1) Adonis, you’ve had the unique honor and privilege of interviewing dozens of A-listers in our industry, from composers to music editors to music supervisors to performers to studio executive to agents! (phew!) Are there any common threads of wisdom you have found woven in between the answers you received from these generous people, and if so, can you condense them here? Dare I ask if you have a favorite interview you’ve conducted?
I sure have interviewed a great deal of superb folks over the last few months that I’ve been doing this! I can say for sure that all of the people who took time off their busy schedules to participate were incredibly kind to me with no egos or weird vibes involved. All of them bar none! Austin Wintory did the very first interview and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude because he jumped in without a second thought. He trusted my concept and vision. I’m thankful to everyone else of course because every week I get to chat and learn from the best. Some common threads of wisdom are: staying humble , the importance of demoing, kindness, no entitlement, staying focused and…hard hard work !! If I had to single out an interview that meant a lot to me it would surely be the one with Steve Vai because he is the reason I picked up the guitar back in the day which led to everything else. We did a Skype session and chatted for hours, way beyond the scope of the 5 Questions. He is a living legend…the embodiment of pure genius. There are still many more Id like to interview, Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Alan Menken…just to name a few.
2) In addition to being a film composer, you have built a very successful career in production music. What would be your first piece of advice to a complete newbie in that industry, looking to start out and build a solid income from production music placements? What sort of timeline should they expect before it becomes profitable, and how do they get on the radar of music libraries?
Gosh, I get asked that quite a lot from forum members via PM’s and emails. The last couple of interviews we did with Tom Gire, Dan Graham Popplewell attempted to address those questions. I can add that it’s basically a numbers game meaning that you have to build a backlog of cues that you must sign to good companies. For the last 7-8 years I was writing and recording every day. EVERY day! My wife almost threw me out! There are no shortcuts to building a solid catalog. The only shortcut I can think of is through collaboration. Nothing else. After 3-4 years of being relentless about it the income will start trickling in. You just have to be patient and expect a bumpy ride at first. If you write and produce awesome cuts and pitch them around you WILL get noticed sooner rather than later. Do not ever settle for less than your A game because you will have a hard time competing if you do.
3) A few years ago, I attended the Kraft-Engel sponsored event “Make More Music, Make More Money” that was held at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica and featured a number of “Media Music Talks.” I found that evening to be highly informative and inspiring – I understand you were involved in the planning and execution of the event? What was that experience like?
Richard Kraft, is one of the most generous persons I have EVER met. He is the reason I participated in that. We met online at first and then in London at the Danny Elfman concerts. When the opportunity came up I wrote to him and asked if he needed any help and he said that he needed a ‘talent wrangler’ backstage. I jumped on the next flight to Los Angeles. We rehearsed and pulled off the event without a glitch. It was there that I met the most incredible people on earth (Pinar Toprak, Austin Wintory, Bear McCreary, Tina Guo, John Debney, Christopher Lennertz, Sarah Kovacs, Steve Schnur to name a few). All in the same building all sharing their wisdom and kindness. I was like a kid in the proverbial candy store! The pizza was awesome too! Meeting those people proved to be invaluable when I started doing the 5 Questions because they were the first that I reached out to. I knew them in person and it made all the difference! Like I said, Richard was pivotal in my involvement and for that I am eternally grateful to him.
4) You were the first person to sign up as an admin on this forum after Miriam Mayer started it, having had experience as an admin on large music-related groups. This forum has certainly evolved into a bustling marketplace of ideas and opportunities – what do you think is the coolest development that has come out of having this fantastic community?
I love Perspective and it’s the only forum I admin nowadays. I didn’t know Miriam at the time but it seemed like the right thing to do so I offered to help. Best decision ever! I’m very proud of what we have achieved (Nicolas Repetto, Christy Marshall, Miriam Mayer)! It’s a labor of love and I think it shows because people embrace the Forum every day. It’s certainly a cool hangout for both A listers and everyone else. Folks feel comfortable through and through. The fact that we monitor it 24/7 keeps it clean and respectful. The information given to members is the best of its kind and ‘consider the source’ couldn’t be more appropriate over here. The website is a natural continuation of the Forum (big thank to you Lawrence Whitehead and Peter F. Ebbinghaus) and we have a few surprises coming up! I’d like to see us expanding into full blown conferences and industry events some day.
5) There is more demand and content is produced than ever. Also more composers than ever wanting to break into media music! What do you think the future of media music holds for our more than 5k members?
It sure is an exciting time! Someone once said ‘The opportunities are out there, the question is what do we do with them’. The answer is growth and diversification. I believe that the days of doing just one thing belong to the past. I surely don’t advocate being jacks of all trades and masters of none. But there’s so much knowledge readily available out there that there really is no excuse for not diversifying into realms of creativity beyond our comfort zones. Recently, in conjunction with my usual media work, I got back into songwriting and lyric writing in a big way. I’ve been co writing with and producing an insanely talented local artist named Sophia Patsalides. A year ago I would not have imagined doing it but here I am, scoring a movie and songwriting at the same time. I might even compose a broadway show…I mean…why the heck not? The only thing that stands between us and what we want to achieve is ultimately the way we think. If we don’t take a chance we don’t get a chance. So I take chances and calculated risks. Am I always succeeding? Of course not! We have more chances of success when we pitch and try rather than when sit around waiting for things to fall on our laps.