Losing Control of Your Music

August 20th, 2014 • Composer Quest


In the last summer Composer Quest episode, we got to hear from two entertainment lawyers about how to get your music into films and TV, without getting screwed by a bad contract. In this episode, we hear the story of someone who DID get screwed by the music industry, jazz musician Jimmy Norman. He had to keep gigging at age 74 just to scrape by, even though he had worked with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley, and co-wrote the Rolling Stones hit "Time Is on My Side." Jason DeBose, producer of the documentary The Music Never Dies, came in to tell me Jimmy's story. Also in this episode, we get to hear a philosophical panel discussion from the Minnesota Music Coalition about giving your music away for free. When does it make sense to offer free downloads? And should you let someone else use your music in a film for free? Continue reading...

Quest 10: Autumn Strings

August 17th, 2014 • Composer Quest


For the 10th Composer Quest quest, I challenge you to write a piece of music for string quartet inspired by autumn. You have until September 1st to send me your composition (charlie@composerquest.com), and the best string quartets will be performed at the Underground Music Cafe on September 21st at 6pm. In this quest announcement episode, I pull out my dusty violin and give a few tips on writing for strings. Continue reading...

Live Film Scores in St. Paul

July 28th, 2014 • Composer Quest, News


My friends at MNKINO and I have been organizing a night of new short films with original scores. We teamed up filmmakers and composers from around the world to collaborate. The most exciting part is that we've assembled an orchestra to play these scores live at the film screening. Continue reading...

How Music Licensing Deals are Made in Film and TV

July 23rd, 2014 • Composer Quest


If you're a songwriter or composer, you may have been approached by a filmmaker who wants to use your music in his or her film. After the initial burst of excitement, a few practical questions should be going through your head: What should I charge? Who will own the music? Will I be able to collect royalties? Should I ask for a chunk of the film's profits? Should I write the contract myself or hire a lawyer? These are just a few of the topics covered in this special summer episode of Composer Quest, featuring a talk by entertainment lawyers Ken Abdo and Dan Satorius. Thanks to the Minnesota Music Coalition and McNally Smith for hosting this talk at the 2014 MN Music Summit. I highly recommend listening if you're a songwriter or composer, so you can make the most out of getting your music placed in a film and avoid getting stuck with a crappy contract. Continue reading...

Film Scoring 101 with Adam Conrad

June 17th, 2014 • Composer Quest


In this special summer episode of Composer Quest, composer Adam Conrad shares a ton of great insights about how music works in film. He also explains why he transitioned from using MIDI mockups to writing everything by hand, for real musicians. Continue reading...

A Concept Album for Every Season with Chris Koza

May 28th, 2014 • Composer Quest


For the Season 2 finale episode of Composer Quest, I interviewed Chris Koza, who had the crazy idea to create four concept albums in one year, following the change in seasons. These Rogue Valley albums turned out to be a huge artistic success. One song even ended up in Ben Stiller's personal collection, and subsequently The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Chris shares some songwriting tips and tricks, and we dig into the concepts behind his concept albums, like how he wrote a song for each of the 12 full moons. Continue reading...

Composer Quest Unplugged Album

May 27th, 2014 • Composer Quest, News


I'm thrilled to bring you these 13 incredibly heartfelt, catchy, and thought-provoking songs performed live on the Composer Quest podcast over the past year and a half. I never thought my bedroom studio would see so much talent. Fun fact - shortly after The Okee Dokee Brothers' Joe Mailander performed "The Bullfrog Opera" on the podcast, he went on to win a Grammy! Although many of these songwriters are just under the radar here in Minnesota, I think they're all Grammy-worthy. Continue reading...