Marc Jackson – Composer Interview

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    Art Munson
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    1.) Your name?

    Marc Jackson

    2.) Any credits you care to mention?

    I’ve scored or written songs for ABC, CBS, NBC/Universal, HBO, Lifetime and Syfy. Previously I created lots of music and/or sound design for theatrical trailers like for the “Underworld” campaigns, “Beowulf,” “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” the “Pirates of the Caribbean” campaigns and a bunch of others.

    3.) How long have you been writing music?

    I wrote my first song at age 15 and have been making a living composing and writing songs for close to ten years or so.

    4.) How did you get started?

    As an artist/songwriter I was signed to Curb/MCA records but after a limited European release I requested to be dropped from the label. A request, to which, they promptly complied.

    Then after touring as a guitarist/vocalist with Roger Daltrey and the British Rock Symphony, I realized that creating music was more fulfilling. I continued writing songs and performed in original bands with Jon Myron Clark (Guitarist Michael Jackson) and Lou Molino III (drums Trevor Rabin) until I took a position in television production. Of course I quickly found my center of gravity in their music division where I learned composition to picture and have been doing it on my own since 2008.

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

    I wrote for Zoo Street Music, a library I formed mainly for internal use at New Wave Entertainment beginning around 2003 and now with my library since ’08.

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

    Yes, though my income primarily comes from custom work. Whenever possible, I retain the rights to the music I create on these jobs, and make them available with my library MoonLab Music.

    7.) Do you care to give any general figures of earnings (low/mid/high 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 figures)?

    I understand why that would be interesting. I’ll put it this way. I’m fulltime. I’m earning what I had hoped to earn at this stage of my career and it is growing so that’s a good thing.

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

    I am versed in music theory but self-taught in that I have no formal training in orchestration. I tell myself that I’m going to get that training one day but it is likely to be on-the-job and out-of-necessity.

    9.) Do you work through music libraries?

    I have a small collection of industrial music that I composed. It lives non-exclusively on the musicsuperisor.com website but only because I know Barry Coffing from a hundred years ago when he placed one of my songs in an indie feature. Otherwise my cues consist of a small percentage of the MoonLab Music collection.

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

    Non-exclusive.

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

    I have relationships with about thirty or so music supes and lots of editors in various companies around LA and NYC. Most of these people create theatrical trailers and movie marketing for all media.

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

    My situation is unique because MoonLab Music reps about fifty composers from around the world (non-exclusively) so my contact with music supervisors is really focused on the entire library and not so much on my own work.

    But as a composer, I am contacted frequently and requested to create custom music by producers and editors. Because I served as Music Director for two large production facilities, I’ve had relationships in varying capacities with these contacts for some years now.

    11.) How do you deal with rejection?

    You have to have a thick skin to be a composer. I admire anyone who takes this on as a career because you have to just do your best work and be proud of it. There’s a blend between the very emotional world artists live in and the pragmatic world where you understand that problem-solving is a very big part of what composers do for directors and producers. So, for example, when you are given a list of notes on the work you poured your heart and soul into, you have to take a breath and start getting down to what your client wants and sort it out for them.

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

    MoonLab Music is currently a re-titling library though our model is already changing toward exclusivity for future signings. I should mention that MoonLab is not taking music submissions right now.

    Obviously re-titling can be a good thing for circulating your work as a composer. Most composers who only deal with non-exclusive libraries are of the mind-set of casting the net wide. That’s where re-titling can make sense.

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

    PRO royalties.

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

    I’ve done my share of metadata entry. MoonLab is small but 3,000 cues in the library makes me a reluctant expert. If you submit to various libraries I would take the time to study their search engines and basically emulate how they tag. On your descriptions avoid flowery or poetic prose on your music. Wear the hat of a data entry person and think about what words to include in the description that search engines are likely to pull from.

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

    I get newsletters and magazines from BMI, ASCAP, SOCAN; all the major PRO’s and that seems to be the best resource on covering trends in music publishing.

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

    Don’t be easy on yourself creatively. Your objective ear regarding your own material is what makes you great at what you do. If you aren’t critical of your work then brace yourself. EVERYONE else will be. So beat them to the punch and get really good at what you do.

    And finally!

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

    Making movies. (and then scoring them.)

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