Justin McIver – Composer Interview

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    Art Munson

    1.) Your name?

    Justin McIver

    2.) Credits?

    Biggest deal was a 60 second placement for GM Buick that aired during the NCAA Men’s final four tournament. Others include MTV (Jersey Shore), E! (The Kardashians), Youtube internet commercials, a UK movie, and various ESPN sporting events.

    3.) How long have you been writing music?

    Joined a band in high school about 14 years ago

    4.) How did you get started?

    3 other friends of mine decided to play punk rock covers that we loved (Blink 182!). This lasted for a few years before I went on my own in college and wanted to get serious about recording music after having a few failed attempts trying to record in someone else’s studio. I went out and bought ProTools, a 400 page book, and the rest fell into place over the years.

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

    About 4 years now. Most of our albums from my most recent band (not punk-rock whatsoever) have landed plenty of placements.

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

    Not quite, but my dream will be to make it a full-time position once it surpasses my current full-time job earnings.

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

    This varies but has been increasing lately. Last year it was around $25,000.

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

    Completely self-taught guitar/bass/drums, and all of the equipment I own in my studio including the ways I have learned to produce, record, and mix my own music. I do have to give my mom credit for signing me up for piano lessons when I was 8 though. My formal studying is as a Mechanical Engineer.

    9.) Do you work through music libraries?

    Yes, most have been with the luck of one particular library.

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

    They started out non-exclusive but we now have a few songs with exclusive rights after landing a couple of good deals.

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

    From time to time

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

    I usually make it casual with a very nice (short and to the point) email and give them my phone number, which sometimes leads into a good conversation.

    11.) How do you deal with rejection?

    Sometimes you just can’t believe someone doesn’t find what you just put hours and hours of work into absolutely amazing. It can initially lead to anger, but after calming down and listening to what they said and applying it to your song, it tends to make sense. Sometimes you can ignore it because it may just be a personal opinion from that particular person, but other times it turns into very constructive criticism and is definitely worth listening to.

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

    Doesn’t bother me at this point. As long as my music gets out there and I get paid, I’m happy.

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

    PRO only, I don’t deal with royalty free

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

    I just try to think of what mood the songs put me in then type out as many keywords as I can possibly think of (without being overkill). I try to think of descriptions that people can relate with.

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

    For Youtube, the funnier/raunchier you make it the more chance it has to go viral in my opinion.

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

    You’re not going to get placements overnight. One of our songs was in a library for nearly 2 years before it landed a huge deal. The best part is though, once you complete the song the hard work is done, you just need to sit back and relax and hope someone loves it eventually. Each new song is just another opportunity, none of your music can really be considered a waste of time.

    And finally!

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

    Try to move up the ladder in my current full-time position as a Mechanical Engineer… but what’s the fun in that? I dream about writing music while I’m stuck at work!

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