This is a sincere appeal to any members of NMP who might be able to help.
I just reconnected with a dear friend today via facebook. We hadn’t “spoken” together in about 15 years. As we caught up at warp speed, I quickly realized that he had veered off of his career path and was caught in Limbo somewhere between Houston and Pittsburgh. What’s worse, he wasn’t sure of what to do next. I hope that the collective power of this network will be able to suggest a new course of action and help my friend finally realize his true potential.
My friend is:
A musician – Piano and keyboards (with serious – and I mean serious – chops)
A composer – Orchestral, chamber, choral and ballet music (he has written three full-scale ballets that were premiered by the world-famous Pittsburgh Ballet Theater), as well as music for theater, commercials and industrials.
An arranger – Orchestral, theater, television and pops.
A conductor – Orchestral and chamber (he has led the world-famous Pittsburgh Symphony in dozens of performances of The Nutcracker).
An artist in the truest sense of the word – Yes, I know this could describe a hundred other gifted people in Nashville alone. However, I'm convinced my friend is not only an artist, but a genius.
He also knows his way around the studio – he has a wealth of experience both in front of the mic and the desk. He’s a capable synthesist. He’s uber intelligent, instantly creative, productive, easy to work with and a damn nice guy.
Yet, all of these gifts are being under-utilized. And I think this is a travesty. His accomplishments are all too few and far between for such an extraordinary talent. IMO, this is mainly because he has, for some unknown reason, chosen to work strictly on a referral basis. He is a horrible networker and, to my knowledge, has never sought or secured a manager or an agent.
Here are my questions to you:
What can I do to help him? How can I convince him he needs professional management and representation? Who can I speak to, on his behalf, to generate interest and, perhaps, reach out to him and discuss the benefits of finding the right person or organization to promote his incredible talent and experience within the industry?
My friend needs high-level, high-quality career counseling from someone he can relate to and trust. Who do you recommend?
Thank you very much.
It kind of depends on what he wants to do with all this talent, Russ. If he's wanting to release recorded original compositions, then artist's representation might be appropriate. If he's just wanting work in what he does as an arranger, conductor & pianist, then he has to get in the game and slug it out like the rest of us do by working hard every day and doing his work excellently. Then your work becomes your best representation, and the rest falls in line (hopefully). If there were a simple formula for success for such a person, I know a dozen guys who would be doing it. But there's not. Other than just doing one's work excellently, and being a good friend to those who need the work done excellently.
Thanks for the response, Pete. When I mentioned professional representation, I was thinking more along the lines of a talent agent rather than a song plugger. Someone who could actively promote his capabilities to film producers/directors or organizations/individuals that are known to or are looking to commission new music. Someone working daily within these markets who could identify and connect him with emerging or existing opportunities that are beyond the scope of his limited network. Perhaps these kinds of agents don't exist for composers.
BTW, he's definitely in the game, but he always seems to be one project - or one NYT review - away from the major leagues. He really does "slug it out" like most working musicians, but his punches don't seem to be aimed at or connecting with the right targets. Like many "artistic" people, he isn't entirely comfortable with "selling" himself. Therefore, he's not as aggressive as he could or should be. I think he pulls his punches and this "soft sell" approach is apparently too soft to be effective. This may be a part of his nature that can or can't be changed. If it can't, he'll either need to find a good agent or a different line of work, or else be content with being under-utilized and under-rewarded for the rest of his career.
Maybe he just needs a great website and some kickass SEO. Maybe he just needs to work the hell out of LinkedIn. Maybe he just needs the right person who understands the strengths, the limitations and the nature of the artistic temperament to help get him where he deserves to be. Like I said, he needs high-quality, highly specialized career counseling. I just want to point him the right direction, if I can.
Thanks again, Pete.
Well, such a thing exists, and it's a composer's rep, in short. But it's more of a management role than an agent role. The job is to keep us working, not get us work. Much like artist management. But you never know. What your friend needs is to get work, and that begets more work, if done well. You know the drill. It's a business like any other, and if you develop a reputation for being excellent, you get promoted, and you get asked to step up to more and bigger jobs. Just like corporate jobs, IMO.
None of us should be comfortable with selling ourselves. But we should represent ourselves well... You know, a solid website, even simple is fine. Easy to find contact information too. Also he should be able to do his work self-contained to compete. Most guys can produce fully orchestrated and RECORDED scores on their own. It's fortunate when one is able to work with others, but to have the capacity to do it on your own is essential. Ok, I'm off subject...
Bottom line, there's no substitution for being here and doing it. Wish there were some magic person that could get me more of the type of work I want to fill my schedule, but the only person that can do that is me. I think that's true for all of us.
I'm also a big believer in creating one's own work. If he's a great composer, he can do a lot on his own. He doesn't have to wait for someone to hire him to compose. Those rare days I haven't had something to do, I've simply sat and composed. I can't imagine waiting around for work to come to me. I never found that asking for work helped either. I simply decided at one point to create work for myself and others. Composers can do that. So your friend can do that.