I believe there is a fundamental and primarily difference in perspectives that divides film composers into two distinct camps:
Employees vs. Entrepreneurs.
Of course someone with the Employee mindset is most likely to focus on the compensation they are receiving for their labors. It makes sense that they would complain about low wages, insulting offers, stressful working conditions, being asked to work for free, ungracious bosses, and sometimes even faced with requests to “invest” in a project (by losing money to cover expenses).
Someone with the Entrepreneurial mindset would view things through the extremely different filter of “potential opportunity.”
They would be weighing the risks, gambles and outlay of resources (time, energy, and money) against the potential upsides and downsides of those speculative bets.
An employee expects to be paid. An entrepreneur expects to invest.
Employees tend to reap the benefit of guaranteed income for their labors.
Entrepreneurs run the risks of losing time and money in exchange for a potentially larger jackpot (of money, power and control).
In my opinion, film composing is now a fairly horrible career path for most possessing the Employee mindset.
Entree-level jobs tend to pay little or nothing.
And, there is a dearth of decent paying film jobs for those who have not established a name for themselves in the industry (which tend to be the Entrepreneurs whose gambles paid off).
With so few movies being made in proportion to the number of composers seeking to score them, the film industry tends to play into the strengths of risk-taking, long-viewed, gambling Entrepreneurs.
And the film industry tends to work heavily against those composers with more of an Employee outlook who aren’t gamblers, investors or risk-takers.
Examples of composers and musicians with entrepreneurial mindsets are Penka D Kouneva who crowd funded an orchestral recording of her music. Brilliant.
Bear McCreary is a master at creating content for social media as well as composing, recording and producing compelling demos that land him new work.
John Debney used his entrepreneurial spirt to invest in sales materials to help land him the critical and commercial success of THE JUNGLE BOOK. His investment and gamble in a demo lead to his Oscar-nominated score to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.
Composers like Rob Simonsen and Joe Trapanese work tirelessly in creating and producing The Echo Society concerts to premiere new works by themselves and others.
Jeff Beal built HOUSE OF CARDS IN CONCERT to extend reach and focus of his music.
Brian Tyler has built his brand through promotional videos and a strong social media presence. He is now about to premiere a concert of his works at Royal Albert Hall.
Elmer Bernstein started the first label devoted to the re-recordings of classic film music.
Violinist and contractor Mark Robertson and musician Noah Gladstonecreated the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra providing a new resource for shows like the upcoming BLACKFISH LIVE IN CONCERT.
Alan Silvestri invested in equipment and demoed his way into getting to work with Robert Zemeckis on ROMANCING THE STONE which lead to BACK TO THE FUTURE and FOREST GUMP. Silvestri continued with that entrepreneurial mindset founding his own successful winery.
Composers Miriam Mayer and Adonis Aletras created and run this very forum.
And Hans Zimmer has used his brilliant business acumen to redefine so much in our industry
Would love to hear about others whose entrepreneurial spirt has served them.
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