Meet the Committee
How did you get started and what advice would you give to a composer starting out now?
Coming from a theatre background I had no video reel to speak of so I sent an audio cassette (wot, granddad?) to every ad agency in the land in the hope that the music would speak for itself. Lo and behold, a sympathetic Head of TV took me on for a pitch. If there's a lesson there I guess it's to believe in your own musical voice, away from visuals; you are a composer after all!
What was your first job?
Thomson Holidays, 'Deja Vu'.
What ads are you most proud of?
It would have to be the NSPCC 'Cartoon' campaign which was one the hardest but most rewarding jobs I've done. After that, probably the UBS 'You and Us' campaigns which have gone all over the world and actually generate fanmail! We work in a bubble so much of the time, it's very rewarding when you discover you've struck a chord (no pun intended) with so many people.
What's your training and what training do you need these days?
I studied music at university but frankly you don't need any training at all these days - just ability. Technology has taken away so much of the drudgery and specialist knowledge, the only thing really stopping us now is our imagination - and no-one can teach us how to use that.
How do you put a price on your work?
A combination of good sense and the PCAM guidelines to which all IPA-approved agencies now have access.
Would you ever work for free?
No, unless it were for Spielberg or Coppola perhaps (though ironically they would probably pay!). I tend to agree with my esteemed colleague Augusta who says working for free is something you do if an elderly neighbour has fallen downstairs and can't get out to the shops. Music is not a charity and in an age of free downloads and rights-grabbing it has never been a more important time to value what you do. Demos, in particular, are finished pieces, not just sketches, and as such should be paid for.
What software do you use and what's your favourite piece of kit?
Logic is at the centre of my world together with Kontakt and Sibelius plus my trusty antique Neumann U47 FET mic (makes everything sound good) and a wonderful Universal Audio LA-610 preamp.
What single thing do you wish you had known when you started out?
That Gigastudio would have folded so I could have made the switch to Mac yonks ago!