Originally from New Zealand and now based in the Los Angeles area, I compose music for a variety of projects including games, trailers, TV and film. I’m incredibly grateful to be doing something for a living that I only dreamed of when I was a young boy growing up in Auckland, New Zealand.
Here’s my IMDB pro credits list
Frequently Asked Questions:
– Where can I buy your music?
I have two self released albums called ‘Binary‘ and ‘Genesis’ up on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and Google. The albums feature tracks from trailers, TV shows and films I’ve worked on.
I also have music published by Audiomachine that is available on iTunes & Spotify. iTunes links:
PostHaste Music also released some of my music to the public:
I have a lot of other music scattered on various albums on iTunes and Spotify – you can find it by searching for my name.
– Can I use your music for free in a YouTube video?
Thanks for asking! I’m always thrilled to find out someone has taken the time to create a video featuring my music. I very much appreciate the support!
Most of my music is published by a music library like Audiomachine, Audionetwork, Killer Tracks, Montage MX and PostHaste Music. They all have their own policies on their music being used on YouTube. Most are cool with it, but all of them now use YouTube’s ‘Content ID’ system to make a small income stream from unauthorized use.
What this means is, when you use my track, you’ll automatically get a 3rd party claim. The claim on your video is not a problem unless you want to monetize the video. To monetize, you have to contact the company who owns the music, then pay them a license fee (most trailer music companies charge a minimum of at least $1000). They will then tell AdRev to white list your video.
Some companies I’ve worked with allow micro licensing where you can white list a video for a small fee – visit audiomachine.com and audionetwork.com for more info (search for my tracks by typing in my name).
If you’re working on something you’re getting paid for, or are advertising something that could one day make money, you need to get a license from the company that owns the music. Buying music from iTunes / CDBaby etc. is just for listening purposes only – you’re not actually getting a commercial license to use the music in a project.
– What software do you use?
I use Logic for most of the music I write, and for an epic trailer track there are about 120 – 200 virtual instrument tracks (including several different orchestral libraries, a dozen perc libraries, 3-4 choir libraries, maybe 20 synths augmenting the orchestral layers, depending on the genre), along with EQ, compression and reverb on most of them.
It’s not just about the software though – there’s no simple ‘epic music plug-in’ yet! You have to keep in mind that my music is also the product of years (decades) of musical training and 1000’s of tracks, each time learning something that would make the next track better.
– How do I get into writing for trailers?
High end trailer music is one of the toughest things for a composer to produce. The music is deceptively simple with relatively uncomplicated harmony and melodies. To keep it fresh and modern, a composer needs to find ways to use basic musical building blocks in a way that isn’t cliched or dated. In addition to that challenge, the level of expectation for the ‘sound’ or production value of trailer music is unmatched, you could argue that trailer music has to sound as good or better than blockbuster film music. Very little of the work that goes into producing trailer music is composition, the rest is making the music sound fresh, huge and realistic. It’s an entirely different skill set to purely writing music for live performance, involving arranging, orchestration, keyboard skills, MIDI programming, audio processing and more often that not – mixing and mastering.
Because of these high expectations, it took me about 7 years of composing full time to get to the level where I was ready to start writing music specifically for trailers.
I would suggest to a beginner composer, to set their sights a little lower for a while, as there are plenty of avenues for making money from music that are far less demanding. What’s important is that you:
– write something every day,
– finish what you start,
– and constantly compare your music and production value to similar work by established composers, to learn where you need to improve.
Writing for companies that supply music for TV shows and commercials would be a great start. Most libraries will take your music, but won’t pay upfront, while a few still do (your music has to be valuable to them though). Try to sign exclusive deals ONLY if you get some upfront money (although this is getting rare lately).
Building a residual income (royalties) is a great way to fund studio /software upgrades (which you need to do often, especially if you want to write for trailers). Having that income stream also allows you to be more picky with gigs. You’ll need about 400-600 decent tracks in a handful of well connected libraries to make a living from royalties. If you’re regularly writing for indie films where you can keep the rights to all that music, you’ll get there in 4-6 years. If you don’t have film projects, write when you don’t have to. It will pay off in the long run – your future self (and family) will thank you.
Once you think your production skills are ready for trailers, compare your music to the established guys (Two Steps From Hell, Audiomachine, Immediate Music, Colossal Music, Glory Oath & Blood, etc) and if you’re certain your stuff stands up to theirs, go for it!
A COUPLE OF GOLD NUGGETS FOR READING THIS FAR DOWN…
If I can offer two things I wish I’d known when starting out to write trailer music, it is:
1) THE HOOK
Trailer music (and most music really) is all about the HOOK, a catchy, evocative idea that makes the track exciting. Learn to identify hooks in tracks that you admire – they can be rhythmic (like in the bass line or drums), a cool chord progression, a melodic idea or simply a weird sonic blast that gives a track a unique identity.
I don’t commit to working on a track until I have at least one solid hook and maybe a support one (like a rhythm and interesting ostinato pattern).
(I’m getting long winded here – sorry!) trailer music needs to be AUTHENTIC to have a chance of being used on big budget trailers and promos. What I mean by that is:
the track has to be trailer music in every way – every sound, chord, melody, voicing, tempo, the mix. It can’t be like trailer music, that is a genre some call ‘epic music’ – basically an attempt at sounding like trailer music. It’s tough – you have to make 1000s of little decisions when working on a track and just one of those can take you away from that authentic sound.
You get to this point by immersing yourself in the sound of trailer music, watching lots of trailers, and constantly making detailed comparisons of your work to that of the music used in recent trailers. You eventually know instinctively when you’re making a wrong turn and can quickly get back on the path to authentic-land.
– Can you listen to my track?
I’d love to, but because this request comes in a lot, I’ve started a side coaching service where you can send me a link to your music and I’ll go into great detail on the ways you can improve the track and approach composition and production moving forward. Here are the details:
Contact me through this site, send me links (preferably SoundCloud) and an email for me to send a Paypal request to.
1 track reviewed: $250
2 for $350
3 for $400
2nd round of coaching for each track just $50
I’ll take the time to listen through several times and make specific feedback on how to improve the track both musically and production-wise, and how to get it up to the standard required to be used professionally. I may be able to advise you on where to send the track as well (for licensing etc), depending on how ‘industry ready’ it is.
It’ll be more practical and useful than a lot of college courses can be.
Thanks for visiting!