Sam Watson is a talented musician who is just starting out in a career as a freelance composer and producer. He is passionate about his work, and has already created a range of sounds and music for various clients, including the intro music to our own forthcoming podcast series - watch this space!
Sam, what do you do?
I compose and/or produce music for clients. Using the equipment and software I’ve collected overtime within my home studio, I can compose pieces of music from scratch, to go along with the clients other media, be it a podcast, jingle, web series, or even composing the score to an indie film. I then produce it by recording, arranging, mixing and mastering the music. I also often take on projects that are strictly just mixing and/or mastering ones, ie mixing the individual audio tracks of a clients song that they’ve recorded, and/or mastering it, to make it sound professional, polished, and “radio ready”. How long have you been doing this, and how did you get started in this role?
I’ve been doing this as a freelancer since the summer of 2020. Alongside having studied music - and composition particularly - for about 6 years now, I studied music production at university, and finished my course in 2020. Once I finished I wanted to make use of my music composition and production skills, so quickly began looking for freelance projects to work on where I could get paid for it.
What does your workspace look like?
It can massively depend on what the project is. If it’s a mixing and mastering gig, all I need is my MacBook with my special mixing headphones and external drive attached, and can basically work sat anywhere in the house I like! (As long as it’s quiet). Whilst if there’s composition involved, I have the piano and recording spaces set up in the spare room and my bedroom, and so will be there for that portion of the project.
Do you have a work uniform/wardrobe?
No, I’ve never had a need for one.
How has your practice/workspace/job in general changed over time?
As I’ve only been doing it for about a year, I can’t really say how it has changed overtime, as it hasn’t much yet. However, whenever I’m able to buy a new piece of equipment, for instance a new pair of speakers to mix on, that will increase my efficiency and/or creativity.
What’s your greatest remote working challenge?
For me personally, as a freelancer, it’s finding clients to begin with. There are many mediums where you can find potential clients but it can often be difficult due to how many other freelancers are applying for the same thing.
What’s your favourite aspect of being a home/remote worker?
Being able to do what I love on my own schedule, hours that suit me- the flexibility.
What is your least favourite part of being a home/remote worker?
Sometimes I feel the freedom of your choice of hours can make it hard to stick to a regular routine, and I’m the kind of person that likes routine.
What’s your top tip for effective remote working?
Try to work in a space where there are limited potential distractions- that can be hard in the home, but it’s essential.
Is there a device/object/bit of furniture/piece of tech that improved your remote working station or practice?
There are so many, as there is so much hardware and software I have that is needed to do the job to a very high standard. The most important one though would probably be the external hard drive, as it allows me to store much more software that expands the possibilities of what I can do while making music, such as mixing plug-ins or virtual instrument libraries.
What aspect of remote working in your role might people not know about or understand?
They may not understand how it’s possible to produce a very realistic sounding orchestra playing your own original composition, all from just a MacBook and some software. And that would be fair enough, it’s a fairly new phenomenon! There are many companies these days that create virtual instrument libraries to an incredible standard, because of how well the original samples were recorded. Each note being one sample, for example, with the composer being able to play (on a musical keyboard) any sequence of those notes, to create their own composition.
Your remote working soundtrack: do you have a favourite playlist/podcast/radio station to keep you motivated, or is silence preferable to you?
As I’m making music as the job, I don’t listen to other music at the same time. What’s your fondest memory and/or greatest achievement in your career so far? Probably receiving my first payment from doing a freelance job of composing and producing music for a podcast. The podcast was about horror movies.
Where do you see you and your business going in the future?
I plan to keep adding to my portfolio, and to keep networking, so that in the future I can land bigger and bigger projects, that pay higher, and with more consistency. I’m also heavily considering doing a masters in music composition for TV and film, to further help with this.
Do you have any advice for people wishing to follow in your footsteps?
If the role they’re wanting to do is within freelancing, then my advice would be to never stop looking for new ways to connect with people. There are a handful of quality freelancing websites out there that can help you, as well as social media groups, in person networking events, and even messaging potential clients online who you think could be a good fit with you- you just never know where the next great gig might come from.