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No matter what careers we choose or paths we are on, we will all face obstacles, setbacks and disappointments.

But these events don’t have to define us!

In this session of The Trailer Music Composer’s Podcast, Rich shares an amazing tool that can help overcome the adversity that will inevitably happen on our paths to success!  


Hi guys, welcome to another session of the trailer music composers podcast.  In today’s session I wanted to talk to you about a tool that  you can use and action to get over setbacks, because let’s face it, any career, any life is filled with setbacks and the trailer music industry being a composer is by no means anything different to that.  Now the reason I’m bringing this up is because actually you know what, setbacks can come in any shape or form and they can be little or they can be large.  But often the response to them is usually the same, ah balls, you know sometimes it really starts to reflect your ability to write music, sometimes I’ve had setbacks for instance, when I thought I was in line to land two humongous trailers, how long ago was this, blimey 2011 I think.  You know I’d just got into the trailer music game and one of the first few tracks I’d written landed into the hands of the editor or, what was it then, Man of Steel, there we go.  Man of Steel and another track landed into the hands of the editor of the Reboot of Star Wars, not Star Wars sorry, Star Trek, the cool one with Chris Pine.  which I’m a huge fan of by the way. 

So I’m a huge fan of comics, I’m a huge fan of Star Trek, so that was like, oh my goodness, I’ve made it and I’ve only been trying for a couple of years.  It was amazing.  And I was planning on my future, oh mate I can buy this house, because I figured how much am I going to earn from trailer one’s full track usage.  I was laughing, back then anything over £5,000 was a huge pay out for me.  So that was ridiculous, I was like I’ve won the lottery with my own skills, it’s amazing.  And then lo and behold I didn’t do anything for ages, as you do in a lot  of these synchronisation things.  And the trailers came out and I was like brace yourselves, press play, oh this isn’t my track.  Oh my God I didn’t land either of them.  You know I was absolutely devastated.

I mean this was my first introduction to the whole competitive nature of it, but also the realistic nature of it, that your track will be one of many tracks being cut to one of many trailers being cut to one of many houses cutting the trailer. So you know the chances of landing are very slim when you think about it like as if you are, as if you’re Data from Star Trek you know.  You know C3PO, the chances of this landing are approximately one to 1,043,000 you know whatever it is.  I wish I could have said that clearer and more concise, I would have sounded like more of a nerd.  But sorry guys I failed you.

So it was my first exposure to real in my eyes failure.  It wasn’t at all failure by the way, what it showed me was how much I really wanted to get into trailer music.  At that point library music and advertising was my main game, so it was like oh actually trailers this is huge. 

So I must have taken a few weeks, maybe even a few months to recover from that, not that I was skulking about crying in a corner or anything, but it was really hard hit.  You know.  The possibilities, it’s kind of like I felt like I’d won the lottery and then someone said oh not that’s my ticket.  Which is kind of what they did you know.  But in all fairness the tracks that were used were fantastic.  I think it was SuperHuman who did the Star Trek one and I can’t remember who it was who did the Man of Steel one. 

But anyway, I didn’t get them and it sucked big time.  However had I been able to, again I keep talking about hindsight, had I had the hindsight to look at it from this, I think James Redmore calls it the 30,000 view up, you know as if you’re looking down on your life from a mountain and you can see the path going ahead.  Had I had that, I probably wouldn’t have reacted so detrimental.  You know I stopped writing, I even thought maybe I’d give up being a composer, it was that serious.  I think it was also, the size of my ego back then was considerably larger I think.  I think it’s a good thing that it’s gotten smaller as I’ve got older.  Well I think it’s got smaller, I don’t know.

So I’m going to give you a tool that I have heard and seen of in so many different iterations, but I heard one iteration of it recently.  And I just think it was absolutely beautiful, just beautiful.  And I thought you know what, the guys on my trailer music composers podcast should hear, and this is something I should action, this is something they should action too.

Obviously I don’t know about you, but obviously being British and having a family obsessed with Monty Python I grew up watching tons of Monty Python.  And obviously part of the cannon is their movies and specifically Life of Brian, endlessly being quoted at my household and families household, ‘ this is my juniper bushes’.  So anyway, and obviously at the end of Monty Python, Life of Brian you hear the song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.  ok, da, da, da, da, da, da, da da.  Which is great advice.

However, I never found it that actionable, it kind of, it was kind of like when you fall over and sort of small your head on the concrete to blooming well hurts and someone coming over and going oh it’s not that bad.  It bloody well is bad it hurts you know.  You want to acknowledge what’s going on, you want to acknowledge that pain you are suffering, yes, I have banged my head and yes it really hurts, however. 

So, you know the other one of course is that every cloud has a silver lining, so every setback there’s something there.  The other iteration being behind every problem in your life is a lesson to learn, but this is the one that I liked, this iteration I heard on, it wasn’t Tim Ferris’ podcast it was one of his books, but it was through the interviews.  I think his name was Jack O’Willink, navy seal, correct me if I’m wrong, I may be wrong.  But he had this idea of using the word good.  Whenever somebody came to them with a problem he’d say good.  And I was, the first time I heard it I was like well this sucks, you know, that’s not good advice, you know obviously the critic in me was flaring up, probably because I was tired.

So I was like ok, carry on reading, and then it was like ok, lets, I’m going to put this into the context of us trailer music composers.  So you don’t have enough money to buy the sample libraries you think will get you a trailer.  The answer is good.  It will encourage you to be more creative with what you have.  Oh, I’m so bummed out I didn’t land this trailer, you know I got right down to the last track and the trailer house won it.  Good it gives you more time to hone your craft and write better tracks.  You know and there’s other ways you can look at this, good you’ve now got a get a track out of it, or good you now have more experience of the industry directly.  I mean these are fantastic things.  And I want to apply this to me as well.  It still sucks when I don’t land a trailer and that’s why I don’t like to know if my tracks are in line for anything.  You know Vik’s like hey you will never guess, no shush, the only time I want it is good news.  Let me know when it landed.  Because the amount of times it’s been like we’re in line for this, and I’ve gone oh and it just never happened and it sucks, but you know maybe, when he says to me next time, to whoever says to me hey Rich, this track is in line for this trailer, I go good.  That means I’m obviously doing something right.  You know.

And what other instances could we as trailer music composers use this tool to help us grow and develop.  For sentence another classic one is oh I just can’t get this track to sound right.  And there’s multiple answers to this, good it gives you a chance to have a break away from writing to let the ideas flow back in or good it’s another problem, another creative problem that you can solve.  I mean I just think it’s absolutely genius and obviously I had to kind of like pick up my phone and go time for walkies Rich you know, because i just wanted to share it so much, I just think it’s such a powerful idea you know.  Ah someone put a negative comment on one of my YouTube videos, good, it’s giving you a chance to take the higher road.  Amazing.  This is really nice, it’s nice to be like ooh this is the, there’s a lesson behind everything idea, saying good, then it just helps you reveal the lesson because I can never be like what’s the lesson here, what’s the lesson, so I’ve fallen out with my friends again what’s the lesson.  Good.  it gives you a chance to find out what’s really important in your life.

You know these types of things they all feed back to writing.  And this is why I think why I’ve started this podcast in the manner I have done because I wanted to help you guys realise that being a composer and for us specifically being a trailer music composer is not all just the samples and the braaams and the three acts, it’s actually more about everything else you do a round your writing.  You know.  Oh I’ve only got this microphone I don’t have a Neumann, good.  Then you can stop spending your time worrying and just focus on using the tools you have.  Good, you can get more creative, a lot of the lessons are similar you know, I don’t have this good, you know it gets you to encourage creative limitations.  It’s just  so lovely, I mean if I apply it to myself at the moment, oh man I don’t have that much time to write music at the moment because obviously I;’m building protege school with Vik at the moment, good it means that I will put every ounce of my energy into building the best school possible.  It’s just such a wonderful way to kind of flip it on its head.  Like for instance so I don’t have time to sit and write trailer music, I’ve got an hour long commute, every day, good, that gives you time to learn, time to listen, time to absorb.  I mean had I known about podcasts when I was doing my commutes I would have been on it like a monkey.  I don’t think that’s  saying, on it like someone’s bonnet, I don’t know I’m sure I should have thought of something much colour to say.  But I would have been on it, I would have been like yes I’m going to do this, I don’t know that’s why a lot of podcasts were started.  I know John Lee Dumas with his entrepreneurial fire, he started it because he wanted to help out commuters who were in a nine to five job they hated so they could then start this online company and then build their careers from there. 

So he did it every day so he could target those people, those commuters.  And you know for me, I used my commute to learn a little bit of French because I had a CD player that worked and learned some French.  Me and my wife would commute together and we’d sit there sort of, sur la table, practising our French.  I can’t remember any of it except that, just because I’d never heard sur la table said like that before.  And what was the other thing, oh yeah, growing up, this is a real side track, but you know how you say j’ n’cest pas, I do not know, he was like no you should say j’en c’est pas.  So they were the two things I learned from my hours and hours and hours of French lessons. Thank you very much.  Anyway I digress.

Use that time to absorb stuff, use the word good as a way to look for that silver lining, it’s the pivot, that’s the important thing, like looking on the bright side, seeing the redefining, its quite hard, but actually when you use this word it for some reason is like the magic pivotal word.  It’s like you switch your mindset from the sufferer of an inconvenience to the teacher teaching the students a lesson.  You know with the complaint, oh my hard drive has failed and I’ve lost all my work.  Good.  Next time you’ll be more prepared.  Ok Sense, you know it’s like oh, this is awesome it switches you into a place of power and I really, really like that you know.  Like just now.  Oh I’m not sure what to do with my time, I’ve done all the things I need to do, good, you can go for a walk and record a podcast.  Because you know you enjoy that, ok, thank you.

Yeah, it’s such a simple thing. I just want you to think about that right now.  This could be like a journaling point for you, I’m going to start talking about my journaling a little bit more because I think it’s really important, and like I said I’m going to start gradually introducing more and more of these other ideas into this podcast because I think it’s so healthy for us creative people to not be just sat at a computer and that’s our creative output.  No, no, no your creative output should be your life, everything in your life should be creative and I just love that idea, we are creatives and everything we do should be creative, when we cook it should be creative, it should be a creative expression of ourselves. 

Again we’ve been given these gifts, we need to expand upon them and let them out more and more.  And we use this tool to make sure that we don’t fall at the hurdles that are presented to us, because life’s a journey, life’s a challenge and there will be ups and downs along that road.  I sound like this, I feel like I should be about 70 you know, oh son, there will be journeys and travels and ups and downs but you must remember the word good because this is the picture point for changing your mindset, mindset is huge.  Use the word good to post your problem.  Because most of the comments I get from people whether it’s in the trailer music school, whether it’s through the podcasts, whether it’s through my YouTube channel it’s a problem.  And a lot of it you should be like I have this problem, good because of something, something, something.

And this just leads on to something else: don’t use your energy to be negative.  You know you’re just, it will just come back to you.  I know I’m kind of thinking about the ‘

Spitfire competition, I know this is probably quite late in the day to be talking about it, but I heard, I didn’t you know, I didn’t actually see what was happening, I don’t go on forums very much, I just heard it through the grapevine that actually people were being quite nasty and not particularly nice about who won etc. Etc. etc.  I don’t know the minor details of it but please don’t waste your time being negative, if your energy is negative you’ve got enough energy to be doing something more productive.  I’m not saying don’t be skeptical, that’s different or analytical, that’s different, but don’t just use your energy for that stuff please.  Oh I didn’t, for instance oh I don’t like the guy of the track who won this competition, good, let this be a lesson to you to produce work more in line with what you want, or good, this has shown you how much you really not that. 

Ended up going a little bit sprawling then, but so much of this stuff is interconnected you know, what you give off comes back to you, probably going to do a law of karma episode I’m sure.  But I want to help you help yourself, so I think there’s a song that isn’t there, and I want to help myself, help myself too.  And I found that tool incredible, I mean even if you only ever use it once, great.  That’s one tool to get you to the next problem, because there will be consistent challenges in this thing we called life, sometimes we have tools that we use all the way along, sometimes we have a single tool that we use once, but it was important. 

And I like to think of my life as a computer game. I grew up playing games like Monkey Island and Legend of Zelda and many others, but I’m specifically thinking of those two.  Monkey Island especially where I’m encountering this problem and you have to look for the solution. So sometimes that solution is saying the right thing to the wrong person, sometimes that solution is just in the room with you, sometimes the solution is an object you have or a tool you have to help yourself progress. And I think too much of my life. I’ve seen problems as vast walls in front of me rather than an interesting problem I can solve.  I’m not necessarily like trying to dehumanise your problems or dehumanise you, or even trying to trivialise your problems and your life because some of you may be facing some real, real problems, but I wonder can this little tool be of help and of service to you.  I women I have sincerely hope it can be cause I mean then that would be great wouldn’t it.

Again guys you’re absolute legends and I so very much appreciate you guys listening to this, now next time you have a problem in your trailer music world good see it as a point to improve and learn and get better and progress.

Now if you wouldn’t imdb taking the time to leave a review or rating to iTunes just so that other people may what this that would be great or even share this somewhere I mean I love, love, love, love when I see someone has shared this because that means I’m doing something right and I’m very, very happy about hat, you guys are absolute legends and I will speak to you song in the next episode.