Don’t know if it is a right place to publish this topic, so Mike please excuse me if i did it in a wrong place.
Would like to hear your thoughts and ideas how do you deal or handle with stressful or depressive moments in your music career?
What do I mean by that: we all have our goals as composers of course we should all have live in reality and understand who we are and where we are coming from and where we are going to.
So fo example if you dream to become next Hans Zimmer right now in 1 day so it’s not a depression or a stress but a mental disease lol. Because i had some “friends” composers like “I’ve been sending my music to HZ for many months and got nothing from him in return”, yes what a “jerk” lol I guess in this case some people don’t understand their real skills and strengths, because I talked to Warren Huart [Produce Like A Pro] about music career this May on Skype, and Warren did and does lots of interviews with the greatest producers in the music industry and also he did a really great interview with Junkie XL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9d1uW0x1jE&t=1s
So I’ve been asking Warren questions like: “how to get clients”, “how to succeed in music industry” and so on, and he told me that’s in general sense it’s all about hard work. And he took Junkie XL as example and told me that it took around 20 years of Tom to become a hollywood composer.
Bceuase as i see on FB music groups most of modern composers wanna have some gain with no pain, cuz if they downloaded even 1 single orchestral library for Kontakt so they think they are at the same level with HZ now, but the general idea is not to become someone or “next” composer , the general idea is to be yourself and succeed with your own experience and knowledge.
But now let’s go back to the point, now I’d like to tell you why and when i feel depressed and what drives me crazy like a lot:
1.I really hate when people (clients) cannot express their ideas when they want me to compose some music for them, because it’s really hard to work with people who don’t have any “music pictures” in their heads of what they want to get as the final result.
An example i’ve been composing music for russian short movies for years, and honestly saying first movies were a real disaster for me, because i used to listen to hollywood scores and always got inspired with these scores. What about Russia, some people who wanna play in local movie directors are trying to start their careers with making short films (well its a universal practice not only for russia). But the idea that our generation is raised on American movies, and when a person tells you that he is going to shoot a short movie in the way of “Stranger Things”, “Sleepy Hollow” or anything like that you literary expect that a short film will be as good as “Stranger Things”, so when time comes to compose music, a director cannot express what he wants. usually all movies have : a main theme, a theme of a hero, a theme of a villain and some other additional music. In russian case they don’t care about any theme like you have to take a guess what a director has in his brain, if you cannot guess you are a bad composer.
2.Working for free! Again it can be a whole topic for discussion but lets be honest again.
Some years ago when i had less experience than now, i thought that working for free can be a good way to make your way in local music industry. Again you’ve been told by different people something “you are nobody” and “why should we give you any money if we can download any music we want on the net”. So yes cuz you are not so confident, and you want to take part in some “big” project buuuuut a producer or a director of a “big” project can use your music in a “big” project only for free cuz blah blah bah you are nobody blah blah blah, and they are out of budget blah blah blah all the time.
In this case my music was stolen for several projects like several times. Of course those projects are not hollywood movies but a russian TV program about russian movies which was broadcasted on Russian tv and they took my music for free. Several short movies took my music for free. And one documentary russian movie on you tube took my music for 10 episodes for free.
The thing is that working for free is the biggest lie you can ever imagine.
Because some people even on You Tube, and not only russians but europeans and americans say that “you know working for free can help you to go far and make some contacts”. And yes at the beginning you are taking this “job” as a temporary stuff like you are intern and maybe thanks to your hard work they will see that you are active and purposeful so they will appreciate everything you are doing right now for them. NO SIR THEY WONT!!! you always will be a guy who does it all for free. And they ill be your “friends” until yous tart asking them for money. After that they ill block you on Fb or will tell you to go as far away as you can go (imagine any swearing words here ). Because again you are nobody and they owe you nothing and you should be grateful to them for such a “great” opportunity.
3.We don’t need no education! So 3rd part is mostly based on the 2nd part. So i won’t be eating your time repeating all the things i wrote above just wanna add here about your education. If you think that your degree or diploma or self-education will help you in music business you are super wrong, or at least I’m super wrong about that. So to make long story short what I’m trying to say here is: we all should expend and spread ur knowledge step by step especially if we want to reach some good goals after all. In my case i watch 1000 of tutorials on you tube and take 1000 of courses, about everything music connected.
So i wanna be good at what im doing, and i really thought again that maybe my knowledge will help me to may some good connections and relationships with the “right” musicians, directors, labels and so on. But in most of the cases they don’t care how much you know and good you are at anything.
4. And the last thing which drives me crazies is too many rejects of your music in a row.
In this case i hate audio jungle lol, already wrote here about my experience with aj, but i really hate when your music is rejected for no explanation. Because there always should be a constructive criticism. But when your music is getting rejected, rejected and rejected again it brings me down like a lot.
How do i deal with all my stress, i just go to you tube and watch more tutorials and buy more coursers and try to find right people! and keep doing my music anyway! I believe that one day my voice will be heard, if not ill buy a gun and kill everybody i hate lol
So what about you wonderful people?
I think everyone can relate to this on some level. Especially when we don’t reach our goals as quickly as we would like to, or sometimes at all.
I realised around two years ago that it’s not about fulfilling goals, or even setting goals. I mean we all need deadlines and something to work towards but making goals that span over years just isn’t healthy on a mental level. Just take each day as it comes and keep adding to our knowledge as we go. This really helped me with my mental health as I didn’t have to worry about anything. I remember someone quoting a bible verse to me actually “don’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself”.
Secondly I realised that making money from music is a slow process. It can’t really be rushed. I’m sure all the greats would say the same thing. We just see them now but we didn’t see the journeys that they went through to get to where they are now.
I also go for walks daily to keep my mind fresh and at ease, I try to socialise with others, and musicians whenever I get the chance. Relationships are super important for mental health, they should always be cultivated even when you don’t feel like it.
Finally; believing in yourself is 90% of the battle and it starts with telling yourself you can and are doing whatever you’ve set out to do, and most importantly YOU CAN!
obviously depression Ali’s a cycle that so hard to beat and often we need to encourage ourselves so much before the cycle is broken. An even then it’s a slippery slope to stop yourself from falling back into it.
I do not know much about the world of production houses, so not at all, but by reading your article I agree on your article.
A sound bank is not a panacea. And if I go around a lot of companies that sell these banks, in fact I think they are almost alike, in the sense that they offer rhythmic cells that are more or less copied on a film that has had some resonance for the soundtrack.
There is only one Hans Zimmer, and each person is unique. We can be inspired by a composer, but not copy and paste.
So for me, what is important is the personal work.
For my part, I can not write three minutes of music in one day. Even if we found the theme, all the orchestration, programming, mixing work is done in a day.
It often happens to me to rework several times this or that part, because the next day when I listen to what I have composed, I realize that it is not right. And we can not perform well every day.
As for working for free, I agree with you a lot.
I know that in France many people think that music is not a profession … And often when I said I’m a musician, people said to me: ok, but as a job, what do you do?
I used to play, without having a real salary, but there is a minimum, for example, travel expenses…
For me, all work deserves salary.
Be yourself, and be creative!
On working for free:
I came close (or it seemed close) to getting a paid job scoring a feature recently. It would have been my first feature.
They liked my work a lot but straight-up told me it would be tough to hire me because…I had not scored a feature. I demo’d a scene for them to try to get in the conversation. My demo was, honestly, spot-on. Several friends have told me it was a home run.
I still didn’t get the job.
So basically, you can’t score a feature until you’ve scored a feature. So I need to score a feature.
So now I have now found a pretty intelligently conceived low-budget horror feature with some determined go-getters making it. I’ve got myself into strong consideration to at least be a co-composer on the project.
But there is no budget for paying a composer. Instead, I’d be ”joining the team” of people who are doing this for fun and for career-boosting credits. If I don’t do it, they already have a young kid with a daw who did a fairly decent job on their trailer, and he’ll have his first feature credit and be on his way, while I’m still stuck in neutral.
People say all the time “don’t score for free,” but I’m not going another year with zero IMDb feature credits if I don’t have to, when I’ve got a fun project in my lap that could help to deal me into the game and get people to take me more seriously for paying jobs.
I realize co-scoring one low-budget horror movie (with the young guy) isn’t going to make me Hans Zimmer next week. And at some point you have to convert over to paying jobs. But you have to build a resume, and sitting around waiting for jobs that are almost always going to be filled by people who already have a long resume…does not build a resume.
I’m 50 years old. It’s a young man’s game and time is marching. I can’t afford to go long stretches of time, holding out for money, and NOT score a single thing, and not score at least something that’s headed to a festival. I can’t afford to get to 55 and have added, to my 3 measly IMDb credits…3 more shorts and maybe a web series. I’ll be in exactly the same spot I’m in now. I need to have 3-4 features and a slew of shorts. I need to be able to show I’m working.
That’s what impresses people. NOT the quality of your work. The quality of my work is not the problem. I think my work sounds really good, and I’m very good at supporting visuals. But that’s not what gets you hired. What gets you hired is a resume and pre-existing relationships. So before I’m an old man, I gotta work on some films. I can’t wait.
Sometimes that means you’ve got to “join a team of volunteers.”
I think first of all we need to go back to the roots of what music is all about. Music is an art form of “expressing yourself”, it gives you and others an emotion for as long as the music lasts. If you look at life in general, it’s all about emotions. Bad and good ones every day. As a composer / artist we need to put all the bad emotions by side and compose music when we are in a balanced and most likely good / stable mood. If we do so, we create something amazing, something what gives us goosebumps and as a consequence we become emotional (we don’t need to cry), but as well driven by what we have created. Even when I am mad, I write or mix something and I’ll forget about anything what happened 5 minutes ago. That’s the strength of music once again (can even neutralise bad emotions) That’s what is at least the most important thing for me. Every time when I hit my play button and I hear what I have created (hopefully music what makes me feel good), it’s a feeling “I can’t believe it, that I did it…”, but of course when I hear others music too. We become emotional, that what gives us good mood, inspiration and motivation to get going. How many times you were listening to great music when doing sports, or whatever what you had to do and you had the feeling of “I will do it till the end…I’ll finish the exercise etc.”, in my opinion nothing else in this world is driving you that much in the “here and now” as music does. Music is a multicultural language. That said, same people understand it, some people don’t (can be genres, instruments, harmonies, arrangements etc.). And that’s what you should have in mind. It’s always subjective, because art is subjective. Never ever take it personal! Every track has a personality/character. Some of them you like, but others don’t. That’s normal, that’s how it works. (This is what I think about music in general, what I find the most important thing to understand and always keep in mind).
Depression: Example…let’s say a director hires you, you write music to the movie and you want feedback. Before you started you asked him to either get an temp-track or to trust on your skills and experience. He rejected it, because he didn’t liked. You asked why. He said it’s not what my temp-track sounded like…(you used the same tempo, same orchestration etc…) At this point you should say, that he should forget about his temp-track, because he heard so many times and your “new” music will be always “strange sounding”…there are still a lot of directors out there, who work this way, some know this phenomena, others don’t. When you ask what to change, and he doesn’t have a clue, you need to ask him to do a remake, but now what you feel like is best working for that specific scene. If he is not an idiot, he will either tell you what to change and/or give you a second trial. After the work is done, you’ll see how he reacts to the new score. If he doesn’t like it once again, you are waisting your time/life. You should just say, “sorry dude, I think I am not the right guy for your job”. That’s fine, don’t waste your energy/time on this guy. (To avoid this kind of scenario, so don’t get depressed and mad after all that, before I score anything, I’ll sit down with the director/producer, and ask him directly how his working process looks like. Later I tell him how I would like to work with him, so we don’t get mad together. For me it works fine, because I’ll straight say, what I will NOT re-re-re-re-score a project for whatever reason. Most of us don’t work for Hollywood Blockbusters, where we would have time (sometimes more, sometimes less) and good budgets to re-re-re-score to make it more or less perfect. You should always present yourself as professional as you can and always tell people, how they would feel in your position, if they should re-re-re-shoot the movie! Especially when the budgets are low or even nothing (sometimes even a composer should invest money himself…we all know that!).
Stress: If you position yourself from the beginning like I said above, you should be alright and don’t have that stress later, only if the deadline is “yesterday”…As well what I’ve learned for me is, don’t say always yes to every project you can take, even for money. Why? Here is a scenario: You are working on a project with a friend of yours, let’s say an EP. At the same time, one guy is asking you to write/produce a track in a specific genre for his project for a couple of bucks. At this point it’s not important, because this guy has a clear vision and you saw his last work, which is great. Now you have a full time job as well, so you are working on different tracks before or after your working hours. Couple of days later you get a message, because someone heard from you that you write music a movies as well…it’s a short film, and the producer can only give you 350$ as a budget, which is not unusual, as I know. This film will be at festivals as well. You are like…“wow, nice…I can see money as a composer”, you think…and my name will be at “this” festival at the end. You say yes…you want to reinvest the money in a new library or plugin or whatever…Now what happens is: We are under pressure and stress, because we said yes to basically 3 projects, one of them gives you money. So you might think, the project which has the money is more important at this point…so you lose focus on the others ones --> you lose the good connection to your friend and the other guy, although you really liked the projects, because they are waiting for you. Are the 350 bucks worth it? Same scenario, but the other way around: You try to work on all the projects at once, so the focus is split in 3 parts…33/100. At this point you even don’t know who this movie guy is, and at the end he costs you so much time and stress, because he wanted you to re-re-re-score, you missed this part at the beginning, because you said “yes” to 350 bucks and “fame”. The others were 33/100 too, but at some point they had 0/100, because you were paid, you had to do it. But once again your friends didn’t like it, when you said “Sorry, don’t have time for you now…” Again: 350$ are worth it for you? And my last scenario, which I find personally the most important of all: You said “yes”, working on all the projects at the same time…once again it’s split 33/100, it all depends on time as well, but most likely we don’t have that time, so we are under pressure to make that deadline and/or don’t want to sit there for another 10 years to finish it, so we start to get sloppy and lose focus. So you finished the 3 projects somehow, and that’s the result! “You finished it SOMEHOW!” It’s maybe the modern way of thinking, “I’ll finish it somehow”, but at the end of the day this kind of work attitude will get back to you as your karma. People will see and hear it, either straight away (the real professionals) or subconsciously. Remember: “It’s always your last job which counts…”. Once again: “Were 350$ worth it?”…people heard your music, saw the movie and I can tell you if you went for 33/100 nobody will ever get back to you. Sorry, they will, but only the once you don’t want to work with
Always weigh your time, focus and dedication against the money. Money is important, but sometimes it can steer you in the wrong direction. I know you heard it before, but it’s funny to see and hear from people who are just about to explode because of their madness (project-wise). Even if a project doesn’t give you money, it most likely will give much more better feelings / emotions and fun to work on it, while as a couple of bucks can ruin yourself and your image. You get stressed and depressed. Don’t be fooled!
Best regards and take care,
The most important things in art, including music, literature, painting, are patience, hard work on a regular basis, positive attitude (which is really hard, especially when you were rejected many times), perseverance and self-confidence. You know your potential, you can create beautiful music, you are good and you will let other people know about it. Then you need to ask yourself. What is it all about? Money? Fame? Happyness? For meJulia creating music brings so much joy and happyness that I will keep doing it even if I will never get paid for it. It is a precious gift God gave you. Use it, show it, stay blessed and get rid of hatred or any negative thinking.
This is what I finally forgot to write at the end…haha…if you write this long passage, at some point you get lost
Yes, being creative and inspired is everything… i read somewhere that if we focus on the process, not the results we can come up with something really brilliant
I agree Julia, I often say that music is like a journey. It should feel like an adventure when you create it. It will take you to magical places and beyond. That is the beauty of art.
So I totally had 2 days of this (yesterday and today) so I put my own techniques and others techniques in practice to see which of them worked to me. I can hand on heart say that the main thing for me was getting away from the computer.
I also watched an interview where the guy was saying it’s counter intuitive but you need to live ila little to write a lot, so get out and see the world a bit. That really helped. Today I was still feeling quite down (mainly circumstantial stuff that’s just hit a bit harder tbh), so I went for a walk like I usually do… still felt rubbish though… then I met so old friends and just mentioned that I was feeling a bit naff. They understood and the three of us spoke about life for about two hours. Man just that alone was amazing. I feel a lot better now.
Looking back I think it was one of two things that really helped the most.
- Being open about the fact I was feeling down and defeated.
- Being around people I care about and who care about me. Knowing I’m loved.
Sounds cheesy and drab but I think if we’re all honest this stuff is paramount to our mental health.
So thank you everyone… this threads been invaluable to me this week!