London to Brighton at 500 MPH

In 1953 the BBC produced a short black and white film of a train journey from London to Brighton in four minutes. I’ve used a copy of the original film for the video of my 2005 track, I Travel, going along with the recent theme of using old black and white films for my “music videos”. Here, the journey is slightly shorter than the original as I had to edit the video to fit the length of the track. I’ve been looking to get a video for this track for a while and I’d forgotten about this London to Brighton train journey!

Hopefully you’ll think the music fits.

If you like the track, you can download it for free at Archive.org – it’s taken from my 2005 EP called Making Movies – just look for I Travel.

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A career in music?

I’ve always wanted a job in music, maybe as a pop star or producer (only kidding), but resigned myself a long time ago to the fact that it would never happen. I’ve been working in education for the last 12 years, and recently started doing a lot of e-learning stuff, which involves audio and video production, so thought it’s probably the nearest I’d ever get to put my music tech skills and general musical knowledge to some use. However, that may change in the near future, and I may actually get my career in music after all.

I’ve had an interview at a university where they want someone to become the e-learning subject specialist in their music library, which covers both general music stuff and music technology. They have quite a lot of professional music people teaching there, both composers and producers, so it would be an ideal chance to learn more about that side of things, and hopefully improve my own music and production skills.

Of course, a lot of you on here probably already have the ideal music career, but I’m interested in technology, music, and how the two work to not only make music but promote it too. Sounds ideal to me!

The only problem now is I have to wait to see if I’ve got the job……

Zen and the art of music licensing

Since I licensed my tracks out to O’Neill Europe for the Deep Blue Open dvd, I’ve had a lot of people asking for some advice on how to get their music into film, tv etc. Obviously, I’m no expert, and I had a few people give me some pointers before I signed up with O’Neill, but here are some tips from me from what I’ve learned so far (but don’t blame me if this method doesn’t work!!!)

I was approached by a licensing company for them to use my tracks on an O’Neill surfing dvd and got some info from them about how to get my stuff into more films, etc and was advised to get a showreel together to prove to film makers and post-production people that my music fits in with the sort of thing they’re looking for. One of the best ways to do that is to offer some of your tracks for low/no fee to build up a portfolio. Have a look at some of these for more info:

http://www.mandy.com

It’s a site for film jobs – go to the Production Jobs section and check look through all the locations, eg Europe, then the Post-Production links. There’s both paid and lo/no income jobs.

http://www.ukscreen.com

There’s a forum on the site which lists people looking for music for films, mainly lo/no fee

http://www.labelsound.com

They’ll make all your tracks available for film and tv licensing (for a small fee).

http://niceup.com/misc/internet_music_licensing

An excellent article about how to get into the film music industry.

Google for things like music licensing companies, “indie movies”, “music wanted” stuff like that. Check out indie movie forums – there’s always indie film makers looking for cheap music and it gets you some footage for your showreel. Contact your local college or uni if they have a film or media school. Have a look on the unsigned band web forum – http://www.unsignedbandweb.com/forum-37.html for people advertising for music. There’s always ads on there. There’s a film makers forum on Myspace.com, too.

Music licensing can be a bit of a closed shop to unsigned artists if film producers have got a massive music budget. They get the best composers and pay a fortune to people like Sony and BMG for tracks. If the budget isn’t so big they want unsigned people like me and you. Usually for lo/no fee. Oh, and it looks good on your music CV if you’ve got film credits, whatever they are.

It’s definitely worth going down the lo/no fee route, just to get known. I’ll pm you with a list of some of the other sites I’ve been on for info. Make sure, though, that you get a proper contract. Well – 2 in fact – a Master Use and a Synchronisation contract.

BTW when you’re dealing with these sort of people – licensing, post-production, etc., be prepared for a very long wait. The company I dealt with over the dvd was actually liaising with about 5 or 6 other companies, so I was the last to know anything. If the bloke said there’s potential, try your music out on the sites I mentioned. Oh, and tell people you’re a film composer, and say so on your website.

You never know – you might get your music used and get paid a lot of money for it.

This article first appeared on my Blogger pages in November 2005. Since the, I’ve learned a lot more….
I’ve now discovered music libraries and production music….more information about how to get into this is at the MCPS website, where you can get a list of the 80 or so libraries in the UK.

I’ve had quite a few more opportunities………….

– Deep Blue Open has been on TV around world and now on O’Neill TV. Clips of this are doing well on Youtube. Click here to have a look….

– Tracks on another O’Neill DVD and surfer biography film

– Requests from various indie/student film makers for use of my music – I was confident enough to say “no” because the deals weren’t right. If I hadn’t done the O’Neill thing, I wouldn’t know about my rights, etc.

– Tracks put forward by licensing company for use in Hollyoaks (UK TV show)

– Signed non-exclusive deal with major UK music library for licensing my tracks to TV, film, advertisements etc. The tracks are now registered with MCPS-PRS.

– Requests from other music libraries to work with them.

Oh, and I’ve actually made some money from all this.

Check out some of my film music at my musicfreedom site.

Disclaimer: the opinions and advice given are just that: opinion. They do not constitute a contract between you and the companies mentioned, nor are they intended as adverts for those listed. Don’t sue me if you don’t get signed!

Autism and music

photo by Headancer

image: 29 may 2006 – eventful.org.uk – 0008 – (medium) by Headancer/Simon Green (copyright 2006) (link to Headancer homepage)

As you’ll probably have read on Paul’s blog, he’s still not back in school. This is having a massive knock-on effect on the rest of family and my in-laws, and is generally causing chaos at Mistrust Towers. Anything from a decent night’s sleep to watching tv is being affected as Paul’s life is almost completely unstructured and he’s having to find things to do all the time, something he finds quite difficult at the best of times. He’s getting tired at all the wrong times, just because he’s getting really anxious in the mornings from not knowing who may call round to see him (school inclusion people, mainly). If you haven’t been here before, he’s got Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not otherwise specified, which means Autism/Asperger’s type personality and behaviour, hence all the anxieties.

What’s this got to do with “mistrust music”? Well, for some reason, Paul has decided that he wants to learn to play the drums. That means he wants a drum kit. Not just a basic, cheap kit. A proper one, with all accessories included. Bear in mind that he has a very small bedroom and there’s nowhere else in the house that it could go. So that’s a non-starter. I’ve told him we’ll get a basic drum pad-type thing – one of those plastic things without about 4 pads on it, with a set of plastic sticks – so he can see how it goes. Judging by his recent attempt to learn to play the guitar, he’ll give up if he can’t work out how to play a particularly beat. With Paul, it will be as follows: Learn the bass drum, then the snare, etc. Then learn a rock beat, then a waltz, etc, and if he gets stuck on one, he’ll pack it in.

He also wants to learn keyboards….. He’s been fiddling with my old Casio MT31 (which still works after nearly 30 years!) but it’s got small keys and he’s having problems playing the notes. He’s gone onto “Learn to Play.com” or something which has basic riffs to play, and has been practicising the same thing over and over till he gets it completely right. The problem is that there’s no audio on the site, so he relies on me to say if it’s right. Once again, if he can’t play one of the tunes, he’ll pack it all in.

It’s good that he’s interested in making music the “traditional” way, instead of using loads of samples in Acid Pro, and he’s actually got potential in the technique side of things. He now wants to use my Evolution Midi keyboard, plugged into the computer, and use a keyboard training program.

All this means I’m getting less and less time to come up with some new tunes. I’ve got the playing bug again and I want to do some live work, but there’s very little time to do much at the moment because of all this domesticity. The tunes that went to Candycover music library should be live soon, and that could open up some new opportunities, and I’d like to be prepared for anything that comes along. Howeve, anything that will keep him focussed, occupied, and will develop his skills, is something we’ve got to keep up with.

You’ll probably have noticed the image at the top of this post. It’s a photo by Headancer, one of the Big Chill Forum folk. I asked on there last week if I could use some of the things that have been occasionally posted on the forum, or if anyone could point me to some others I could use to brighten up my blog. So, thanks to Simon Green (Headancer) for use of the image. If you want to see more of his photography, please go to Headancer on Mac.com and tell him I sent you. Please note: All the images used on this site are copyright and should not be used without the owners’ permission. The pic I’ve used is from eventful.org.uk. It reminds me of the fact that I’m off on holiday in about 5 weeks……