I recently found this “white paper” from Filmmusic.net while perusing the filmandgamecomposers.com forums:
Mainly, it explains that, in today’s economy, the value of custom work is being diminished daily by over-saturation of talent and declining budgets and spending. The key to success in the creative field of composing relies heavily on a little financial savvy and a whole lot of networking.
While it’s an excellent practical guide for career survival in today’s marketplace, I have to disagree with their notion that music libraries are partially to blame for the devaluation of custom scoring work. Custom work and library music serve two distinct market segments that have traditionally been separated by budget and deadlines/production process. Low budget films, student projects, fly-by-night radio ads, low budget and local tv commercials, all call for quick, low-cost solutions that simply cannot be met by a composer who specializes in custom work. Extend that to personal slide shows, corporate office presentations and the like. The meetings, spotting, and time commitment, not to mention creative mind-power required for custom scores are simply not worth the allotted budget for these types of projects. Hence the need for low-cost library music. On the other hand, scoring a feature film, or a national commercial campaign, or a mass-market video game release all call for a huge time commitment and a high level of expertise.
The mentality that composers should avoid the music library business is ridiculous, especially if one wants to survive in today’s business climate. Creatives should embrace the opportunity to diversify their business, and expand into new creative markets. If devaluation is a concern, Productiontrax.com gives all of our contributors full price control.
It is true that there are a ton of composers and songwriters today, and it seems as though everyone with a Mac is a musician. But media buyers, music supervisors, and film directors are not stupid — they have ears for musical quality as well, and for both library music and custom scoring jobs alike, there is always room at the top for the uniquely qualified and super talented.