BUT What If I NEED Social Media For Work?

scribbling out the social media platform Facebook on a mobile phone

The key thing to remember is to treat your social media activity as part of your business.

Schedule it, limit your hours, customise your notifications to those that will serve your business (eg customers' direct messages), investigate your return on investment including not only your financial spend but also your time and energy, and only use those media where your audience hang out. 

Ten Tips for Building a Career as a Music Composer for Film, TV and Theatre

There is no magic bullet to getting a foothold into this industry… not unless you consider hard work, lots of rejection, or a healthy bent toward self-determination a “magic bullet”.

Is there an easy way in? The answer, as with most things in life, is “no”. Most things that are worth doing don’t come easy. However, there are many tried and true methods as well as some proven principles that I can safely say I’ve built a career on.

While there would never been enough room to list them all, here are ten things that I’ve learned about getting that elusive foothold and gaining some real traction as a composer for theatre, film and television. read more

On Being Organised

Lighthouse, beach and sea at Tweedmouth

At the start of the year someone said to me they thought I was the most organised person they knew. Which was very nice of them, thank you kind person.

After that, it totally went to my head and I had an idea back in May to do a post on being organised, or, rather, how to be organised, and I’ve been scribbling notes and putting it off and self-censoring ever since. It bloomed into a 4-post series, and then started to evolve into a book outline, which just wasn’t appropriate – dammit, Jim, I’m a composer, not an author. I don’t have time for writing books, especially not those that have been written before, by people much more qualified and experienced than me, in much more organised (yes much lol) ways. So what was I adding? Not a massive amount, certainly not any that warranted the level of off-hours brain space. Said brain is like a dog with a bone sometimes.

A calm, blue sea and cloudless sky

After all that non-essential angst, I’ve since decided I won’t bother (because the answer is but a google away) with all the pop quizzes, checklists and strategies.

Instead I’ll say this – in my limited experience on this earth, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s very important to be organised, as organised as you possibly can be, with the resources and information at your disposal. This is why: if you aren’t (and you aren’t subsequently and/or consequently in dire circumstances) the chances are that someone else is doing the organising for you. Furthermore, if you aren’t paying for it, that’s uncompensated emotional labour that someone else (a woman?) is taking on along with their own life-organisation tasks… which just isn’t fair.

It’s for this reason I can’t be disorganised. I can’t expect someone else to take on that job without some sort of fair compensation. I’m just not built that way. It’s not perfectionism or control freakery, I just really can’t stand the thought I’m taking advantage of someone else’s good nature, so, as far as humanly and practically possible, I won’t.

A bench on a grassy bank overlooking a sandy bank and the sea on a sunny day

The other two ground-breaking (insert sarcasm emoji) conclusions I came to were that it was really difficult to be organised if you were either tired or had too much to do (when I put it like that, it seems obvious. Too obvious to even write. But sometimes it needs to be said anyway). I know that if I’m attempting to get my ducks in order when I’m either tired or have too much to do in the time I’ve got to do it, no amount of bullet journalling, creating good habits or systematising is going to get what I both need and want to do done.

I want to be organised so as to be more efficient with my energy (aka not getting as tired so as to enjoy life more, a simple desire)… so as to be able to do all the stuff I want to do alongside all the boring stuff I need to do.

Think of the reverse: If I’ve only one thing I want to do and one thing I have to do, and I’m feeling alive, content and focussed, how easy will it be to get those two things done? Tres. How easy will it be to get lost in the flow of those things I have to do? Super-tres. Being organised will happen without any effort at all.

Now, taking the thought experiment further: adding in more tasks, events, information, and data of any other kind will simultaneously increase the level of organisation* required and decrease the amount of energy I have to give to any one of these tasks, events, etc. because I’ll be dividing my total energy per each task (event, etc.).

I’ll also have decreased total energy available for the rest of the to do list after each task is completed. Eventually, adding more and more tasks (events, etc) will decrease my available energy to zero. And then I can’t do anything.

I think what I’m getting at is: wouldn’t it be better to just be kinder to ourselves and each other?

Firstly, we can acknowledge and compensate the organisational emotional labour others do for us alongside taking responsibility for our own organisational needs as much as we can (remember, though, that caveat: with the resources and information at your disposal – do what you can, don’t be a martyr).

Next, we can accept when we’ve too much on our plates to realistically be as organised as we’d like to be. After accepting, we can – with self-compassion – get shut of some of that stuff: it’s either delayed, indefinitely; moved onto someone else (with compensation – it bears repeating); or deleted.

Lastly, we have to take care of ourselves in order to have the energy to be as organised as we need to do all the stuff we want and need to do, to live full and rewarding lives.

Not much to ask, eh?

*So it’s probably worth at this point defining what I mean by organisation: prioritising, scheduling,  systematising and delegating… (oh good grief I’m writing the post I said I wasn’t going to bother with just quit while you’re ahead Heth)

All images copyright H. Fenoughty 2018, taken in Berwick-upon-Tweed or Tweedmouth earlier this year, aptly representing the a level of serenity I rarely but occasionally achieve by being as organised as possible. For those times it works, it’s definitely worth the effort.

Are Decisions Based On Emotion Bad For Business?

Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk by Marcin Wichary

Or

What Would Mr Spock Do?

I’m going to come right out and say it.

I think emotions are key to business. They are a precious tool that should never, ever be ignored. They are the central line of dialogue between your higher brain functions and your subconscious, the route to your creative well.

And you can be creative in business. In fact, you must.

The important caveat in all of this: first you must disconnect from those feelings. Be the observer. Your emotions must not rule your behaviour, but instead inform that behaviour, balanced by the facts. read more

Women, Money, Success and The Bechdel Test

Four UK 20 Pound notes with the Queen's Head

The year is flying by. April is speeding to a close as I finish up the bulk of the music on a very cool project for the V&A Museum down in London. More about this challenging experience in later posts nearer the time the exhibition will open…

I’m starting work on a new feature film in May. Again, more about that when it’s underway.

The theme of women in society is quite heavily featured in both of these projects. With the recently highly successful Everyday Sexism campaign, the reality of what it means to be female in today’s society is very much the flavour of the day. I don’t think I’ve written much (or anything at all) about this here. I think, on the whole, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with men and women for whom equality is second nature, whether in the face of sexism, racism, homophobia… it very rarely has become an issue. But then this interesting article turned up in my feed and I did a double take – I wondered if some form of insidious, culturally-accepted sexism had affected me without realising it…

Why Women Don’t Ask For More Money

“…When women advocate for themselves, they have to navigate more than a higher salary: They’re managing their reputation, too. Women worry that pushing for more money will damage their image. Research shows they’re right to be concerned: Both male and female managers are less likely to want to work with women who negotiate during a job interview.” read more

How to Network, for Newbies

A woman works on a laptop in the corner of a pristine white office foyer

Nobody likes networking. It is a fact. I have yet to meet a single person who says, “You know what, I just LOVE working the room! All these people I don’t know, so many faces, so little time, let’s DO THIS.”

More likely it’s, “I hate these events… they don’t work… I’ve never gotten a single job from networking… can we leave now…” (that last one is usually me).

As a newbie/new entrant/recent graduate you’ve no credits, no evidence and no confidence. A nervous bag of sweat. It’s tough, no lie. All you can rely on is the talk. And attempting to ignore the looks of the person you’re attempting to schmooze… over your shoulder – at the rest of the room, working out where their next target is.

So I propose an alternative – a manifesto for Un-Networking.*

1. I will not expect to make a single long term relationship (non-attachment – classic Buddhist strategy)

2. I will ask questions and listen (no need to ‘sell’ oneself – really lets you off the hook)

3. If asked what I do, my answer will be short and sweet and rehearsed… and then I’ll ask another question

4. I will not, under any circumstances, look over the shoulder at the other attendees when the person I’m with is talking (common decency)

5. I will not berate myself for talking only to people I know (solidifying current working relationships is never a bad strategy)

6. I will have business cards ready-to-hand (so there’s none of this delving around into the bottomless pit that is your handbag/laptop bag/briefcase/Mary Poppin’s bag)

7. I will have some form of online presence that potential business partners/clients/customers will be able to get more detailed information from in their own time (again, saves the sales-pitchery. no-one likes the sales-pitchery. yawnsville).

8. I will be excited about my work and what I want to do (when asked about it). I will not be self-deprecating (modesty is good, putting oneself down is needy).

9. I will try to connect other people that I think would be valuable to each other (get known as helpful. so people will approach you voluntarily in future. without the desperate self-sell).

10. I will be exceedingly nice to the barstaff (they want to be there less than you do).

There are plenty more guidelines I think, but these are a good start. In summary, don’t be so hard on yourself. Follow this format and you might actually enjoy yourself.

*Bugger. A quick google shows that I’ve been pipped to the post. Ah well. It’s still a good idea. 😉

Photo by Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

Jetlag, Blogging and Self-censorship

a woman holds her finger to her lips

I have jetlag and it doesn’t seem to be lifting. I’m up at 5am as I have been for the last few days after returning from Singapore with the magnificent Slung Low (more on that later). I’m tired at 7.30pm and out like a light before 9pm.

I read somewhere that it takes a day per timezone crossed to re-synchronise with the new clock. That means I’ll be all sorted by next Monday…

Recently, a pretty popular post about Marketing I wrote yonks ago for SCORECastOnline got reposted, so I had a little gander and it occurred to me that one of the suggestions that had actually worked for me in the past (pretty significantly) was ‘Content Marketing’ ( = blogging) and that I hadn’t written for this here ol’ site in a fair while.

Same for traffic drivers – Twitter (v useful at one time), Facebook (its usefulness is dubious) and G+ (I have no idea whatsoever to do with this). All these things that I would engage in regularly, now I’m just bypassing.

The main reason is time. I’m busy (yay!) with lots of fun work and it’s more engaging than social media or blogging. Aces.

Another reason was definitely a perceived low return on investment. Social media is a time vampire unless your willpower is ox-like. One more reason is that crafting a decent blog post takes up the same creative energy as composing music. I’ve taken hours and hours to write a 500 word article in the past. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good post, but really it felt like the time and energy would have been better spent writing a pretty ditty.

Also I’m suddenly experiencing massive self-censorship! The notion that the post or tweet or whatever has got to be useful and timeless and not all about me, it’s got to be about you the audience, and a very specific audience at that. Every idea I have is censored almost immediately. Same for Twitter and Facebook, including the business fan (ugh) page I have there. The criteria for posting is too high. Nothing gets through. (Is this a good thing though?)

So for the month of December I will lower my standards 😉 and just write here about what I’m doing, what I found interesting, where the latest creative rabbit hole took me, see if that works and then if it’s a pile of poo I can alway delete it in January. Not a post a day, but more like more than one a week. I’m still as busy as ever after all.

But if the jetlag sticks, and I’m up at 5am everyday, it sounds doable.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

The Basics of Music, Copyright and Licensing (Oh, My)

The Music Store

Music copyright law. Not the most exciting of topics. Or the most straightforward.

But here’s how it works when we work together…

When you commission me, I’ll write a piece of music, specifically to your brief. It’ll fit to picture or to a specific duration.

You’ll pay a fee and that fee will include the work I do on the piece (composition, arrangement, production, recording, mixing, etc), and also the license(s) we both agree on in order for you to use the music.

The license(s) may be the right to synchronise to picture (put it in a film) or use in a play or put on a website, or anything else you need it for.

The license(s) may be exclusive or non-exclusive. If it’s exclusive, then only you have that right to, say, synchronise to picture. I can’t assign a license to that right to anyone else, including myself. If it’s non-exclusive, then I can assign anyone I choose that specific right again and again.

The benefits of exclusivity are obvious – that music is associated only with your product or project. It can become your musical identity. That music can become associated only with you in the minds of your audience or customers. It’s a fantastic shorthand – think, for example, of the Intel music ident, or the music accompanying ET flying across the moon.

The benefits of non-exclusivity are straightforward – it costs less. 😉

The license may have a specific duration – say, a day, a year, 10 years, or it may be (more often than not) ‘in perpetuity’ – for the lifetime of copyright (my lifetime plus 70 years).

The license may have a specific ‘territory’. The UK, the US, Asia… or world-wide. Contracts often specify ‘throughout the universe’. I love this phrase, but really it’s just to cover all bases, you know, just in case in 70 years this project gets broadcast on Mars Colony (am trying to maintain a cool exterior… but how awesome would that be?!).

The benefits of having an ‘in perpetuity, worldwide’ are easy to see. You can sell your product, be it a film, a theatre show, a web film or any other imaginable project to anyone, anywhere, and it can be shown for any length of time. It makes life simpler for you.

If I’m going to work on your project and the budget is tight, then this is the first place I’ll look to make savings for you.

Music copyright law is complex. I think I’ve got my head around it and then I’ll get asked a question I’ve no idea about and have to go research it. If you want more detailed information, here are some rather excellent resources in which to delve further:

– Bemuso (especially this page Music Royalties and Copyright)

– Copyright Basics (US-centric, but covers all the different copyrights – pdf)

Please note this post is from my UK perspective but the general principles still stand in most countries.