Here is a list of things we use as composers, ranging from hardware and software, to books and web hosting. This list is updated every few weeks when we have read a book or used a service we feel is useful as a composer. If you have any suggestions, please let us know in the comments!
If you want more in depth information on these books, we’ve given some short reviews of each on my Essential Reading for Composers page.
Also, check out an eBook called “The Business of Music Licensing – Generating Revenue Through Your Music“ which is a 72 page eBook on the music licensing industry.
- Complete Guide to Film Scoring (Berklee Guide)
- Advanced Techniques for Film Scoring (Book and CD)
- On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring
- The Reel World: Scoring For Pictures-Updated And Revised Edition (Music Pro Guides)
- Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio
- The Producer’s Manual: All You Need to Get Pro Recordings and Mixes in the Project Studio -
- The Sound Effects Bible: How to Create and Record Hollywood Style Sound Effects
- Study of Orchestration, Third Edition
- Principles of Orchestration (Dover Books on Music)
- The Guide to MIDI Orchestration 4e
- Essential Dictionary of Orchestration (The Essential Dictionary Series)
- Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer: A Practical Guide to Writing and Sequencing for the Studio Orchestra
- Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Techniques for Writing Hit Songs (Berklee Guide)
- Jazz Composition: Theory and Practice
- Study of Counterpoint: From Johann Joseph Fux’s Gradus Ad Parnassum
- What to Listen For in Music (Signet Classics)
- Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV: 114 Tips for Writing, Recording, & Pitching in Today’s Hottest Market
- The Business of Music Licensing – Generating Revenue Through Your Music
- Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook: 201 Self-Promotion Ideas for Songwriters, Musicians and Bands on a Budget
- How To Get Your Music In Film And Tv (Omnibus Press)
- The Musician’s Guide to Licensing Music: How to Get Your Music into Film, TV, Advertising, Digital Media & Beyond
- The Emerging Film Composer: An Introduction to the People, Problems, and Psychology of the Film Music Business
- All You Need to Know About the Music Business: Seventh Edition
- This Business of Music, 10th Edition (This Business of Music: Definitive Guide to the Music Industry)
- Music Business Contract Library (Hal Leonard Music Pro Guides)
- Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life and Business (Expanded)
- Making Music Make Money: An Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Music Publisher (Berklee Press)
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
- Evernote – the best note taking software out there. Its cross platform, so you can take notes on your iPhone/Android phone when you’re out and about, and its synced up when you hop back onto your PC at home.
- Helium Audio Converter – I was using a couple of audio converters that range in price from $2.99 to $24.99 and this one outdoes all of them…and for free! Handy for converting .wav to .mp3 when you’re in a rush (rather than opening up your DAW and exporting it manually as .mp3).
- Teracopy – best description of this from their website: “TeraCopy is designed to copy and move files at the maximum possible speed“. Useful for new windows installations when you have to transfer lots of files from one hard drive to another, or from DVDs to a hard drive.
- MP3Tag – Free and easy to use metadata tagging software for mp3s. Useful if you don’t want to use iTunes!
- Dropbox – Online storage thats super easy to set up and also cross platform, so you can have it on your PC/Mac aswell as your iPhone/Android. Handy for backing up DAW source files (on the basic account you get 2GB free and another 500MB per person you refer)
- Flux – “During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun. F.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.” Its free and helpful for those of us who are night owls!
- Filezilla – Free FTP program for uploading files to servers – handy for uploading to music libraries especially.
- Rocketdock – Basically gives you a simple task bar like on a Mac with editable icons to drop into it. Saves you time on a PC by having all your most used icons in it, and not cluttering up your desktop.
- Truecrypt – Free disk encryption software. Keep your spreadsheets/files etc. safe by using this – also works on USB keys!
- Soundcloud – Pretty much one of the most used online audio players out there right now with a big community. Many composer use soundcloud to send tracks to music supervisors, as well as embed the player on their website.
- Music Library Report - If you’re interested in selling your music online through music libraries, MLR is a hugely valuable resource. Its a directory of hundreds of music libraries that are out there, with comments and ratings from composers who sell through them.
- Session Exchange - Hire remote session players for your compositions – get a guitarist for a rock track or a cellist for a cinematic cue. I’ve used this a few times and the performers on here are incredible – well worth it for adding life to your tracks!
- Google Drive – An alternative to dropbox and cheaper – I use both. 10GB of storage for free and 25GB of storage for $2.50 a month! Incredibly cheap in my opinion and simple to use (although upload speeds can be quite slow)
- Sync Toy – Handy little piece of software from Microsoft that lets you sync folders. Setup an automated folder sync daily using Sync Toy and you’ll have your files backed up automatically each day without having to worry about it.
- Tunesat – Tunesat is a service that lets you track your music on TV. They take a audio fingerprints of your cues, and add them to their database, which then detects any usages on hundreds of channels. Useful if you know you have some tracks that are being used a lot and want to make sure your PRO payments are right! Pricing here
- Rescuetime – If you find yourself constantly getting distracted during the day with Facebook, Twitter etc. this is for you. Rescuetime logs your productivity throughout the day and gives you a really useful report on exactly what you do for the majority of your working day. Warning: Its actually quite scary when you look at your first daily/weekly report – you are a lot less productive than you think you are. I use it to block websites for the first 4 hours of each day and check my weekly productivity to make sure I’m not wasting my time. The Pro Account is totally worth it!
- Bluehost - Cheap web hosting and domains for composers. Unlimited online storage with massive traffic allowances monthly.
- Themeforest – Themeforest has thousands of great templates for websites. For around $20, you can pickup a great WordPress or HTML template and edit it yourself – you can make your own website from these templates within a couple of hours.
- CodeCanyon – I always find myself looking on CodeCanyon for some addons/widgets etc. for my websites. There are some great pieces of code on here that you can add to your website easily, like social networking widgets and newsletter plugins.
- We Transfer - Transfer big files of up to 2GB in size for free. Handy for sending big audio files to mixers or producers when required.
The following is a list of random bits and pieces that don’t really belong in any category, but I’ve found really useful.
- Client Portal – This is a piece of code that you install on your website and when you log into it, it provides you with a client area. I use this mainly for PDF invoicing – its incredibly easy to use, and you only have to pay the once off fee to download it and install it on your website, rather than other services that require you to pay a monthly fee.
- BioBrite Sunrise Clock Advanced Model with White Noise, Pearl – A good night’s sleep is incredibly important, for creatives especially. Get woken up with natural sunlight in the morning rather than a buzzing alarm clock, and start your day with the creative energy you should have.
- Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder – Handy little piece of equipment for recording sounds while out and about. I’ve even used it at home to record some sound effects on the fly.
- Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse – I use this on and off again in order to avoid RSI – a big problem for people who spend large amounts of time at the computer.
- LogicKeyboard Cubase Nuendo Slim Line PC Keyboard, Two USB Ports, Wired Connectivity – Expensive, but useful keyboard to help with keyboard shortcuts for Cubase.
- Aeron Chair by Herman Miller – Highly Adjustable Graphite Frame – with PostureFit – Carbon Classic (Medium) – Hands down the best chair for the studio. Perfect back support in order to maintain a good posture in the studio – on the expensive side for a chair, but think of it as an investment!
- Berklee Music Online – I’m doing a couple of courses with Berklee Music Online at the moment and they are absolutely brilliant. Most are 12 weeks long and around $1200 per course, but money well spent.
Have you found any useful books or services worthwhile reading/using? Please let us know in the comments!