Chris Wiseman – Composer Interview

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    Art Munson

    1.) Your name?

    Chris Wiseman

    2.) Credits?

    All major networks. We all know that the most impressive credits are not always the highest paying ones but some highlights are many episodes of shows like The Voice, Pawn Stars, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, NASCAR (weekly), promo for Stephen King’s IT, NFL, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver…..hard to say what is impressive to others. I guess personally it’s pretty fulfilling when someone you admire is either on screen or narrating over your music. Was humbling to have that happen several times with Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman and Liam Neeson – all whom I admire very much.

    3.) How long have you been writing music?

    I started writing music on the piano when I was about 12. I didn’t start writing in a professional capacity until I was about 20. A group I was singing with was being managed by one of the members of Boyz II Men and I was introduced to some great producers who became mentors to me as a writer and producer.

    4.) How did you get started?

    For years I only wrote for recording artists. I started writing production music in 2003 but didn’t start to see success with it until 2008. Learning the various structures, edits and alt versions and all of the niche aspects of the business took a lot of time. And of course, like any business – everything is in constant motion and things change. When I started there were so many non-exclusive libraries that retitled and there were still tons of shows that now use libraries that I was getting work with through music supervisors directly. Much of that has changed now and libraries seem to be utilized more often.

    5.) How long have you been writing library/production music?

    15 years

    6.) Are you making a living wage writing library/production music?

    If that was all I did, I don’t think I’d consider it enough. I have always found it beneficial to pursue multiple income streams with music.

    7.) Annual earnings writing library/production music (low/mid/high 5, 6, 7 figures)?

    Production music alone – anywhere from low to mid 5 figure range. Music as a whole, well over 6. Multiple income streams and diversification has worked well for me.

    8.) Are you self-taught or have you studied formally?

    I studied formally. I went to college for music and graduated from University of Delaware. But in terms of writing, I don’t think there is any rule to success other than be better and/or different than the competition.

    9.) Do you work through music libraries?

    Yes, very often.

    9a.) If so are they exclusive and/or non-exclusive libraries?

    I have one exclusive I work with extensively and about 3 non exclusives I work with as well.

    10.) Do you contact music supervisors, music editors or TV production companies directly?

    Yes because those are relationships I cultivated early on. I have found that learning the art of networking and building relationships is just as important as being good at your craft.

    10a.) If so how do you approach them?

    Honestly, I’m just myself. I think confidence is important but egos can stay at home.

    11.) How do you deal with rejection?

    I’ve had plenty of it in my career. I’d never get any better or know anything about the music business without it. Rejection is awesome – sometimes not in the moment though.

    12.) How do you feel about re-titling?

    I don’t have any issue with it but I can see where production companies and networks may take issue.

    13.) What do you have the most success with, royalty free sites or back end PRO royalties?

    Back end pro

    14.) Any tips about writing descriptions, keywords and/or metadata?

    Biggest tip is either a) don’t shortchange it or b) hire someone to do it for you who won’t shortchange it

    15.) Any trends you would like to comment on (YouTube Content ID, Streaming, Internet Royalties)?

    Well, the music business, like music itself is in constant motion. It’s always either moving towards something or away from something. I guess it’s up to us to react, adapt, take action etc. I’m hoping the music modernization act is at least a step in the right direction.

    16.) What sort of advice would you give to someone just entering the library/production music world?

    It’s a long game – be aware of that before you start. A very long game.

    And finally!

    17.) If you were not writing music what would you be doing?

    I don’t know – maybe I’d take a cooking class or something like that!

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