Tell me about yourself.
I was born in Palo Alto, CA. I started playing music when I was 13 and grew up in a family of musicians. Many people in my family are multi-instrumentalists, so I was constantly surrounded by music growing up.
Did you always know that you wanted to do music?
I remember when I was younger a native american speaker came to speak at my school and they did a native american dance. I remember asking if I could play his drum and I did. That performance really inspired me. Also, that same year a music teacher saw me pick out a Billy Joel tune on the piano and she told my mother that I should pursue music if that was something that I wanted to do. For as long as I can remember, music has been the glue of my life.
Do you have any formal training?
I did take guitar lessons throughout high school. I then taught myself piano over the years.
How did you get your start in television and film production?
I was originally in a band whose tenure came to an end. I moved back home with my parents in New Jersey. I then ended up meeting a gentleman who was creating a student film. While working on the film, I subsequently met the video editor, who had already worked on some commercials. I started working with him doing some soundtrack music. Gradually, I started building a portfolio. I enrolled in Massachusetts College Of Art. That gave me 4 years to figure out how to establish a career in scoring. Luckily enough, it turns out that the cousin of my parent’s broker was an established composer who had done music for Dexter and Silent Hill 8.
I contacted him and he offered me a chance to come out to LA and do an apprenticeship with him. That kicked things off into gear.
In 2013, do you find it easy or difficult to make it as a film and television composer?
It’s both. It is very unpredictable. Most of my work is library work, which involves creating music for different companies and licensing it. That has been helping me a lot. I also listen to and create a lot of dance\electronic music. Experimenting with dance music helped me bridge the gap into film scoring. It allowed me to develop my skills creating music with software.
What is your main instrument?
My main instrument is guitar, however, I seem to spend most of my time in front of a keyboard these days.
What are your thoughts on the current technologies used to create music?
I think we are extremely lucky. Growing up, it was like half a million dollars to open a recording studio. It was so out of reach for the average person. With computers, anyone can learn to write and create music without breaking the bank.
What is your DAW of choice?
For electronic music, I use Ableton Live. The workflow in Live is great. For scoring, I use Logic. I could use either one but for some reason when I want to do something that is intricate and delicate I always find myself in Logic.
I take it you are on a Mac?
Yes – Snow Leopard for the operating system. I’m comfortable with that version. I have also dabbled with Cubase.
What are your thoughts on Tunefruit and how it is benefitting the music community?
I think it’s great. The pricing scale is very competitive and fair. The site is very easy to use and user friendly. From a composer’s perspective, the uploading process is very intuitive and simple.
Who are some the artists that you are currently listening to?
The first M83 album is always on heavy rotation. I also listen to a lot of rock when I am not writing. I believe that if you listen to the same stuff that you are writing you run the risk of becoming stagnant. I love the old classics that I grew up listening to like Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Portishead and Massive Attack. I like music that I can just listen to as opposed to over analyzing it and breaking it down.
Any words on the current state of the music industry?
I am a member of ASCAP. Everyday we get emails with articles regarding streaming services and satellite radio. I think it is a double edged sword. It is great to be on the web and find listeners for your music. However, if I was in a band and concerned about radio play, applications like Pandora and others are increasingly lowering the rate for artists. It seems like the companies continue to make more profits while artist royalty rates with streaming services are getting lower. I thinking performance rights organizations and streaming music services will have to at some point come together and come up with a reasonable royalty rate.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians out there?
Go for it! Keep trying and don’t give up. There are ultimately more opportunities out there for independent musicians because of the internet compared to when I was growing up. It’s about learning how to become internet savvy, using the web as tool to find companies to work with, etc. There are a wealth of resources out there that you can utilize to make it a full time career.
Where can we hear some of your material?
The best place would be justincrosby.com.