes along with my next question, actually. What is the best way to get your name out there as a music composer and what methods do you recommend for selling your work to potential projects?

Tony Clark:

I think the best advice I ever got was stop hanging out with composers and musicians and go hang out with filmmakers composer. Musician will never get you a gig. And a, I mean, that, that is what has been true. Going to the local local film meetups. And I mean, they go, Gacaca when a composer walks into one of their meetings, you know? Totally. so you know, that hanging out in some of the Facebook groups, but I don’t get a lot of connections in the Facebook groups. Yeah. And then

Tony Clark:

I don’t remember the second half of that question, but but, but that’s

Susan M. Lockwood:

Or you build your career. Yeah.

Sarah Marince:

Yeah. Just kind of how you build your career and just getting your name out there

Tony Clark:

Well, I mean the pitch is your website, at least in my, you know, in my way of doing it, if I go to a filmmakers meetup, I’m a composer, believe it or not business cards, because you gotta get, you gotta get here, you gotta get your, your website in front of them.

Sarah Marince:

What information should you have on your website? Cause I know like for me as a voice actor, like my demos have to be there and they have to be downloadable so people can download it there and like, you know, examples of jobs. So as a sound composer, what, what do you need to have on a website for clients to see that kind of everything you need to have on there?

Susan M. Lockwood:

Alright. I’ll, I’ll answer that by saying I’ve heard two things about that. I have I have two things on my site stuff I’ve done to picture and then the links to just competitions that I’ve written or, or to my SoundCloud with other things that are not, that are not necessarily to picture, but if I’m pitching for film or if I’m saying, Hey, I would like to score your film. I like to show them something to picture because they want to know whether you can write to picture. So, so I have mine is kind of focused that way with links to, and I know other composers are like, Nope, just listen to my music. And if it, if it sounds right to you, then you’ll know whether it’ll work with your picture. So it’s a, it’s a, it’s a 50 50 thing. I have to second the thought about being the only composer in a room is it is a great, is a great leg up, you know, like if you get up and you’re the only composer you’re I have gotten jobs by helping friends out on film sets where they needed someone to hold the sound, boom, you know, nothing about that, but I am a body that can hold the boom and pointed where they tell me to write from that I met a director who was also helping out and he was unhappy with the composer on their current project and said, Hey, could you maybe give us a different take in that, in that became, so it’s be willing to show up and be good at what you do.

Susan M. Lockwood:

That’s that’s for sure.

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah. I mean it’s a useless, you know, a lot of these, a lot of especially independent films are very much a skeleton crew. You know, there’s not maybe one person is art director and boom operator and caterer, you know? And so if they hire you as the composer, they’re really expecting you to, to come through, you know, you cannot like not deliver, you know, that’s the worst thing you can do for your career is to, you know, do, to take responsibility, say you’re going to do it and not do it. Oh my gosh. That’s like the worst. I mean, we’re basically in a home run Derby here, you know, there’s no base it’s music composition, right. I mean, you’ve really got to do it perfectly or, well, why did we even, why do we even hire them? You know, why do we even talk to them? So yeah,

Susan M. Lockwood:

I’m curious if either of you have ever, because I had done this, I’ve turned down a job that I was deep into. I literally had a contract, but you know, we were in the signing phase and it came out in the contract that the the director wanted to use a particular vocalist in a particular studio. And that I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill that for them at that time. And I called the director and I, and she was great. I said, you know, I, I want this project to succeed. You know? So either this line item comes out, you know, like you’re not, you’re okay not having that or you really want it and you really need another composer for this. And I’m happy to do that. You know, it’s losing the work, but at the same time, you know, it’s, it has to be a home run. And if you can’t, it’s worse to deliver to Saint Luke’s. I can’t do that in the studio or whatever, late on, let somebody down like that. So have either of, you ever said, you know what, I can’t do this for you, but

Tony Clark:

I agree if the expectation is just unreal, then you have to say, no, you know, it’s all about expectation at the end of the day, this is what you want. This is what I can deliver. Does it meet your expectation? Well, no, I need a, you know, I need a moonshot to the Mars. It’s like, I can’t do that. But it’s good to be in a position to maybe refer them to somebody. You know, if, you know, going back to not hanging out with composers, I will still refer composers and musicians to projects all day long because at the end of the day, we’re all in this fight together.

Kenneth Lovell:

Absolutely. And I mean, I know Sarah, you said you’re a voice actor, which I think is pretty awesome. That’s like 100 jobs you can have in the world. I think you know, in a lot of times, a lot of times, you know, in your worlds, a voice actor, you know, maybe you’re hired, but then you realize I can’t, I don’t have that voice. You know, I’m the wrong person, you know, and I do a lot of producing a voice talent for various different things. And it’s the worst feeling in the world when you know that they’re not going to get what they want from the voice talent. It’s not the voice talents fault they were cast in properly. And I think it’s very important to, to be honest with yourself, if a project comes up and it’s like, you know, I’m not the guy, you know, this guy’s going to kill this, but I would rather, as Tony said you know, be the conduit that allows the filmmaker to get what he wants because everybody wins. I went because I was a nice guy and humble enough to pass it on. And then the filmmaker is happier because the end result is closer to what they wanted. And I think that makes you, puts you in a better light, you know, as someone that was able to be empathic enough to understand that, wait, wait, wait, you don’t want me, you want him, and a certain degree that’s that shows a strength of character that I think it’s, I think it’s important.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Absolutely. That kind of stuff gets remembered. Guys, you have to be thinking longterm. Cause you’ve heard before, this is not a marathon.

Kenneth Lovell:

It really is. I totally agree.

Sarah Marince:

Absolutely. Let’s move on to a fun topic. Pricing. So how does your pricing work? Do you charge by each track video scene length? How does that work in your field?

Kenneth Lovell:

I just usually start off with $86K. $86K I could hire an orchestra probably or the, you know, a chamber orchestra that I recorded three times and and, and still make enough money to pay my mortgage perhaps. It’s really all over the place. You know, a lot of times for me, gigs are strategic. Like this is an up and coming filmmaker. This is an up and coming director. I want to be on their radar. So when they do hit it and two and a half years from now, they’re going to call me and I’ll get a payback, you know? So it’s a relational business and more than anything, we’re in a service we’re in a service industry. So if I feel like it’s, you know, maybe not so much money, but potential in the future, you know, it’s like playing the stock market, I guess. So for me, that’s a big indication of, you know, the, the person, you know, do I, do I believe in them as a director and they underst make sure they understand that I’m doing, if it is for not full rate, they understand that it isn’t, this isn’t full rate and, you know, I’m trusting you to be able to give me full right next time.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Good answer. I think it’s a delicate balance, especially when you’re starting out, I’ll say this never work for free. That mean that you will be paid in dollars. However, though, when you’re very first starting out, not for free, maybe they buy you a pizza in a, in a six pack of beer or something like that. And you write them a 30 you know, a ten second cue or something like that. If you’re into it for a film, a short film or something, be careful about doing that kind of those kinds of things for free, because they’ll take longer than you think, right? Your time is worth money. Your talent is worth money. What you bring to the, to the project is worth, it’s a market it’s worth money. So if it’s not going to be money, keep it short. It’s a long game, be strategic like Kim saying, you know, be strategic know the market rate for what you’re charging for, you know, is if it’s $50 for you know, for, for 30 seconds for that kind of a thing, that’s what it is. If it’s 500 know that you can find those, that kind of information online, I was going to ask, is there like a rate guide specific to that? Or is it just kind of through experience or talking to others? How does one go about learning that these both. Okay. I think it’s both.

Tony Clark:

I think a lot of it has to do with your market. I’m booking a studio in LA is a whole lot different than booking a studio in Austin.

Tony Clark:

Oh, you know, do you have to work with union players or nonunion players?

Tony Clark:

I think a very fair question that we as composers can and should ask is, do you have a budget? What’s the budget, right? If they haven’t even thought about a budget, then that may be one of those times where you go, you know, this isn’t right for me, but Hey, I know this guy over here, he’s, you know, he’s really good at what he does. Any, you know, there’s like the kind of the, you know, they say, Oh, between two and 5% of the budget. Okay. But you know, what are you going to get? Is it 2% of a thousand dollars? You know, what do you get for that 2% of a hundred thousand dollars? What is the director going to get for that? What I try to do is talk options with them if they don’t have a whole lot of, if they don’t, well, first rule is if anyone’s getting, if somebody is getting paid, I’m getting paid.

Tony Clark:

Okay. You know, and probably somebody’s getting paid now, how you get paid. Like, you know, is that in, you know, is that in well, you know, I want to look at your next projects that you’re working on, or, you know, I want an introduction to this producer that, you know, you know, something like that. But if somebody is getting paid on the crew, then I think the composer should get paid. And I think we’re put into this really bad box where they go, well, you know, I can just go to pond five and get some music. Yeah, yeah. You can. And here’s my option. I have got hundreds of tracks on my website, going back to the website, broken down by genre. You need something for, here you go. Here’s 15 tracks recorded. You want one of them great. 150 bucks. You want me to edit it?

Tony Clark:

250 bucks? Yeah. Licensed perpetuity non-exclusive so yeah, I kinda try to be my own music library in a sense. Yeah. Now a lot of my music is sitting with publishers. So if they want that music, then they’ve got to pay and they’ve got to go to a publisher and they’ve got to get it that way. But it’s because like I kind of was saying, there is a lot of effort in what we do. I mean, there’s a ton of effort in what we do. And I don’t, I don’t know if that’s understood across, you know, across the board. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a huge Boulder that we’re pushing up up a mountain,

Susan M. Lockwood:

You know, on a project you want to be, you want to stay involved. If you can, you want to showcase your talent, if you can, and you want to get paid. Right. So if it comes to, they can’t afford a bespoke, like an original soundtrack that you, right. They just don’t have the money for it. Put it on your music, supervisor, hat, like Tony saying, you say, all right, I will switch hats, put on music supervisor. And I will go find you from, you know, either from stuff that you have locally that, or some music library I’ll find tracks that can sit there. And that’s how I can serve them. You’re trying to help them solve a problem. Right. This is how I can serve, you know, but if, if you’re expecting me to write 30 minutes of a film, you know, my time I’m, I’m valuable to the marketplace. My time is is worth that. And other things

Kenneth Lovell:

I would say start high, you know, like if I look at it, I’m like, yeah, this, this film’s probably got, I’ll be lucky to get six K you know, to, to, to score, you know, 45 minutes or whatever it’s going to be that immediately. I’m like, how does 11 sound? You know, and they’ll go, Oh, 11, I can’t do 11, but what about seven, five? And right there, that kind of brings the conversation into place. That feels pretty good. You know? I mean, that’s, that’s an okay payday, you know, for, for that amount of music for me, at least. So depending on what we’re doing, of course, you know but always start high. I mean, never, never come in at a thousand dollars ever. Like I never, never, I’m always like you above 10 and just see what they say. They might say, great, my uncle’s going to pay, write a check.

Kenneth Lovell:

Fantastic. Let’s go. You know, so, and I don’t think that’s something to be embarrassed about. I don’t, you know, like I said, we’re all professionals here. I have to pay for the studio space. I have two daughters, one need saxophone lessons, you know, this is real. So I have no problem asking for money because I I’m, I’m confident that you know, I’m going to follow through and deliver. I’m not going to flake out on you. You know, this is a contract. And I also do half up front to start. Yeah. Every time, every time, you know, just because that’s a contract, you gave me half. That means I’m kind of on retainer for you. And once I finish and everything’s cool and you enjoy, you know, you’re totally happy. And I do mean that totally happy. Then you give me the other half, like it’s a contract, it’s kind of unspoken thing.

Kenneth Lovell:

That, I mean, for me, I guess you guys do it to half up front, at least half half when the contracts. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That’s, that’s it, that’s it, you know, and that just helps clarify clarifies things. Money is the clarifier. I mean, if you, I turned down this other gig recently, it was like a feature and they’re like, Oh, we’re going to get points on the end or whatever. I’m like, nah, man, you become like a slave to the whims of their editing. It’s just like, no, no, no, no. I’ll take a look. I’ll take a lock picture and half upfront. I’m your man. If you can call me anytime at night,

Susan M. Lockwood:

I’m going to move on to some of our audience questions now. So this is from Michael Pitzer. Are you ever asked to go back and remix for streaming versus theater?

Susan M. Lockwood:

I have not yet been asked for that. No. And I’ve had them play both out in the theater and then I haven’t yet.

Susan M. Lockwood:

That is one thing I ask by the way, just to start out with, which is, you know, is it going to screen, you know, in a, you know, like, are you going to screen it or is it going to remain on the web or, or how’s that, you know? Cause that’s going to help you master it.

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah. I don’t know. Is he, that’s a rather interesting question because you know, I also Marine recording mixer, so I, I mix things for broadcast and you know, I do the whole thing and I do some stuff in surround depending on what we’re doing. And so when he says remix for streaming is he, I guess, is he talking about remixing, the score for streaming? Are you talking about, is he talking about a full like rerecording, like dialogue? I mean, I’m just wondering, cause I, you know, I’m constantly dealing with those standards and what Netflix want this this week and you know, I don’t know. I wonder if that’s what he means. I guess that is that, is he talking about just remixing score,

Susan M. Lockwood:

Yes. Mega speakers for small home and computer speakers?

Kenneth Lovell:

No. I mean I’ve, I tend to mix for both at the same time.

Susan M. Lockwood:

Cause you don’t know, you don’t know where it’s. Yeah,

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah. I mean, if it sounds bad on the big speakers, then there’s probably something that you did wrong in your production. That’s when you know, your music production skills and mastering and understanding of EQ and phasing and all that stuff comes in. So no, I’ve never, at least I’ve never been told I should have remixed.

Tony Clark:

Might adjust overall level, you know, you might go to a minus 24 instead of a minus 18.

Kenneth Lovell:

Right. That was my question is like, are you talking about broadcast standard? You know, or are you talking about mixing? Just, you know, cause once the music has been mixed with the dialogue and the effects you’re really looking at either, you know, a discrete five, one STEM or you’re looking at some kind of like, you know, you know, surround, that’s been mixed down to stereo. I don’t want to get too technical, but you’re kinda there. You know what I mean? There’s not much you can do to remix. Except for, like you said, just pull the overall volume down or normalize it low or high or whatever. But yeah.

Susan M. Lockwood:

I mean, even with math, you can’t go back and be like, Oh we need the this second guitar to be louder. Yeah,

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah, yeah. That’s what I mean. It’s, it’s kind of a, that was why I was interested in, you know, digging in a little more on the question here.

Tony Clark:

Moto is our friend.

Sarah Marince:

Do you, do you make use of loops and samples as part of your composition and production? Or is that frowned upon?

Tony Clark:

Never. Never, no.

Susan M. Lockwood:

I’ll tell you what I did. I will say I don’t, I can’t, I’m trying to think. I haven’t yet that I can recall. Like I have used like like drum tracks and things like that. There’s things that are, it depends on the project. If it’s a, literally an overnight turnover for like a, a web spot for like a super quick thing, you know? And they want you to compose something I might, but I’ll tell you when I’m composing a, an orchestrated or a bespoke score. No, I mean, I write all the part, I write it all. But, but there are times yeah. Where, if it really depends on the project, you know, I would say that it’s gone, it’s going to end.

Tony Clark:

They’re on YouTube. Like the most embarrassing thing in the world is to go through this entire process. They put it on YouTube and it gets struck on a copyright

Susan M. Lockwood:

For sure.

Tony Clark:

Or, a vocal or something like that. And there’s been a couple of big guys and Cali who have been just hammered on that. Yeah. To where like my publishers, they don’t even want, they don’t, they don’t even want me using the sound out of the box. I have to completely tweak that sound as something different. Like if I’m using Omnisphere, you’ve got to take that sound and change it somehow some way so that their client CVS does not get hung on a copyright,

Susan M. Lockwood:

But you’re starting, you’re starting with that as your base. Right. And adding or subtracting to a base. Right.

Tony Clark:

You get into to loops like vocal loops, drum loops, things like that. They can be so easily picked off by that robot. That’s out there listening to everything.

Kenneth Lovell:

Oh yeah, this is true. And this is where I’m going to have to differ with my colleagues. I use loops all the time, like all the time as a starting point, as, you know, as a feel, as a vibe. And once again, I’m not really an orchestral composer per se. I do a lot more pop inspired music. And of course by the time it gets through the, the chipper, you don’t recognize it. It’s like, yeah. It’s like, you don’t recognize it at all. But you know, a lot of times what I’ll do is, and it really depends, you know? Cause it’s, sometimes the requests are very specific, you know? I mean, like we want it to sound, you know, like this Justin Bieber song and we’d like the intro to this Katy Perry song. And then the Beastie boys, we want to put Beastie boys.

Kenneth Lovell:

I’m like, how are you going to do that? You know, but what they meant was is they liked the energy of this. They like the tonality, you know? So, and a lot of times, you know, if there’s a loop that I like, you know, I’m kind of a pro tools guy, so I’ll do beat map stuff and I’ll pull out like a basic kind of feel, cause I’m not a drummer and a lot of times there’s no time or money to hire someone to actually play it. So I’ll figure out like what is going on in that loop, but then, you know, take it just that as a template per se. And then from there, add my own sounds or what have you. So yeah, I do, I do use loops, but I wouldn’t say that I, I PA I try to, I try not to publish loops, but a lot of times it’s very derivative, you know? And it just because it’s a fast forward button to where they want to be, what they’re looking for. And I’m okay with that. You know, if that’s, if that’s the time zone, I mean the time frame and I’m like, what else do you want me to do? You know? But it is always better to have live instruments and do it yourself, you know, everything for ground up. But I have to be honest and say that that doesn’t happen all the time.

Sarah Marince:

Right. Is there a good resource of jargon to read, to be able to talk to a composer? Well, that’s from Justin. Oh, that’s a great question. You actually care Justin, that’s their name? Just be in love with me. Awesome. Whatever you do, usually we’re trying to speak your language. Exactly.

Tony Clark:

I’m taking an entire film class right now, just so I can understand, you know, when you say, well, I’m going to use a 30 on this, you know, 30 mil on this. I want that feel. Oh, okay. Now I know what you’re talking about.

Susan M. Lockwood:

I’ll say that’s my job to understand what you mean. So if, if you were asking for something I, as a composer, it is my job to understand how to translate that into the Viola players at this position on the neck, in order to get that sound as long as we can talk. And if you love music or you love at least what you think you want for the film and all that stuff, you know, that will come across and we’ll find a way to communicate. I feel like it’s my job to bridge that gap with you. If there is a gap, it’s my job to understand it, to help, to try to understand you say that’s a pain,

Kenneth Lovell:

That’s a key skill. That’s a key skill that they’re paying for right when they hired you. Right, Susan, because you know, it’s, everyone can do that. Yeah. This is not like a normal thing. I mean, a lot of people get angry, just talking about like what kind of cereal they want to eat in the morning. You know, much less, much less. This really you know, esoteric conversation about, you know, needs to be more blue than orange, you know? And you’re like me or the music, the music sounds Milky. I had that conversation with time with the guys just sounds Milky. I’m like Milky, Oh, you want it more defined? You want it more, you know, that maybe it was kind of too muddy in the low end or something. You know what I mean? You kind of try to figure it out, but if you’re patient with us, I guarantee you will be patient with you. So just, you know, I would say that just be open to these conversations, being lengthy conversations, not like a two sentence email, correct.

Tony Clark:

Be glad to take a temp track. If you, if you want to talk to us in our language, you know, some composers are like, alright, temp, tracks. I love temperate tracks. Right. I mean, hopefully you’re not married to it. You know? More like, you know, the feel you’re trying to get to, you know, for your storytelling know that’s fantastic. You know, having a reference track.

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah. That’s what I like earlier we talked about, like, I like to have three, you know, three is, I found that to be awesome. And if they can’t find three, I’m like, you can look a little deeper. You can find three. I know you can because everyone else has.

Susan M. Lockwood:

It’s a great conversation starter. Right? Right. It definitely narrows your focus.

Kenneth Lovell:

Right. You know, at least for me, it’s worked very well.

Sarah Marince:

I have a question from Navi in the audience is your advice to finding a mentor as a starter in the field, what can one offer to the mentor to interest them in mentoring them, mentoring the individual.

Kenneth Lovell:

Are you a good orchestrator? What do you bring? What do you bring to the table? You know, it’s it, you know,

Tony Clark:

Can you organize my library of music so that I’ve got a better handle on it?

Kenneth Lovell:

Are you a good metadata tagger? You know what I mean? There’s lots of things that at least I could use in my flow. And if you have that type of skill, because it is an exchange, it has to be an exchange. Yeah. It has to be,

Susan M. Lockwood:

I would say you need two kinds of mentors and I’ll talk about the one you’re asking about first, which is if, what, whatever skill you have, it could be office management. It could be, you know, you’re really good at listening to and picking out tracks or sourcing music and getting me 10 tracks that I could choose from or three or whatever down selecting. All those kinds of things are really great. And just to be able to be in a room with someone who has a little bit more experience than you have is a great, great learning tool, whether it’s a virtual room or a real room. So that’s, that’s, career-wise composing wise, choose your mentors carefully. They could be dead. Your mentor could be Beethoven, you know, and it could be, it could be sitting with a, with a Chopin Nocturne and trying to get to how he’s expressing himself, you know, and then taking that back into your work. So don’t forget that those mentors as well, because it’s like we were saying on the call, your filmmakers want you to deeply understand music in a way that they may not deeply understand so that you can bring a dimension to what they do that they are looking for, that will delight them and fit that that has to do with how you develop as a composer. Yes. Your career. But don’t forget the other part of it as well, because ultimately that’s what makes you most valuable.

Kenneth Lovell:

Yeah.

Sarah Marince:

Absolutely. Great advice. We’re going to have one last question as we’re wrapping up here, this has been an awesome hour. Mike P. Hall wants to know, are there any online forums of networking that worked best and what are the best networking sites?

Tony Clark:

I would say start local, you know, fine, fine. You know, get on Google and say in Austin filmmaker, independent filmmaker for us, that way you can meet people in person and talk and have coffee and things like that. It’s, it’s a matter of just a Google search at that point. There’s some massive composer sites, but some of those sites are so far over my head. Yeah. Yeah. When Hans Zimmer drops in to make a comment, I’m like, well, I’m out.

Tony Clark:

It’s like, I’m out of this one.

Susan M. Lockwood:

So I’ll, I’ll give you Steven. Spielberg’s answer to that question. Cause I was, I saw a thing where someone in the audience asked him that exact question and he said, look around the room. He said, I’ll be Frank with you. The odds of you getting to be able to make a film with me at this point in your career. Very, very long, right there. You just, won’t just realistically, not the people around the room with you next to you. Those are the filmmakers. You’re going to be making films with that’s where you start to network with. So that means the meetup. If you go to meetup.com and put in like, Hey filmmakers in the area, writers, PR you know filmmakers, writers, composers start local. That’s what matters. You know, that’s people work with their friends in this industry. They hire people they trust. And so if it’s someone you can know locally and sit down with a cup of coffee from with much, much greater odds of actually getting your work on picture, doing it that way.

Kenneth Lovell:

And I would say too, that now, since there are no actual cups of coffee together, you know this, this type of event is really awesome. You know, you can actually, there’s a lot of this stuff going on and you know, you can, you can look up Tony Clark and you can look up Susan Lockwood people look up at me and shoot me an email, say, Hey, I was on the thing. You know, this is a great way to network. You know, you’ve actually had a chance to need us, you know, as, as a meet, as the meeting we can do now these days. And you’d be surprised this is, could be the beginning of, you know, something else. So pay attention to these virtual things and virtual summits or whatever you want to call it. And you can see, you know, I’m sure there’s stuff that’s going on in LA right now. I don’t know. Maybe you could tell us the Susan, like on the West coast where they have, like, they must have tons of virtual meetings that you could be involved in for free, or a lot of it’s like, wow. Yeah. So,

Sarah Marince:

Well, do you guys want to take a minute and plug yourself, plug your website, your social media, where people can find you your official websites,

Susan M. Lockwood:

I’m at thescoringstage.com. From there, you can find anything you need to know.

Tony Clark:

And I’m at www.AnthonyClarkMusic.com same thing. You can find demo reels. All my genre specific pieces testimonials it’s all right there. AnthonyClarkMusic.com.

Kenneth Lovell:

Cool. Well, the name of my company is Bluegreen Submarine. So you could do BluegreenSubmarine.com you know, to check out all of the madness. That’s me. I also have a site dedicated to documentary films called mixmydoc.com that I, I love documentary films. So so yeah, either Bluegreen submarine.com or mixmydoc.com and you know, please say, please say, hello. You know, it’s always great. I mean, I love to meet, you know, people that consider themselves up and coming, I consider myself up and coming, you know, so at least I hope so, you know, I don’t want to stay where I’m at now, you know? So you know, lots of I don’t know, I just think that’s the spice of life is a meeting on you, composers and hearing what you’re listening to. I would love to know what that is.

Sarah Marince:

Thank you so much, Tony, Kenneth and Susan for being with us this evening and thank you as always to our audience for joining us, stay safe, stay healthy, wherever you are, and go have a wonderful rest of your Wednesday evening. Thank you. And I’m Sarah, and by the way, SarahMarince.com.

Bye.

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