5 Places to Find Work as a Composer Online
5 of the Best Websites to Find Work as a Composer
All of the composers and musicians out there know exactly how hard it is to find any work, let alone any that actually pays decently. It can sometimes take years to build a career of creating music for money. It seems that there are hundreds of avenues for a composer to take to find a job, but all the clients out there either are too inexperienced, don't offer enough money, or just plain ignore you.
Most of the time, the big bucks elude us because we just haven't had enough experience with the right jobs. That's why I'm going to share with you some of the ways I've found to work for building a good portfolio and making some decent money at it.
As with any stream of income in this industry, it can take some time to work your way up to steady business, but if you keep at these few methods, then you're pretty much guaranteed success. It all depends on how hard you work ;)
So let's get to it!
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Possibly the best option for anyone interested in anything to do with music
Although oDesk is often used for finding programmers and administrative assistants, it can also be really fruitful for any musician, especially if you're good with a DAW.
The key about getting oDesk paying out regularly is to keep up with it. People are posting jobs looking for musicians for all kinds of reasons all the time. However, the jobs usually get filled up kind of quickly. Just be sure to check for new postings daily (if not multiple times a day), and your portfolio should fill up pretty quickly.
Keep in mind, it can sometimes take up to a month to start getting regular work.
The worst thing about oDesk is that, being a free to use site, they do take out 10% of all payments made. But if you find a nice employer and you do a good job, they'll account for that in the payments they give you.
Another freelance website
Freelancer.com is a site much like oDesk, with a couple exceptions. It's more popular, so there's more opportunity for work, but that also means you have to spend more time checking on updates and new jobs in order to get hired. It can also have a bigger payout. Even though they still take a fee from each payment made, the clients are usually a bit more generous. This also means that they usually expect a better result for their money, and they can sometimes be picky about who they hire, especially if the applicants don't have a big portfolio.
If you've had any success with oDesk or any other freelance work, be sure to add that information to your profile. Be as transparent as you can and list as many completed jobs you've had as possible. When starting out, this will come in very handy.
Again, over time, you'll find that work is easier and easier to come by. You might even get to the point where clients are messaging you requesting you specifically for their latest job. The key, as always, is be patient and work hard.
3. Gaming Communities
Where there are games, there are game makers
If you're a musician who likes video games, without a doubt, I'm sure you always take note of the music and sounds that are playing. If you take the time to look at the credits of any game, they will always list the musicians responsible, usually including a link to their website. Why can't this be you?
There are a couple ways to make this happen, but all roads lead to community. Pick a flash game portal or two that you really like (think Kongregate, NewGrounds, etc.), and start making a name for yourself within that community. Don't just lurk the forums and comments, participate regularly. Post your proudest works on your profile. Be open and enjoyable to talk to. Eventually you'll start meeting up with up and coming developers who are hanging around in the same places in order to gain some wisdom in their own industry.
If you can befriend some promising developers and programmers, they will be willing to give you the chance to score one of their games. If the game does well, and the two (or more) of you work well together, chances are high that they will return to you for future games. This is how a lot of composers get their start in the game industry.
Stick with it long enough, and after the developer releases a couple games that are hits, other developers will be looking for your name in credits and start emailing you for work. At this point, you can start charging bigger bucks and you'll be on your way to a decent living.
4. Film Communities
Like games, films need music (most of the time)
There are tons of ways to crack into the visual media industry. However, it's usually all about who you know. The strategy here is similar to #3. Get to know some up and coming filmmakers, find some that you love working with, and you'll be set. Ah, but there's the rub. Where can filmmakers be found who don't already have a favorite composer? Let's uncover some rocks.
Online communities. Same strategy as with game developers. Seek and deploy.
Local communities. I know this is steering away from the online theme of this article, but it's worth mentioning. There are always local theater groups and amateur film creators who are looking for a decent musician to complement their work. Check your local CraigsList and the classifieds of the newspaper, and maybe even buy up some page space of your own. Eventually you'll find someone you want to work with.
Colleges. There are tons of film students who haven't yet found their dream team. Sure most of them will just look for musicians in the music department on campus, but if you can beat some of these students to the punch while outperforming them, you'll be in great shape.
Don't think for a second that you have to actually go and visit colleges (although that couldn't hurt). Remember, college kids spend a majority of their time in front of a computer.
There are a ton of websites out there that host communities for film students, and even some geared specifically towards teaming up filmmakers and musicians. Be sure to check out Film and Game Composers.
And there's a new website coming soon with the goal of filling the gap in this area. If you're familiar with film terminology, you might know the word "synchresis", where visual and audible media synch up perfectly to enhance the experience. Based on that concept, the site is called Synkresis, and although it's not up and running yet, the creators promise to have it up very soon, and they're taking emails to notify you of important updates. Due to the complete and total lack of spam they send out, it looks entirely legit, and definitely worth the 2 seconds spent checking it out.
5. Other Composers
Know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody...
This should be a rule of thumb for anyone interested in music: always stay close to other composers. If aren't already part of a musician tribe somewhere online, you need to get on that ASAP. Communities of musicians and composers are very tightly knit. Facebook groups, Twitter, and all other forms of social media serve greatly to your advantage in this regard. Get as close to as many of your brethren as you can, and you will be greatly rewarded.
I myself have gotten several good jobs from my friends in the industry. If someone is too busy to do a project themselves, they might recommend you, or they might just ask for your help. Teamwork is a powerful tool. Plus the more of you there are working together, the more money you're likely to make.
If you're consistently working in a team of two or three, the pay will likely be divided up to less than you would make on a project by yourself (unless the client is super generous), but at the same time, you can rotate work and get a few, if not several, projects done in the same amount of time. And the client will be happy because the quality of work you complete together will be far greater. It's a win for everybody!