Having compiled my showreel ‘The Video Files’ I wanted to explain a little about the principal of showreels and why we sent them out.
When doing adverts, it was easy; Putting together a collection of the best brands, never more than three minutes and often a nifty ninety seconds, these were liberally sent out on cassette tapes to show very specific examples of what you’d done both vocally and instrumentally. Showing off arrangements and production with fast cuts and loads of recognisable names, it was cheap, efficient and often effective.
I then decided to make things a little more comprehensive and add categories to a larger selection of work. I had been asked many times for my jingle reel, my drama reel, my documentary reel, my song reel. So, I decided to make a CD containing as many sections as I could to demonstrate the breadth and width of my immense talents (!?)
It was like compiling several albums into one. I took it one step further and added several ideas that were examples of tracks that hadn’t as yet found a home but were none the less as versatile. In order to give the product a little class I asked one of my more learned and classically trained chums to translate for me into Latin:” All things are financially possible”. Not too far behind these flexible examples of musical themes is the idea of the creative invoice. I felt it would carry more weight in and older tongue.
‘Omnia fieri pecuniis possunt’.
I was tempted to add this to every invoice I sent out but then decided it was pushing it a little too far. Nevertheless, the mantra, if that’s what it is, of everything being financially possible is probably more challenging now than ever.
We as composers, producers, arrangers and songwriters are expected to offer our services freely and with little mention of the final payment. Budgets have shrunk and, in many cases, we are requested to work for the privilege of showreel inclusion rather than financial gain.
This is fine if it’s voluntary. But it should never be assumed.
Back to the showreel. I’ve always said that a showreel is an example of what you’ve done and NOT examples that may, or may not, interest a client or future commission. I’ve had the conversation where, having sent out the various reels and chasing up for a reaction, they’ve said:” Yes, it’s all very nice but I couldn’t find anything here for my next production!”.
“Well, you weren’t supposed to because it’s a SHOWREEL!!” (Am I shouting now?)
I met another client with whom I had worked extensively at BBC TV and written music for several series. When I asked if he had anything going for which I could offer some fine musical themes promptly asked me for my showreel!? “But you know what I’ve done….. with you in the room!” I shouted quietly in my head.
Bring back the basic understanding and practice where you did a job that someone had asked for and they agreed to pay you. Not have an arm-wrestling competition to see who’d win on the price reductions and special deals. And don’t start me on the 90-day terms!!
All things are financially possible and should be an intrinsic part of what we call this business of music.
Don’t give it all away simply to get your name on a credit or use it for your showreel.
Don’t think that a client cares about the music as much as you do. Fight your corner.
Believe that what you write and compose is of value and act accordingly.
Try the Latin; It’ll make you feel infinitely cleverer and worthy of your calling!
Now after 3……… Omnia fieri pecuniis possunt.