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Composer: What I do and how much I make

Bryan talks about his work in the music industry and how he makes a living through composition and production.

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Video transcript

My name is Bryan Senti. I am 34 years old. My job title is composer and small business owner. And my salary is complicated, it fluctuates. But last year it was $250,000. My small business is called Hook and Line, and it's a small music production company that services the advertising industry. There I write music for advertising and hire other composers to write music for advertising. Um, in addition to that, I have a film agent. My film agent tries and goes around to procure work and then I also go around to procure work and then I score, I score films. Outside of that, I also produce artists. Um, also perform with other artists, and I would say that's pretty much what I do for a living. I'll get a phone call from an advertiser or an agency, and they'll ask me to write a certain kind of music for a client of theirs. At which point, I'll negotiate terms, negotiate a contract with them. If I can't do it entirely on my own, I'll hire other composers and kinda manage their schedule so that they're, you know, they're meeting the deliverables that are needed for the client. Um, when it comes to film composition, I don't negotiate the contract, my agent will negotiate the contract. But from there, I'm negotiating the arrangements with the musicians that I will hire. Sometimes I'll hire a contractor to hire musicians, but, often times I'm the one hiring musicians individually. The collaboration process is great, you know, you want to form a really good friendship with the director and be able to get yourself on the same page as them creatively and aesthetically. Um, at which point, you're just bouncing ideas off of each other. I'll have a director come here and we'll work together, sometimes, in tandem. It's, it's fun, you know? Specifically with film. And then also with producing artists, as well. Obviously with advertising, the role is more just, meet whatever expectations they have for whatever kind of style they're trying to envision for their product. When I produce other artists, usually an artist comes over and shares some work that they have. Usually it's kind of, in it's, nascent form and it'll just be them on guitar, them on piano. At which point we'll discuss kind of, production influences that they may have, maybe reference bands or records that they have in mind, um, and then I will begin the process of producing the work. Which is kind of, removing it from, from that nascent stage and providing all the different production elements and arrangement elements that we would see fit. Well, let's just say, somebody comes to me with a song that they've written on a guitar, um, you know, maybe they want to produce the song in kind of, more straight forward, folk singer/ song writer direction. Then maybe I could suggest that we bring in a pedal steel, maybe a string quartet, maybe have some piano, maybe use an upright base. Um, so I'll arrange it that, in that respect. And then we'll discuss whether or not we want the music to kind of, have a more vintage feel. Have it played naturally, um, in a normal acoustic setting, or do we, are we thinking more strange or interesting audial space through production techniques. Like, reverb or um, different kinds of distortion, or you know, play with these different kind of, tools that may be out there. I think to be a composer today, you have to be able to do a bunch of different things. And excel at a bunch of different skills, both in terms of how well you write, and how well you produce music. And how you manage your own business, and your own finances and deal with other people. So, I think what makes somebody successful, in music specifically, um, is that, is that understanding of managing one’s creative interests and what they need to achieve, and want to achieve creatively, and how they're going to be able to execute it from a business stand point.