Career profile: composer

Alex Muentes, Reporter

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Career profile:  So, you want to be a Composer/Producer

Being a producer means that you are the one in charge of coming up with musical harmonies, rhythms, melodies and then write them down to make a song or soundtrack for a film. To create a piece, composers combine several musical elements. They write melodies and arrange harmonies. Sometimes they write lyrics. They decide on rhythms and tonal patterns. Each piece aims to express specific moods or ideas. Most composers work on a freelance basis. This means they get hired and paid by different companies to do projects. Some of them work for certain studios and make music specifically for a music label or an artist. Most of them work from their living room couch but they will still need to go to a studio to record audio and adlibs, etc. Whenever Morton makes a video or a promo for one of their new clubs or activities they usually hire a composer to make a melodic rhythm to add to videos.

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WHO can do this? Someone with knowledge of many different musical styles, musical talent.  Someone who works well with their hands and communicates well with others.
WHAT does it take?  Since there isn’t a producer degree. A good degree to get if you want to become a producer would be Audio Engineer or a Music certificate
WHERE can you get it? Columbia College, AVOID Illinois Institute of Art (for profit).
WHEN can you do it? Four years from now, after you’ve graduated from college.
WHY should you do it? It opens doors for many business opportunities and you get to meet famous and influential people.
HOW much will you make? They usually work on projects instead of wage, so you can earn anything from $30,000 to $200.00 per project.

Some private schools, like Columbia, offer students scholarships; Columbia College’s semester tuition cost $26,737 and it’s one of the few schools around the Chicago area that offer music programs and bachelor degrees.  The least expensive option is Greenville college in Greenville, IL which cost around $18,100.00 for a bachelor’s degree and its far from the Chicago area, it’s closer to St Louis Missouri than Chicago. On the other hand, SAE Institute-Chicago offers an audio technology diploma which cost $26,199.00 and it is in downtown Chicago.

You should avoid places like Tribeca Flashpoint College, Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago and Illinois Institute of Art-Schaumburg which are proprietary schools. You can get non-degree training at places like Elgin community college and Wabaunsee community college that can maybe hook you up with jobs right after completing the training.

Q & A with Don Griffin

Q: Tell me about your job. Is what you do different in any way from what others in your occupation do?

A: I am a commercial composer and compose music for radio and TV ads. They help convey an idea or emotion to the intended audience to sell a product. At our company, we hire singers and musicians to perform the work we compose.

Q: What personal characteristics are required for someone to be successful in your job?

A: Composers have to be talented and creative but they also have to be able to listen well, both to their own music and others’ comments. They have to be adaptable, willing to try new styles.

Q: How much job security is there for people in your field?

A: If composing is truly your life’s passion, you won’t get burnt out. If you are creative and aggressive at finding opportunities, you should be able to stay in the field for life. There are many outlets for composers.

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