Billboard Film & TV Music Conference's Early Panels Focus on How To Get Into Business -- and How to Get Paid
Billboard Film & TV Music Conference's Early Panels Focus on How To Get Into Business -- and How to Get Paid

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The "Indie Connection: Linking Composers and Directors" panelists: Jaymee Carpenter, Composer, "Crime After Crime", "The Fighter;" Daniel Licht, Composer; Peyman Maskan, Music Supervisor; Brian McNelis, Music Supervisor, Lakeshore Records; Gingger Shankar, Composer, "Circumstance;" Abe Sylivia, Director, "Dirty Girl," "Feltch Sanders"; Jeff Toyne, Composer, "Dirty Girl," "10 Years Later," "Blooded;" Austin Wintory, Composer; and moderator John Rudolf, Former CEO, Bug Music. (Photo: Arnold Turner)

The early discussions at this year's Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music conference highlighted both the opportunities and problems created by the new media landscape, one where, as Bill Werde, Billboard's Editorial Director pointed out in his introductory comments, "TV is the new radio" and where music is more available than ever but "fewer and fewer people are making money" from their music.

The first panel of the day, "The Indie Connection: Linking Composers and Directors," moderated by John Rudolph, the former CEO of Bug Music, showed how there is no single, sure-fire way for a composer to get their way into the business. What newcomers have to contend with according to "Dirty Girl" composer Jeff Toyne, is "the non-linear nature of show biz relationships."

His own collaboration with Abe Sylivia, who directed "Dirty Girl," came by accident. The student film where Sylivia first heard Toyne's work was a fluke, a job he got only when the original composer couldn't finish. But it gave Toyne the opportunity to do what he half-jokingly called the composer's holy grail: Get your claws into a young director and ride them."

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For his part, Sylivia wanted to work with Toyne on his debut feature, but as in any production, everyone had an idea of who should write the score. As he kept rejecting candidates, he decided to give them a taste of Toyne's work on the sly, cutting a scene using some of Toyne's music. When the executives liked what they heard, Toyne got the job.

Austin Wintory has a long list of credits composing for features, shorts, documentaries, TV shows and video games. But when he arrived in Los Angeles, he picked up the trades and started cold-calling every show listed as being in production, pre-production and post-production. Nothing immediately came of them, but he ended up getting into a two-hour conversation with a director. He couldn't use Wintory at the time, but the composer had obviously made an impression, because a few months later he got a call asking to hear his work on the recommendation of the director. That led to his hooking up with the crew of "Band of Brothers," and much more work.

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Panel Action Shot: "Indie Connection: Linking Composers and Directors" panelists (from left): Brian McNelis, Gingger Shankar, Abe Sylivia, Jeff Toyne, Austin Wintory, and moderator John Rudolf. (Photo: Arnold Turner)

But more than anything else, the advice the panel kept returning to was to be persistent. While there are "more opportunities in the indie world," what matters is what you do with them, Brian McNelis, music supervisor at Lakeshore Music, said. "Talent is the entry threshold," he explained, but "experience is what sells."

Composers Jaymee Carpenter ("The Fighter") and Daniel Licht ("Dexter") agreed. When he was starting out in the business, Carpenter said he made it his business to stick his head into different departments and repeatedly ask if there was more work to do. People responded to his enthusiasm, he said, and he kept getting hired back. Licht put it more succinctly: "Be the person who says yes instead of no."

The members of "TV Networks and the Music That Defines Them" panel (moderated by the Hollywood Reporter's Music Editor, Shirley Halperin) unfortunately were people who often have to say "no." For one thing, there's too much music out there, and many composers didn't send their work in a way that makes it easy to use.

The networks are interested in finding unsigned songwriters, not only because of the novelty, but because they're easier to clear across platforms; songs the network can license and use in the show, promos, compilations, etc.

"When we get a song like that, it's pretty cool," Fox Broadcasting's Steve Celi said. "You can take it and use across the board." But too often, even those songs create problems. Roberto Isaac, Director Music Programming at mun2, says that he occasionally comes across songs with literally a dozen composers, some of who never met, or just got their credit added contractually. "No one knows where to find them all," he said.

Steve Vincent of Disney Channel Worldwide emphasized the point: "be sure all your ducks are in a row" and have all the publishing information available. Without it, he said, "the song is dead to me. I can't use it."

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The "TV Networks and the Music That Defines Them" panel (from left): Joel Beckerman, Founder & President, Man Made Music; Steve Celi, Music Manager, FOX; Joe Cuello, SVP of Creative Music Integration, MTV; Roberto Isaac, Director, Music Programming, mun2; Steve Vincent, Music and Soundtracks, Disney Channel Worldwide; Kenneth Burry, Entertainment and Media Shareholder, Greenberg Trauring, LLP; Moderator Shirley Halperin, Music Editor, The Hollywood Reporter (Photo: Arnold Turner)
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People Who oFten Have to Say No: The "TV Networks and the Music That Defines Them" panel (from left): Joel Beckerman, Founder & President, Man Made Music; Steve Celi, Music Manager, FOX; Joe Cuello, SVP of Creative Music Integration, MTV; Roberto Isaac, Director, Music Programming, mun2; Steve Vincent, Music and Soundtracks, Disney Channel Worldwide; Kenneth Burry, Entertainment and Media Shareholder, Greenberg Trauring, LLP; Moderator Shirley Halperin, Music Editor, The Hollywood Reporter (Photo: Arnold Turner)
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Full house: It was a packed room for the "TV Networks and the Music That Defines Them" panel at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
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Abe Sylivia (left) speaking with composer Jeff Toyne backstage at the "Indie Connection: Linking Composers and Directors" panel. The two worked together on the film "Dirty Girl." (Photo: Arnold Turner)

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