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Chiptune Composing with Ben Burnes

Ben Burnes Composer Quest

In today's episode of Composer Quest, I talk with fellow Minnesotan Ben Burnes, who has been writing chiptune music for games (12 games in 12 weeks, as a matter of fact). He just released them in his album Three Red Hearts, and in our talk he shares some tips on creating video game music. We also talk about creativity and the business of indie game composing.

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Losing Control of Your Music

Jimmy Norman - The Music Never Dies

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?

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Eggs, Bacon, and Composer Wisdom from Rick Sowash


"Outsider" composer Rick Sowash has 14 beautiful chamber music albums to his name, all self-published and fan-supported. After graduating from a prestigious music school that he hated so much he refuses to name, he vowed to stay independent of any academic or commercial organization. In this episode of Composer Quest, Rick shares his entire strategy for making it as an independent composer, which he's been perfecting for many years. We also get to hear how Rick converted orange juice, French toast, eggs, and bacon into music for a treble clef quartet.

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The Art of Banjo Songwriting with Ellen Stanley

Ellen Stanley Mother Banjo Composer Quest

Ellen Stanley (aka Mother Banjo) brought her banjo over to the Composer Quest studio to share some songs and stories. We talk about everything from her Walden-inspired song to her unusual connection to Paul McCartney. In addition to her banjo-playing career, Ellen is the executive director of the Minnesota Music Coalition, and she worked as a music publicist for the folk label Red House Records. So she also shares some advice on networking, getting airplay, etc.

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Dutch Dance Music with Ducked Ape

Ducked Ape Composer Quest

DJ/producer duo Sjoerd Huissoon and Tim van Doorne are on a quest to get one huge dance hit with their project Ducked Ape. In this episode of Composer Quest, I talk with Sjoerd and his manager Budi Voogt about what it takes to break into the dance scene in the Netherlands. We also discuss what Budi looks for in new artists to sign on his label, Heroic Recordings.

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“I’ve Written a Song. Now What Do I Do?”

Kevin Bowe MMC

In this special episode of Composer Quest, multi-platinum songwriter Kevin Bowe tells us everything he's learned about getting your music published and placed on TV. He also explains how to get the biggest piece of the music royalty pie you can. He's a really entertaining and knowledgeable guy, so I'm happy to bring you these 75 minutes of great music business advice.

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Audacity Producer Desmond Simmons is Big in Japan


Desmond Simmons, a.k.a. PreciseHero, produces music using only open-source software - he says his computer is too old to handle anything other than Linux. So how did Desmond's DIY mixes end up on the Japanese label P-Vine Records? Creative fortitude and a collaborative spirit have been central to Desmond's success. In this (50th!) episode of Composer Quest, Desmond shares his thoughts on our remix culture, and why 70s Brazilian music is the best kind to sample from.

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Marketing Your Music with Patrick Hertz


Tinderbox Music's Patrick Hertz specializes in promoting music to college radio stations. In this special episode of Composer Quest, I ask Patrick a bunch of listener-submitted questions about the music business. He shares advice on how to get noticed by music supervisors and get your music licensed for TV and film. He also explains how the artists he sees get ahead are (unsurprisingly) the most organized and business-minded. Although our conversation is geared more towards promoting recorded songs, I believe his commonsense advice is useful for classical composers, too.

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