Getting Your First Freelance Job as a Music Transcriber

So, if you think you are qualified to be a music transcriber, the next question you will ask is, “Where and how do I get some jobs?” In many ways, getting a job as a music transcriber can be difficult. Given the advances on the Internet, however, it’s never been easier to promote yourself as a music transcriber and apply for jobs.

The Two Most Important Items in Applying for the First Job

The two most important items you will need in your attempt to bag a music transcription job is your portfolio and your resume. Your portfolio should contain a variety of samples of sheet music. You should have at least one of these:

  1. A piano score
  2. A lead sheet (For the uninitiated, a lead sheet only contains melody and chords)
  3. A full score
  4. Guitar notation + tab

I would consider these kinds of sheet music as the most universal. Here are some reasons why you need to have these kinds of

Piano scores can easily demonstrate your attention to detail as well as how well you can translate a way a pianist plays music into the written format.

As for lead sheets, I would say that they can be used by all sorts of musicians. Some groups (such as one of the organizations I’ve worked with named MSE Music Services, an entertainment/orchestra provider in the Philippines) even prefer lead sheets as they are faster to read along. I would call a lead sheet the Swiss knife of sheet music as any musician with considerable sight reading skills can play along, even if it’s just reading the chords.

Full scores tend to serve well in showcasing your transcription skills. It gives the impression that you are knowledgeable with writing and transcribing for a wide array of ensembles.

What I think is the most popular now are guitar notation/tablature and lead sheets. The reason for that is the guitar is a very popular instrument meaning that there are many guitar enthusiasts who’d want to learn how to play like their heroes.

As far as writing your resume, be honest. You don’t want to give your potential clients false impressions. Just show on your resume that you have the skills. If you have a degree in music, you can showcase that to attract clients.

Applying for Freelance Music Transcription Jobs

One of the best (and probably the safest) ways of applying for music transcription jobs is by setting up an account in a freelancing website like oDesk or Elance. Upload your portfolio, write a good description about yourself, set up a profile, look for music transcription jobs and then start applying.

When you start applying or bidding for a transcription job, remember to write a good cover letter. It should be brief but it should highlight your skills, experience and qualifications. Make sure to direct your potential client to your portfolio in order for them to see the quality of your work.

You can also put up your own website or place you ads as a music transcriber in online classifieds. You can get a few leads by putting in some time for that task.

Financial Matters Concerning Your First Music Transcription Job

You should expect that your first job would only have a price of about a few dollars. Remember that at this stage you are trying to establish yourself and so you will need to build up your reputation first. As your reputation improves, you’ll gain some leverage to charge more.

Despite saying that you should try out first some cheap jobs to gain experience, don’t work for free. If a potential client asks you to transcribe a whole song as a test, you need to get paid for the time you spent. If they’re not willing to pay for the test, bargain with them that you will transcribe perhaps a few bars as a sample. If they insist, tell them to take their business elsewhere. Working for free cheapens the profession and gives people the wrong idea that music transcription is easy. Music transcription is definitely not easy and you don’t want to be treated like a slave as they profit from the hours you’ve spent trying to nail those weird piano chords into standard notation.

Final Words

Do some research about transcription rates so that you can set up a competitive rate for yourself. In determining your rate, you have to establish one that will shoulder the costs of your operation and other things while providing the best price possible. In these times, you’ll be lucky to find someone give you a job that allows you to charge your hourly rate, especially if you’re a freelancer on sites like oDesk. There are numerous cases of clients getting ripped off by unscrupulous freelancers, so my advice is do not go that route. If you’re lucky enough to get a transcription job that pays by the hour, make sure to deliver your goods on time and with excellent quality.

That’s all of what I can think of for now on how to bag that first job. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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New Music on a7records – “Taal Lake” and “Tranquility II”

The record label, a7records, has just released two of my latest compositions on YouTube. One of these is under the “Relax My Dog” brand and is perfectly suited for a relaxing time with your pooch. It’s entitled “Taal Lake” and you can listen to it below:

 

 

The next piece is under the Easy Sleep Music brand and is just perfect to listen to when you’re going to bed. It’s a piece influenced by music from the Baroque Era (Bach, Handel, Telemann, etc.). I call this “Tranquility II”, a sequel to the more minimalistic “Tranquility I”.

 

I hope that all of you will have a peaceful and relaxing day.

Easy Sleep Music Release of the Day: “Saving Grace”

The good people at a7records have made another easy sleep music piece of mine available for public listening on the Easy Sleep Music YouTube channel. This piece is called “Saving Grace”.

“Saving Grace” is mostly a piano piece with the requisite background synth pad and binaural beat per Easy Sleep Music specifications. Other instruments that play the main theme on various sections of the piece include my new Greg Bennett Concord 3 electric guitar and a virtual instrument that imitates a veena (an Indian stringed instrument similar to a sitar).

There are many reasons one can think of why this piece is called “Saving Grace”. It actually is a reflection of my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and how much I find comfort in the fact that the Lord had decided to offer up his life to save me and the rest of us from God’s wrath. Now, I know that there are some who read this that may become uncomfortable about my expression of faith. Let me clarify that I am in no way imposing my faith but I’m requesting that you keep an open mind as you read along while I explain the inspiration behind this piece. I leave it up to you whether or not you would decide to believe what I believe. God never forced anybody to believe in him anyway; otherwise we’d all be robots without differences in opinion.

According to Romans 3:20, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” There is nothing that man can do to merit salvation. No amount of prayers, devotionals, offerings, money, indulgence, service or good works could make us justifiable before God. Romans 6:23 even goes on to state, “For the wages of sin is death….” As we are tainted by our sinful nature, God sense of justice demands exact payment, and death is what we we deserve.

Romans 6:23 doesn’t end there. It continues as, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The fact is that though we deserve to be separated eternally from God,  he provided a way back to him through his son Jesus Christ, God who became man, the perfect sacrifice. I’m sure many people would argue otherwise but here we find the beauty in believing in Jesus Christ. Unlike all other religions of the world where  people have to continuously work their way towards salvation/deification/etc. without any form of assurance, Yeshua Hamaschiah proves he is a just and loving God through his sacrifice for you and me.

My personal faith has a lot to do with this piece called  “Saving Grace”. Many people want to sleep at night feeling secure and loved. That is how I want to feel exactly when I go to bed each night. “Saving Grace” as sleep music would remind me how much God loves all of us that he willingly became human, sacrificed his own human life and then conquer death in order to cleanse us free of our debts. If you truly believe in your heart and trust that Jesus alone has done so, then He will bestow upon you that saving grace (John 3:16,  John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8). You no longer have to go through all the steps and rituals to buy your way into heaven as Jesus has already done that for you. If you think about it this way, it would be easy for you to do good and become at peace and relaxed at night or any time of the day. I hope to share such an experience with all of you and I pray that you get that well deserved rest and feel that assurance you would find only in Jesus Christ as you listen to my music.

A New Easy Sleep Music Release via a7records: “Tranquility I”

I have here a new easy sleep music freshly released by the good people at a7records. Listen to it and watch the video below:

If you would ask what exactly is going on in the music, then I’ll gladly talk about it so here it goes.

“Tranquility I” is basically what some people would describe as a minimalist piece. The entire piece is based on the motif played by a vibraphone in the first two bars. Supporting the “Tranquility I” motif is a synth pad in the background. Little by little, more instruments join the vibraphone for a buildup of sound. The marimba harmonizes with the vibraphone and the sound gently grows as the flute and clarinet introduce themselves.

A soon as the flute and clarinet finish their phrases, the sleep music journey continues in the second section as an otherworldly synth pad provides another dimension of sound. The clarinet then plays a variation of the main motif and the flute then enters after a few bars of the clarinet solo. The marimba then enters as a third wheel in harmony with the clarinet and flute.

Soon as the flute and clarinet quiet down, we proceed to the third and final section which begins with the marimba playing a gentle solo (still based on the motif) accompanied by a droning bass pad in F. The vibraphone then enters a few bars later. At this point, it would be easy to imagine the marimba and vibraphone as gentle drops of water. Soon after, as the piece modulates from F to G, we once again encounter the atmospheric synth pad followed by the clarinet and flute as all instruments play the final closing bars, hoping to send you all off to dreamland.

That wraps up my notes for “Tranquility I”, one of my new easy sleep music pieces released under the a7records label. If you’re still reading this, I guess you should listen to “Tranquility I” again and start drifting off to a more peaceful state of mind.

The Challenges of Writing Sleep Music

Sleep deprivation is a problem in contemporary society. The demands of today often call for long work hours that would stretch the strength and patience of anybody. What’s worse is that instead of being able to rest, some people couldn’t even sleep at all. This is where a variety of interventions come into play. You have the allopathic medical solution (drugs) and alternatives that include sleep music. As a musician, nothing can be more fulfilling than one person finding your music to be helpful. However, the ironic twist to that is making sleep music can be very challenging and tiring.

In my experience, composing sleep music gives me that dose of irony. I write music with the intent of inducing deep sleep yet sometimes I myself get sleep deprived working on it. This has to do with the fact that an 8-minute sleep music track can take around 16 hours to write, perform and record, mix and master. If you are a musician like me who does all of the music production processes, you know what I mean.

Melody is an important aspect of my music, and that’s why I try my best to introduce it in sleep music. However, composing a melody for sleep music is one heck of a challenge. It should be interesting enough to be appreciated yet it should be serene and calming to induce sleep. Put in the fact that prior to recording, I have to practice playing some of the instruments live myself. It can take up to an entire day to do just this.

When I get the chance to record the music, it’s all a mix of playing pre-composed written ideas and improvisation. Another challenge at this stage is to make an arrangement (or in many cases, improvise an arrangement) that would be serene and calming yet remain to be musically interesting.

As much as I love shredding on a guitar or playing runs like Chopin on the piano, you can’t do that in sleep music. At one point, I even tried to pull something out of Debussy’s book, a fast run that sounds smooth. My artist manager didn’t think that would fit in a sleep music context. What I learned here is another challenge to writing sleep music: restraint and control. While it may seem to be natural for players to insert fast runs into a seemingly slow piece of music, it takes a good amount of impulse control to prevent showing off while writing sleep music.

The last challenging thing I can think of at the top of my head when it comes to sleep music is mixing and mastering. These production processes also consume a lot of time. Imagine yourself having to listen to your track for 10 times or more, one segment at a time, in order to mix it. This is the equivalent of reading an embarrassing section of your diary over and over again. Mastering your own tracks is like that too except that you would be listening to two or more complete tracks over and over again to see if all of them fit well in an album. The repeating drone of a binaural beat, which is designed to make your brain shut down for sleep, doesn’t help much either in keeping your concentration up.

Writing sleep music shouldn’t be taken for granted. Just like playing prog, jazz fusion or modern classical music, sleep music has it’s own heavy set of challenges as well. It is good to know that one would easily reap the rewards of doing so.

Anyway, if you’re off to go to bed, check this latest easy sleep music track of mine from a7records: