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How to Be a Composer TODAY: 3 Life-Changing Tips PART 2 Redefining Success

In the last article How to Be a Composer TODAY: 3 Life-Changing Tips PART 1, I discussed three life changing tips to help you as you embark on your music career.

Redefining Success

You need to find out what YOU want. Redefine success for you. What is important? If you value freedom, then find a gig that pays enough for bills, downsize your lifestyle some, and enjoy your freedom! Do you value fame or prestige, do you need to support a family or want to balance family and working from home? Do you want to homeschool your kids or teach at a university? Do you want to mix the next great album, become a Youtube star, or create an app that hits #1 in iTunes? It is all possible. But you need to set up your goals.

What does your music success look like?
  • The retiree that sells folk song albums online and gigs with his band
  • The educator that instills a love of music on the next generation of musicians
  • The choral director who both ministers and directs or her choir
  • The audio tech who spends hours recording with indie musicians
  • The songwriter who makes a living writing jingles for businesses
  • The DJ who mixes electronica every Friday night at a popular club
  • The composer who scores video games and apps
  • The music teacher that performs during summer vacation
  • The musicians who designs meaningful music apps
  • The non-profit arts administrator who finds ways to tie the arts to the community
Some of these gigs are less glamorous or lucrative than others. And notice that I didn't mention the super duper megastar that owns a dozen homes and her own perfume line, though that is also possible. 

Music Marketing 101 with Sabrina Pena Young

Music schools do not prepare you for today's music industry

That is the fact. Many schools are still stuck on a model that assumed that there were ample jobs in music education and academia, and that classical music was viable. The reality is that everything has changed drastically. A talented high school audio engineer can make a full time living working as a freelancer if he or she has the right skills. Meanwhile talented musicologists with doctorate degrees earn little more than a Walmart manager. Do you need to go to college? Yes, of course! But does your college degree guarantee you a job? No, not at all. 

Expert Music Advice Today at Musicxray with Sabrina Pena Young

We live in a skills-based economy.

If you want to be a composer, you will most likely acquire a great number of skills that will translate easily to paid work, especially if you learn technology, writing, business, and other skills that translate well to fields that are more stable than strictly the music industry. 

Are you talented at writing symphonies? 

I bet you could write a riveting soundtrack for a video game or app. 

Can you write a moving vocal line? 

Look into jingles, music licensing, and writing songs for today's Youtube filmmakers. 

Are you a music theory guru? 

Design an app that teaches others what you know. 

The reality is that you must adapt what you have learned as a composer to make it as a composer today. This is not anything new. Bach worked as a director and music educator, the great majority of our favorite composers taught in some capacity, were writers, and took on additional duties to maintain their careers. 

The amazing thing about today's economy is that it is global. You can just as easily collaborate with someone in Australia as someone down the street. It really is that simple! 

So leverage what you know, be flexible, expand your knowledge, and you will find that learning how to be a composer is rewarding and exciting!

Young is the foremost expert on virtual opera production and online collaboration with the debut of her machinima opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. Libertaria includes a live international cast and film crew, virtual choirs, sound synthesis, machinima, and contemporary choral writing, produced entirely online using crowdsourcing, social networking, and the Internet. Critics call Libertaria "Groundbreaking" and "Wagner 2.0". Works performed internationally at the Beijing Conservatory, the International Computer Music Conference, Miramax's Project Greenlight, the Athena Festival, the New York International Independent Film Festival, Art Basil Miami, Turkey's Cinema for Peace, Art Miami, and Pulsefield International Exhibition of Sound Art, the Holland Animation Film Festival, Australasian Computer Music Confetence, Buffalo's Women and Arts Festival, and countless venues worldwide. Young's recent projects include the social media opera The Village and a recent TED Talk on opera and the Internet at TEDxBuffalo.



Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1

Feel like writing an opera is only for big name composers with big budgets? Or are you willing to take the plunge and create a work in one of the most compelling and cutting edge musical opera? Almost two years ago I embarked on the largest musical production I have created to date -  Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. After writing the award-winning Creation Oratorio and dozens of multimedia works, I wanted to combine my love of the audio and the visual into a single large scale work.  Find a Great Dramatic Story You need a strong story to write a compelling opera. Fortunately you can easily borrow from thousands of public domain works and modernize them. Think of West Side Story (just a contemporary version of Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet) .   Many great operas use Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm , and Biblical stories, all of which include interesting characters, strong themes, and action.   Libertaria borrows heavily from messianic stories, but is se

Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2

Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2 After the incredibly positive feedback that I had from Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1 , I thought I would talk a little bit about the composition angle of writing, at least how I do it in regards to vocal music . Here's a quick primer for anyone learning some of the basics of writing vocal music for opera, musicals, classical music , etc.  1. The Sketch I have had several great teachers in my life - Dr. Clare Shore , Hilton Jones, Dr. Kristine Burns, Paul Reller , Dr. Frederick Kaufman, Dr. Orlando Garcia, Chuck Owen, etc. My composition prof (and USF SYCOM guru) Paul Reller helped me develop the composition technique that I have had for years.  Download the Libertaria: The Virtual Opera Soundtrack at iTunes When I have the time to go through the entire composition process (because sometimes I have to skip a step or two for deadlines), I will start out with pencil, paper, and a piano (or keyboard, in my case).

Free Classical Sheet Music and Free Opera Downloads @ Scribd

Sheet Music (Photo credit: jayneandd ) Awhile ago I decided that I would upload the bulk of my music scores and sheet music to sites like Scribd, the Petrucci Music Library , and for free sheet music downloads. Some musicians told me that it was ridiculous to give away my music. The truth is that I don't depend on music publishing sales of my scores, and I would rather inspire a young piano student, percussion ensemble, opera singer, grandma, bored music student, or music teacher to play and study my music than hold on tight to my copyrights and let my music scores collect virtual dust on my hard drive.  The Petrucci Library, Scribd, and all have dozens of free music scores available for choir, vocal solos, piano, percussion, orchestra, opera, multimedia works, and more. You can see a short list of available free sheet music by checking out the Scores page. You might want to check out scores to my modern opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera , an ex

Free Sheet Music Download: Classical Music Flute Solo Airborn Sand by Composer Sabrina Pena Young

Free Sheet Music Download: Classical Music Flute Solo Airborn Sand by Composer Sabrina Pena Young FREE MUSIC DOWNLOAD:,_Sabrina_Pena) Originally composed during a hurricane in South Florida . Inspired by a news reporter 's comments about "Airborne sand " whipping through her hair, the composer decided to write a work for flute that imitated the movements of sand whirling on a beach during a hurricane. It was subsequently performed at the University of South Florida in Tampa . Flute Solo Related articles Friday Freebie: Old Rugged Cross The Landing - Science fiction Robot music - Sabrina Pena Young Music Marketing Secrets: How to Use Twitter, Youtube, Social Media - S P... Quiz: Which Classical Music Era Are You? Latest iTunes 12.5 Beta Should Please Classical Music Fans After Dark - Romanian Rhapsody concert at the Limerick City Gallery of Art Russian inspiration for Clandeboye Festival The Tran

How to Write Film Music in 5 Easy Steps

How to Write Film Music in 5 Easy Steps How to write film music in five simple steps for any composer. Thanks for checking out this video! Subscribe for more great content! Like this? Then check out AMAZON BESTSELLER Composer Boot Camp 101, a comprehensive guide to songwriting, composition, and film music with 50 exercises for students, educators, and music professionals! DOWNLOAD TODAY

The Phantom of the Opera - Prague Cello Quartet

The Phantom of the Opera - Prague Cello Quartet

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Songwriter?

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Songwriter?  Becoming a successful songwriter is the dream of many musicians. But knowing how to write a song , learn an instrument, and make a successful musical career can seem impossible. Well, it does take a lot of work. Not everyone that wants to be a professional musician will succeed, and many just enjoy writing songs as a fun hobby for their enjoyment.  Do I need to Sing or Play a Musical Instrument? This might seem like a simple question, but it actually has a complicated answer. Why? Some songwriters never learned a single instrument yet can come up with great lyrics and catchy melodies. Others have played piano or guitar for years or are trained singers. So what is the answer?  As a songwriter, you need to understand different aspects of the songwriting process. That doesn't mean you have to have an incredible voice or be the best guitar player on the block. What it does  mean is that you need to know music. There is no better

What is Blue? and other Post Postmodernist Thoughts

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) One of my many hats is online university instructor. I teach courses in Media and Music History. In my Media in American Society class, we discuss many aspects of media, including truth in media, media conglomeration, marketing, advertising, and the like.  Today my students had an intriguing discussion/debate online about news and partisan politics. The debate was a healthy one, with some students claiming that they see all sides, others describing their favorite political pundits, and others lamenting the lack of authenticity in the media today. In the end, the fact that there would be no answer to today's questions, largely due to the lack of authenticity and the inability to trust anything in print, online, on a TV, spoken by a political leader, etc. etc., I brought up a short discussion on postmodernism, postpostmodernism , and its effects on American culture.  Here is a small snippet that I though