Introduce yourself – who are you? What did you study? Where are you now?
My name is Thomas, I am a composer and I studied an MA in Music Composition. I am a freelance Composer, Mixing and Mastering Engineer. I am currently on contract as a Music Editor at Supermassive Games, just outside London. I also have my own audio production company, ‘The Painted Ones’.
How would you describe what you do in layman’s terms?
It depends on the nature of the gig. I write music for films, games and all types of media. Each one requires a different approach and in the case of games a very different skill set, such as knowledge of how to create music that can effectively go through the process of being implemented into the game. Music implementation is a required skill for working in games, having a thorough knowledge of middleware programs like Wwise is essential, and also a deep knowledge of how music works so you can translate this into the game.
What’s your average week like? Is there one?
As a freelancer, the only average thing is nothing tends to be average! I love hustling for work and the networking that comes with it, because it leads to projects that are all very different, and that excites me greatly. I could be composing, mixing, mastering, implementing or doing all those things in one gig. Being a freelancer you are very, very unlikely to survive doing just one thing. To succeed, you need to develop a mix of skills and as your career progresses you will begin to narrow your focus on specific skills.
They’re is nothing that you cannot improve on, hard work will always give you results.
What have you learnt from your career journey so far?
I have learned what standard of music is expected at the top industry, especially in games. It’s great if your composing skills are top class, the problem comes that if you cannot mix and master these to at least a decent standard you run the risk of your music being overlooked. The good thing is these are all skills that can be learned, practised and studied. They’re is nothing that you cannot improve on, hard work will always give you results.
Keep networking, keep going to meetings/events, keep writing music and keep learning new skills.
What challenges do you face in the music industry and how do you overcome them?
I have noticed from my own experience and from the experiences of friends and colleagues, is that it takes time to get established, it feels like a constant process, I am not sure if it’s something you ever finish but are always cultivating. Keep networking, keep going to meetings/events, keep writing music and keep learning new skills. The games industry is in a constant state of emerging techniques and software, so you must at least keep up to date and better yet, be the one that pushes the technology into places it has not been before.
An unquenchable thirst for learning is an invaluable skill.
What skills are most important to succeed in the music industry?
An unquenchable thirst for learning is an invaluable skill. Of course having a strong interest in music composition, game audio implementation, film score and at least basic concepts of how to mix music is critical too.
I do believe one of the things that has helped me out the most is having a genuine desire just to talk to other people about their craft in film and games. It leads to very interesting conversations and, in many cases, to work opportunities.
If you want to be a composer then find your fellow students that want to make films and games. They want original music and they want your input.
What advice would you give to students wanting to get into the music industry?
If you want to be a composer then find your fellow students that want to make films and games. They want original music and they want your input. I still have very close relationships with many directors whom I met doing music for at University. They have all gone on to do great things and we continue to work together.
If you can leave University having composed music for films and games, have a website with a show reel and some music online, then you have made a great start. I cannot stress enough, this is the time to build that portfolio, it doesn’t start after University, it has to start the day you arrive so you can leave your studies with a strong portfolio.
Build yours skills. If you do not know much about mixing or mastering, there are a tons of amazing books and YouTube channels on the subject. Not only do you have to write to a high standard, you need to be able to present your work in a highly polished form.
The only thing that has been more valuable than anything else: good friends who knew more about a subject than I did. Exchange ideas and collaborate, now is the time.