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SXSW Music 2014

John Williams to Pharrell Williams: Composers 2.0

Composing original music for a film, TV show or ad is an incredibly nuanced process, involving a revolving door of professionals beyond just the music creator. Directors, music supervisors, producers & company execs often play a role in crafting the creative direction of the composer’s work. For those that come from a musical background, but not a learned composition one, navigating the role of a hired gun can be a difficult transition. Being responsible for driving the emotion of someone ELSE’S vision, selling a product or creating music as a sonic palette, rather than the dominant figure, can require a heavy dose of adjustment and direction. Our event will use visual aids and speak with a variety of nontraditional composers – a top club/tour DJ, a successful artist and a venerable indie remixer/producer – to provide insight into the pros/cons and tips/tricks of approaching composition from their own perspectives and backgrounds, rather than that of a classically trained composer.

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  1. In what ways does having an unconventional background in composition prove to be both a boon and a drawback? Just because you are good at making music does not mean you will be good at making music for film/TV (or vice versa). Panelists will discuss the relevance of the musical experience gained in their primary roles and how that insight (or lack thereof) impacts them in the real world of composition for films, television and advertising.
  2. How is the creative process different when making music for your own project vs. someone else’s project? Every artist has a different approach when it comes to their own works and how they toggle between the worlds of making music for themselves vs. making music for a client. Points of discussion will include: the importance of collaboration and constructive criticism among artist and client, the notes/revision process, how to interpret the needs of the client and make their vision a reality.
  3. Who jumpstarts the creative process for a specific project and how? Participants will speak to their individual experiences in film/TV/ad composition (incl. visual aids of select works) and to how those collaborations began, stalled or flourished. We will discuss what information is relayed to the artist prior to writing, how they create a road map for completion and the complex processes of submission, review and approval by the client.
  4. How can an artist or musician transition into the film/TV/ad world if he/she has limited experience or has not yet actively worked as a composer? Panelists will discuss the ways in which they each honed their skillsets and expanded their networks and résumés to the film/TV market. Add’l points of discussion will include: how to capitalize on one’s name and brand as an artist, the importance of networking and word-of-mouth, the role of an agent/manager in securing audiovisual projects.
  5. What other skills are required for success other than simply being able to make great music? The film/TV music game is one where the ability to turn around quality work quickly is crucial, deadlines are always ASAP and reliability is tantamount to execution. Additional factors to discuss will include: time management, hiring the right creative team and the expert talent of being able to speak about music with and translate the needs of those clients who are NOT music experts.



Rebecca Rienks, Music Supervisor, E! Entertainment/NBCUniversal

Meta Information:

  • Event: Music
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Supervision/Music Placement
  • Track 2
  • Level:
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