Engaging the best Composer

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New composer agent Nicole Pott gives clarity to the business of engaging a composer

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Being an agent at The Composerworks means that I work closely with our composers, but I’m also regularly fostering good working relationships between me, our composers and producers and directors of TV and film.

There are questions that often arise about music when getting a project off the ground – even before a composer is engaged. I’ve condensed those questions down to my top 5 ideas for getting the music side of things off to the best start.

1.     The Preliminaries: What style of music do you need?

This will help you determine which composer is right for your production. Do you need more of a sound design palette than a full-on music score? Or a combination of both? Or some orchestral magic perhaps?! A general idea of the direction in which you want to go musically can, in my experience, be very useful.

2.     Has the composer the right amount of credits and style for the genre you need?

Many producers want to know whether the composer has the relevant credits. Up-to-date CV’s are obviously a useful tool to have available for producers and directors. But as an agent, it is part of my job to make sure that the composer will be a perfect fit stylistically for a particular film. So, I like to go further to give producers and directors confidence that a composer can offer exactly the right overall musical “sound”. Where possible, I provide an initial tailored compilation of music from a composer’s back catalogue to a brief to give the best overview of how a composer’s style will fit with the relevant production. Producers often find this useful.

RELATED: Click here to see a 5-minute film featuring some of our composers and producers we’ve worked with which gives view points about the whole process of engaging a composer.

3.     Once engaged, meet!

Composers pick up general requirements quickly from producers. And, as we’re living in a world where technology has enabled every part of the music process to be delivered, these two individuals don’t even have to meet. Some producers communicate their music requirements via email and the relationship starts and stops there. Others prefer a face-to-face meeting to explain their music vision and maybe later meetings to ‘spot’ the music as the process develops. I’m a proponent of the latter – there’s no substitute for at least an initial get to know meeting.

4.     Who’s boss?!

Feedback I’ve received from composers is that it’s always most efficient to have one crew member communicating feedback to the composer throughout the process. This greatly reduces the chances of miscommunication and improves efficiency along the way.

5.     Do you have deadlines in mind?

When should the composer be available from? What are the milestones if it’s a long term production? It’s always useful to know early on what block and final delivery dates are in mind for music so the agent can plan ahead on behalf of the composer and the composer is able to manage the project really efficiently.