Have you ever heard a piece of music used in a TV show or film score and thought "I am as good as that composer! Why didn't they hire me? Why am I not getting these gigs?"
I remember when I first ventured into film scoring and I watched a short film on YouTube. I listened carefully to the score and thought “I can do that. Actually – I believe I can do better than that!” I contacted the producer, introduced myself, and asked if I could send him my demo. He said yes. I sent my demo and followed up a couple of weeks later. I figured he would be blown away by my awesomeness. ;) To my shock he wrote and told me that he hated everything on the disc. He said that he heard nothing he would want in any of his films, no memorable themes, nothing that evolved in a way that made sense to him.
I was crushed! I spent a week feeling sad for myself and then I wrote my mentor and told him what had happened. My mentor told me "You are focusing on the wrong thing. The point is not whether you or the other composer is 'better'. The other composer scored that film and you didn’t. There will always be producers who do not like your music because music is subjective. You need to continuously improve your craft and grow your network – and then you will meet producers who love your music along the way. Those are the relationships that matter. Get out there and find those people."
I heard the words but did not fully understand them.
Yesterday I heard a piece someone had signed with a library and my first thought was “I can do that!” My second thought was “But I didn’t. This other composer did. He did the work of writing the piece and of networking to get the piece signed. I am happy for his success that he worked hard to earn! Now I need to get out there and do the same thing.” That moment reminded me of the conversation I had with my mentor years ago.
It doesn’t matter if you think you are better or worse than someone else. Stop comparing yourself with other people. Everyone has their own path to walk, and even when you have similar goals, your journey will not be the same as theirs. If you spend your time comparing your path to theirs, you will wallow in self-centered jealousy or foolish pride.
When you focus on your path, you become more at ease with your journey and more focused on the work you have to do. Another benefit is that people will like you more. When you can recognize and sincerely rejoice in the successes of a colleague, you become fun to be around.
There are a million possible reasons why you didn't get a specific gig. Timing, budget, connections etc. Maybe your sound simply did not fit the film. I believe the question you should be asking is whether or not you are doing the work needed to get the next gig.
Are you meeting and learning to know industry people? Are you someone who will always do your best work no matter the size of the project? Do you meet deadlines? Are you continuously learning more and improving your craft?
There are so many opportunities out there. Go out and find them. I am not saying it is easy – but it is definitely possible. What can you do today to be closer to your goal tomorrow?
Lace up your Nikes and “Just do it!”