Film vs TV 2.0 and What It Means for Composers

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We’re now fully into the season of the sequels, otherwise known as the summer movie season. And that’s got me thinking about film vs. television.

Sequels of films are not all that unlike episodes of a hit television series, where the audience gets to know an ensemble of actors and looks forward to their next adventure, journey, or drama together. Since a sequel doesn’t have to start from scratch each time in terms of character development, that leaves more time for story development that can make for a more satisfying experience.

As more and more people will be watching films and television shows on great looking widescreen home television/home theater systems, what does it mean for composers?

Better audio. I think we’ll see a continuation of the increase in audio quality, especially surround mixes, for television as more stations transmit digitally and provide high-definition (HD) signals.

Better music.
With any luck, the increase in audio quality that comes with HD will lead to a closer look at the quality of music, especially on television series. TV scoring may no longer be considered the “low budget” cousin of film scoring, and we might see live instruments make a comeback if the AFM musicians union can offer competitive deals. And if the AFM doesn’t offer a competitive solution, marketplace forces will surely compel others to create one.

As always, new business models can create new opportunities for composers who recognize them and stay ahead of the “curve” that so many others are following. My suggestions for composers: look forward, not backward; get very familiar with surround mixing and current audio production, and relentlessly push the quality and originality of your music.