10 Mar

SCL Meeting on State of the Industry and Streaming

There has never been an explosion of opportunities for film and TV composers quite like what we’re seeing today, thanks to streaming. In fact the number of projects out there and the resulting streaming royalties continue to rise each year which is a great trend for composers, but it’s still a nascent medium with lots of questions about when shows/films will be shown in other places like cable TV. In other words, where’s the long tail?

The shift to streamig from traditional film and TV consumption also present challenges, bringing forth more questions how music creators are compensated for our incredibly important contributions to shows and movies. But the opportunities created by streaming are greater than the challenges.

At a meeting of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, I was fortunate to moderate a panel with amazing array of talented composers during which we talked at length about many issues including the promise of streaming for music creators, and how composers can lean into streaming projects to set themselves up for a long and lucrative career.

Below, I’ve highlighted a few of the key points and personal experiences from composers on the panel that I thought you might find interesting. You can also watch the whole discussion on the SCL website.

With so many new projects , can streaming help increase diversity and inclusion in the community of prominent film and TV composers?

Prolific composer Kurt Farquhar, who has created scores for dozens of TV series in a career spanning more than 30 years participated. He remarked that the music industry is “sadly in need of help” when it comes to elevating opportunities for Black composers. For the thousands of new producers and directors creating shows and movies for streaming services, he had a message:

“Hire Black people… What it’s going to do if you hire a POC or a female composer is, they’re not going to bring your project down, they’re going to broaden its vision. “How can composers who are just getting started lean into the opportunities created by streaming to establish their careers?

Amie Doherty, recently named one of Variety’s 10 Artisans to Watch, emphasized that composers don’t have to learn everything at once or find immediate success in the streaming media space:

“I would have loved to just have been like, ‘I’m just going to score movies all day’ from day one. But I couldn’t. I knew that I had to go and assist somebody… And there is a wealth of stuff to learn from working with anyone.”

Emmy Award-winning composer Geoff Zanelli encouraged composers to understand their options when it comes to compensation in streaming media projects, and to believe in the potential of every project to bring them life-changing royalties:

“If you think the buyout money is better than what you’re going to to get when the PROs collect it, first off, you might not be right. Second, you’re kind of betting against the success of your own show… I convince myself, this movie is going to make a billion dollars. Because I have to think that I’m writing for a (very large) audience.”

Marcelo Zarvos, a two-time Primetime Emmy nominee who has scored more than 60 films, says that, above all,  composers must get their music out there by working hard and embracing new things:

“Try everything. Try your best. In this business, it’s more like we riding wave, rather than controlling the ocean or the flow of the river.”

A massive thank you to these talented composers for generously sharing their insights and congratulations to them and the SCL on putting together such a succsessful event!

There’s much more to explore about composing for streaming film and TV on the Your Music Your Future website. Start with the “Understanding Streaming” webinar with Todd Brabec, and let your curiosity lead you.

Thanks for reading and for being part of th YMYF community.

-Joel Beckerman