I have spent my entire music career wondering if anyone had ever listened to the music I’d written.
When I was involved in jingle writing, scribbling such epics as P.C. World, Evening Standard, Jammy Dodgers and Woman’s Weekly, there was never the opportunity to tell anyone that you’d been involved in the composition and production. Those that knew simply knew and you got on with the next one, happy that the campaign had worked and you’d been paid.
When I was involved heavily in TV writing epic signature tunes such as Bananaman, Chucklevision, Blue Peter and Astro Farm, we didn’t have the platform to self-promote and tell our ‘fans’ we had penned another massive hit that we’d all be humming for years to come and using as future ringtones. No signs of ‘Likes’ or ‘Reactions’.
When, after being offered the chance to compose the music for several movies, I didn’t automatically think that I should tell everyone about it beforehand and ‘big up’ how amazing it was, or I was, to be given such a break. I just got stuck in, head down and did it. Same with gigs, tours, productions and sessions.
Hopefully, the skill of completing these projects and the relative success in the final output were enough to secure the next gig with a nice bunch of people with whom you had already, or could start to, build a good relationship.
There were times in the gym or in a restaurant I heard some of my tunes being played. Instinctively I would look around to see if anyone else had noticed these beautiful sounds spilling forth. “I wrote that, That’s Me!” I would think loudly but never out loud.
It was a time when music composition was varied and the jobs colourful and satisfying in their own right.
I would always think, prior to going out to a party, how this was all going to go, girding the loins and preparing the answers to:
“And what is it that you do?”. Shall I give the boring answer or the enthusiastic self-promotional speel?
Invariably after a few glasses of wine the conversations would start. As soon as you said ‘Music Composer’ the eyes would glaze over, or I’d get the familiar second question: “Would I recognise anything you’ve done?”
The boring route was by far the better option with a swift exchange and on to the next discussion about the weather.
It was enough to be there, doing it, enjoying the process and being rewarded for it.
I don’t know how it happened. There were always other composers doing more and better but I was content in the knowledge that I was busy and being paid for what I did. Beyond that, no one really needed to know.
Now, with these greedy networks of insatiable social prostitution on which we are duty bound not only to tell everyone what we are doing every second of the day, but to boast and promote every single crotchet and quaver.
A new song or part thereof is boldly thrown into the forgettable streaming machines with ephemeral accolades and fractions of pennies in return with the rather misguided conception that this will hit the jackpot. And everyone out there should know about it!
It’s a tough gig. I know it’s very different to what it was, but I can’t help feeling that we need to reboot the system.
I know that throughout the years, I have written hundreds if not thousands of themes, tunes, jingles, songs, incidental pieces, demos and it’s more likely that no one has really every heard or acknowledged any of them. Certainly, the consciousness most people have of music in any project is virtually nil unless it’s a song performed by the latest Celebrity flavour.
So, I’m happy with that. I always have been and I will continue to write, compose and produce music that is used, generates royalties and not necessarily noticed.
Meanwhile, why don’t you choose something gorgeous from our wonderful Topline library. You don’t need to mention my name.