Composer Q&A: Chatting With Katherine Beggs

In recent weeks, we’ve interviewed various female musicians and composers who we think are making an impact on the industry today. Militia Vox, Elizabeth Rose, Nathalie Bonin, and Helene Muddiman have all been kind enough to offer us their time, discuss their professional journey, and offer their thoughts on where the industry is headed next.

Today, we’re turning to our very own Katherine Beggs, one-third of Cutting Room Music and an extremely talented singer, writer, composer, and producer. Keep reading to get her thoughts on career opportunities for female composers, how the pandemic has changed the music industry, and the challenges she’s had to overcome so far.

Katherine Beggs of Cutting Room Music

Can you offer some perspective on the current state of the music industry? Are there enough female writers/composers out there, or is it a male-driven industry, in your opinion?

I think there are so many incredible female writers, producers, and composers. However, because the industry is male dominated, I think a lot of talented women do not get the recognition they deserve. I think women face more barriers to be respected in the industry, unfortunately. So many women are doing amazing things, they just tend to get overshadowed by the same men we hear about over and over again.

How hard was it for you to break through into this industry and achieve success? Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey?

As a 21 year-old, I feel like I am just at the start of my professional composition journey, but it was a long time coming and it required a lot of work. I started composing classical music when I was a sophomore in high school. I loved it so much that I decided I wanted to pursue composition in college. I had a tough choice to make between going to a traditional university and going to a conservatory, but ultimately decided to study music there. As I took more production-based classes, my interest shifted more into production, songwriting, and film score as opposed to classical chamber music. During the start of the pandemic, I started working with Mark (Roos), but I had no idea that I would be asked to join the team at Cutting Room Music. I think my hard work over the years and luck coincided, but I have still so far to go.

Did you have any female musicians or composers to look up to growing up? Who were your biggest influences?

Yes, I had so many! I think there were more female musicians in the pop world that I could see right in front of me, like Taylor Swift; I’ve been a fan of her since I was 10. In terms of composers, I was never really exposed to a lot of successful female composers, but as I got older I learned about them. Some include: Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Wendy Carlos, to name a few.

Do you think it’s important for aspiring young musicians to have a mentor? Did you have a mentor in your early days as a musician?

I think having a mentor is extremely beneficial. I don’t think I would be where I am today without my mentors. Reena Esmail, an amazing classical composer, was my greatest mentor when I was new to composition. She helped me navigate the craziness of conservatory applications and auditions, and really elevated my level of musicianship as a composer. Mark and Adonis of Cutting Room Music are definitely some amazing mentors, too.

What do you want young female composers to know as they try to build a career in the music business? What advice would you give them?

I would say to not let the men intimidate you. It can be really intimidating to pursue a male-dominated field, especially when a lot of these men have big egos. I definitely felt this when I had to go through conservatory auditions and I was the only woman. Once I realized that I was just as good, if not better, than the men, I let my capability and skill speak for itself.

How did the pandemic affect the music industry, as far as you’re concerned? Are you noticing any huge shifts or changes in the way things are done now, compared to 2 years ago?

I think because the pandemic halted in-person interaction, a lot of artists had to face inward. It was challenging for musicians who could not collaborate as easily, perform live, or jump on film projects because of Covid19. Artists had to find ways around these barriers. For me, I had way more time, so I really focused on becoming a better producer and writing more songs. I think taking the external element of music away was hard, but it forced me to see what I could come up with in my bedroom. I ended up writing some of my favorite songs during the pandemic. One thing I’ve noticed now coming out of the pandemic is that collaboration across long distances is actually easier than ever, because we had to figure out how to do it when we were remote. Meetings in general, too, are so much more efficient across time zones because of Zoom. Covid19 made us better problem-solvers and more efficient musicians.

Can you name the most challenging or most exciting project you’ve worked on so far? Or is there a project that holds a special place in your heart?

This past spring, I had the opportunity to help produce an EP called Black Elements. It was the culminating project for a course I took at Brown University called “Black Protest Music.” In this class, we studied the history of black music in America and attempted to answer the question of what constitutes protest music. On the EP, members of the class wrote, sang, played, and produced on all 6 tracks. It was the biggest collaboration project I’ve ever been a part of and by far the most challenging, as we were all remote. The end product was nothing short of beautiful and inspiring. The EP in itself was an act of protest and resilience against society’s racist and oppressive structures (in the midst of a global pandemic, nonetheless).

Last but not last, what were the biggest challenges you’ve had to face throughout your career? How did you overcome them?

I’m still at the start of my journey as a musician and composer, so I’m sure the toughest challenges are yet to come! I’d say the biggest hurdle to overcome when first starting out is having confidence in your talent and having the courage to pursue what you love doing.

Katherine Beggs is one-third of the musical trio behind Cutting Room Music. You can follow her most recent releases on Spotify, and read more about her journey on our blog.

Composer Q&A: Getting to Know Hélène Muddiman

Over the past weeks, we got the chance to chat with several influential female musicians who are making an impact on the industry, including Militia Vox, Elizabeth Rose, and Nathalie Bonin. We spoke to these artists about their musical journeys and their take on where the music industry is headed next. Now, we continue our series of Q&As with another highly creative artist, namely British composer and musician Hélène Muddiman.

Hélène Muddiman is a multi-award-winning artist who’s worked on hugely successful projects such as Ice Age: Continental Drift, Frankenweenie, Skin, and Happy Feet Two. She has composed music for film and television and also worked as a producer, arranger, and songwriter.

Muddiman signed with EMI Records when she was only 18 years old. In 2010, her work on Skin helped her became the first woman to be nominated for an Ivor Novello film score award in a decade. Today, we’re talking to Hélène about her career, her thoughts on the current state of the music industry, and her advice for female composers looking for a career in this field.

Hélène Muddiman

Can you offer some perspective on the current state of the music industry? Are there enough female writers/composers out there, or is it a male-driven industry, in your opinion?

I remember when I wrote a score that was eligible to be nominated for an Oscar. Out of curiosity, I discovered that Pinar Toprak and I were the only female composers who had scored any of the hundreds of eligible film scores! That was in 2010! I think we are still a long way from equal representation of all the diverse groups, not just gender equality, but all equality. It is a dangerous mindset to believe that just because there are some that we can stop trying to rush in our push for equality. I pride myself on campaigning hard to make sure I take every opportunity to push that pendulum back to the center. For example, I always insist on equality of gender and diversity in all my orchestras, as Stephanie O’Keefe (President of the AFM local 47) can attest. I think it is important that we all play our part to help redress the imbalances that plague our world, and music still has a way to go. In my humble opinion, it starts with role models for children. When they see it, they believe it!

How hard was it for you to break through into this industry and achieve success? Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey?

Well…If I may define ‘hard,’ I have a confession. I got a speeding ticket! Oops! So, I opted to do a day of community service to avoid any points on my license, and I soon realized that this was the first time in my life I had done a proper day’s work! Of course, I have “worked” long hours on music all of my life, learning my instruments – my mum says that when I was tiny, I pointed at someone playing the guitar on TV and said very passionately, “I WANT ONE.” Then by the time I was 11, I was rehearsing and gigging in bands performing at old people’s homes, then getting a record deal with EMI aged 18 and touring in Europe.

I had the idea of getting into Film and TV when I told my mum “I want to play music but not in the music business.” I loved the freedom that composing gives compared to performing the same songs every night – actually, I am a crappy performer, but that is the story I am sticking to.

Like everyone else, I have incredible frustrations and nightmarish situations in life, like working with directors who write 20 emails to me at night while I sleep. So I’d have this rude awakening – “WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!! DO IT AGAIN!” I’d continue opening all of their emails, until the last one, which would say ‘I have grown to LOVE IT! Don’t change a thing!!! You’re amazing, I would never have thought of playing it that way!”

Being emotionally mature is sometimes hard, as it can be at odds with our creative passions, and most of our problems are “first world problems,” anyway. As Bob Hunka says, many people would love to endure the stress creators go through to create, if only they were given the opportunity! This has become something I am truly passionate about, giving creators opportunities to create. I set up a charity to advocate for creators around the world, and also became a founding member of SONA and have been on the board of the SCL.

I like to advocate that the world would be a much better place if more people had more money to create. Imagine if we focused on giving people money to create, and instead of dropping bombs, we dropped musical instruments, paints, building materials, creative materials, computers loaded up with music and arts software…giving people tools to empower them to create beautiful things and take pride in their own environments. Yes, you’ll have some that use good things for evil purposes, and history shows us that it takes millions and millions of good people to overcome 1 evil megalomaniac, but I believe that the silent majority of humans are amazing and should make more noise to overcome some of the media that focuses on the worst of humanity.

The hardest part of being a composer now has to do with how hard it is to make money compared to 30 years ago. There is NO reason that this should be the case, as there is a lot of money being made as people are consuming it more than ever before; but the wealth is not being distributed fairly. It’s up to everyone to be part of the solution for the greater good, otherwise you are part of the problem.

Did you have any female musicians or composers to look up to growing up? Who were your biggest influences?

As a kid, I loved the music to The Flintstones, and it always ended on a credit for Hanna Barbera, which I misread as Hanna and Barbara. I thought if those girls can do it, then so can I! Unfortunately, I was not aware of any female composers growing up, but luckily I was a tomboy, so it didn’t bother me to identify with manly pursuits.

Do you think it’s important for aspiring young musicians to have a mentor? Did you have a mentor in your early days as a musician?

I didn’t intern with anyone, more through ignorance than choice, but people have been very kind to me and helped me in many ways, including agents, record companies, managers, and publishers. I have also mentored many, as I see the value in it.

What do you want young female composers to know as they try to build a career in the music business? What advice would you give them?

Never give up!

How did the pandemic affect the music industry, as far as you’re concerned? Are you noticing any huge shifts or changes in the way things are done now, compared to 2 years ago?

There are many shifts I can think of, mainly technology bridging the gap due to the lack of in-person contact. I do think there is a double-edged sword of restrictions that can bring newfound freedoms to invent new things and new ways of working together remotely. Still, nothing beats the energy and magic of collaboration in a room – it’s tangible.

Streaming platforms are doing great business. Having an audience subscribe brings revenue, so it’s providing a sustainable business model for paying creators, which has the potential to build a thriving entertainment ecosystem. Other new innovations are coming thick and fast, with NFTs and clickable monetization models. Governments around the world seem to be paying more attention, as there is a lot of money to be made from copyright, and this brings taxation revenue.

I believe that copyright is a truly valuable asset that is the nucleus of many industries and consequently the world’s economies depend upon it being protected. No matter which new technological delivery mechanisms are invented, there is no new platform without content. It is a symbiotic ecosystem, and I believe that the future will be a more equitable one, where every part is appreciated, valued and remunerated. There is enough for everyone if you make a big enough ‘pie.’

Can you name the most challenging or most exciting project you’ve worked on so far? Or is there a project that holds a special place in your heart?

It’s a great relief to finally feel liberated enough to talk in public about one of the many challenging experiences of my career. When songs I had written were covered by The Spice Girls’ Emma Bunton, her management asked me to give two thirds of my songwriting money from royalties and joint credit to her, with the producer leaving me with just 33% of the money, when I wrote 100% of the song! The understanding was that if I didn’t acquiesce, they would pull my songs from the album. I told them they could have 100% of the money – of a song they wrote themselves! Suffice it to say I refused, and they are all on the album, and one of my songs was even made the title track of the album ‘Free Me.’

It’s the principle that I objected to, and I hope my speaking out also gives others the courage to expose this kind of thing, so we can eradicate this malpractice. Copyright should be taught in schools. Alfons Karabuda told me the story of a teacher in a primary school who gave the kids back their drawings, only deliberately to the wrong children – the children immediately became upset and agitated as they instinctively understood the discomfort of being credited incorrectly.

You’ve worked on some epic projects during your career, including Happy Feet Two, Frankenweenie, and Ice Age. What’s it like working on such huge blockbusters? How does it differ from a smaller-scale project?

I can sum it up like this: when money is no object, you are only limited by your imagination!

Last but not least, what were the biggest challenges you’ve had to face throughout your career? How did you overcome them?

Avoiding getting speeding tickets! Which I overcame by turning the music down in my car! But seriously, I think the whole world faces the same conundrum: perspective. How do you find happiness and please everyone all the time? Impossible! After all, one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist, depending on whose side you are on. So, it’s a question of prioritizing – is it more selfish to please yourself, or for others to expect you to please them? All I know is that I am most unhappy when I try to please others and fail, and then everyone is miserable. I always know how to please myself which, funnily enough, has brought joy to millions who have bought my songs and watched the films I have scored!

Follow Hélène at APM Music and listen to her work on Spotify.

Composer Q&A: Getting to Know Elizabeth Rose

After interviewing Militia Vox and Nathalie Bonin for our Q&A series on female musicians, it’s time to welcome our third guest. Elizabeth Rose is an extraordinary, multi-talented, and creative artist who’s really making an impact on music and society nowadays. Rose is a singer, composer, writer, guitarist, accomplished comedian, and author. She can basically do it all, and she’s not afraid to take risks and venture into new and exciting projects.

Elizabeth Rose was born into an artistic family with strong ties to the music and comedy worlds. She started playing music at a very young age, learning to sing, play guitar and master the keyboards. Throughout her extensive career, Rose has worked on projects for PBS, the Discovery Channel, and Nickelodeon, and has written and starred in her own musical comedy productions, including Relative Pitch, a one-woman musical show. But Elizabeth Rose’s passions are not all about music. She serves as an education specialist and assistive technology advocate in New York, striving to help adults and children with disabilities. Last but not least, Rose is an award-winning author; her hilarious memoir Yo Miz! recounts her experience of teaching at 25 NYC high schools in just one year.

Now, Elizabeth Rose took some time off her busy schedule to chat with us about her love of music, new projects that she’s working on, and her take on the current state of the music industry.

Elizabeth Rose

Can you offer some perspective on the current state of the music industry? Are there enough female writers/composers out there, or is it a male-driven industry, in your opinion?

Rather than try to evaluate the scope of the whole industry, I’ll stick to my areas: songwriting and composing. There have been many successful female songwriters over the last half century. However, it’s been challenging for female composers to get the highest paying jobs, especially in film and TV. Games are a relatively new area and more women, like Winifred Philips, have risen to the top. The good news is that with the ascendency of composers like Laura Karpman, who was recently invited to join the Board of Governors of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences, the emergence of the Alliance for Women Film Composers and the multiple-award winning concert film featuring eight top female composers “Women Warriors: The Voices of Change,” the brainchild of conductor/producer Amy Andersson, we are seeing a breakthrough moment. I was lucky to be present at Amy’s sold out concert at Alice Tully Hall, at Lincoln Center in NYC. The extended standing ovation from the audience, for me, verified this new era for women composers.

How hard was it for you to break through into this industry and achieve success? Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey?

I’m always “breaking in.” Mostly, I’ve taken independent roads, although I have had jobs producing for a small record company, touring with the cast of Beatlemania and such. I don’t think about how “hard” it is. I just keep moving. And, I don’t take rejection personally, even if it has my name on it. When The Cherry Lane Theatre in NY produced my one-woman musical, “Relative Pitch,” it was such a gift. It took 6 years from idea to production. But I didn’t start by saying “I want a show at The Cherry Lane Theatre.” I had a story I needed to tell. So I just started writing.

Did you have any female musicians or composers to look up to growing up? Who were your biggest influences?

My mother was a singer, musician and actress. My biggest early influences were in my family. My uncle, Ted Raph, was the conductor/arranger of several live TV shows in the 1950’s and 60’s: Name That Tune, Hobby Lobby, Stop The Music. I loved watching him conduct. He had played trombone in several well known big bands in the 40’s and wrote arrangements for one of the Dorsey brothers. The first jazz concert I ever saw when I was a girl was the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz band. My cousin, Alan Raph, played bass trombone in that group. My brother, Bob Rose, is a session guitarist (hits, ads) and of late, a mandolin player. We used to go to the daytime David Letterman show where he played guitar in the stage band.

Growing up, my house was filled with music. My father played cello in string quartets and quintets. I sang and read music in our family madrigal group from the age of 5 (uncle Ted always conducted). Alan was playing Broadway shows and he often let me go with him. I got to watch my brother play in recording sessions. All I wanted to do was make music. Although those higher echelons of the music biz were mostly reserved for guys as far as I know, I’m grateful to have grown up with these players. And, by the way, it wasn’t an easy journey for any of these great musicians – gender notwithstanding. Talent and skills are necessary but success like theirs is earned. Perseverance and luck play a big part.

Do you think it’s important for aspiring young musicians to have a mentor? Did you have a mentor in your early days as a musician?

I didn’t have a mentor, per se. My uncle Ted did praise my singing and playing, which meant a lot to me. I did have family support for music lessons. They came to my performances and allowed me to join their music making. I guess that could be considered mentoring. And I had good luck for being born into such a musical family.

I think that having a person who says “yes” to your dreams and helps you build your skill set is a gift. And, if you’re lucky enough to have advice and counsel about how to navigate a very complex music biz which is always in flux, bingo! By the way, I love to mentor younger musicians and writers. It’s so uplifting for me to be of service.

What do you want young female composers to know as they try to build a career in the music business? What advice would you give them?

Join groups like the SCL, the AWFC and volunteer! That’s how you meet people, find your tribe, learn more tech skills. Enjoy the journey. Learn how to bounce from overt rejection or folks who never call you back. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Have fun with it. Take care of yourself – body, mind and spirit. When the applause comes in, allow it in. Don’t let your mind take you back to “I missed that 32nd note…” If they loved you, just breathe and let it in.

How did the pandemic affect the music industry, as far as you’re concerned? Are you noticing any huge shifts or changes in the way things are done now, compared to 2 years ago?

I think Zoom collaborations and presentations created an international community for all of us that will continue to expand our horizons, network and creativity. In the SCL, we created the first SCL Global SongDemic. We paired up our composer/lyricist members, gave them an assignment to write a song for one of several top streamers. We had collaborations between music creators from across the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and China. It was amazing. We followed up with another pairing project, “Musical Storytelling.” Both projects had the most wonderful playback sessions. We made lots of new friends and fostered collaborators. We invited music supervisors to the party and solicited their constructive opinions on the songs. Looks like we’re going to do this annually. Couldn’t have done it without Zoom…and it brought light and creativity to a pretty dark time.

Can you name the most challenging or most exciting project you’ve worked on so far? Or is there a project that holds a special place in your heart?

Duke Ellington, when asked what his favorite tune was said – “the one I’m writing now.” It’s the same for me. When the pandemic hit, I took the Yale “happiness course” online, “The Science of Well Being.” A week into the course I felt I had to write a “happiness” album. So that’s what I’m up to these days. Got one song almost done. Horn section to be recorded in September together in the studio: Flugelhorn, trumpet, soprano, tenor, baritone & bass sax. Great players. I sketched the arrangement on Logic.

Last but not last, what were the biggest challenges you’ve had to face throughout your career? How did you overcome them?

One of my biggest challenges has been getting my music “out there.” I know I’m not alone here. So, again that’s the value of these organizations – and I should mention the PROs (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC). Like the SCL and AWFC, they hold informative sessions about marketing, the tech of distribution, monetizing and such. Also, Joel Beckerman founded a wonderful organization, “Your Music Your Future – A Community of Composers and Creators.” Go there. It’s an educational and service-oriented community.

Follow Elizabeth’s website for updates, listen to her debut album on Spotify, and order her award-winning book Yo Miz! here.

Composer Q&A: Getting to Know Nathalie Bonin

Cutting Room Music recently kickstarted a new series of interviews with female composers and artists who are making an impact on the music industry today. Our first guest, Militia Vox, spoke to us in-depth about her background, her passions, and where she thinks the industry is headed next.

This week, we picked the brain of another highly versatile and well-rounded artist, Nathalie Bonin. An accomplished violinist who started playing the instrument at age 4, Nathalie has worked with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Charles Aznavour, and even Cirque du Soleil! She’s worked with Stevie Wonder and YES, among many others, and has toured all over the world. Nathalie is also an accomplished writer and composer, with her work featured in various high-profile movies and TV series. She recently released a beautiful album showcasing her amazing skills as a violinist, dubbed Inner Mindscapes, and has worked on a groundbreaking documentary project called Women Warriors: The Voices of Change

We sat down with Nathalie to learn more about her background, what drove her to become a musician, her latest projects, and how she navigates the music business world in this ‘new normal,’ post-pandemic context. 

Nathalie Bonin

Can you offer some perspective on the current state of the music industry? Are there enough female writers/composers out there, or is it a male-driven industry, in your opinion?

I think there is definitely more awareness of the inequalities within the industry, and I see a lot of efforts being made from different organizations and even production companies to help change that. On the other hand, I still feel it is still a very male-driven systemic situation where a lot of times decisions happen subconsciously. Making room for a new crowd takes time and conscious efforts.

There is evidence that there are plenty of women composers, we just need to be given the same consideration and opportunities. I love that more and more established male composers are mentoring and hiring women composers. It is a great way to help them climb the ladder by learning the ropes and gain confidence as well as prove to the industry that they can do the job.

I also think it is important to distinguish gender parity with diversity in general because by trying to kill two birds with one stone, many women risk falling in the cracks. The wheel has started turning in a good direction and I am optimistic that the more it turns, the more speed it will gain as the industry discovers the wonderful perspective it had been missing out all this time.

How hard was it for you to break through into this industry and achieve success? Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey?

My journey had lots of twists and turns, peaks and valleys, so I’m not sure which peak I would tag as my “success point”…I started violin when I was 4, and after years of training in Montreal and New York, by 17 I became a professional concert, touring and session violinist. After some years playing in symphony orchestras and classical concerts, and even a deviation through pre-med studies, I came back to music with the urge to perform and share emotions without being bound by the written notes, so I explored world music, jazz and improvisation for the main part of my 20’s. I travelled to Boston and NYC for classes and workshops and ended up performing in these new styles, sensing a new freedom which naturally led me to start composing. 

Interestingly, my first composition contract for television was actually way back for a documentary series. I had no composition experience at all and thankfully, it only needed violin and double bass counterpoint, baroque style themes and stingers and no need to sync. The perfect manageable challenge I thought, so I dove in! I remember sending them tape demos lol! On another documentary film project, I was an actor in the movie and got to improvise on a Paganini caprice theme. Another time, I doubled and trained the lead actor, Karine Vanasse, to play the violin for a scene and yet another movie, I literally improvised violin lines and sound effects to the cue of a car chase action scene while my soon to be born baby was kicking me in the belly! These experiences as well as recording for dozens of movie soundtracks initiated me gradually to film scoring without me realizing it. 

To have any chance of success, I knew I needed to really learn the craft and considering my busy schedule and having a young kid by that point, I started Berklee Online classes and  ended up graduating with a Master Certificate in Film and TV composition.

My first “break” as composer came through my then fiancé. Being a television director, he was aware of shows in need of music and he got me on a pitch for the main title for a French Canadian prime time network show. This was HUGE for me! They set up a blind listening audition and my fiancé was not on the jury but he had gotten my reel in the pile which is often the hardest step. I remember wanting it so bad, I worked all weekend day and night, listened to hundreds of the best TV themes and studied them. My studio was still rudimentary and so I had downloaded the entire sound collections of EastWest on their 2-week trial policy to be able to produce a good demo. I jumped through the roof when I heard I had gotten the gig literally the day before my samples would turn to pumpkins and the gig ended up paying for my first sample libraries! I’m happy to say it is still playing as the show has been renewed for its 11th season… After that gig, I got other TV themes and a series that lasted 2 seasons in which music was wall to wall and in any style possible which was sometimes quite a stretch but I learned most of my production skills, management skills and speed through this experience.. I also did not sleep much!

As my life and career evolved, I felt a calling to move to Los Angeles. After 3 years of back and forth, I made the move in 2018 and after a few short films, mentorships and production music projects, I got my first Hallmark movie to score and have scored 5 in total since then. That first Hallmark was an important milestone as I was starting to establish myself here. I feel like this is still a fairly new chapter in my career so I am excited to see where it leads and happy to be newly represented by Kevin Korn.

Did you have any female musicians or composers to look up to growing up? Who were your biggest influences?

As a very young kid, my first idol was actually a gymnast, Nadia Comaneci. Later, as a young violinist, I was very inspired by Anne-Sophie Mutter. I don’t really remember being exposed to women composers as a kid, sadly. My inspiration when I started composition were Elfman, Williams, Goldenthal, Goldsmith, Horner and Desplat. Today, I love the works of newer generations like Peteris Vasks, Nicolas Brittell, Nathan Barr, Mica Levi.

Do you think it’s important for aspiring young musicians to have a mentor? Did you have a mentor in your early days as a musician?

Yes, I think mentors are very important. Not only to learn from but to sense that these masters believe in you and support your journey. Many of my mentors have become dear friends and collaborators. As a teenager, Christopher Tarlé was my violin mentor. He turned the student I was into a professional musician. As a new composer in Los Angeles, my main mentors were Michael A. Levine and Andy Hill. They both helped me create and build my network of friends and collaborators as well as introduce me to key people that eventually helped me get opportunities. I see mentors as the gardeners of the seeds that you plant. 

What do you want young female composers to know as they try to build a career in the music business? What advice would you give them?

To believe in themselves and to know that it is possible. We all need to consider that the success of one is the success of all women composers, but realize that at this point, we also bear more responsibility when we fail as it reflects on others. In the end, this means believing, working hard, supporting each other as we all rise together. There is no room for jealousy or envy, only for celebrating one’s success that will help open a new door for the next one. 

How did the pandemic affect the music industry, as far as you’re concerned? Are you noticing any huge shifts or changes in the way things are done now, compared to 2 years ago?

In my opinion, it changed the industry because, aside from the obvious lockdowns, it changed the people that make up the industry. For some it was a much-needed break to heal and be with family, for others a time to create or finally produce that album or project, yet for others to change their goals and maybe try something new. I think what the pandemic did essentially was change the focus for everyone. We were forced to adapt, re-invent, be resilient yet confident. We have been transformed and the world has been transformed. Now, we need to find our place in this new world as creators. The pandemic was an opportunity to prove that a lot can be done remotely and projects were completed or initiated that might not have seemed possible before or too risky. The need created the tools and now I think this will enable more global creativity and collaborations on multiple levels.  

Can you name the most challenging or most exciting project you’ve worked on so far? Or is there a project that holds a special place in your heart?

Working on the “Women Warriors: The Voices of Change” (WWTVOC) project has been very special. I got on board over 3 years ago when Amy Andersson, the artistic director, producer, and conductor of the project asked me if I was interested. She gathered a team of women composers from Los Angeles and New York to create a multimedia concert that was Premiered in September 2019 at Lincoln Center. Two of my pieces were premiered with orchestra and I was soloist on one of Penka D. Kouneva’s compositions. 

What makes this project special is manifold. Not only is it truly an honor to be part of this team of women composers, but also to feel the friendship and support we have for one another through the different stages of the project. The subject is also incredibly powerful: WWTVOC portrays 800 years of some of the women warriors who have changed history through their courage, actions and sacrifices. It carries a message every little girl needs to hear, and every woman needs to be reminded of the power of women in the world. It is so wonderful to see how the documentary version has been officially selected in dozens of festivals and won numerous prizes for best documentary and best soundtrack. I think we, as a team, have a lot to be proud of!

How challenging was it to create “Tender Dismay” for Women Warriors: The Voices of Change? How has this project impacted you professionally?

“Tender Dismay” was originally a composition challenge by my mentor Andy Hill for a delicate scene he wanted me to score. That version was recorded by myself with a mix of solo violin lines and sampled low strings and piano. Amy heard it and thought it would be perfect for a segment of the WWTVOC, so I made an arrangement for the ensemble.  The main challenge was to keep the delicate and intimate and eerie qualities of the piece and translate the special instrumental techniques of slow gliding synchronized harmonics to be performed by the full string ensemble and harp. I’m very happy about how it came out both at the concert and on the recording and grateful to Larry Rench who did a wonderful job preparing the parts. 

My other composition used in WW is “Prayer,” which was originally composed and recorded by myself almost as a self-healing process through a period of grief and loss. I love how the ensemble arrangement added to the depth of emotions of the piece, which is used for the “Memoriam” segment of the concert. Both pieces were later recorded by the Riga Orchestra and I’m excited to say they will be FYC (For Your Consideration) for the Grammys 2022. I think this project is an important milestone in my recent career as a composer in Los Angeles, and having 2 of my pieces premiered with an orchestra at Lincoln Center was a big honor for me, as well as the first official performance of any of my compositions by an orchestra for public audiences.

Last but not last, what were the biggest challenges you’ve had to face throughout your career? How did you overcome them?

Doubt is always the most paralyzing thing I’ve had to face. During those moments, I really have to focus on that inner voice telling me to trust myself. There is honestly not one project where I have not felt both the exhilarating feeling of embarking on a new adventure and having been chosen for it but also the anxiety of possibly failing or not being the right person for it. It seems to be common even in the top circles of musicians and composers, so I now choose to see it as a good sign, like what you feel right before going on stage!

Being a single mom has also been quite a challenge and to be honest, I don’t think I could have achieved half of my goals without the help of my wonderful parents. As my son grew old enough, I made every effort to bring him on gigs and even on tours and be part of the adventure. I am grateful that by following my dream, it enabled him to follow his and come to study acting in Los Angeles.

The original versions of “Tender Dismay” and “Prayer” are part of Nathalie’s album release “Inner Mindscape,” released on MPATH – APM/EMI.

Listen to the “Women Warriors: The Voices of Change” album on Spotify (including full string ensemble versions of “Tender Dismay” and “Prayer”):

Composer Q&A: Getting to Know Militia Vox

We recently announced that Cutting Room Music would be kicking off a series of Q&As with female composers who are making a difference in the music industry today. It’s time to officially start the series and get to know our first artist, Militia Vox.

Militia Vox is a one-of-a-kind artist whose skill goes way beyond just music composition. You could say she has it all: talent, stage presence, charisma, and last but not least, an amazingly strong voice. She’s a fierce artist who has worked with names like Nancy Sinatra, Cyndi Lauper, John Petrucci (Dream Theater), and Twisted Sister, among many others. Vox has worked on many different and diverse projects, and is an experienced singer, writer, producer, composer, actor, and director. There’s basically nothing she can’t do once she decides she wants to do it. But let’s hear more from Militia Vox herself.

Militia Vox

Can you offer some perspective on the current state of the music industry? Are there enough female writers/composers out there, or is it a male-driven industry, in your opinion?

The music industry is kind of “The Wild West” at the moment. It’s anyone’s game who chooses to play. You can study music or not study music, and still have a career. You can build a following without leaving your home. It’s somewhat shocking at times. All that matters is the result: can you reach and connect with an audience? Can you get paid for your work? There’s a vast range of creatives out there that are truly making it on their own terms. I believe that there are lots of female writers/composers; they are more visible now than ever before. But, for some reason, the guys are still in the lead, getting better opportunities and taking home the big checks. That needs to change. We get a rare breakthrough sometimes, such as Hildur Guðnadóttir. But you know it’s bad when you can point to one lone female that manages to rise to the top…

How hard was it for you to break through into this industry and achieve success? Can you tell us a bit about your professional journey?

I’m still trying to break on through! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a great career so far, but I’m still so hungry for more. I’m lucky that I get to make 100% of my living from music and performing. Real success to me is when your reputation precedes you. I want a hit song. I want to score a horror movie. I want more fun and unusual collabs. I want to continue to make music and visuals that take risks and are acknowledged in my lifetime. I want to front a major band, like Soundgarden! That’s my dream bucket list. It’s scary fun to type that out and admit publicly!

As far as my journey goes, I started taking piano lessons at around age 9 and quickly accelerated to becoming a competitive pianist. I placed in several county and state competitions, all while singing in choirs and doing theater. I went to Boston Conservatory at Berklee and was kicked out for “insubordination” right before graduation. But it was in college that I joined my first band; it was an industrial band called Disciples of Astaroth. We had a lone release on Cleopatra Records.

I moved to NYC to do everything raw and real in music and theater that I could. I was in bands, started singing solo, did theater and quickly got on the European Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was my first real pro gig, a dream come true. After the tour, I came back to NY and toured as the lead soloist with Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) in a horror-themed orchestra called “Van Helsing’s Curse.” Soon after, I met Sandra Bernhard and she hired me to be her backing vocalist and soloist. I toured with her for years, and from those shows I got poached to sing with other artists: Ana Gasteyer, Nancy Sinatra, Taylor Dayne and Cyndi Lauper. I learned a lot from those gigs, but had a bit of an identity crisis. The role of “blackground singer” [you know what that means!], as I often call it, was too limiting for me. I’m a frontwoman.

Eventually, I had to start turning down those gigs. It was more interesting, exciting and gratifying for me to write songs, create video art and produce events. So, I wrote songs for my band Swear On Your Life and eventually got the guts to go solo. I even created an immersive experience of my work – which has been kicking ass on the film festival circuit and has evolved into an AR/VR/XR experience. During the pandemic quarantine, I finally had the time to truly build up my home studio, learn to engineer, mix and master. Now, I’m getting hired to score and compose for multimedia and film. I’m excited to do even more. I’m insatiable.

Did you have any female musicians or composers to look up to growing up? Who were your biggest influences?

The female musicians I looked up to growing up were Tori Amos, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Donita Sparks of L7, Courtney Love of Hole, Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland, Janis Joplin…My biggest influences overall were and still are: Trent Reznor, Martin L Gore, Robert Smith, Danny Elfman, James Maynard Keenan, Chino Moreno, Freddie Mercury, and various spooky scores and soundtracks that I played so much I still have them committed to memory.

Do you think it’s important for aspiring young musicians to have a mentor? Did you have a mentor in your early days as a musician?

I think it can be vital if you’re lucky enough to get one. I did not formally have a mentor. But I had a few teachers that acknowledged the drive and potential in me enough to point me in certain directions.

What do you want young female composers to know as they try to build a career in the music business? What advice would you give them?

My advice is to always experiment. Say yes to new opportunities and figure it out along the way. Don’t wait for “inspiration,” a mood, or the ideal situation. That’s a trap. You’ll discover way more ideas and get more done if you stay open, carve out creative practice for yourself and keep making cool stuff that you like. Even if you have to work a job that is not in the music industry to keep fed, you need your creative time. I’ve seen a lot of talent waste years of life and wreck themselves because of this.

How did the pandemic affect the music industry, as far as you’re concerned? Are you noticing any huge shifts or changes in the way things are done now, compared to 2 years ago?

The pandemic forced everyone to reassess themselves and how they use their time, the things they prioritize, work-life balance, goals, needs, sanity. The ways and means that we accept stress in our lives is now a real issue. Life on the hamster wheel has changed because now we’re more self-aware. Also, I’d like to say that there is more of a focus on diversity and inclusion for women and people of color, but I don’t have any real evidence to support that, myself. I see the same select few faces on repeat.

Can you name the most challenging or most exciting project you’ve worked on so far? Or is there a project that holds a special place in your heart?

Each new project is the most exciting project! So right now, I’m working on a new progressive doom metal project. I’m writing in a very different way than I usually do and experimenting with different themes that tie in with revelations, overwhelm and existential crisis – all things that are experienced during times of difficult transition. It’s a very meaningful project to me because I am collaborating with two musicians that I’ve known since college. I’ve always admired their skills and have always wanted to work with them. Now’s finally the time. They are guitar gods in the making.

The project that holds a special place in my heart is THE VILLAINESS. It’s been my dream project, my first original solo album, it made me a filmmaker and now I’m doing immersive installations and AR/VR/XR experiences of the work. My dream for it is to be a cult phenomenon, like DARK SIDE OF THE RAINBOW or Pink Floyd’s THE WALL. Something that high school and college kids gather and trip out to for years and years…

You are such a well-versed artist, with experience in singing, writing, composing, producing, directing, acting…you name it. You’ve also worked with some legendary artists like Nancy Sinatra, Cyndi Lauper, Dream Theater, and Twisted Sister – just to name a few. How do you manage to balance all these artistic venues without feeling pressure or burnout?

I know that my job at all times is to show up and give my best. I am always aware that I am only competing with myself. The show, the art, the recording, these are the most important things; more important than me and my ego or my feelings. Because of the range and variety of things that I do, it’s kept me from burnout. I’m forever curious and daring.

Last but not last, what were the biggest challenges you’ve had to face throughout your career? How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenges I’ve faced are mostly other people’s narrow-mindedness on what I can or can’t do. I’ve gotten a lot of bad advice over the years; everything from “you can’t be a musician AND do theater, to “pick a lane” or “your music has too many genres, like one minute it’s industrial and then there’s a grunge sounding guitar solo, and then it goes metal” or “you need to look more white to make rock music.” I firmly believe that the only limitation I have is my own imagination. I’m always actively eradicating boundaries and blending elements that are as mixed as I am by nature. As a multi-ethnic person, it makes sense for me to mix styles, mediums, etc…I am the genre.

Head over to Militia Vox’s website and check out more of her work on her YouTube channel.

Cutting Room Music to Launch Series of Q&As with Female Composers

The world of music composers and producers has been traditionally male-dominated, like so many other industries. Although there is immense talent out there, female composers are often overshadowed by the big-name male composers that are already well-known in the industry. Think Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, or Alexandre Desplat. Interesting fact: in 87 years, just three women composers have snagged an Oscar for music, namely Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker (2019), Rachel Portman for Emma (1996), and Anne Dudley for The Full Monty (1997).

Nevertheless, female composers are beginning to take center stage, and be recognized for their talent and achievements. Some of the biggest names in the industry today include Hildur Guðnadóttir, Laura Karpman, and Kathryn Bostic, to name a few. Some projects released recently are breaking barriers in this regard. The Disney+ TV series Loki is one of them. 

Spearheaded by a female director, Kate Herron, the first season of the series boasts a magnificent score by British composer Natalie Ann Holt. This makes Holt only the second woman to write an MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) score, following Pinar Toprak for Captain Marvel in 2019. Additionally, Herron wanted to make sure that there was gender parity amongst the Season 1 crew, and included this request in her contract terms. She also hired Autumn Durald as cinematographer, a position more often than not occupied by men in the industry. 

Challenges and Opportunities for Female Music Composers in 2021 and Beyond

In a recent interview, Natalie Holt said that she believes the pandemic has opened new doors for composers. In her experience, there is now a lot more openness towards remote composers, and a desire to try out new things, new instruments, and new directions. This openness towards change is what made Loki’s playful soundtrack and character evolution possible in the first place. At the same time, studying music and climbing the career ladder is still a struggle for many aspiring composers, and female musicians have an even higher barrier to entry, even today. 

The good news is that the industry is a lot more aware of these gender disparity issues, and many organizations are taking action to change this, including the Alliance for Women Film Composers. Female composers that have managed to break through the barriers are now mentoring other composers, and more and more aspiring professionals are getting noticed. The lockdowns of the past year forced everyone to focus their attention inwards, and a lot of composers and producers took the time to improve their skills and find new ways to connect with audiences. 

kicking off a new series of q&as with female composers

Cutting Room Music knows firsthand the challenges that female composers have to overcome when trying to break through in the music industry. Team member Katherine Beggs knows all about what it takes to get recognized in this male-dominated industry: talent, courage, and determination. She’s been able to push through the barrier and work successfully as a musician, composer, and producer, and she’s not the only one. 

We want to bring some awareness and recognition and celebrate the talented female composers in this industry, so we’re kicking off a series of Q&As with female composers that have managed to break through in the music industry. We’ll start our series soon with the first interview, so stay tuned and follow us on social media for updates. If you want to be part of the series or know a female composer who deserves to be heard, feel free to reach out to us via our contact page, or send us a message on Facebook or LinkedIn

Inside Cutting Room Music: Meet Mark Roos

After chatting about all things music with Katherine Beggs and Adonis Tsilimparis, it’s now Mark Roos’ turn. The third creative mind behind Cutting Room Music, Mark has a long and busy career in the music industry. An award-winning composer, Mark Roos is a true veteran in the business, and has worked on some major projects over the years, including Keeping Up With the Kardashians, American Pickers, Snapped, Murder One, and Amazon Prime’s Trending Crimes. He’s also worked on musical projects for Microsoft XBox and Pixar, and has served on the Board of The Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL). Today, we’re sitting down with Mark to pick his brain about his musical beginnings, favorite composers, new projects in the pipeline, and more.

Mark Roos of Cutting Room Music

First, tell us a bit about your background and what got you into music.

My earliest encounter with music was in Vienna, Austria, when I was 5 years old. According to my father, who did not usually exaggerate, he took me to go see Mozart’s Magic Flute, and when I came home I said that that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know what a composer was back then, obviously, but according to him, that’s when I decided I wanted to play music. My parents told me that if I wanted to pursue this, I’d have to take lessons at least once a week until I was 18. So, I thought about it for about three weeks, and then I came back and said I was in. I took piano lessons every week when I lived in Austria, and then continued learning when we lived in the U.S. My teachers would come to the house to teach me, and my mom was always there by my side to encourage me. She took notes during classes, and made sure I was disciplined and accomplished all the assignments, so really, I owe my musical career to my mom. 

You’ve had a long and fruitful career, and probably worked on a lot of music over the years. Is there a project that holds a special place in your heart?

Not to sound smug, but they’re all good, honestly, at least to me. I love all the projects I’ve worked on, and enjoyed working on them at the time, so I can’t really pick just one, sorry. 

Any exciting projects you’re currently working on, or anything interesting in the pipeline (that you can tell us about)?  

Yes! I’m looking forward to scoring the second season of Amazon Prime’s Trending Crimes, along with Katherine and Adonis. We’re all very excited about that. According to the director and producer, they’re already done shooting the episodes, so we should be getting into post-production this fall and start working on the soundtrack.  

What do you think is special about CuttingRoomMusic? What makes you stand out from the competition?

What I really love about working with Katherine and Adonis is that we’re able to meld all our different musical perspectives and influences into the individual project we’re working on. With the three of us working on the same task, the music just takes on a different life, one that it would not take if we were working alone. Adonis and I have worked together for over 10 years on different projects, so it’s fantastic to have a company together and do this ‘officially.’ Then, with Katherine’s added talent and fresh perspective, the results are just amazing, every time. Our clients also really like the idea that we’re a team, and not just an individual composer. They like to know that there are three of us working together on the project, making sure we execute their vision and help them connect to their audiences. 

What’s it like working with Katherine and Adonis within CuttingRoomMusic? Are your styles similar or very different? Do you ever disagree when working on projects, and how do you make it work? 

We’ve never disagreed on projects, to be honest. How we make it work is we start with a specific scene or project in a very seamless and organic way. One of us will, for instance, take an initial motif, then the next person will add their unique take, then maybe Katherine will add some voices, so everyone contributes. It’s really a collaborative process where we inspire each other and each adds our own creativity. 

Now we want to get to know you a little bit better. Who are your favorite musicians or composers? Who inspires you?

My favorite composers are Beethoven and Bach. I also love Haydn, Mozart, Ravel, and lots of other classical composers. On the other end of the spectrum, I also enjoy Neue Deutsche Härte, a subcategory of industrial metal that originated in Germany and Austria in the 1990s and early 2000s. The most well-known band in this genre is obviously Rammstein, a band that I really enjoy. I also recently discovered a new band called Sleep Token. Their cords and writing are completely different from everything else that’s out there, to my ears at least. They don’t follow the usual chord progressions, so it’s very refreshing and unique. 

Where do you get your inspiration when writing/composing music? 

Honestly, my inspiration lies in the project and the deadline. There’s really no inspiration like having to complete a project for a client. Basically, when you’re writing and composing music all day, every day, and you do it year in, year out, it almost becomes second nature. Whether it’s jazz, pop or classical, I’m able to be very versatile and adapt to the specific requirements of the project very easily. 

Can you tell us which are your favorite movie soundtracks or scores? 

The one that completely rocked my boat was 1995’s Batman soundtrack, by Elliot Goldenthal. I was in graduate school when I first heard that. At the time, like many other composers back then, I was playing music in a band. We were supposed to go on the road for two years, but my first daughter had just been born, and I didn’t really want to be away from my family for that long. I also saw the monetary benefits of working as a composer rather than a musician in a band. But the most important benefit was that composer work allowed me to stay home and be with my family. 

What’s your favorite musical instrument?

My favorite instruments are piano first, guitar second. I really love classical piano, and we even have a grand piano here at home. I do also like playing bass, so those are my top three favorite instruments. 

What’s one movie, TV show, or musical project that you would have loved to be a part of?

I would have loved to work on Netflix’s Dark series. The soundtrack by Ben Frost is amazing, they’ve done such a good job. The strings were recorded in Krakow, and a lot of the other production took place in Belgium, I believe. It’s a beautiful soundtrack and I would have loved to have been a part of it. 

Interested in working with Mark and Cutting Room Music? Reach out to us and tell us about your musical project.

CuttingRoomMusic’s Katherine Beggs Delivers Heartfelt Musical Project to Support Miracle Activation Center’s Mission

The past year has been nothing short of intense, as the Covid19 pandemic took the world by storm and forced everyone to rethink the way they live, work, and play. Regardless of background, location, or industry, everyone’s been trying their best to contribute to the recovery process. CuttingRoomMusic tries to bring joy and excitement to people’s lives in their own little way, through music.

That’s exactly what CuttingRoomMusic team member Katherine Beggs set out to do when she started working on a musical project for Miracle Activation Center. Miracle Activation Center is a California-based company that focuses on mental health, wellness and spirituality, counseling, life coaching, and more. Their mission is to help people get over difficult times in their lives, and improve themselves, both personally and professionally, so that they can become the best and healthiest version of themselves. 

During these trying times, the team at Miracle Activation Center wanted to bring a tribute to all the people who’ve been working hard to get the world through the pandemic. Founder and Executive Director Larendee Roos collaborates with Earl Purdy, a metaphysical and spiritual teacher, in a series called Conversations for Connection. One of their episodes, What Love Can Do, focused on how to bring healing to centuries of fear that manifests into hatred, anger, and harm. They commissioned Cutting Room Music team member Katherine Beggs, who wrote, composed, and sang the song that has become a theme for their work. They also engaged Larendee’s son, Warren Roos, to create the video. 

“There is power and true transformation can occur by meeting needs in simple ways, one human, one encounter at a time. We want people to know that they can bring hope, light, and love to every person and situation they encounter through simple acts of kindness,” said Larendee Roos of Miracle Activation Center.

“At a time when we are all asking what can be done, Earl asked the question, ‘I wonder what love can do?’ That question became the foundation and inspiration for the project. We specifically chose to collaborate with young adults to demonstrate the power of cross-generational collaboration. The song, ‘Wake Up and See the Light,’ together with the video, is a call to remember that the truth and the answers we need for any problem we face reside within each of us. No one has a monopoly on truth or change. We are all needed. This was a tribute to all the people who remember their true identity-powerful creators of change and transformation who demonstrate love and kindness everyday.”

My song is really supposed to be about healing and recovery, both collectively and individually after this dark year. It is a reminder that even in the darkest times, there is still hope, love, and light,” said Katherine Beggs, writer and performer of Wake Up and See the Light.  

“Katherine’s song captures the emotional feelings of such turbulent times, pointing to the hope, inclusion and humanity that is in all of us,” added Mark Roos, co-founder of Cutting Room Music. 

The team at Miracle Activation Center has been working tirelessly throughout the past year to deliver physical, emotional, social, spiritual and mental health support to people from all walks of life. Cutting Room Music wanted to show their support and respect for this meaningful work through music. 

Enjoy the song and video by clicking the link below:

About Miracle Activation Center

Miracle Activation Center is a California-based company focused on delivering best-in-class counseling, mental health, and personal development services. They specialize in holistic Self-discovery,  executive & ministerial support, and wellness. They also offer strategic intervention and team building workshops, and retreats through self-guided education and counseling.

Music Composers Wanted. Everywhere.

Is music a stable job? Let’s put it this way: music is a stable need. If you feel the urge to create music, be sure there are music-hungry creatures all around you that yearn to meet it, be it in film, in video games, on the radio, intertwined with the narration of an audiobook, or a tune to which their mind can turn for refuge during an awkwardly long elevator ride. Music is needed everywhere, all the time. The bigger, the faster, and the noisier our world grows outside, the more we need music to temper our worlds inside.

If you harbor an innate desire to create music, like we do at Cutting Room Music, keep working on it and don’t limit your chances by thinking that music composers only have careers in film or television. In fact, a music composer has access to a wide array of possible paths, almost all of which blend composition with other elements of music-making, such as performing, conducting, teaching, arranging or production of music, thereby creating endless possibilities, from “traditional” to “modern” composer career options.

What Are the “Typical” Musical Composition Career Options?

This is perhaps the loosest use of the word, as there is hardly anything “typical” about a musical composer’s professional path. You might start out as a fleeting member of small local new wave synth pop bands while working as an assistant engineer and all-around-handyman at a recording studio. Then you might put together a band and win over the world with dark heavy industrial explorations, and eventually relax into composing scores for films ranging from Natural Born Killers to Soul.

Perhaps the path that we are most exposed to is that of a composer-performer, which gives you the distinct advantage of presenting your own music the way you intend it to be heard.

A composer-conductor is another option to tap into the same advantage, but by influencing the performance of your creative work by others.

Alternatively, consider songwriting — the field is notoriously competitive, but always in need for fresh ideas to put behind the endless stream of fresh faces and voices transforming delivery of music.

The more academically inclined might explore the path of composer-instructor, which can range from teaching one or more instruments, teaching composition itself, or teaching musical arts courses within a college or university.

What Are Music Composer Careers You Don’t Hear Enough About?

There are a lot of options out there that we don’t associate with composers, either because they are called something else or because most of us don’t understand that it takes composition skills to do the job well.

A producer, for instance, is a wide-net term that can encapsulate arranging music or engineering to overhaul the sound of a piece or a collection of music — it takes a composer’s familiarity with instrument capability to realize when the sound might be missing something or when a good piece of music could be elevated by adapting it to a different set of instruments.

Some of the best producers in the business started out as producer’s assistants, which on its own is great exposure to music marketplace knowledge, collaboration opportunities, new skills and creative avenues. From there, you might put together your own studio and help lift other voices in film, television, commercials, animations, documentaries, or whatever their project is that needs music.

Composers’ particular expertise in new music gives them a certain knowledge of quality and sense of discrimination that makes them great publishing scouts — attend concerts, meet other composers, catch an early wave of new music, and uncover new talent.

Repertoire selection is another avenue of collaboration with publishing and record companies. A composer’s fine sense for musical arrangement and variety of the times makes for great curation of, say, a discography release.

New medium music compositionvideo games would likely not have evolved to be so immersive and sophisticated without the musical score that complements their narratives and built worlds. Even the best written true crime podcast would not be as gripping without the right music to underscore the drama.

As traditionally “analog” endeavours lean more into the digital and multimedia dimensions, advertising agencies and event coordinators need music composers to create everything from catchy jingles to soundscapes for conferences, conventions, and book tours, as well as edit sound and advise on audio design.

Films, television shows, video games, plays, commercials, podcasts, fashion shows, orchestras, small local store ads, musical therapy programs, and so much more everywhere around you need composers to bring their projects to completion, and each of these paths can be a fulfilling, satisfying composer career. 

If you’re looking for experienced composers or music consultants to help you with your next musical project, feel free to reach out to Cutting Room Music. We’re always ready and eager to immerse ourselves in a new and unique project, and we’re looking forward to working with you!

Inside Cutting Room Music: Meet Adonis Tsilimparis

We recently sat down and had a chat with Katherine Beggs, the youngest member of the Cutting Room Music team, where we picked her brain and got to know what makes her tick as a musician. Now, we’re talking to Adonis Tsilimparis, co-founder of Cutting Room Music and a veteran in the music business. We wanted to find out how he got started in this competitive industry, what inspires him, and what he thinks makes Cutting Room Music stand out from the competition.

Adonis Tsilimparis has a long track record writing and composing music for various projects. Raised in the New York City scene, where he played guitar in various bands, he got his first taste of the business writing music for various commercial ads. He now resides in Los Angeles and is constantly busy with team projects at Cutting Room Music, as well as his solo work. Read on to find out what keeps him motivated.

Adonis Tsilimparis of Cutting Room Music

Tell us a bit about your background and what got you into music. How long have you been doing this and do you still enjoy it?   

I have been in the music industry for over 20 years. I studied Guitar and Piano when I was 11 years old, and then went on to perform in bands and eventually became a composer. I still enjoy every minute of it.

Can you tell us about some of the favorite musical projects you’ve worked on in your career? Is there a project that holds a special place in your heart? 

Writing music for film and TV has always captivated me more than anything else. I had a lot of fun working on shows like “NCIS” and “CSI.”

Any exciting projects you’re currently working on, with CRM or individually (that you can tell us about)? 

We have an Amazon series that we will be working on this summer. It’s the second season of “Trending Crimes” and should be released this fall.

What do you think is special about CuttingRoomMusic? How do you differentiate from the competition? 

We stand apart because of our diverse musicality. Mark and Katherine have very different musical backgrounds than I do. As a result, we have more to offer. 

What’s it like working with Mark and Katherine within CuttingRoomMusic? Are your styles similar or very different? Do you ever disagree when working on projects, and how do you make it work?  

Everybody brings something different to the table. Katherine brings her songwriting skills and vocals, and Mark has his scoring and production background. With that configuration, it makes it very easy to work together. 

Now we want to get to know you a little bit better. Who are your favorite musicians or composers? Who inspires you?  

When it comes to guitarists, George Benson will always be my favorite. However, in the scoring world, I have the utmost admiration for Hildur Guðnadóttir and Johann Johannsson (RIP).

Where do you get your inspiration when writing/composing music? 

There has been so much music that has inspired me all throughout my life. I always try to draw back to those musical memories as a template and a source of creation. 

What does a day in the life of a music composer look like in 2021?  

Fortunately, there are a lot more opportunities for composers nowadays. There is more media out there than ever before, and there is work for everyone. That being said, a day in the life of a composer in 2021 should be a very busy one. 

What kind of music do you enjoy listening to? Any favorite genres or artists? 

I grew up listening to Classic Rock, so that will always be my “go to.” However, I honestly enjoy every genre. I also listen to Jazz, Classical, and World Music. 

Can you tell us which are your favorite movie soundtracks or scores? 

The first soundtrack that captivated me as a child was the score for “Chariots of Fire,” which was composed by Vangelis. That was what first made me want to do music for film and TV. More recent scores that I admire include “Sicario” by Johann Johannsson and “Gone Girl” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

What’s your favorite musical instrument?  

The Guitar was my first Instrument, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. 

What’s one movie, TV show, or musical project that you would have loved to be a part of?  

I would have loved to have worked on any of the David Fincher films like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or “Panic Room.” He’s very good at creating tension that becomes a wellspring for musical inspiration. 

Anything else you’d like to share with us?  

I’m looking forward to some of the exciting new projects coming up at Cutting Room Music. We will keep you informed. Stay tuned!!

Interested in working with Adonis and Cutting Room Music? Reach out to us and tell us about your musical project.