A media composer is running a business.  And a media composer rarely does it all alone. Building their business can involve lots of teammates including:

  • Agents
  • Managers
  • Lawyers
  • Business managers
  • Publicists
  • Publishers
  • Orchestrators
  • Contractors
  • Copyists
  • Musicians
  • Music producers
  • Music editors
  • Mixers
  • Social Media Director
  • Assistants 
  • Additional writers
  • Tech crew
  • Studio manager
  • Project manager
  • … and a whole lot more

COMPENSATING YOUR TEAM

If it takes a village to run a business, so how does one compensate the villagers?  There are multiple ways to offer compensation to the folks contributing to your business (and, hopefully, your success).  

In the broadest of strokes they are:

1. UPFRONT FINANCIAL COMPENSATION

Work out a per hour/per day/per week/per year or per project rate.   Or base fees on a percentage of a budget.  

PROS:

  • Easier to calculate and control costs.  
  • Financial obligations end with your final payment. 

CONS: 

  • Need to come up with the money upfront.  
  • Money is spent regardless of outcomes.   

Teammates on projects that don’t happen, fall apart and/or don’t succeed still get paid upfront.  

2. SPECULATIVE FINANCIAL COMPENSATION

Asking your teammates to gamble on their financial compensation based on factors like the project moving forward and/or reaching certain level of success.  

This can take the form of predetermined fees and/or bonuses based on a variety of factors. 

It can also be structured as a commission paid at predetermined percentage on predetermined aspects.  

PROS:

  • Limits upfront financial obligations.  
  • Allows teammates to gamble with you and share in successes (and in losses).  
  • Treats teammates like partners in your business and career. 

CONS: 

  • In success, it can ultimately cost more than if it had just been handled as a “buyout” upfront.  
  • Frequently, harder to get teammates to work speculatively.  

3. NON-FINANCIAL COMPENSATION

There is also a plethora of forms of compensation that don’t involve financial payments.  They include: 

  • Experience
  • Starting relationships
  • Maintaining relationships
  • Knowledge
  • Fun
  • Working out kinks
  • Practice
  • Building library
  • Stretching
  • Comradery 
  • Satisfaction
  • Discovery
  • Getting foot in the door 
  • Credit
  • Food
  • Adventure 
  • Building reputation
  • Something to barter
  • Fulfillment
  • Satisfying curiosity 
  • Association with project
  • Travel
  • Appreciation
  • Ego stroking
  • Excitement
  • Staying sharp 
  • Celebrity
  • Making music
  • Exposure
  • Helping others
  • Access
  • Paying it forward
  • Awards
  • Relieving boredom 
  • Publicity
  • Blazing new directions 
  • Teamwork 
  • Bragging rights
  • Premieres
  • Gifts
  • Prestige 
  • Staying relevant
  • Fame
  • Contributing art into the world
  • Friendship
  • Taking a challenge
  • Laughs
  • Brand building
  • Groupies
  • Honing skills
  • Thanks
  • Self satisfaction 
  • Recognition
  • Experimentation 
  • Personal growth
  • Opportunity
  • Creativity
  • Expression of passion
  • Connection with others
  • Appreciation
  • Joy of risk-taking
  • Playfulness
  • Artistic expression

PROS:

  • Eliminates your financial obligations both upfront and in the back end.  
  • Allows others, including those without a great deal of experience, to join your team. 

CONS: 

  • Sometimes harder to get others to come onboard.  
  • Sometimes can lead to less of a dependable commitment.  

4. MIX-AND-MATCH

You can build and structure your business team in any way you and they agree to. Your team is likely to be comprised of different members working under different arrangements. And it is likely that your deals with specific teammates will combine elements of Upfront Financial, Speculative Financial Compensation and Non-Financial Compensation.  

IT IS YOUR BUSINESS.  RUN IT YOUR WAY. 

The beauty of free choice is that no one else needs to agree on how you define things and how you act upon them.  No consensus is needed.  You get to determine for yourself and your business the priorities you assign to each of these forms of compensation.  And you get to do so on a case-by-case basis.  Then all you need to do is find the right teammates who share your game plan.  

THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS. 

Over time you will build your team based on your evolving needs.  You may eventual want to fill some positions and dismiss others.  And you will determine how you want to compensate them. 

IT IS YOUR LIFE, YOUR LIFE, YOUR CAREER.   IT IS YOUR TEAM.