Emmett Cooke on creating music for media and building a new composer community

Irish composer Emmett Cooke writes minimal music, in particular, minimal piano music which has been used in many different projects from Spanish TV shows to Ralph Lauren adverts. His website sonicoctave.com showcases numerous tracks which can be licensed for film, tv or video game soundtracks and he is also responsible for filmandgamecomposers.com – an online resource for media composers which features interviews, advice, tutorials and a discussion forum.

Emmett is a customer of Time+Space and, with so many interesting projects on the go, we couldn’t resist getting in touch to find out more…

Tell us about your musical background – how did you get into composing for media?
Well I always wanted to do music as a job in some form or other, but could never figure out how to make money from it.  There was teaching, which I didn’t want to do, I wasn’t great at performing, and I couldn’t figure out how people could make money from composing. In college, I really started to get into film scores, and even did my thesis on the Harry Potter score by John Williams. I thought it was amazing how films can be brought alive by music, and decided I wanted to compose as a full time job.

When I finished my music degree in college, I advertised my services on different websites and forums, trying to get small jobs here and there in scoring for student films, animations etc. A lot of those clients who I originally worked with are still working themselves, and have moved on from small budget/student films, to low/medium budget films now. 

Your website ‘Sonic Octave’ is a service whereby people can listen to and license your music for media – has the demand for this changed at all over the years since computer music production has become more affordable and accessible to people?
This is an interesting question, and comes in two variations:-

Do people license less music as it is a lot easier to create their own music at home nowadays?

Is there less money to be made in licensing music as the market is now flooded with music created by people at home in their bedrooms?

With the rate music technology is currently developing and expanding, it is possible to create professional sounding music at home without having to step foot in a professional studio. However, what people often forget is, although music technology is developing fast – so is media technology. People can make an entire animation from their home, or record a HD movie from a handheld camcorder.So what people need to remember is that all avenues have grown exponentially – music, video, animation, video games.  There is more media created nowadays than ever before, and all that media needs music too. I don’t think the demand has changed much – its just grown with the market really.

Where have your tracks been used?
I received a lot of placements through music libraries that I work with and I’ve had my tracks used in all sorts of projects. I suppose the biggest to date would be Ralph Lauren, UFC, Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, Simon & Schuster, The History Channel etc.

I use Tunesat.com to track a lot of my music on TV, so it’s really interesting to see where it pops up.  I’ve had some really random uses of my music, the funniest being on a couple of Spanish TV shows on the “Telemundo” channel called “El Fantasma de Elena”, “Los Herederos del Monte” and ” La Casa de al Lado”.

Do you have any tips for musicians who are looking to set-up a similar service to Sonic Octave?
I suppose there’s thousands of music libraries out there already that will market your music for you and take 50% of the income. I don’t think its worthwhile to startup a new music library nowadays unless you have something new to bring to the table, or specific contacts in tv/film etc. who you can market the music to. Building a music library takes years and the competition is immense.

I only started Sonic Octave as it makes it a lot easier for me to license my own music. If someone emails me asking to use my music in a project, I can direct them to Sonic Octave, and they can just purchase the license and track there. It’s automatically sent to them and I don’t have to do much else – it saves me a lot of time in the long run 🙂

Moving on to the software you use, your tool box of virtual instruments includes titles from ProjectSAM, Sample Logic and Cinesamples, which of these products do you find yourself calling on most frequently and why?
I love Symphobia by ProjectSAM and all the Cinesamples software. I always find myself calling on Symphobia and Hollywoodwinds as the quality of the samples are awesome and the software is just so easy to use right out of the box.  Symphobia really gives great orchestral textures when you need them in a rush, and I find it to be inspiring when you’re looking for idea.

I love Morphestra and Cinematic Guitars too – they provide great texturing and sound brilliant sounds right out of the box. Cinematic Guitars is really unique software in my opinion as its just so much fun to play with and always provides me with the sounds I need.

You also use Spectrasonics Stylus RMX – which features of this instrument do you find particularly useful?
I’ve used Stylus RMX in my latest cue and a lot of people complimented me on the quality of the drums in it.  Thats why I love it, its ridiculously easy to use, the sounds are amazing, and the expansion sets are brilliant.  I bought all the RMX expansion packs and use them in a lot of my work – they cover so much.

Your website filmandgamecomposers.com includes news, tutorials, interviews and advice plus a user forum – what inspired you to create the site and what type of feedback have you received from it?
Its funny, I actually created it as an experiment originally. I was curious about web design and wanted to learn how to do some basic things. I bought the domain, setup the forum first and encouraged people to join.  I remember thinking, “why is it that all composers usually have to go and find the directors, animators, game developers – why can’t they come to us”? So the forum was built to try and get the people involved in media who needed composers, to come to us, rather than us going to them. From there, it turned into a forum of composers who shared music, ideas, advice etc.

Eventually, I made the forum an additional part of the overall website and started to interview composers, and do tutorials, news etc. Its gone through about 3 re-designs and I’m finally happy with how it looks now.

Do you have any exciting projects lined up for the rest of 2011?
From an online point of view, I hope to have my personal website www.soundtrack.ie re-designed and up and running within a week, which I’m excited about. I also hope to finally have my own company called “Audio for Apps” setup and launched before the end of 2011.

Audio for Apps is an online music library that will cater specifically for iPhone and Android app/game developers and provide them with sounds and music to use in their apps/games with a specific license that caters to their exact needs. A lot of music libraries provide music and sounds, but not the exact license that developers need to be able to use in their projects.  We hope to be a very small music library that provides exactly what they need – I’m not hoping to go into competition with other libraries, just fill a very small void currently in the market.

I also hope to get my music performed live before the end of 2011.  So many of my friends play professionally, that I really need to be using them more! I hope to write an orchestral piece of music that includes everyone’s instruments that I know, which should be pretty interesting!

Thanks Emmett!

Why not head over to Emmett’s website filmandgamecomposers.com and enter the competition to win a collection of cinematic Zero-G libraries?

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Posted by Melanie Doidge

Having worked in marketing for over fifteen years with experience in various industries, Time+Space and the world of music production continues to be the most exciting of them all. With our brands consistently pushing the boundaries of technology with their products, the terrific DJs, Composers and Producers using them and the feedback from magazines and our customers, there's always plenty to tell the world about. Musical experience? I reached Grade 6 in piano back in my school days and am currently in the throes of trying to resurrect my abilities!

Website: http://www.timespace.com

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