Industry Tips & Tricks from a Professional Composer

Amara Primero is a Film and TV composer and a JMC Alumni. Currently working on scores for TV, TVC’s, Films and Documentaries, we sat with her to discuss some of her professional advice. 

Have a listen to our 4-part Podcast series “The Creative Pod” or have a read of some of her key recommendations. 

#1. Networking and Breaking into the US Market

You can be the world’s greatest composer, but at the end of the day, if people don’t know who you are, then what’s the point? I think it was having the gumption to step forward and say OK, I’m going to reach out to people. I started doing research like watching the end credits of TV shows like, who’s the executive producer, who’s the writer, doing a google search and becoming interested in what they’re doing. Not just reaching out in the hope that someone will say "I like what you do", or reaching out and saying "what can you do for me", but showing a genuine interest in their work. It’s amazing once you have a few gigs under your belt, the word of mouth starts to get out. Networking is the fundamental thing, if it’s something you want to make a career and money out of you have to take that plunge. Step forward. 

#2. Being a Female in a Male Dominated Industry

I suppose the one thing that stands out for me is when someone says "what sort of music do you do, what’s your niche?" And you say dark and gritty or industrial, and there becomes that eyebrow raise, like "wow, but you’re a chick?". Not in a bad way, but there is an element of surprise, and the next sort of question is “Do you do romantic scores, do you do romantic comedies?” And it’s like, “Yea of course I do that too” , as most composers have to be in this world, I’m versatile. I think often when men step forward for something there isn’t that element of surprise, its assumed they are versatile and can do that romantic score and the dark, gritty score. I think it would be awesome if we were able to not be so surprised.  

#3. Work Ethic and the Creative Process

Work ethic is everything, the work ethic will either make or break you. If you put in a lot, you will get a lot out of it. I used to teach, and I woke up one day and thought, “I wanted to be a composer”. When you’re teaching, you’re obviously working full days, so what I would do is wake up an hour earlier than I needed to, and just write music, for no monetary gain, go to work, do my day, come home and do exactly the same thing until sometimes midnight. 

#4. Developing your Niche

Ultimately, I would love to get to that point where somebody can say "That’s the Amara sound" but I don’t currently know what that is, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing right now. I think versatility is a really good thing, and especially in Australia because we do have a smaller market and fewer films and TV being made. Therefore, if you’re a composer and you can do everything, you can step up and say, you want hip hop? Sure, I’ll do that. You want action? You want Dark? I think if you’re versatile, you’re opening up yourself for more work. 

You can listen to all of the Podcasts in our SoundCloud Playlist “The Creative Pod.” 

Find out more about studying Songwriting or Music Performance. 

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