What is a Composer?

A composer writes music to order. This might be incidental music for a TV show or video game, the theme song to a film, the score for a play or an advertising jingle. Composers are highly trained musicians who understand how to write a piece of music that evokes the desired emotions in the listener.

How much does a Composer earn?

Composers set their own fees, making it hard to give an average income. Some composers charge for each hour of time worked like other freelancers, while others prefer to charge a set amount (usually £200-£800 depending on complexity) for each minute of music recorded.

Composers working on films sometimes negotiate a percentage (typically 5-10%) of the film’s total budget, although this must also pay for recording and musicians.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

So tell me more about how to be a Composer

As well as being masters of their instruments, composers need training in the technical aspects of composition. Most composers study music and composition at university or a specialist music school and only start to look for work when they’re confident in their own abilities.

In order to study music at university, you will usually need five good GCSEs, two or three A-levels, and a Grade 5 certificate in music theory as well as in singing or an instrument.

Becoming a Composer: What does it take?

Composers need a great deal of natural talent, the discipline and commitment to become technically proficient, and the personality and charisma to win work.

Even with qualifications, you may suffer years of rejections, setbacks and working for free before you can make your living as a composer.

What is the job market like for careers in composition?

Although there is unlikely to be a sudden boom in demand for composers, there is always a call for good music written by talented professionals. It may take some time for you to become a full-time composer, but you will always be able to pick up work if you’re talented and committed.

Composition courses and training to build your career

If you have a general music degree rather than one specialising in composition, you could consider taking a second degree or a master’s degree to improve your knowledge of composition technique.

You could also continue to improve your core musical knowledge by studying a new instrument, taking further grades in the ones you do play or by completing the final grades of music theory.

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