Advice letter to a recent graduate on arriving to LA

I need some good karma today & this week. So I decided to help the newly arriving composers to LA by sharing here an “advice letter” that I wrote to a recent graduate. Hope it’s useful to some of you.

This was his “ask”:

I was wondering if you could help me out with advice. I am moving to Los Angeles in September. I’m excited to start my career, now that I’ve finished my Masters in Film Scoring! In the meantime, I’ve been emailing/calling many people in the industry, as well as solidifying my image and marketing my music. I was wondering if you had any additional helpful tips I should do before I arrive in LA?

Also, if you have time, would you be willing to provide some feedback on some music I have written over the past 10 months?

 

And here is my reply with “advice”:

 

Hi name,

Welcome to LA!

Your agenda is a bit unclear – will you be seeking short films and low budget indie features, or will you be assisting composers? Because these are 2 different career paths that would require different strategies. We can discuss either, or both.

If you can afford it, I would recommend focusing on relationships with filmmakers and scoring films. Then, your strategy would be to attend film school events, film festivals and meet people. It will take time to build a community of people who could hire you to score their projects. It will take time for scoring opportunities to “present” themselves, after you plant seeds, meet people, and build your community. You need to be patient, tenacious, very consistent in reaching out and in following-up. And always deliver an awesome score, so you get referrals and more introductions.

But the most important thing is this: Write amazing music. Make sure you have 1-2 masterful works before arriving to LA because you need to wow people. I mean, music at the level of Desplat, or Trent Reznor, or Brian Tyler. If you don’t have 1-2 super-strong pieces, take the remaining of August and compose some great music.

As to listening to your music and feedback – please build listening cirlces with your own peers. Critique each other’s music. (I think I mentioned this in my lecture for your class.)

[… explanation that I’m in the middle of a heavy job… and why I can’t listen and critique right now …..]

It’s best to create a Listening circle of your own peers and critique each other’s music. And this way, you would have an ongoing community of people with whom you can bounce off ideas and get honest, constructive feedback.

Please email me on Aug. 15 to email you my 6 career blogs. In these blogs you will find dozens of your career questions answered (answered in my opinion and based on my experience).

Good luck in the meantime!

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Three things matter the most –
— your music,
— your relationships,
— your health/happiness/energy/tenacity.

Focus on them.

With best wishes,
penka