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The Business of Making Music with Brian Ralston

Orchestrated: A Music Podcast
Orchestrated: A Music Podcast
The Business of Making Music with Brian Ralston
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The Business of Making Music with Brian Ralston

In the world of music, the journey from aspiring artist to established professional is both thrilling and challenging. On this episode of “Orchestrated” Chris Hayzel and Mike Patti are joined by film composer Brian Ralston, and the trio dives into the complexities and rewards of making music in today's dynamic landscape. This insightful discussion not only peels back the curtain on the professional composer's life but also serves as a beacon for those navigating the intricate world of music creation and business.

Brian Ralston, with over two decades of experience, brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the table. His career, marked by emotionally charged and melodious compositions, stands as a testament to the power of music in storytelling. Beyond his creative achievements, Ralston is deeply committed to nurturing the next generation of composers. His work with UCLA's film scoring program and the Score Cast podcast has been instrumental in demystifying the business side of music for many.

Key Takeaways

The Composer as an Entrepreneur

In the realm of music, where the notes of passion often clash with the chords of industry complexities, Ralston plays a compelling melody of entrepreneurship. He elucidates the mindset shift required for composers to thrive—not merely as artists but as business entities. Through his seminar, "Demystifying the Composer Business," Ralston aims to equip the next generation with the tools necessary to navigate the business intricacies of the music world.

Social Media Symphony

The discussion underscored the pivotal role of social media in a composer's career. In an era where personal connection can orchestrate success, understanding how to engage authentically with audiences is crucial. Ralston highlights the delicate balance between self-promotion and genuine interaction, emphasizing the strategic use of social media to cultivate industry relationships and a dedicated following.

The Evolution of Music Creation

The podcast journeyed through the changing landscapes of music creation, spotlighting the growing prestige of game music and the diversity of platforms for composers to showcase their work. Ralston's narrative reflects a world where the traditional hierarchies of music composition dissolve into a more inclusive and dynamic field, offering myriad opportunities for creative expression and professional growth.

Empowering the Aspiring Composer

For those at the dawn of their musical careers, Ralston offers sage advice: focus on building relationships and gaining experience over immediate financial gain. He advocates for a pragmatic approach—balancing a day job with creative pursuits—to sustain oneself while building a career in music. This dual focus enables aspiring composers to take risks, seize opportunities, and, ultimately, orchestrate their own success.

The Future of Music's Business

Peering into the crystal ball, Ralston and the hosts contemplate the future revenue streams for music creators. With the traditional models of royalties undergoing transformation, the mantra for survival and success appears to be diversification. Ralston encourages composers to explore various avenues within and outside of music, ensuring a portfolio that resonates with resilience and versatility.

The Composer's Crescendo

Brian Ralston's journey is a testament to the symphony of skills required to thrive in the music industry. His insights, shared with warmth and wisdom, compose a score for success that transcends the mere creation of music. For aspiring composers, Ralston's narrative offers both inspiration and a roadmap, highlighting the importance of harmony between artistic passion and business acumen in the quest to leave a lasting mark on the world of music.

Transcript

00:00:04:13 – 00:00:36:18

Chris Hayzel

Both on the Orchestrated, a musical podcast where we discuss the past, present and future of music creation to explore exactly what it means to be a musician in the modern era. I’m Chris Hayzel and this week, Mike Patti and I are joined by film composer Brian Ralston. Now, Ralston has over 20 years of experience in the media music industry, and his career is marked by uplifting, heart pounding, melodious compositions that have captivated audiences worldwide and with an interest in nurturing future composers.

 

00:00:36:20 – 00:01:00:10

Chris Hayzel

He’s taught for UCLA’s film scoring program, as well as hosted the popular Score cast podcast, helping to shed light on the business intricacies of the film industry from a composer’s lens. So in this episode, Mike Bryan and I dive into what it means to be a professional composer. The mindset of an entrepreneur. How to empower yourself when you’re just breaking into the industry and so much more.

 

00:01:00:14 – 00:01:25:12

Chris Hayzel

Brian also tells us about his new seminar, demystifying the composer business and how he plans to use it as a vehicle to guide young composers through the less glamorous parts of being a professional. So be sure to check out the show notes for more details before we hop into the conversation. You can catch us on Instagram at MUZIO and check out our YouTube channel at Museo Dot official for more fun and more content.

 

00:01:25:14 – 00:01:49:18

Chris Hayzel

And if you’re a music creator looking for some quality virtual instruments, don’t forget to head over to Museo ikon to get a ridiculously huge collection of some of the world’s best sounds. Completely free for 30 days. So now that we’ve gotten that all out of the way, let’s get down to business. In our conversation with Brian Ralston. Where what part of the world are you in?

 

00:01:49:20 – 00:01:51:15

Brian Ralston

Los Angeles. Los Angeles.

 

00:01:51:20 – 00:01:52:14

Chris Hayzel

cool. Where abouts?

 

00:01:52:16 – 00:02:05:20

Brian Ralston

So Baldwin Hills, Like if you draw a line between USC and L.A.X.. Yeah, there’s the Baldwin Hills where they have the oil. So I’m on the east side of that. Somewhere around here. Ray Charles used to live there. It’s kind of like this famous area for Motown and stuff.

 

00:02:05:20 – 00:02:08:23

Mike Patti

So. Did we start the podcast or are we doing it Joe Rogan style here where.

 

00:02:09:03 – 00:02:17:09

Chris Hayzel

We’re we’re recording, We’re rolling. I’d love to know how. How do you guys know each other? Let’s just start there. Like, how did you guys meet?

 

00:02:17:11 – 00:02:35:00

Mike Patti

I you know, Brian probably doesn’t remember it, but when I was like 20, I, I was in Long Island, I was going to school, and but I always wanted to go to USC, and I connected with Brian King, who was the new chairman of the department. And I talked to him on the phone. He’s like, Yeah, you should come out.

 

00:02:35:00 – 00:02:51:19

Mike Patti

We’re going to do a session in a couple of weeks at Paramount. I was like, Just I can just come out and just sit on a session like, Wow, cool. So I flew out and I sat in one of the student sessions. They they did like 13 sessions a year at Paramount is one of the coolest things about USC yet.

 

00:02:51:20 – 00:03:09:03

Mike Patti

Your music performed by real players. These, you know, iconic studio players that we all grew up listening to. But I went and I remember connecting with this friendly gentleman and sitting in the back, and it ended up being Brian Ralston. I’m very like 99% confident that it was you.

 

00:03:09:05 – 00:03:11:01

Brian Ralston

Yeah, I don’t remember that part.

 

00:03:11:03 – 00:03:20:16

Mike Patti

He doesn’t remember, but I remember that. And I was like, How do you like USC? It is it’s crazy amazing. And I ended up going the year after in 2002 because.

 

00:03:20:16 – 00:03:31:14

Brian Ralston

My year I think my year is the last year. Buddy Baker was officially head and Brian King was was his number one. And then Buddy died like right after or towards the end.

 

00:03:31:14 – 00:03:35:22

Mike Patti

Or he died in August of that year. Right. And I started September. So yeah. It was sad.

 

00:03:36:00 – 00:04:00:13

Brian Ralston

Yeah. And then ever since we’ve just known each other and known of each other and of course me being a trumpet player when Cinnabar stuff came out, I’m always very picky about my brass samples. And at the time it was, you know, and still is like what I use in, in the past. So. So just we’ve just known each other through that.

 

00:04:00:15 – 00:04:17:03

Mike Patti

Yeah. But I want to have Brian on this, on this fledgling podcast because Brian to me is one of the most articulate voices out there in our world of music business. And do you also use that, be part of the score cast, right? Is that still going?

 

00:04:17:04 – 00:04:48:04

Brian Ralston

Did and it is not. So we we did a podcast Scorecards podcast for many years, probably over a decade actually with Dean Ogden and I. Dean had started that earlier on with Lee Sanders, who does The Amazing Race. Lee got busy doing other stuff and at some point a few years into them doing that, Lee left. Dean came to know me, invited me in to co-host with them, and I think we had a really good, just rapport, I like to say.

 

00:04:48:05 – 00:05:20:14

Brian Ralston

I like to think we were fun to listen to, even if, you know, what we were talking about was, you know, mundane or whatever. And we did that for ten years. And the whole point was to help composers learn about everything, you know, even outside of writing the notes, scorecards, community still exists. The podcast does not. So the communities on Facebook still exist, and probably the most popular one and the one that actively does meetings in venues and activities is the one in London.

 

00:05:20:16 – 00:05:47:20

Brian Ralston

So but the score we we shut down the website and we shut down the podcast because Dean Dean’s a drummer. He went back, he moved to Indonesia and he drums fairly. David Foster and a bunch of people in Asia. And he, he has a band now that he’s playing with and producing, but he’s like, I’m moving out of the film music industry and he’s like, I really don’t feel like I should be talking about the film music industry when I’m not doing it anymore.

 

00:05:47:22 – 00:05:58:07

Brian Ralston

So that was kind of the crux of him leaving. And then I just felt like I never found a co-host that had the same vibe Dean and I had. So we just kind of stopped it.

 

00:05:58:09 – 00:06:13:11

Chris Hayzel

Brian Were you were you always sort of business minded? Did you start out that way, you know, when you were first starting out in music, how much of that was a learning experience for you and what was that learning experience like?

 

00:06:13:13 – 00:06:51:06

Brian Ralston

Honestly, all of it. So I’m I’ve always been in general a good problem solver. And I’m also kind of a calm, introverted person, even if I’m freaking out on the inside, people on the outside probably won’t see that or see very much of that. My wife sees a lot now, but, you know, other than the people extremely close to me, they probably see me as a fairly calm presence, which I think from a business aspect helps because if you’re there to solve problems and you’re there to do things and you’re not freaking out about it, it it it helps everything.

 

00:06:51:08 – 00:07:16:09

Brian Ralston

Yeah. Having said that, I’m also an individual that if I need to redo my website and someone I approach people, they say, okay, that’s going to be $3,000. I’m like, I’d rather spend that $3,000 on gear or something for my studio. So I will go learn how to code or do the website or find a template that I can use that I don’t have the code to to do it.

 

00:07:16:09 – 00:07:38:12

Brian Ralston

And so take that philosophy and extrapolate that out into all the various business aspects. I basically self learned a lot of stuff along the way in how to handle stuff. I did my own taxes for very for many years until I got to a point where I’m like, you know, I don’t I don’t want to be the responsible one making a mistake here.

 

00:07:38:13 – 00:07:54:02

Brian Ralston

When you when you have an LLC and you have other stuff and it just got beyond where I’m like, you know what? I can I can hire a professional to do that, but it also means I understand it. You know, I have gone through it. Same thing with a legal perspective. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not an attorney.

 

00:07:54:02 – 00:08:25:11

Brian Ralston

But now, you know, having taught the business of film music for many years at UCLA extension, like I’ve seen enough contracts, I’ve talked with enough lawyers. I have lawyers from, you know, from my producing side and from my composing side that I learn a lot from. So that doesn’t make me necessarily a lawyer like a practice law, but it means that I can read a contract and I can understand what’s good and what’s bad about it and perhaps, you know, save a few hours on the on the bill of calling the lawyer to understand what this means if someone sends it to me.

 

00:08:25:13 – 00:08:41:22

Brian Ralston

So from a business standpoint, getting back to your question, it’s a lot of just experience and and learning from making mistakes and from doing a lot of reading. A lot of talking, a lot of doing on my own.

 

00:08:42:00 – 00:09:07:14

Mike Patti

So, you know, if you’re a starting music creator, right, which is probably a lot of people that might be listening to this, what are some of the essential skills or knowledge that you would need to succeed? And this is assuming that people know how to compose, They have the gear, all of that stuff. And what we’ve learned is that’s actually a small percentage of what it means to be a professional composer.

 

00:09:07:14 – 00:09:24:02

Mike Patti

Or am I right in that it’s sort of like the composing side is always like, that’s just assumed that you can do that. Then there’s all this other extra stuff. Yeah, and we don’t often get taught that. So what is, what are some of those things that we need to if you have like a list you can rattle off or something.

 

00:09:24:02 – 00:09:46:20

Brian Ralston

I’m sure these are not going to be in any important order because they will just come to my head. So if the most important thing is last, forgive me. You know, I think certainly people have to have in this day and age an awareness of of how to use social media. I think people like to get to know the artists that they follow more than they used to.

 

00:09:46:21 – 00:10:07:20

Brian Ralston

I think people like to see that they’re human. I think people like to hear from them in general. Yeah. At the same time, I think there’s a skill there in using your social media as only promoting yourself because that turns people off, right? They people want to get to know you. And by that it’s an organic. I want to follow this person.

 

00:10:07:22 – 00:10:44:21

Brian Ralston

And so it’s, I guess, kind of learning or knowing how to use social media to your advantage and who your audience is. I think at the outset of a career, I would I personally would care a lot less about getting the world to follow my music than I would about the industry to follow my music, because I don’t you know, if you haven’t done many films and you’re point is to get hired by directors and producers, I’m not I don’t really care that you have a huge YouTube following yet I think all the music you want to have a music supervisor following you want to have all the directors following you.

 

00:10:44:21 – 00:11:12:13

Brian Ralston

You want to you want to be active in forums for filmmakers and producers and editors and all that stuff, right? And so it’s it’s, I guess, a knowledge of how to use social media and how to use it effectively. I think people certainly need to understand, not be afraid of the legal stuff. I think if you can learn how to read a contract and learn to understand it, that will go a long way.

 

00:11:12:13 – 00:11:42:08

Brian Ralston

You don’t have to know how to write your own contracts. You shouldn’t be doing that. You should actually be using an attorney to protect yourself. But I think a lot of people put that off to the point where they don’t understand what they’re what they’re getting, you know, And so don’t be afraid of the legal stuff. I think from a financial stuff, you have to get your financial ducks in a row.

 

00:11:42:10 – 00:12:18:22

Brian Ralston

You know, not everybody’s going to be able to form an LLC right off the bat, but everything you do can be a business expense that you effectively write off. And the ultimate goal, I would say, of a business is to be able to offset your income by expenses and reinvesting in yourself. So, you know, if you make $20,000 for whatever music stuff you do during the year, well, you’ve probably bought an awful lot of software and you have probably a cell phone that is your main business phone.

 

00:12:18:22 – 00:12:50:18

Brian Ralston

You have website fees, you have email stuff that you can use as a write off to bring that tax liability down. I think a lot of people don’t under they leave a lot on the table in terms of money and finances. Having an LLC or legal entity to work in is is a great way to do that because you you create this corporate or financial separation between your personal life and your business life.

 

00:12:50:20 – 00:13:16:00

Brian Ralston

Composers, you know, I don’t I don’t see a lot of small people getting sued for copyright infringement of stealing some theme, but it does happen in the music world and you want to be working under a business where if someone is suing you for stealing their theme or stealing their song or whatever, they can’t come after your home, they can’t come after their personal assets or your family.

 

00:13:16:00 – 00:13:23:21

Brian Ralston

So creating this corporate separation is important for reasons beyond finances.

 

00:13:23:23 – 00:13:43:15

Chris Hayzel

You know, it’s funny that you mention that. I remember I had an experience when I was I got signed on to do a miniseries for ESPN, and the producer called me in and he was writing up contracts. And he was he was actually trying to get me to do like a certain amount or a certain number of cues for free.

 

00:13:43:17 – 00:14:01:20

Chris Hayzel

He was trying to he was trying to set a threshold of like, you know, if it’s under if the cue is under this amount of time, you just do it for free. And I was like, I don’t think that that’s appropriate. You know, a 32nd cue could take all day or it could take 30 seconds. It depends. Sure.

 

00:14:01:22 – 00:14:23:01

Chris Hayzel

At the time, I think I was only 22 or 23, so I was sort of just, you know, getting my feet wet and I hadn’t incorporated or anything like that. And he said to me, All right, I’ll sign this contract. And then as he was signing it, he was saying, you know, you should really think about incorporating because if you don’t deliver on this contract, I’m going to sue you.

 

00:14:23:04 – 00:14:39:02

Chris Hayzel

And if you were incorporated, I wouldn’t be able to take your house or your car. And I just remember being like, Wow, this is the world I’ve stepped into so that, you know, that that advice that you’re giving seems really applicable for sure.

 

00:14:39:02 – 00:14:58:20

Brian Ralston

And to the contract points you were talking about, sometimes you don’t Sometimes people are afraid to negotiate. Right. And and and I will be the first to tell you that I don’t think the ideal scenario is that the composer can just be the creative and they have someone negotiating for them. It doesn’t have to be an agent because of a fledgling composer.

 

00:14:58:20 – 00:15:26:20

Brian Ralston

It’s not going to have an agent, right? So but hopefully they. Maybe that’s your attorney, maybe that’s a lawyer. I don’t know. But if you’re in a scenario where you are truly by yourself and you’re being handed a contract, it’s a negotiation. People expect you to negotiate. And I think, you know, pushing back with another suggestion of what this could be should be, you know, comfortable, You need to get comfortable with that.

 

00:15:27:00 – 00:15:45:03

Brian Ralston

I would tell you on crooked arrows that I did the initial pitch to me from a contract perspective and a budget perspective is they wanted to hire me was that it was going to be an all meaty score because, you know, they didn’t know. And I and I sat there and I, I thought of an argument and I said, you know what?

 

00:15:45:05 – 00:16:09:00

Brian Ralston

The one of the main production companies of it, there’s always an LLC that makes the movie. And then there’s a separate production company, usually co-production companies for whatever reason. And one of them was called Sports Studio, and they get involved in pretty much any film that has a sport that they’re involved. They might be providing uniforms, but they might be providing funding like it’s they do it all and they were involved in this.

 

00:16:09:02 – 00:16:32:05

Brian Ralston

And I went back and they looked at every film sport studio has done, and there was not one film that did not have a score without a live orchestra. They literally miracle with Mark. I showed Rudy, like all these films had huge scores. And now here’s this movie, and they weren’t the only production company, but you know, okay.

 

00:16:32:07 – 00:16:48:22

Brian Ralston

And it didn’t have that. And so I made the I said, Look, everybody’s going to have an expectation of what this can be. And it needs, you know, and I would like it to be this. But in order to do this, we have to have more money. That’s not going into my pocket. It’s going to go directly into your film and into the production.

 

00:16:49:00 – 00:17:10:19

Brian Ralston

And we are we almost doubled our budget and we did it on contract in Los Angeles. And if I hadn’t pushed back and just said, I’m so happy to get this project, I’m going to say yes, yeah, it would have been a shitty score. And so, you know, you have to be willing to negotiate in a pushback and sometimes, you know, you’re not going to get and no one’s going to get everything they wanted.

 

00:17:10:22 – 00:17:19:18

Brian Ralston

They didn’t get what they wanted. They agreed to fund more money into the into the orchestra, but at the same time, you have to be willing to negotiate.

 

00:17:19:19 – 00:17:53:05

Chris Hayzel

When that’s hard to come to. Right. Like from from being the perspective of when you get into composing or even writing original music or whatever, it’s like you’re coming to it from a creative aspect. You got involved because you’re, you know, interested in creating music. And so like when you’re first at the at the, at the start of your career and your you have a contract put in front of you or you’re in the room with a producer who’s been at this for decades and you feel like such a small person in that room compared to the person that you’re negotiating with.

 

00:17:53:05 – 00:18:02:01

Chris Hayzel

What do you think? Like, what are some things that a creative people can take on to feel like they have the power to negotiate in that situation.

 

00:18:02:03 – 00:18:25:04

Brian Ralston

Just to do it? I mean, if someone came to me with a short film and said, I have no money or you score it, I still think there’s a negotiation there and there’s an acknowledgment. This is a short film. Everybody’s doing this for a student project. There’s no money but one. I would say, okay, then if you’re being asked to do this for free first, I wouldn’t do anything necessarily for free.

 

00:18:25:06 – 00:18:48:11

Brian Ralston

I think something can be negotiated even if like, let’s just say I have 100 bucks for my short film. Can you write me a score? And you know, but it’s a promising student at USC, Chapman University. What AFI, whatever. And I feel like I want to start building a relationship, and it’s a subject matter that interests me. So I say, tell you what, let’s take the 100 bucks you have.

 

00:18:48:11 – 00:19:10:18

Brian Ralston

This is the negotiation. Let’s take the hundred bucks you have and turn that into a license fee where I get to own everything the publishing, the writer’s share, everything of it. And it’s the same hundred bucks that you have. But I own it, and we’ll do it that way. Like that would never happen in a studio, but in the independent world, that would absolutely happen because they’d be like, Great, let’s do it.

 

00:19:10:18 – 00:19:30:00

Brian Ralston

Because they don’t. They don’t know what that means necessarily, but so now it’s your job to understand and explain what that means. And I would tell them, you know, if you want a michael Jackson song in your movie, you don’t need to own the Michael Jackson song in the recordings of everything about it. You just have to license it with terms that give you all the rights that you need to sell it or distributed or whatever.

 

00:19:30:06 – 00:20:00:00

Brian Ralston

It’s the same thing for a score. Doesn’t have to be any different. And so just treat it as a license agreement. And so you take that same amount of money and negotiate kind of in your favor. Now, are you going to make publishing on a short film that’s not commercial? No. But you do start setting precedent in your contracts that, you know, under certain threshold I license and not do a work for hire.

 

00:20:00:02 – 00:20:08:20

Brian Ralston

If I wanted your short film, I’ll do it. But it’s going to be under these terms and you just start you just start negotiate. Everything can be a negotiation and it doesn’t have to be necessarily even for money.

 

00:20:08:22 – 00:20:13:13

Mike Patti

So what you’re saying is like, so if you own the music or you own the publishing, what does that mean?

 

00:20:13:15 – 00:20:36:04

Brian Ralston

Like you only control the intellectual property, the copyright of that music they’re licensing and can use it in their film. But you could theoretically put it into your own music library. You could use it for another film, you could create a concert suite of it because you really like the themes and how they flesh out. You could do your own soundtrack, you could do your own audio recording.

 

00:20:36:06 – 00:20:38:20

Mike Patti

Really monetize it? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.

 

00:20:39:02 – 00:20:42:20

Brian Ralston

So you could do pretty much anything you want with it, which. Right?

 

00:20:42:21 – 00:21:02:00

Chris Hayzel

Yeah. So like, it’s, it’s like, you know, if you, if you want to do the licensing fee, if you were to just do the music for $100, it’s like that music goes to that movie and that’s the only thing that you can use it for if you license it to them. And that $100 is the licensing fee, then you can use that music to make more money in other projects.

 

00:21:02:00 – 00:21:11:15

Chris Hayzel

If you would like to, like you were saying. Right. So the life of that lives on it. It continues to hold value for you as you move forward in your career.

 

00:21:11:17 – 00:21:30:18

Brian Ralston

And it’s not going to be a huge boom when you just look at that short film. But if you look over ten or 20 years of having a lot of stuff where you build your catalog of music, you know, like the people that tend to make money on Spotify, they don’t make money on any one thing. They make money because they have a lot of things that are all adding up.

 

00:21:30:20 – 00:21:56:22

Mike Patti

So how do you see things changing? I know like when we were starting the idea of being a film composer, I mean, writing film music, quote unquote was what we wanted to do. But that’s really changed. Like, I don’t know, especially amongst younger people. I don’t hear that term as much film music. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of people that are want to get into game music, like that’s become actually fairly prestigious.

 

00:21:57:00 – 00:22:03:08

Mike Patti

You know, 20 years ago, being a game composer was considered second class, but now it’s like a lot of people aspire to do that.

 

00:22:03:08 – 00:22:04:16

Brian Ralston

Absolutely.

 

00:22:04:18 – 00:22:23:13

Mike Patti

And it seems like things have really shifted and a lot of people are just writing music for their own social channels and or just getting it out there and putting it up on Spotify, making as much as they can from Spotify or whatever. And like, where do you see it going? What’s the future of a music of of music creators and what does our whole industry look like?

 

00:22:23:13 – 00:22:29:03

Mike Patti

That’s a different question. Yeah. So how has it changed today? What was has been your observations?

 

00:22:29:05 – 00:22:55:17

Brian Ralston

I, I feel like the stigma of moving between genres of what you do has kind of gone away. So like you were alluding to, I think there was this pecking order of film composers or at the top right TV composers below that, even reality TV below that. And then you got music library, whatever. I think that the the pecking order has all blown up and it’s just kind of media music.

 

00:22:55:17 – 00:23:30:03

Brian Ralston

So you have film composers doing games, you have TV composers doing films, you have game composers starting to also do the film related to the game. Like you have all these mixes. I think there are still a couple hierarchies that I, I have some friends that are doing that feel a little stuck. Reality TV or daytime TV stuff tends to be that and perhaps that’s because it is much more of a library gig than it is going to picture or creating narratives, musical arcs.

 

00:23:30:05 – 00:23:56:15

Brian Ralston

They’re not, you know, they’re just doing ten bumpers for, you know, a daytime talk show. And but they’re making bank because that show is playing every day. And it’s, you know, so they’re making a good living, but they’re creatively probably not where they want to be. But having said that, I think the stigmas have gone away. I think a lot of people are being and will continue to be asked to do more for less and to be more diverse in what they offer.

 

00:23:56:17 – 00:24:14:08

Brian Ralston

So I think we used to be able to delineate, I’m just a composer, we need to have a mixer, we need to have a music editor. And now I think a lot of people come to the composer and expect or anticipate that because of that package deal that we typically get, you know, you’re going to provide final product.

 

00:24:14:08 – 00:24:41:10

Brian Ralston

And if that means you’re doing your own mixing and you’re doing your own music editing, that’s what that means. And then if you decide you want to have a mixer, do it, That’s your composer decision and it’s coming out of your chunk, right? And so we have to add a mixer on our dime. Not there’s so, you know, people are being asked to do a lot more and, you know, expand their knowledge in how they do things.

 

00:24:41:10 – 00:24:42:00

Brian Ralston

And so.

 

00:24:42:02 – 00:25:05:06

Mike Patti

Yeah, you mentioned the package fee. I mean, I almost feel like that that’s the only way I the opposite is, is to just be hired as the composer and then the studio or someone handles the rest of it. That is such an extremely rare situation. My question is, how do you charge for this stuff? How do you decide, you know, how much to charge for X number of minutes?

 

00:25:05:06 – 00:25:19:09

Mike Patti

Or I mean, do you go by the scope of the project if it’s only 2 minutes, but it’s extremely you know, it’s going to be three months of work if it’s a big fireworks show for Walt Disney World, which is what I do. Yeah, you charge different rates. So how do you how the heck do you figure this stuff out?

 

00:25:19:09 – 00:25:22:23

Mike Patti

It seems like such a unquantifiable thing. Yeah, that’s.

 

00:25:23:01 – 00:25:37:08

Chris Hayzel

Such a good question. That’s such a good question. Especially when you’re starting out because you’re like, how much is all of this worth? You know, like when you when you introduce money into the equation of, of, you know, your sort of creative process, you’re like, how do I value this?

 

00:25:37:08 – 00:25:53:08

Mike Patti

I still because I haven’t figured it out yet, I know that if I’m working with a repeat client, I know how it’s been in the past. Like I know this particular person. It is really cool to work with, so I know it’s not going to be like three months of of you know, 800 changes because you would charge differently if you knew it was going to be really difficult.

 

00:25:53:08 – 00:25:54:07

Mike Patti

You know, I don’t know.

 

00:25:54:10 – 00:26:05:00

Brian Ralston

Let me just help let me dispel the myth that, yeah, a film score should be 3% of the film’s budget. Like there is no there is no actually secret.

 

00:26:05:02 – 00:26:05:13

Mike Patti

There’s no.

 

00:26:05:13 – 00:26:36:02

Brian Ralston

Out there. Right? Yeah. If they have $100 million Temple film and they absolutely know that they want a solo piano score for creative reasons, they’re not. They’re not budgeting. You know, 10% of that 100 million for the score because they they know that’s not what they want. So there there really is no formula. At least people know that I see that posted a lot or film scores should always be so it’s not.

 

00:26:36:02 – 00:26:50:02

Mike Patti

Yeah, but then we have real life hits you and you know like I mean this is a rule of thumb. I’ve always had like a per minute rate that I kind of would establish, especially if it’s something that doesn’t have ASKAP or BMI, like video games or theme park music.

 

00:26:50:04 – 00:26:51:10

Brian Ralston

Is that per delivered minute?

 

00:26:51:11 – 00:26:59:06

Mike Patti

Well, you figure out, yeah, it is a per minute rate multiplied by the number of minutes the project should be. And then you come up with the package.

 

00:26:59:08 – 00:27:20:01

Chris Hayzel

I’ve always, I’ve so this is probably the inappropriate way to do it and I haven’t scored anything in quite some time. But when I was first starting out, especially, I would sort of just estimate how long I thought that the project would take me and then break it down to basically an hourly rate, like I’m okay making X amount of dollars per hour.

 

00:27:20:06 – 00:27:26:17

Mike Patti

On this day. I’ve worked on projects where they just charge you a day rate, like I just want access to you for, you know, five days straight or whatever.

 

00:27:26:17 – 00:27:52:07

Brian Ralston

And that is actually the that’s the union model in general, like a film producer. And forgive me for being filmed. My first answer is probably always film producers, even though we’re at games and everybody else. But they, you know, Hollywood works with unions and they all have day rates and weekly rates. And when someone’s looking at how much something’s going to cost, they typically like seeing a day rate or weekly rate.

 

00:27:52:09 – 00:28:15:02

Brian Ralston

So I need to hire a music editor for four weeks. What’s that cost? Weekly rate is, you know, four grand. So that’s going to cost me 60,000. Great. We’re done charging by the minute from the people who are not used to that kind of make give pushback to that. They look at it as a labor issue or your time invested, not the minutes out.

 

00:28:15:07 – 00:28:42:08

Brian Ralston

Having said that, we all know that, you know, a minute of solo piano takes a lot different than a minute of John Williams, right? It’s so music is not equivalent in its time that you can do. So I do think you have to evaluate what you’re being asked to do for sure. Absolutely. And I you know, but I would I would probably steer away from exactly what I was saying in that day.

 

00:28:42:08 – 00:29:05:04

Brian Ralston

Wait, ah, weekly rate to me doesn’t necessarily make sense for music. Right? Right. Because because of you know, and you’re also going to be asked to redo it 12 times. So, you know, an orchestrator would get paid again for re orchestrating a new page because it’s just a new they get paid by the page, whereas a composer might show more answers.

 

00:29:05:04 – 00:29:25:22

Brian Ralston

They don’t like that theme. And James Newton Howard has to do it 38 times. He’s not getting paid 38 times more to do that theme. But I guess the per minute of finished music feels like a more appropriate number. I think the game industry, from what I’ve heard, I’ve yet to score a game, is more in line with that.

 

00:29:25:22 – 00:29:30:03

Brian Ralston

It’s like a per minute of music rate, but the film industry.

 

00:29:30:06 – 00:29:37:07

Mike Patti

Are paying for they treat this as treated as assets. Yeah, and they’re just paying for these assets that have been created. It’s like a tech company. Yeah, you know.

 

00:29:37:09 – 00:29:59:03

Brian Ralston

Very much tech. And that’s a side note. That’s actually a lot of the issue coming in with Netflix and Hulu’s and all them is that they are really tech companies playing in the entertainment space. So the contracts they’re offering composers and things are typically, you know they get up a composer desire of you’re asking for what because in the tech world they’re used to owning everything.

 

00:29:59:03 – 00:30:03:11

Brian Ralston

They’re used to not paying royalties. They’re used to that kind of a mentality.

 

00:30:03:13 – 00:30:22:23

Mike Patti

Well, I was just going to say, I mean, maybe we can dive a little bit into that. I mean, that’s been the hot topic right now. What makes it challenging to do residuals on something that’s like a subscription model that contains all of this content? And if there’s any streaming, how come it’s not as high as, say, getting a check from your show on ABC or NBC?

 

00:30:23:05 – 00:31:04:07

Brian Ralston

I will say our PR or royalties on terrestrial television and radio and traditional delivery methods are based on market value, which is based on potential eyeballs. Right. So Los Angeles being a huge market, is going to have a larger fee than Des Moines, Iowa local broadcast. Right. Because the potential eyeballs there are different. So they’re paying out long ago negotiate ad rates which are fluctuating based on region and where you are and how many eyeballs could be watching the Super Bowl on that day when we get into streaming, they know exactly who’s watching.

 

00:31:04:09 – 00:31:24:10

Brian Ralston

They know exactly who’s watching, and they know that they clicked off after 8 minutes or they know that they stayed through to the end or they know that they watched 5 minutes and in fast forwarded for 10 minutes, and then fast forward again for 10 minutes and then clicked off. And so we’re you know, we’re now into the micro analysis of who’s being watched.

 

00:31:24:10 – 00:31:51:18

Brian Ralston

And the argument is from the tech companies, why am I paying for a million potential people when I know actually only 17,386 people watch this? And of that, 283 of them clicked off after 15 minutes. I only want to pay for 15 minutes worth for those 1200 people. And I’m only going to pay for the, you know, the tens of thousands that watched and not the potential million Netflix subscribers, which from a business standpoint is rather astute.

 

00:31:51:20 – 00:32:14:23

Brian Ralston

You know, why? Why why should they have to pay a rate? Because they have millions and millions and millions subscribers when they’re not watching all the content. They’re only watching what they’re watching. And for the only time they’re watching it. So, you know, I can’t argue with the business argument of that. But for as an artist who would have content on that, it sucks, right?

 

00:32:14:23 – 00:32:27:13

Brian Ralston

I mean, that’s why we get Netflix residuals that are next to nothing. I would I would throw another wrench into this argument of royalties and stuff in that Is streaming really a public performance?

 

00:32:27:15 – 00:32:28:18

Chris Hayzel

What do you mean by that?

 

00:32:28:19 – 00:32:51:20

Brian Ralston

Public performance goes out on public airwaves. You have in Los Angeles, you have an antenna. It’s broadcast out the public. The FCC controls the airwaves. Those are public airwaves because they’re controlled by the government. Okay. Even a lot of the telephone line delivery systems and cable systems had involvement in that. The jurisdiction that controls access to that is a governmental regulation.

 

00:32:51:23 – 00:33:12:22

Brian Ralston

Okay? The Internet is not regulated like that. The Internet is private. Okay. So let’s say I have a a movie QuickTime movie and I have it in my computer. I give you some examples. I have it in my computer here and I have it on a server and I stream that QuickTime movie from my server under to my desk to my TV on the wall.

 

00:33:13:00 – 00:33:30:17

Brian Ralston

Is that a public or private performance? Private, obviously. I mean, my home to my computer. What if I put the computer in my you know, I’m in my studio now, but what if I put my computer in the studio and I stream it to my house? It’s a separate structure, but it’s just going over a wire. Public, private, private.

 

00:33:30:17 – 00:33:54:05

Brian Ralston

It’s my own studio smell thing. Okay, What if I rent space on a server two miles down the street and I stream the same file to my house through the wire system, public or private? It’s my file I’m storing on, you know, cloud share, whatever, you know, Private. Private. Yeah, Yeah. Yes, private. So same thing. So now expand that again.

 

00:33:54:07 – 00:34:19:12

Brian Ralston

Netflix has servers. Netflix is a private company. Their servers are streaming their movie to you. Is that public or private? They might be doing that one movie a million times to a million people, but each individual stream is a private performance, right? So I could argue or could see the argument, does this even qualify for a public performance royalty?

 

00:34:19:14 – 00:34:53:00

Brian Ralston

It’s a private performance to your television from the Netflix server. You know, this is the argument that they ultimately make and continue to make. And the pro’s trade negotiator set a precedent. Okay, know, this is a delivery mechanism to the public, but their private subscribers, DVRs, Right. So they have to come up with a different message because I don’t I don’t feel it really fits in with the same rules and laws that we have of what is a public performance that is due a royalty of copyright law.

 

00:34:53:01 – 00:35:30:17

Brian Ralston

Right. And so we look at the future of royalties and streaming. And to me, it seems unless we change what we’re getting paid from, it seems rather bleak because while we are getting performance royalties now from streaming and I think that’s good, it sets a precedent that they’ve started sharing something. I don’t necessarily know if it’s going to ever really be for everyone like it was on the terrestrial radio or television or whatever, because those markets are being paid on potential eyeballs and streaming is paid on actual eyeballs.

 

00:35:30:21 – 00:35:52:18

Brian Ralston

So the people that are on a popular show are probably going to make a good amount of money. They could say that the kind of equivalent of what it used to be, but if you have a non popular show on streaming versus a non popular show on TV, I think that non popular show on TV would actually get a lot more royalties on residuals because it’s a potential amount of eyeballs.

 

00:35:52:20 – 00:36:10:15

Brian Ralston

It’s not exactly the Nielsen rating thing is a random sampling. It’s not, you know, it’s not exactly who’s watching where streaming. They know exactly that only 584 people watch that. Right. And so they’re going to give you a little share. But it’s micro pennies and you get, you know, $0.03.

 

00:36:10:17 – 00:36:28:04

Chris Hayzel

So is that so do you think that that results basically like as as composers start to move forward into this new world of streaming, that the name of the game is really like about volume like how how many projects you work on, how much you have out there on all of these streaming platforms.

 

00:36:28:06 – 00:36:53:09

Brian Ralston

I think the industry in general is a business of relationships. So if you’re going to grow and get better projects that are better funded and bigger exposure, that’s all about investing in your relationships. In terms of volume of product. Yes, if you’re a music library composer, if you’re someone that is getting paid a lot with streaming and everything else, it’s going to be a combination of your upfront licensing fees, which you may or may not take part of.

 

00:36:53:09 – 00:37:17:00

Brian Ralston

If you’re contributing to libraries that are, you don’t see any of that. I know there are some out there, then you’re only getting a back end, which is minuscule. I personally in my head have just come to a conclusion for myself that I can’t count on the residual stream in the future as to being what’s going to sustain me.

 

00:37:17:00 – 00:37:37:14

Brian Ralston

So I kind of everything I get paid upfront is what I’m going to make on this. And anything else is icing on the cake. And if I, if I can be okay with doing the project for myself with that realization, at least now, because I’m not scoring tentpole movies, then I’m, I’m happy doing the project and that’s good.

 

00:37:37:15 – 00:38:01:15

Brian Ralston

So but I, you know, I there are certain avenues that I don’t really feel like I want to play in. Like I really am focused on the film drama ish action is whatever type movies. And so for me it is more about building filmmaker relationships, which is no different than the volume. Talking about the more relationships you have, the more opportunity you’re going to have to do more projects.

 

00:38:01:17 – 00:38:28:00

Mike Patti

But I think, yeah, Chris, you’re right. It volume is a huge thing, especially, I mean, if you’re somebody who does a lot of, you know, writes production music, we call it, or trailer music or music that’s written with the intent that will be licensed later on. I mean, there’s people that have done extremely well doing that. Of course, there’s risk there because you’re just writing stuff in a vacuum and and then hoping that it gets licensed.

 

00:38:28:01 – 00:38:56:16

Mike Patti

But that’s the reason it’s so much more valuable is because people will want to just like I want that piece of music specifically. So you can charge for it. But the guys that have done the best are the ones that have just created the most amount of volume. And that’s kind of like, I don’t know, I just I keep obsessing over what the future looks like because, Brian, you just mentioned like income from ask up, BMI, Sisak all these, it’s going to dwindle over time unless something major changes.

 

00:38:56:18 – 00:39:17:03

Mike Patti

So where are the sources of revenue for music creators five years from now, even ten years from now? If we can project that far ahead, like put our crystal ball, look in our crystal ball here, what do we see things for the ones that are just getting started now? What where should they invest like? What area of music should they invest?

 

00:39:17:03 – 00:39:19:19

Mike Patti

All of it. All of it? Yeah.

 

00:39:19:19 – 00:39:20:23

Brian Ralston

Diversify.

 

00:39:21:01 – 00:39:21:20

Mike Patti

Diversify.

 

00:39:21:20 – 00:39:47:05

Brian Ralston

I, you know, still do your own albums for yourself, do film work, do game work, do if you can get it. Do you know, I have a lot of friends who are high school band directors from college. They went the music education route. I did not. I still do marching band arrangements for them when I have the time because it’s fun.

 

00:39:47:05 – 00:40:03:18

Brian Ralston

It gives me a break from the media thing and you know, I don’t really publicize my website like that. I do that because. That’s not really my main thing, but it’s like a side thing for me, right? And I make a little bit of money here and here and there, and it all adds up. At the end of the day.

 

00:40:03:20 – 00:40:30:12

Brian Ralston

But diversify, I think is, is how it I would say even diversify out of music if you want. I’ve always said that the best composers are really filmmakers themselves that just understand the language of music and how to talk. And, you know, I started getting into film producing as well. Now, I’m not saying every composer needs to get into film producing, but don’t be afraid to diversify outside if you feel it’s fulfilling or doing something else for you.

 

00:40:30:13 – 00:41:02:05

Mike Patti

I’ve seen people making videos just like, Hey, I’m going to write a, you know, a piece of music here. I mean, it’s all over YouTube and they’re actually generating pretty significant YouTube income from, you know, these sort of contemporary music producers. And I’m thinking outside the film music world, you know, it’s just people making really awesome music. They might be like live streaming it or they’ll just talk about some new plug ins and, you know, many of them get like affiliate marketing and there’s all these other things outside the you got to take your blinders off and see what else is out there in the music world.

 

00:41:02:05 – 00:41:20:23

Mike Patti

And it’s pretty massive. Yeah, I mean, I fell into the whole sampling thing. I never thought I’d do that, but it’s this great thing that’s been able to support myself and my family so I can still do the fun projects that I get to do whenever they come in the door because I can’t personally, I can’t live off of that stuff alone.

 

00:41:21:01 – 00:41:49:11

Brian Ralston

Even the top L.A. studio musicians who are making good money, doing their studio recording work, almost all, I guarantee you they have or have had private students on the side. Yeah. Not only to to perpetuate the next generation of whatever, but just, you know, it’s the play income for them because they’re they are the first call musicians. But that’s a lot of people diversify and what they do when it comes to music, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

 

00:41:49:13 – 00:42:05:15

Brian Ralston

And I think musicians generally enjoy not being pigeonholed into one thing too. You know, I know some country artists are getting a little tired of their own country stuff and they have started I’m putting out a jazz album. It’s like, are you stopping the country? No, no, no. I’m just doing a different thing.

 

00:42:05:17 – 00:42:35:08

Mike Patti

But it’s also like, I think, you know, one of the key things is like we’re whether we like it or not, musicians are entrepreneurs just and and a good entrepreneur is like looking for where the opportunity is and where the need is. And it may not necessarily be perfectly aligned with what your dreams and aspirations are, but it’s you’re seeing where the opportunity is and then you go all in on that and then that becomes your passion because you’re like, this is actually really this is fine because I’m solving people’s needs.

 

00:42:35:10 – 00:42:40:22

Mike Patti

And if you could do that with music somehow, and I feel like now more than ever, we have to do that. Yeah.

 

00:42:41:00 – 00:42:44:23

Brian Ralston

You are not worker looking for work. You are.

 

00:42:45:05 – 00:42:47:09

Mike Patti

You’re not an employee. You’re not an employee.

 

00:42:47:10 – 00:42:49:06

Brian Ralston

You’re a business looking for clients.

 

00:42:49:08 – 00:42:55:09

Mike Patti

So explain that. What does it mean to be an employee mindset versus sort of an owner mindset?

 

00:42:55:12 – 00:43:17:16

Brian Ralston

One, I think it means taking responsibility for yourself a lot more, right? Agent Richard Craft talks about this a lot and on the forums opening a restaurant over a restaurant tour. He compares a lot of this to restaurant tours. You’re going to invest probably $1,000,000 in a whole lot of time trying to open a restaurant before you sell one plate of food, right?

 

00:43:17:18 – 00:43:35:07

Brian Ralston

You got to rent or lease or buy the space. You’re going to equip it with equipment, You’re going to develop your menu. You’re going to hire staff and start paying them to train them. You’re going to have a menu developed, all this other stuff, and now you’re going to open. You have to advertise that’s going to be expensive.

 

00:43:35:08 – 00:43:56:23

Brian Ralston

You’re probably going to have free samples of food out on the corner to have them come in on opening day with balloons and blah, blah, blah. And you have not sold one plate of food yet. And this is really conceptually no different than a composer starting their composer business. You’ve got in this day and age have a website, you’ve got to have gear, you got to have the software, you got to have the ability to create.

 

00:43:57:01 – 00:44:22:20

Brian Ralston

You’ve got to get word out about who you whether that’s you being active on the Internet, forms of social media or hiring a publicist to promote some early thing that you’re doing. Right. So there’s going to be an investment in there before start seeing a return on that investment. And in general. So an entrepreneur understands that this all these aspects of building their business are their responsibility and problem to solve.

 

00:44:22:22 – 00:44:53:22

Brian Ralston

You’re not showing up and doing just labor for somebody else. And the fact that we also create an intellectual property that is protected in copyright law is another huge thing that separates us from just labor. Right? So which which is how workers and employment is really governed. I mean, that’s if you’re an employee, you are providing labor for an employer and that labor has worth and value and there’s hourly wage scales and all this other stuff.

 

00:44:54:00 – 00:45:19:15

Brian Ralston

And, you know, a big part of the decision that led to us being independent contractors years ago and why we can’t unionize, by the way, it’s a whole nother show probably is that we create intellectual, intellectual property and there is an asset there and there’s a value there. There’s other aspects based on how we work. You know, you can point to getting paid separately as a package deal.

 

00:45:19:17 – 00:45:35:17

Brian Ralston

We work in our own environments. We are not on anyone else’s clock. No one’s telling me what software I have to use. No one’s telling me exactly how I have to write these notes on this page. I don’t have a uniform I have to wear. All these things add up to the fact that you are your own independent business.

 

00:45:35:19 – 00:45:51:13

Brian Ralston

Being contracted to provide a intellectual property product and so that, you know, the definition of an entrepreneur from a legal standpoint can be different. But that’s ultimately all those things lead to the fact that we are our own business.

 

00:45:51:15 – 00:46:12:17

Mike Patti

Yeah. Now the counter to that would be, you know, I have friends that work for video game companies and they’re paid a salary, pretty, pretty decent salary. But everything, all their gear is owned by the game company. They actually have an office. They’re now they get health, health insurance, all this great stuff. How does that work? I mean, they’re they’re not entrepreneurial.

 

00:46:12:17 – 00:46:15:00

Mike Patti

I mean, in that situation because you’re.

 

00:46:15:00 – 00:46:29:07

Brian Ralston

Because of all of those differences, add it up. I would argue they are employees and I would argue them even as composers with that employer could probably unionize if they wanted to because they meet the definitions.

 

00:46:29:07 – 00:46:51:18

Mike Patti

So why why wouldn’t we all be just what’s the difference? Just why would you just want to go that route, you know, where you can just get a job or find or try to maybe encourage employers to treat us as employees so we get this steady salary. And so stuff or keep things kind of the way they are and pursue this sort of way of life.

 

00:46:51:18 – 00:47:04:23

Mike Patti

I suppose being an entrepreneur, why would you do either one? Why would I go the entrepreneur route and why would I go to the employee route? What’s the benefit of being like? It sounds like a lot of risk. To be an.

 

00:47:04:23 – 00:47:44:09

Brian Ralston

Entrepreneur is a lot of risk. It’s a huge amount of risk. All right. And the ones who risk the most actually reap the most benefits in general. Having said that, you know, I think they’re most people tend to be risk averse, especially when it comes to money and stability. And, you know, I think showing up, doing your job, clocking out, having the weekend off, you know, I’ll deal with that on Monday is a lot safer and certainly requires less and will see less effort because I don’t want to demean workers that way.

 

00:47:44:11 – 00:48:02:18

Brian Ralston

There’s a lot of people do their job respectably, but it is a lot less risk. I mean, guess that’s it. Having said that, an employer can come in on any given day and just lay off a workforce without notice if they really wanted to. Right. And if you were you. Exactly. And if you were I mean, look at the pandemic.

 

00:48:02:18 – 00:48:24:10

Brian Ralston

You had you had, you know, not political, but you had the government telling workers you cannot go to work, you cannot do this, you must stay home. Right. You know, and people that were working from home and were self-sustained in general, probably that impacted them very differently than people that had to go in to the restaurant and be a server or whatever.

 

00:48:24:12 – 00:48:47:00

Brian Ralston

Right. Or go to their office and work. So I think there are pluses and minuses to both. I think there’s a different amount of risk to both. But I think for me, and I think one can only decide this for themselves, but for me, I think the freedom of being my own boss and being self-sufficient or striving to be self-sufficient is beneficial.

 

00:48:47:02 – 00:49:06:14

Brian Ralston

I’m not going to lie. You know, I my my wife has a corporate job that is very different than mine. It’s probably the yin and yang of why we get along so well and do things. She she works for FanDuel. She works for a corporate employer, and she’s been at that job now for almost 20 years. Fendell hasn’t been alive for 20 years.

 

00:49:06:14 – 00:49:31:18

Brian Ralston

She’s her company, FanDuel, but then took on the FanDuel name. So she’s been there actually since the inception of the company. And you know, there’s a lot of stability there buying a house. Banks hate me because, you know, it doesn’t matter how good my credit score is, all my paystubs stuff gets reported on the 1099, which means there’s good years and bad years, there’s good times and bad.

 

00:49:31:19 – 00:49:40:10

Brian Ralston

Hers is like 20 years of a W-2 and you’re like, we like that stability. But I think, of course, I think people see that stability the same way when they look at jobs.

 

00:49:40:10 – 00:49:55:11

Mike Patti

Yeah, it’s not like there’s a pro or a like it’s, you know, you got to you got to you got to take a look at yourself and like, what? What, what are you willing to do? And I think that not everyone should be an entrepreneur. I mean, it’s not like you have to be a little crazy. You know, there’s something wrong with you.

 

00:49:55:11 – 00:50:19:18

Mike Patti

I think to be able to be that irrational because you do have to make irrational choices. And a lot of the people that I’ve seen are really successful, especially in the music, like the film music, the guys, the the the A-list guys that we know, almost all of them have done something it risky where they put a huge amount of money up front to do some big scoring session to try to get a gig.

 

00:50:19:20 – 00:50:26:09

Mike Patti

You know, I think it’s been, you know, $80,000 of their life savings with the hope that they get the gig.

 

00:50:26:10 – 00:50:29:12

Brian Ralston

Yeah, I’ve done that, unfortunately. Yeah.

 

00:50:29:14 – 00:50:34:16

Mike Patti

Me too. But then you don’t get the gig. But it’s weird sometimes. It leads to other things, you know, And yet.

 

00:50:34:17 – 00:51:04:09

Brian Ralston

And that’s why I did it. They’re right because I’m like, in reality, I know I’m probably not going to get this, but the people doing the hiring, you know, they’re going to make other product, they’re going to do other things. They’re going to go on. And now I’m going to be a known entity to them at least. And so it was a it was an investment as I saw it in the relationship in that in my business brand, to put myself out there like that to to the right people.

 

00:51:04:14 – 00:51:41:07

Chris Hayzel

I mean, risk risk aside, you know, Yes. Going off and being an entrepreneur and doing it on your own is is incredibly risky. But and I feel like the further along you get in your career, you know, maybe it gets a little bit less risky as you build more relationships and you have more under your belt. But like when you’re just starting out, if you’re just sort of dipping your toe into this world, how do you deal with what you were saying, Brian, about how when you’re an entrepreneur in this way, you don’t necessarily have a stable paycheck, you don’t know where your next paycheck is going to come from.

 

00:51:41:07 – 00:51:59:11

Chris Hayzel

Yeah, one thing that I always found was that, you know, you actually end up working a lot more because even when you’re not working on a job, you’re working to find the next job. And that’s a lot of time spent that you’re actually not getting paid for. And then the next job you get might not actually pay that much, but you’re kind of moving from job to job.

 

00:51:59:11 – 00:52:21:20

Chris Hayzel

And I know that that can be just really difficult to navigate for people, you know, so so for people who are sort of staring down that barrel, maybe not sure like where to start, where to go, you know, how to sustain themselves during those initial years. Like what What would be your advice in that part of the career?

 

00:52:21:22 – 00:52:46:19

Brian Ralston

I just this doesn’t really solve, I guess, how to pay your rent, which ultimately is the question is at the heart of the question you’re talking about. But I think at the outset of a career, people need to be much more concerned about building relationships and getting experience and credit than they do about what they’re getting paid. I realize that can be easier said than done.

 

00:52:46:19 – 00:53:12:16

Brian Ralston

I don’t want to sit here and feel like this is this is an easy thing. Like like people need to pay for food and they need to pay for a roof over their head. And L.A. is not a cheap place to do that. So if that means you need to keep, as Mike said earlier, keep your day job that does pay your bills so that you have some freedom in every waking minute of you’re not a day job.

 

00:53:12:17 – 00:53:34:04

Brian Ralston

Time to do some short film work, to do music system for someone maybe that you know, you’re having two jobs. You have the job you’re not getting paid for, which is we’re not getting paid much to assist somebody. Maybe you’re the night shift person coming in to do all the backups and whatever, and then you have the job and then you’re you’re figuring that out.

 

00:53:34:06 – 00:53:58:06

Brian Ralston

You know, if you live outside of Los Angeles or outside of a media hub and you feel like you need to move there to do that, I don’t disagree with that. But, you know, save up a chunk of money so you have a little amount of time to come here and give it a good, wholesome shot. Right. But I think diversifying, keeping that day job, there’s something cathartic in that.

 

00:53:58:06 – 00:54:22:06

Brian Ralston

I had a friend who now does a ton of music for TMZ and Ellen DeGeneres and all these other daytime stuff. He’s making bank on his prose. He worked at a bank for many, many years, including when he first started out. And, you know, that bank was like a web data entry job for him. And it was easy, but it paid his bills.

 

00:54:22:06 – 00:54:26:23

Brian Ralston

And then at night he would go home and every minute would score short films and do.

 

00:54:27:01 – 00:54:27:10

Mike Patti

Yeah.

 

00:54:27:15 – 00:54:32:00

Brian Ralston

Filmmaker things and work on his website and demo and everything else.

 

00:54:32:02 – 00:54:34:02

Chris Hayzel

And burning the candle at both ends. Right?

 

00:54:34:02 – 00:54:57:19

Brian Ralston

Exactly. And, you know, that’s and then he got to a point where he was making enough money with that and the pros started coming in enough with that that he was able to quit his bank job and he just built off of that. So I really do, you know, don’t don’t be ashamed at all that you might have a Starbucks job or a bank job or whatever it is.

 

00:54:57:19 – 00:55:18:12

Brian Ralston

In fact, if it’s not in music, it might be a little healthy for your brain to get away from the music for a little while. So you feel, you know, Yeah, you don’t want to do a whole day’s worth of like in my opinion, Joann Kane music copy stuff that’s like, you know, it’s like doing math all day and then all of a sudden you got to do the same thing for your own music.

 

00:55:18:12 – 00:55:36:12

Brian Ralston

So doing something completely different and then you’re excited to go into music might, might be actually really beneficial. And then it gives you the freedom to like, say, Yeah, I’ll do that short film for a hundred bucks license fee or yes, I’ll do that other thing for you or yes, let me help you. And then you build a reputation that people like being around you.

 

00:55:36:12 – 00:55:48:03

Brian Ralston

They you say yes to everything and you do it with a smile and you will build on that. And at a certain point, the money will start to change. And for your to your benefit.

 

00:55:48:05 – 00:56:17:01

Mike Patti

You know, what’s your opinion on this? I mean, one of the things that really helped sustain me early on when I you know, I was married and I had my first kid was writing additional music for other composers. So that was really just a it was a really awesome thing for me. I know it’s not something that can further your career, but you get an opportunity to write and learn from other, more established composers and you get to work on far more high profile projects than you would have gotten on your own.

 

00:56:17:03 – 00:56:40:15

Mike Patti

And if you’re, you know, for I was very fortunate because the composers that I work with, like Chris Leonard’s and Jim Venable, they put me on the cue sheet, which was like they didn’t have to do that. And that was super cool. And I think that there’s still opportunities like that. That’s the problem, is that you end up networking with other composers which may not benefit you in the long run.

 

00:56:40:18 – 00:56:48:15

Mike Patti

But yeah, what are your what are your thoughts on that? Because I think that’s a really cool way to, first of all, get better at your craft and then you’re not in the hot seat.

 

00:56:48:18 – 00:56:49:06

Brian Ralston

Yeah.

 

00:56:49:08 – 00:56:50:02

Mike Patti

Which is a different.

 

00:56:50:02 – 00:57:10:17

Brian Ralston

You’re not doing the politics. I think that’s a great thing. I mean, my that’s literally what I did, although not for very long, but I, you know, my first job writing music that actually got on air was with Rob Crow on season four of Angel. And, you know, and he was really good to me, probably better than anybody.

 

00:57:10:19 – 00:57:20:06

Brian Ralston

You know, I didn’t work with him that long, but I think it was like $250 per minute at the time. Plus I got 100% of cue sheet writers on whatever I did.

 

00:57:20:08 – 00:57:23:13

Mike Patti

Wow. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s awesome. That doesn’t.

 

00:57:23:13 – 00:57:36:12

Brian Ralston

Happen anymore. But at the time that was huge, right? And so I’m like, okay. So I think I think there’s is a lot of value in cutting your teeth. So to speak, on.

 

00:57:36:12 – 00:57:57:00

Mike Patti

Yeah. Because, because what I see at least my 10,000 foot view is like the composers that are starting to get all the work, they’re like magnets because once they get a little bit of notoriety, they get more projects. The more projects they have, the more help they’re going to need. And what we’re seeing is, like most of the people that write the music that we see on all these shows are the people behind the scenes.

 

00:57:57:02 – 00:58:17:11

Mike Patti

It’s not the name main composer most of the time. They are often there to, you know, come up with the themes and take all of the meetings. But the real grunt work of writing the music is done by 20 somethings, you know, 30 somethings, people that are just have the time to work 18 hours a day to crank out large amounts of music.

 

00:58:17:12 – 00:58:20:18

Brian Ralston

Especially on the big shows that that do have a lot of music.

 

00:58:21:00 – 00:58:40:20

Chris Hayzel

And I mean, that’s such a, that’s such a different world than anything I ever experienced when I was in the sort of film music world. And I would say that pretty loosely. I fell into it completely by accident. It was not on purpose. I didn’t pursue it. I’m a I’m a rock and roll band person, and it just sort of happened.

 

00:58:40:22 – 00:59:01:06

Chris Hayzel

But when I was in that world, I didn’t even know that, you know, there were teams of people that worked with composers. I didn’t know that you could go work with a composer as a composer’s assistant or anything like that, like that world was completely foreign to me. So it’s really interesting to hear about that because, you know, I don’t I don’t know if that’s super obvious to people.

 

00:59:01:06 – 00:59:02:19

Chris Hayzel

I know it wasn’t it wasn’t to me.

 

00:59:02:19 – 00:59:22:02

Brian Ralston

Yeah, there are philosophical things about that. I still think there are the, you know, rest in peace, Johann Johansson’s of the world, who, you know, will turn down work because they have other work. They don’t won’t be had the time to. Whereas some people will just say yes and and throw a bunch of assistants at it. I do I do think.

 

00:59:22:02 – 00:59:54:00

Brian Ralston

There are still opportunities there, probably more in film than they are in television, because films have a much longer chunk of time in general to kind of produce what they’re doing. But yeah, but media has certainly, certainly changed how composers work for sure. But then again, you re the composer. You want to be, right? I mean, I don’t know what everybody needs or wants to be the superstar that’s doing 12 shows and eight movies because there’s a lifestyle that comes with that.

 

00:59:54:00 – 01:00:03:15

Brian Ralston

I’m not talking about money that might not be desirable to people. And so if that’s not how you see yourself being that is okay too, in my opinion.

 

01:00:03:17 – 01:00:27:02

Chris Hayzel

You know, what would you say like it with with your hindsight, being 20, 20, all of the years that you’ve been in this business, do you think that this is a business that anybody could break into? Or are there certain sort of constitutional traits in a person that someone either has to have or needs to be able to develop in order to step into the world of of media music?

 

01:00:27:02 – 01:00:45:22

Brian Ralston

Yes and no. And I’ll tell you why. I, I have a degree in biochemistry I do not have outside of USC. I don’t have an undergrad degree in music. It’s all in science. So I will be the first one to tell you you follow your passion like you can do this, right? Hollywood doesn’t magically just crap out movies.

 

01:00:46:01 – 01:01:04:04

Brian Ralston

It’s just normal people that decided this is what they wanted to do and they followed in pursuit it or weren’t afraid to follow and pursue it. So in that sense, yes, anybody could do this. Just decide you want to do it and go. Having said that, I do think there’s a lot of traits in demeanors of individuals that some people just won’t be good at it.

 

01:01:04:04 – 01:01:21:09

Brian Ralston

And most of those traits have nothing to do with writing music. I think you need to be a really good problem solver. I to think, and I believe you need to be a person that people like to work with or get inspired to work with. They want to sit in a room with you for months on end solving that problem.

 

01:01:21:11 – 01:01:52:14

Brian Ralston

And some some composers are really good at being, quite frankly, you know, cave people and we don’t have a social graces to kind of deal with the politics or deal with individuals in our space while we are creating. And I think you have to you have to it’s a collaborative art and you have to allow that, right? I’ve done films where I’ve been here by myself in this room on this computer, and it’s sending stuff digitally.

 

01:01:52:15 – 01:02:14:17

Brian Ralston

And for me, that’s fun. It’s great. I get to experiment and not embarrass myself by going off on a tangent that doesn’t work. Having said that, I’ve also done a film where the director sat on that couch behind me the entire time and I’m not even done playing an idea. And he’s like, No, no, it should go down, not up.

 

01:02:14:17 – 01:02:42:07

Brian Ralston

Like, you know, like, I can’t get the idea out without someone interjecting. And while there are kind of limits and sometimes I would say, Can you go take a nap outside? I’ll call you in an hour. You have to be willing to put up with that kind of collaboration because everybody’s different. So, you know, I also think people who aren’t good at the business can really sabotage themselves in having a successful business as an entrepreneurial composer.

 

01:02:42:07 – 01:03:04:04

Brian Ralston

Right? So I do think there are these traits that have nothing to do with music that you kind of have to be good at. But I’m not going to say that you’re not able to get good at that. But some people may truly have to change their personality or their soul. You know, I’m an introverted person. I am not very good in a crowd, but over the years I’ve had to force myself to try to be more personable in a crowd.

 

01:03:04:06 – 01:03:28:01

Brian Ralston

I have I have a face that if I’m just calm and relaxed, I probably don’t look approachable. And being six foot two doesn’t help with that because I’m just I’m a bigger person. And I guess my deadpan face is kind of like I’m angry or something. So I have to work when I’m in a crowd of people to try to have a smile or be approachable more.

 

01:03:28:01 – 01:03:40:19

Brian Ralston

And I have to be socially aware of what my challenges are at that. So again, a lot of people aren’t socially aware and so they just, you know, I do think there are some skill sets that people have to have.

 

01:03:41:01 – 01:04:09:13

Chris Hayzel

It’s and it seems to like there’s just an aspect, I feel like, where it’s like, you know, you have to love it so much to the point where you’re willing to develop these skills and willing to learn how to do things that you’re probably not very naturally good at. And you also have to be willing to do it, you know, especially for a time in the beginning, whether or not you make money, it has to be something that you enjoy doing so much that you’re going to do it whether you make money or not.

 

01:04:09:15 – 01:04:27:17

Chris Hayzel

This is and you can correct me if I’m wrong here, but my, my, my view on it is that, you know, the vast majority of people who pursue a career in any kind of creative endeavor, their career is probably not going to turn out the way that they imagined that it would when they started.

 

01:04:27:17 – 01:04:28:18

Brian Ralston

Yeah.

 

01:04:28:19 – 01:04:31:20

Chris Hayzel

And you have to be okay with that, right? You have to be adaptable.

 

01:04:31:22 – 01:04:56:22

Brian Ralston

Do I? A college advisor once told me when I told them I was changing from biochemistry to music and I was talking with the music person that was helping me do this initially. And they said they literally said these words, I will remember it like it was yesterday, but you would be giving up a career path of financial prosperity for one of financial destitution.

 

01:04:57:00 – 01:05:22:02

Brian Ralston

And it took about three or 4 seconds. And I said, Do you think I was becoming a doctor for the money? I wasn’t? And at time and I wasn’t. I’m not doing this for the money either. Like there is potential successful film composers to make a lot of money. Yes, there’s potential for media composers to make more money then symphony concert composers, perhaps, Right.

 

01:05:22:04 – 01:05:42:00

Brian Ralston

But you can’t be doing it for that. Absolutely. You have to be willing to do it because this is what you have to do. And whether you are financially successful, you can still be, you know, successful for yourself and your soul. That this is this is what makes you happy. This is what you have to do and put out to the world.

 

01:05:42:06 – 01:05:45:03

Brian Ralston

And I think you have to be okay that at a bare minimum.

 

01:05:45:05 – 01:06:10:14

Chris Hayzel

And also back to what you were saying about diversifying. You know, like even what you’re saying about diversifying in mediums, I think it’s really important as a creative person to keep your blinders off like you had mentioned, make and keep your eye out for different opportunities. Because to use myself as an example, I’ve been playing in bands since I was like 13, 14.

 

01:06:10:14 – 01:06:27:16

Chris Hayzel

I’ve been touring, writing albums, releasing records. My trajectory that I was on, that I was pursuing was, you know, musical artist. I never expected to end up having a career. I don’t know why this thumbs up thing keeps happening for me. Are you guys saying that.

 

01:06:27:18 – 01:06:30:13

Brian Ralston

I is washing your thumb?

 

01:06:30:15 – 01:06:53:14

Chris Hayzel

I know it’s just keeping an eye on it. I, I never I never expected to fall into a career composing for films. That was something that came out of the blue for me. I certainly never expected to fall into a career doing video marketing for, you know, for cinema samples or like sample company. Is there anything like that?

 

01:06:53:16 – 01:07:13:01

Chris Hayzel

I guess what I’m trying to get at is like, you never really know where you’re going to end up, and there are so many opportunities that could come up that you may not have seen if you were just solely focused on one thing. And they actually might be opportunities where you might be happier than if you had ended up where you thought you wanted to be.

 

01:07:13:01 – 01:07:18:19

Mike Patti

Truth, right? Very true. Well, since you all mentioned I. Shall we switch to that? that’s our favorite subject.

 

01:07:18:21 – 01:07:20:23

Brian Ralston

I listened to your last show on that, by the way.

 

01:07:21:05 – 01:07:21:11

Mike Patti

yeah?

 

01:07:21:11 – 01:07:25:09

Brian Ralston

Yeah. And I have an idea. I, I told you I had an idea for you.

 

01:07:25:11 – 01:07:26:12

Chris Hayzel

I want to hear from you.

 

01:07:26:14 – 01:07:56:21

Brian Ralston

Hear? A lot of the discussion is kind of about the creation of music. I actually think it’d be really cool to have and I’m not talking about meter, but to have, like, an air conductor. So to have a thing in music where you could say, Yo, trumpets a little darker sound, you know, trombones shorter on your staccato. And that changes the settings or the parameters or whatever to change those pitches.

 

01:07:56:21 – 01:08:19:20

Brian Ralston

So it might change the cue to make it a darker sound. It might change, you know, the scripting of the attack to have a little shorter trombone sound, but like a conductor giving feedback to an orchestra, you could give feedback to the playback of your samples. And with use these settings you could manipulate feasibly all the different settings instead of having to like manually go in.

 

01:08:19:20 – 01:08:27:04

Brian Ralston

Okay, what’s the where’s the knob that I turn down to do the cue? Whatever. In one sentence or description, you can kind of manipulate what that is.

 

01:08:27:09 – 01:08:41:03

Chris Hayzel

Well, that’s, that’s actually super cool because learning to are learning to use all of those knobs. I think that’s an that’s an entirely different skill set, right? Like if you’re just coming to music. So if you could just say, Hey, this is a little bright to me, that sounds like a great idea.

 

01:08:41:03 – 01:09:02:09

Mike Patti

Yeah, that’s the thing that slows composers down the most, especially composers that write with the virtual instruments, is this sort of like painstaking time that’s spent editing MIDI data, right? You just go through, you know, you select all the trumpets and you just like moving the velocity values around or your, you know the CC1 curves. And it’s like, can we get away from that?

 

01:09:02:09 – 01:09:19:04

Mike Patti

Because at the end of the day, I know we all know what we want it to do. Yeah. So, you know, can I just write a prompt that just says, you know, make this from bar 32 to 64, make it more expressive, go Yeah. And see what it does and if it’s in the right direction and then you can be more.

 

01:09:19:06 – 01:09:35:20

Brian Ralston

When you think of it like I’ve always looked at Melody as not the final delivery medium, but a performance medium, which is why I always want to record my MIDI into audio before I mix it. I don’t like mixing in MIDI and then the mixing to me is like a separate task. Whether I’m doing it or someone else is doing it.

 

01:09:35:22 – 01:10:05:22

Brian Ralston

It’s mixing audio and if you were to, you know, take a multitrack from a live recording session, you’re going to have that session with all the audio, the trumpets, the trombones and of course, mikes. And so so in similar fashion, the virtual instrument software is just a playback that is the musician that is playing back. So let me be the conductor and give feedback to my musicians about how to play those notes and about how I want them to be.

 

01:10:06:00 – 01:10:25:00

Brian Ralston

And and I do think. You can kind of transcribe that what they are saying into what does that mean if you make these darker, okay, maybe the IQ comes down a little bit, make these, you know, trumpets. Can you be more distant with that? Maybe that plays with some of the, you know, the algorithm on the sound or whatever to make it sound further away.

 

01:10:25:02 – 01:10:41:06

Brian Ralston

So that might be an interesting way that that’s not writing notes for you, that’s not coming up with note ideas, but that is certainly allowing you to with words or a prompt. Tell your virtual musician how to play that differently.

 

01:10:41:08 – 01:10:51:23

Mike Patti

So it’s kind of like, you know, I itself won’t replace composers, but composers using AI will replace composers that aren’t.

 

01:10:52:01 – 01:10:55:11

Brian Ralston

Right if, if they’re using the term correctly. Yeah.

 

01:10:55:13 – 01:10:55:23

Mike Patti

Yeah.

 

01:10:56:05 – 01:11:20:10

Brian Ralston

I you know, the other aspect, one thing that your other discussion didn’t get much into, which I think is huge and this is more in the business side of of I is I think what’s going to kill AI for media composers. And when I see this I’m talking about the way I composed score not the tools we’re talking about using what Well kill that is copyright.

 

01:11:20:12 – 01:11:52:09

Brian Ralston

Because in copyright law it’s already there’s already case precedent. Copyright is only for human created content. So now we have to get into what is human created content is a prompt enough to be considered human generated content. And in general, I would argue, and there are some cases that a prompt to say write dark, moody music and then a dark, moody melody comes out.

 

01:11:52:09 – 01:12:14:20

Brian Ralston

That’s not enough of a prompt to have written the melody. You’re describing the melody, but you’re not musically writing the melody. If you write C to B-flat, to a whatever, then you’re writing the melody So a music that just generates based on a prompt in a moodiness, in a description of something to me is not human created content.

 

01:12:15:00 – 01:12:33:21

Brian Ralston

And if it’s not human created content, it’s not protected under copyright. And if it’s not protected under copyright, then the industry that needs to own all this stuff to control it and sell it and make money off of it is not going to be able to own it and control it and sell it and make money off of it.

 

01:12:33:23 – 01:12:57:08

Brian Ralston

Therefore, for media music, I’m not talking about music in general. YouTube’s going to have a prompt create this and you put free music under your videos. That’s different. But for film composers, I created scores in general and again, from the composition aspect, the copyright is what’s going to slow that down or the ability for it to not be copyrighted.

 

01:12:57:10 – 01:13:26:20

Brian Ralston

So I think the law needs to catch up and we need to be vocal about to our you know, to the ACLU Recording Academy and all these people that they need to lobby, that a generated music generated notes really should not be eligible for copyright. That’s it. That will kill the whole copyright composer, you know, threatening the human composer thing in this business, in my opinion.

 

01:13:26:22 – 01:13:33:14

Mike Patti

Well, the only thing would be that then companies would start to just you. They don’t care about copyright. They just want the content to.

 

01:13:33:16 – 01:14:03:16

Brian Ralston

Warner Brothers in their Batman movie is going to care. But YouTube or industrial music or, you know, things that sell product, even commercials that maybe don’t care, they won’t care. So it’s still going to displace composers. But but the art creating of game scores and movie scores and all this other stuff in general that have copyright protection as a as a movie, they’re not going to put not copyrightable music.

 

01:14:03:18 – 01:14:12:01

Mike Patti

Yeah, we’ve seen this already. I’ve seen game contracts that say no AI tools allowed. And you know, if you’re hiring a composer, well.

 

01:14:12:03 – 01:14:49:14

Chris Hayzel

It sounds like you’re saying maybe AI generated music might replace like library music. Yeah, not so much. The the the film composer, the game composer who is composing something specifically for a project. Now, how do you feel? I know that there are people around the AI conversation, especially as it pertains to copyright. I know that there are a lot of people out there who think that the world would be better without copyright law when it comes to music, that creativity would flourish without copyright law.

 

01:14:49:14 – 01:14:57:06

Chris Hayzel

If people were able to kind of do whatever they wanted in the music world. How do you feel about that? And have you heard that argument? And I might.

 

01:14:57:06 – 01:15:00:05

Mike Patti

As well say you don’t have property, you know, you go all the way.

 

01:15:00:08 – 01:15:03:10

Brian Ralston

I have heard the argument and I don’t agree with that.

 

01:15:03:10 – 01:15:05:15

Chris Hayzel

So just for the record, I don’t I don’t either.

 

01:15:05:17 – 01:15:25:19

Brian Ralston

Like hit it on the nail. I mean, you know, at a certain point, what is the point? So, you know, we don’t live in a Star Trek world where there’s no money and nobody owns anything. And we’re, you know, so it keeps us user centric, even though the audience of this podcast, I know, is worldwide. But the United States doesn’t make a lot of anymore anything, you know.

 

01:15:25:21 – 01:15:48:06

Brian Ralston

But we might design the computer by Apple in California, but it’s made in China, right? We might build components or in the computer and a CAD modeling here and design the intellectual property of something, but it gets built somewhere else cheaper and and imported back in. So one of the key things of business in our country is the creation of of intellectual property.

 

01:15:48:07 – 01:16:11:03

Brian Ralston

We create it in the entertainment that we make. We in the the products and the computers and cars and designs for things that we do. And then we export that intellectual property around the world. So to have that argument in general. It defeats to me kind of the main economic engine of our country. You know, and I think you can make this argument for any country.

 

01:16:11:03 – 01:16:36:18

Brian Ralston

I mean, I think the the products of its people are something that they should the country should absolutely protect if anything. I think there is an argument to have stronger copyright protection laws because by protecting the copyright of the people that what we’re creating, our key export to the world is copyright entertainment, our stuff and come up with, we are actually supporting business and we’re actually supporting small business.

 

01:16:36:20 – 01:17:03:03

Brian Ralston

You know, every composer and engineer you hired to do that music mix, there’s a tree of people under them that typically get hired to help support that or do whatever. So lobbying a legislator, you can certainly make the argument and the CEOs should be on this, the RIAA should be on this nay rash, should be on this. Lobbying legislators to protect copyright in have stronger copyright protection is really just protecting small business.

 

01:17:03:05 – 01:17:25:11

Brian Ralston

And I either side of the political aisle in my opinion small business protection and getting behind small business is one thing most people tend to get behind if they can be made to believe that it is impacting small business. You know, there are there’s a lot of money and lobby power, big business, of course, but small business is the engine generator of our country.

 

01:17:25:13 – 01:17:52:17

Brian Ralston

And which is why it gets, you know, puts a fire under my butt when see things like the California’s 85 law or whatever because I which is the thing that makes it harder to be an independent contractor because to me, independent contracting, that is small business. Right. And so we should be doing everything in our power to empower small business and not the big business owners who are only hiring employees.

 

01:17:52:17 – 01:18:11:02

Brian Ralston

And then, you know, like empower our workers to do their own thing and to have incentive to grow at it and to reinvest in themselves in their business. Most people working in this thing, you’re not Taylor Swift. You know, they’re us doing as much as we can to hire as many as we can.

 

01:18:11:02 – 01:18:11:16

Chris Hayzel

You’re not Taylor.

 

01:18:11:16 – 01:18:12:15

Brian Ralston

Swift? Absolutely.

 

01:18:12:15 – 01:18:16:16

Chris Hayzel

No. I thought we were talking to Taylor Swift. Like, what’s going on here?

 

01:18:16:18 – 01:18:38:08

Mike Patti

Next episode, right? That’s. But I think you’re right, Chris. Like, you know, the path of least resistance is is, you know, people don’t want to deal with copyright. I think of my kids who are just there creating videos all the time for YouTube and all of their all of their YouTube videos have this music from Kevin McLean. Kevin McLeary, I think is how you say it.

 

01:18:38:13 – 01:19:04:05

Mike Patti

McCloud It’s like he’s probably the most performed composer on planet Earth right now because everything seems like every single YouTube video has something from him in it because he released thousands of tracks that are completely royalty free. Like, totally. This is a very controversial thing to do. He did this many years ago, but it’s one of the many tunes that you can just choose from within YouTube to have it going behind your.

 

01:19:04:09 – 01:19:21:07

Mike Patti

I mean, he had he made a conscious choice to do that. Yeah. I think the conventional sense is that that’s where everything will go if there’s no protections in place because people just want to make be creative, but it’ll be short term. Then if no one’s benefiting financially, then it’s just kind of the mix.

 

01:19:21:10 – 01:19:47:20

Chris Hayzel

So that’s a that’s a tough one because from one end all you could look at the air thing and being able to generate music that can be used in other people’s creative endeavors on YouTube as a positive thing for the music world because it, you know, instead of people going and ripping off other people’s songs, people having to put up royalty free music, people like YouTube creators can just get it from an AI generated algorithm.

 

01:19:47:22 – 01:19:57:07

Chris Hayzel

And then maybe, I don’t know, what would you look at that as a positive thing or would you look at that as a negative thing, taking away a revenue stream from library creators?

 

01:19:57:12 – 01:20:11:00

Mike Patti

Yeah, I think they make a lot of money off of all of YouTube, TikTok, Instagram. I mean, that’s the future in my opinion. You know, that’s where things are going as these platforms and I think there’s money to be made there, but I don’t know how much that’s all.

 

01:20:11:02 – 01:20:38:21

Chris Hayzel

Yeah, how much? Because you know art like so I use art list I go right and I pay a subscription to that. And just like with streaming services with Netflix, I would imagine that if you have your music up on a big giant sort of repository of licensed music that you don’t make a ton of money off of each time that somebody downloads your your music.

 

01:20:38:23 – 01:20:41:02

Chris Hayzel

I don’t know. I’m just speculating here.

 

01:20:41:02 – 01:21:06:01

Brian Ralston

I had a friend who had a significant chunk of music, a small library for many years, and because of that, his stuff and the relationships of who owned that library, it got out there quite a bit. He made a nice five figure sum every year on that on that library. That library owner decided they wanted to get out of the business and they sold their library to BMG.

 

01:21:06:03 – 01:21:35:23

Brian Ralston

So that library of, you know, a thousand tracks, whatever it was small, got absorbed by in the sea of millions of tracks the BMG library has. And my friend’s yearly income went from a five figure sum, literally down to three figures the first quarter that was reporting. And now it’s still barely makes four figures because diluted in this sea of other stuff.

 

01:21:35:23 – 01:21:56:23

Brian Ralston

When he was in a smaller library, the relationship of that library owner with the music supervisors and the placers who were he had relationships come with the library we got this blah blah blah and they they found something they liked but now it’s just in the sea of BMG and BMG is not pushing his stuff. They’re just pushing that they got all, you know, this huge BMG library.

 

01:21:57:01 – 01:22:17:05

Brian Ralston

So that’s some people don’t find it anymore in a bigger library. And his, you know, he had to really change his his model of kind of what he was doing and it has no fault of his own. And you would think BMG this is this is good. More people are going to see now it was so diluted, hardly anyone saw it.

 

01:22:17:07 – 01:22:26:02

Mike Patti

Now that’s interesting. Yeah, because these smaller companies, like I wrote a lot for Audio Machine, which a lot of like movie trailers stuff but they’re boutique.

 

01:22:26:02 – 01:22:26:12

Brian Ralston

Yeah.

 

01:22:26:13 – 01:22:41:16

Mike Patti

And it’s those relationships that Paul Dean Latimer, the owner had with the all of the trailer houses and they were they charged a fee it’s like you want you want an audio machine track. This is what it cost because they knew they were getting quality, you know.

 

01:22:41:18 – 01:23:03:04

Brian Ralston

So I do I do think the music library people in general, you know it’s coming if it’s not already I mean, it’s like the assembly line of building cars. You know, it used to be a lot of people and now it’s a lot of robotic arms. It’s just it’s a nature of how the technology is changing. But I think if we change and adapt with it, one of which is diversifying.

 

01:23:03:06 – 01:23:07:16

Brian Ralston

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and you’ll you’ll whether it would be fine.

 

01:23:07:18 – 01:23:26:00

Chris Hayzel

For both of you and especially for you. Brian Like, is there anything that you would want to leave listeners with As you know, the piece of advice that you would give to people who are just sort of wanting to get into this business or just dipping their toe in in general?

 

01:23:26:01 – 01:23:52:14

Brian Ralston

I think a lot of people get really excited about the music, the door, the tech, the virtual instrument. Don’t ignore the business, don’t ignore learning about the business of what you’re doing, because I think there are a lot of talented people that create a lot of amazing music. They do not have sustainable, successful careers because of all the other non note stuff that they don’t really do very well at.

 

01:23:52:16 – 01:23:54:20

Brian Ralston

Do you mind if I talk about my seminar really quick?

 

01:23:55:00 – 01:23:56:10

Mike Patti

Yes, I was going to mention CS.

 

01:23:56:11 – 01:23:56:18

Chris Hayzel

Yeah.

 

01:23:56:23 – 01:24:20:12

Brian Ralston

I’ve been doing this for 23 years, somehow managed to survive. For 13 years I’ve been teaching at the UCLA Extension about in their film scoring program about ten years ago, nine years ago, I developed for them for their new curriculum, the business of film music class, which is basically everything about writing the notes. It’s what I’m talking about.

 

01:24:20:12 – 01:24:40:10

Brian Ralston

It’s 11 week course. I still teach it to this day. We do it about two quarters a year, so we don’t do it all the time. It used to be spring, fall, spring, fall, and now I think it’s going be summer, winter, summer, winter. But and every class I have a guest come in, we talk about contracts, we talk about every, you know, agents come in, publicists come in, all that stuff.

 

01:24:40:10 – 01:25:08:02

Brian Ralston

Lawyers come in. But I still feel like, you know, not a lot of people have access to that. And there’s still a a way that we can make spread the knowledge more with composers about the business side of this. So I’ve decided to embrace the technology we have today. Thank you. Pandemic and offers, you know, some individual seminar workshops or courses, whatever you want to call them for composers about the business side of it.

 

01:25:08:02 – 01:25:34:09

Brian Ralston

So if you go to film music dot business, that is the website in its entirety, film Music Dot business starting in February, I’m offering two courses. I’ve this is a little bit of an experiment for me. So if I change my, my model in the future, you know, forgive me, but I feel like I’m going to do 12 hours, I’m going to do two days, 6 hours a day, basically a three hour, one hour break in a three hour.

 

01:25:34:12 – 01:26:00:01

Brian Ralston

I’m not pre-recording these. I’m doing them live like I would do any class. So you have interaction with me to ask questions and everything. I’m going to do them a week apart. So if you’re signing up for a group one or group two, you you would be like a Sunday nine to noon, take an hour off for lunch, come back, you know, 2 to 2 as a 2 to 5 to two, 1 to 4, one, two, four.

 

01:26:00:03 – 01:26:25:02

Brian Ralston

And that’s day one. And then I let you sit with the material for a week. And then the following Sunday we come back and do day two. So you can sit with it, you can rewatch stuff everybody that takes this course, which I’m, which I’m doing kind of for 395, which to me is a steal. What you’re going to get, you’re going to get work for our contract, you’re going to get a license agreement, contract that are real world usable, created by lawyers.

 

01:26:25:04 – 01:26:40:18

Brian Ralston

You’re going to and you could take that with you. And we’re to go through the language. We’re going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about spotting cue sheets, spotting notes. You’re going to get templates for those things to use. You’re going to talk about communicating with a with a director and how to, like, talk with them.

 

01:26:40:18 – 01:26:59:20

Brian Ralston

We’re going to talk about budgeting and orchestras, union versus nonunion, what those numbers typically look like. I have a contractor that’s going to speak with the group for a little bit of time, so you’ll get that introduction to a contractor as well. And then my attorney is actually going to come in and speak with everybody for a half hour.

 

01:26:59:20 – 01:27:21:17

Brian Ralston

And she has offered anyone that takes my course will get a free 30 minute console with her. Well, she will not charge you and you can save that. You don’t have to use it in a month or anything. You can save that and use it for anything. You just remind her that you’re in my course and you’re getting two contracts and a 30 minutes of a lawyer’s time just for taking this course.

 

01:27:21:19 – 01:27:41:07

Brian Ralston

You’ll get all the keynotes that I put up. You will get recordings we’re going to do in record, whatever The seminar is and I’m going to learn as much from everybody as you know from them as they hopefully do for me, because this is the first time I’ve done it. So for people listen to your podcast, I’m going to get $50 off.

 

01:27:41:09 – 01:27:47:12

Brian Ralston

So if they type in the coupon code when they do it orchestrated, it will give them $50 off.

 

01:27:47:14 – 01:28:11:06

Chris Hayzel

Well, that’s a very, very nice gift, you guys. I mean, I just wish that I had something that I could sign up for like that when I was starting out because so much of this is unclear, especially the business aspects of it all. Of all the things that we’ve talked about, like I had to figure those things out on the fly and we had to be able to have a course to sign up for like, for like this would have been absolutely amazing.

 

01:28:11:08 – 01:28:37:08

Brian Ralston

We’re going to do a weekday and a weekend version of the course. So people that would I picked Tuesdays this time and Sundays for the weekend version. So if weekends are better for you or weekdays or better for you, there’s two options in February. One starts February 4th, one starts, the weekend version starts February 4th. So before the 11th, the weekday version starts on the 20th, so be the 20th and 27th.

 

01:28:37:10 – 01:28:57:14

Brian Ralston

And then I’m going to evaluate how well that went. And my intent is to offer it again. And basically the quarter’s that I’m not teaching at UCLA, I will probably be doing this separately for myself. It is a much more condensed thing, of course, so we don’t have time to get into every single topic that I would like to get in, but I’m going to really try to make it beneficial.

 

01:28:57:19 – 01:28:59:18

Brian Ralston

People come away with some good stuff.

 

01:29:00:00 – 01:29:01:17

Chris Hayzel

It’s crazy, man. Yeah.

 

01:29:01:19 – 01:29:03:21

Mike Patti

Really, really cool. Everyone needs a sign up.

 

01:29:03:21 – 01:29:17:06

Chris Hayzel

Yep. You’ll find the link in the show notes. And the code was orchestrated. Orchestrated? They took the code. Orchestrated. I mean, I might sign up. that sounds amazing, Brian. Thank you so much for being here with us, man.

 

01:29:17:11 – 01:29:18:07

Brian Ralston

This is. Thanks for having me.

 

01:29:18:07 – 01:29:19:14

Chris Hayzel

Really, really great.

 

01:29:19:16 – 01:29:28:03

Brian Ralston

It’s good to be back in podcast chair again. I don’t know. I feel left out though. I didn’t have my RSM 57 and I turn it to my vocal booth and.

 

01:29:28:05 – 01:29:55:00

Chris Hayzel

That’s all right. You’re Mike actually. Sounds fantastic. It sounds really, really, really nice and it looks super professional. Yeah. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Orchestrated. We we hope you found that conversation helpful. To check out Demystifying the Composer business visit music business or just, you know, follow the link in the show notes and don’t forget to enter the code orchestrated to get $50 off the two day seminar and seriously, don’t sleep on the seminar.

 

01:29:55:04 – 01:30:19:20

Chris Hayzel

The film music business can be pretty murky and difficult to navigate on your own. So, you know, resources like this can definitely help you make sense of it all. Follow us on Instagram at Museo. Check out our YouTube channel at Museo Dot official and really I invite you to go to Museo dot com sign up for a 30 day free trial, get a whole boatload of virtual instruments and just get creative.

 

01:30:19:22 – 01:30:32:23

Chris Hayzel

You don’t need a credit card, you don’t need to pay for anything. Just go sign up and have a blast. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Thanks again for listening. Until next time. I’m Chris Hazel and this is orchestrated.