Category Blog

The world of music is constantly evolving, but some compositions manage to break through the noise with their unique beauty and emotional depth. One such album is Systems, a stunning collection featuring the string quartet Invoke, known for their performances at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Lincoln Center, and NPR’s Tiny Desk.

The Essence of Systems

Systems is not just an album; it’s a musical voyage that captures the intricate and mesmerizing patterns found in nature and the universe. From the rhythmic ocean currents on coral reefs to the vibrant pulse of urban environments and the celestial rotations of the cosmos, this album is designed to accompany breathtaking visuals and epic storytelling.

Invoke’s live orchestral performances seamlessly blend with ambient synthesizers, pianos, and driving percussion. This combination expands simple musical patterns into dynamic crescendos, creating an immersive and emotional experience for the listener. Whether you’re looking for music for documentaries, music for film and TV, or licensed music for advertising


Meet Invoke

Invoke is a genre-defying, multi-instrumental string quartet known for blending classical, folk, bluegrass, Americana, and other styles into a unique contemporary repertoire. They have held prestigious residencies, won numerous competitions, and performed at renowned venues like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Invoke is also dedicated to educational outreach, conducting workshops and masterclasses nationwide. Their innovative approach and artistic excellence continue to break boundaries and resonate with diverse audiences. To read more about Invoke visit their site here




The Composer Behind the Magic

The genius behind Systems is composer Will Van De Crommert. Known for his ability to craft emotionally charged and evocative music, his use of ambient synthesizers and pianos, driving percussion, and live orchestral elements results in an intricate and expansive soundscape.

Will’s music has been featured in numerous film, TV, and commercial productions worldwide, from Saturday Night Live to the Soho and Sedona International Film Festivals. His compositions have appeared in programming for NBC’s Peacock, Netflix, Hulu, CBS, and BET. Will is known for his versatile blend of classical and popular influences, making him a go-to composer for directors, producers, and creative agencies. His film scores have been featured in movies distributed by Saban (a Lionsgate partner), FilmRise, and Gravitas Ventures. End of the Rope, his latest feature, premiered in California at LA’s historic Chinese Theater.







Perfect for Visual Storytelling

Systems offers many opportunities to enhance visual storytelling for music supervisors, documentarians, film and TV creators, and content creators in advertising. Whether you’re capturing the awe-inspiring beauty of nature or the hustle and bustle of city life, this album provides the perfect soundtrack to elevate your narrative.

For more information on how to license music from Systems, contact us today and bring your storytelling to life with unmatched musical quality.


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Level 77 Music is excited to announce that eight of our tracks were chosen to be placed in the 2024 Rose Parade, a long-standing tradition that brings together thousands of viewers and showcases some of the most incredible floats and performances in the world. A large part of the broader Tournament of Roses, we are thrilled to be a part of such an esteemed event.

The tracks selected are diverse in sound and genre, ranging from upbeat and lively to more mellow and contemplative compositions. Each track showcases the talent of our award-winning composers, producers, engineers, and songwriters.


For those unfamiliar with our work, Level 77 Music is a boutique, independent production music company focusing on innovation and creativity. We bring a fresh new sound to the world of music licensing and exploring musical concepts that challenge traditional boundaries and ideas of what production music can be. Our team of seasoned professionals has decades of experience, and our music has been featured everywhere from the big screen to the smartphone.

To listen to the tracks showcased in the Rose Parade, please click the link here. Whether you want to pump up the energy or unwind after a long day, we have a track for every mood.

We are incredibly proud to have been chosen to participate in the 2024 Rose Parade and look forward to sharing our music with the world!

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Digital streaming platforms (DSPs) have transformed not only the way people listen to music, but the way artists earn income from their listeners. While platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Tidal provide a low-cost entry point to distribute and monetize music with global reach, making money on these services can be complicated. As a result, many artists are missing out on their fair share of streaming revenue. Here is how artists get paid from music streaming platforms:


  • Direct streaming – DSPs operate primarily on a per-stream payout model whereby artists/labels receive a small sum for each stream of one of their tracks. The payout per stream varies per platform but usually ranges between $0.003 and $0.008. In general, the more streams an artist generates, the higher their payout. However, many factors influence streaming revenue, such as region, play time, and user behavior. Artists need many streams to generate a reasonable income.


  • Mechanical royalties – These are royalties paid to songwriters for the use of their compositions by streaming services. DSPs typically pay mechanical royalties to Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) that collect and distribute them to songwriters. PROs like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, monitor millions of streams to ensure songwriters receive their fair share. It is essential for artists to be registered with a PRO to collect mechanical royalties.


  • Licensing agreements – Some artists undertake the daunting task of negotiating direct licensing agreements with streaming platforms to bypass major labels and distribution services like TuneCore. These agreements usually require significant negotiation and legal background, but have the potential to offer more control and lower commission fees.


A final note: clean and well-organized metadata is essential for digital music distribution. Metadata is the information embedded in a digital music file or an online platform that identifies it based on unique information like release date, artist name, album title, cover art, composer, copyright, and distribution information. DSPs have music distribution guidelines that need to be followed, and they usually require accurate metadata to verify the artist’s identity and audio playback correct information.

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The Choose Georgia event showcases why filmmakers should choose Georgia as their filming location. It featured presentations that discussed why Georgia is an ideal place for filming projects with its diverse locations, production infrastructure, talent pool, and competitive incentives programs.

As a proud Georgia-based company, Level 77 Music was honored to sponsor this year’s Choose Georgia event at Sundance Film Festival. Our CEO, Patrick Avard, and Senior Film Composer Mark Kueffner were both in attendance and had the opportunity to network with other industry professionals from all over the globe. Patrick Avard said, “It was an exciting experience attending Choose Georgia at Sundance Film Festival 2023! We were able to meet some incredibly talented people who are passionate about bringing their visions to life onscreen and equally passionate about growing the film industry in Georgia.”

The success of events like Choose Georgia demonstrates how vibrant and forward-thinking Georgia’’s film industry is becoming. With access to competitive tax incentives, diverse landscapes across the state for filming locations, and a growing talent pool behind the scenes, it’s no wonder many filmmakers have chosen Georgia. We look forward to seeing more films come out of this great state!


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There are a lot of things happening in the company that we can’t wait to share with you, but here is some great news that we can deliver right now! We are proud to announce that we have signed an agreement with Vivid Pop, a young label focused on music for ads, TV, film and other media. As the exclusive sub-publisher worldwide for the up-and-coming label, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be representing industry stalwarts Dan Luedke and Stephen Helvig, who founded the company.

Minneapolis-based Vivid Pop has 13 albums to their credit. Each of their releases has been thoughtfully composed and meticulously produced, running the gamut of contemporary sounds through dance, pop, and rock. They make top-notch dramatic and tension-filled film scoring and underscore work as well. Helvig is a producer, engineer and writer with a dozen years of serving local artists in the always-diverse Twin Cities music scene, while Luedke’s work as a guitarist and writer has seen his music featured around the globe, and on the likes of CBS’s Thursday Night Football and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

We asked them what they were most looking forward to about being involved with the company:

“We are thrilled about the new partnership and feel like Level 77 is a great fit for the Vivid Pop catalog,” says Luedke. “Both our companies are young, but Level 77’s leaders are experienced, well-connected and have a proven track record of success in the industry, so we have the utmost confidence in them and look forward to growing together.”


Vivid Pop’s catalog lends formidable diversity to our catalog, especially for film scores and TV. The synergy between us stands to produce exciting soundscapes for a vast array of projects.

“We are so honored to be working with top-tier composers such as Dan and Stephen,” says Level 77 Music Executive Producer, Jason Rudd. “Their label will elevate our Level 77 product offerings!”

The best part? You can find their tracks RIGHT HERE and right now live at Level 77 Music! 


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At Level 77 Music, we have always believed that music is a powerful tool to help people emotionally connect on a level that cannot be replicated without it. Finding a way to leverage the perfect song to develop the right emotional response to a production piece is a critical skill. Whether we are working with a podcast, a YouTube video, a television show, or a feature-film, getting a track that prompts an emotional response is essential to telling the right story. Here are a few things to keep in mind when seeking out the right music:

The Power Of Sound

Songs are, by definition, expressions of emotional experience. Listeners often have visceral and primal responses to a track, and these can cover a wide range of the emotional spectrum. Whether it makes you laugh, cry, angry, or crazy, having a variety of musical sources available to accomplish this in your project is critical.

Music And Memory

Music is also powerfully tied to memory. The way that you feel the first time you hear a song often returns to you upon subsequent listening, which is why music from your childhood can bring swells of emotion when you least expect it. This response is almost exclusively based on the experience of the listener, rather than the content of the music. Happy songs can make you sob, sad songs may make you smile, and that paradox is largely dependent on the time and place of your initial experience with them.

As a content creator, knowing how to choose or create music that can place someone in a particular emotional headspace is a crucial aspect of telling your story in the most effective and compelling way possible.

How Level 77 Can Help

Our goal as a company is always to empower our end-users with the sonic tools they need to express their creativity as they choose. We make music that elicits an emotional response, and this is largely influenced by the type of content with which it is paired. You can find pieces in our catalog that work well in any creative context. Don’t know where to start? Reach out and let us help.

We are constantly producing new and cutting-edge tracks that can transform a listener’s experience. With our extensive and ever-growing libraries, you will always be able to find something new and interesting. Think about the mood you are trying to elicit in your current project, and let us help you take your audience there and beyond.

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Doug DeAngelis is a producer, engineer, composer, and music supervisor who entered the music industry as a teenager. Today, he is recognized today as a global thought leader for the music industry. His professional career began at 18, as a programmer and engineer on the groundbreaking Nine Inch Nails album, Pretty Hate Machine. Spawning thirty-one singles that reached #1 on the Billboard Dance Charts, his work with the trailblazers of dance music shaped the trajectory of EDM in America. He has also pioneered independent song production and placement in television and film; the industry practice now termed sync. In addition to writing over 3,000 pieces of music for television and film, Doug is the co-founder of leadership groups like A3E and BlackSleeve Media. His goal is to develop new technology capable of applying the monetization practices of the video game industry to the music industry. Doug was kind enough to sit down with Level 77 Music to discuss his vision for music, television, film, and business.

How did you get your start in music and specifically music supervising?

I began in music as a young kid who was fascinated with synthesizers and sound. I fell in love with the sound of the early 80s, and spent my teens in bands, before attending Berklee College of Music as a Music Synthesis major. My career began as an engineer/producer in Boston and New York City, where I was heavily immersed in electronic music, remixing, rock, and pop music. I had the great fortune of working on some amazing records with popular artists, and ultimately moved to Los Angeles to continue as a record producer.

When I moved to LA, there was a TV show called Next Big Star that was looking for a “music person”, and I was recommended to the Executive Producer. My role was to produce all of the music, and also act as the Music Supervisor for the production. It was the first of the performance/talent shows in America, before American Idol and the rest that would soon follow. I had never worked on a TV show, and this was trial by fire. But after choosing and producing hundreds of songs over the first season, TV became my home. I found a unique role in Hollywood as a person who could write, produce, and music supervise at the same time. I did that on dozens of shows throughout the next 15 years.

Did you have to have any formal training to become a music supervisor?

I think like most things in entertainment, the best formal training is getting on a job, and learning as quickly as possible from the people who are the best in the business. It normally happens that way whether you are becoming a director, or writer, or music supervisor. Humility, passion, and big ears are the most important thing in learning these crafts. I had the great fortune of learning about music clearance from Evan Greenspan at EMG. He is the OG of music clearance and still a major player in it today. He was my mentor from my first show, and we still work on shows together now.

What advice can you give musicians and composers when pitching their music?

The number one piece of advice I teach all my students: if you have the perfect piece of music, then send it. If you don’t have the perfect piece of music, just say “I don’t have what you are looking for this time.” Musicians often make the mistake of sending ‘the closest thing’ they have in their catalog, or a bunch of songs they wrote, even though they aren’t exactly what the supervisor requested. Their thought is that the music supervisor will be impressed with the quality of the music, and remember to come back to them next time, or maybe the supervisor will love the music so much that they will change their mind and go with a different sound for the scene.

Unfortunately, the message it sends to the supervisor is the exact opposite. It actually implies that the musician either doesn’t understand music, or can’t hear the difference between what was requested and what they submitted, and ultimately it wastes the music supervisor’s time and takes them off of that supervisor’s trusted resource list. You will gain respect from that music supervisor if you don’t waste their time, and in turn they will remember to call you again next time.

Can you share any secrets on how you go about searching for the perfect song for a scene? How do you know when you’ve found it?

The perfect song for a scene elevates the emotion, and focuses the viewer on the dialogue, the story points, and the characters. The goal with music is not to draw the viewer’s attention to the music, but to make their emotional state heightened and make the scene more impactful. Songs and underscore do that in many different ways. Some are obvious, but in a more nuanced way, I try to create an emotional connection between the environment, people, or time period of the scene to the viewer’s real life experience.

Music is extremely powerful in shifting your mindset and making you connect in a personal way. If you can make the viewer relate their life experiences to the song, and have that song be the connective tissue to the characters, then the storyline becomes personal and highly emotional to the audience. I am also always looking to capture the feel of the cinematography, and editorial style of the picture, as well as guide the heart rate of the viewer. Do I want the viewer to feel relaxed? Do I want them to be caught off guard? Do I want their emotional state to be getting more intense gradually with the scene? Music can guide all of those things without being noticed.

How do you balance the need for custom music versus licensed cues when you are supervising a project?

It used to be purely a budgetary issue, but now most of the networks and major streaming outlets have blanket deals with the large libraries, so the expectation on a reality show, special, or docuseries is usually to stay within those catalogs for the show. If there is a music budget, it opens the door for custom music to be created, or published songs to be licensed for the special moments that call for lyrics or need a song for creative reasons.

Custom music is more critical when you need something to feel like popular music, but have a situation that requires some unique musical parameters. For instance, combining two genres of music for creative reasons, or needing specific tempo shifts that you wouldn’t find in a licensed song or library track. So for the most part, we are dividing the musical needs into groups based on the discussions that happen in the spotting session with the showrunner or director.

What advice do you have for someone who’s aspiring to become a music supervisor?

There are two sides to the job. Creatively, I would say that understanding filmmaking, and the specific needs of the characters are really critical. The dialogue tells the story, and the music needs to get under the surface, and emphasize the core reason the scene is happening. It also needs to solve any number of problems in the edit, like story point clarity, environment changes, time shifts, character relationships, etc. So, knowing a lot of music is great, but understanding the filmmaking process, and how to make the story and the characters come to life is the art of music supervision.

Administratively, the music supervisor plays a huge role as well. Organization and people skills are critical. You’ve got music that needs to be 100% clear for airing on TV, and a very short time to make it happen. Building great relationships with labels and publishers, time management, and back up plans are the essential survival tools!

Is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?

If you want to learn more about the craft, please check out the blogs on my site, Soundtrack Production. There is some good info there, and I will be offering an online course again soon for people who are interested in a career in this field.

Thank you to Doug for sitting down with us. His innovative take on the interaction of music and visual media has transformed the television and film industries, and we cannot wait to see and hear his next projects!

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Music is the universal language. It’s a critical element in any multi-media endeavor that transcends borders and nationalities to create harmony, melody, and rhythm. As a producer, you want to be able to fully leverage the power of music to inspire and connect with people. However, to do that you need to understand the fundamentals of how music works, and how your potential audience perceives music. Just thinking about songs you like is not going to be enough to create viral content that draws views and impressions. There are themes working behind these songs that can be harnessed to extend the power of your project to new markets, and to individuals who originally may not have been interested in your content. So how can you pick the right songs to really help make your production a trending sensation?

Consider Your Audience

Genre targeting is a central element to the success of these music streamers. However, this powerful tool for harnessing music’s potential is not the exclusive domain of the big-name music platforms. You can also use genre targeting to pick the perfect track for your own project. However, to emulate the memorability and reliability of the major platforms you need to ask yourself a few key questions.

               Who is my target audience?

               What sort of music appeals to that demographic?

               How do I want them to feel?

By starting with these three questions you can begin to whittle down the options. If your content is directed towards baby boomers, you don’t want to include a lot of hip-hop or rap. Similarly, if you are targeting millennials, a classic rock track might be a poor fit. Common music genres include reggae, rhythm and blues, rock, hip-hop, classical, blues, jazz, and country. Once you have identified the broad genres of music that will appeal to your target demographic it is time to start thinking purposefully about the music.

What Role Will Music Play?

The music in a project can serve several different purposes. Perhaps it is background music meant to change perceptions about the content on the screen, or add energy and suspense to a moment. If the production is intended to educate the audience about a product or process, using a subtler track is appropriate. If it is a promotional or advertising video, you probably want more dramatic music. Knowing the general tone of the music, and the job that music will be doing will help you narrow down your search through a music library.

How Genre and Purpose Intersect

Now that you have identified your target demographic, decided on a style that appeals to that group, and settled on the general tone of the music in your content, it is time to start looking through music libraries. There are a lot of options out there. To simplify, consider the three major types of production music: pop music, production music, and royalty-free music.

Pop music is the music you hear on Spotify. It enjoys greater recognizability, but is also more expensive, and the timetable to get permission to use those tracks can be over a year. Royalty-free music is music which artists have made available at no cost, but the options are limited, and the best tracks may be used by several other competing products in your market. Production music is music that has been created to meet the needs of content creators, with an expedited timeline and at significantly lower cost than pop music.

If you are using royalty-free or production music, it may help to think about a pop song or style that would appeal to your demographic and serve the overall theme for your work. Production music libraries like Level 77 Music are vast, often with tens of thousands of tracks, so knowing how to narrow your search down quickly will help immensely. Sometimes these companies will have custom music arms. For example, Level 77 Music is known for making custom music pieces for companies looking to brand their company with a specific track that only they have access to. By knowing your audience’s needs and the emotion you’re wanting to evoke, the perfect track can help take your content to the next level! 

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Brendon Mulvihill is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for proTunes, one of the largest music and licensing platforms in the world. Brendon’s experience in business development and strategy across a variety of media, content, and technology applications is extensive. Focusing on revenue-generation and direct sales, he has pioneered business-to-business e-commerce for global enterprise sales teams. While he has excelled in a myriad of business enterprises, his passion is for start-ups. He enjoys the process of building new companies and relationships, and he was kind enough to sit down with Level 77 to discuss the music industry, advertising, and the importance of developing fresh and unique content.

For the readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a little bit about your background and your position at proTunes?

 For the past 12 years, I have been in the business of managing, monetizing, and protecting media intellectual property, particularly when it is used as a raw material in creative work on TV, in film, and in advertising. That’s mostly a fancy way of saying I’ve licensed images, video, and music to television shows, movies, brands, advertising agencies, news programs, etc. The vast majority of that time has been licensing video on behalf of the likes of Sony Pictures, MGM, Paramount, NCAA, US Soccer, Big Ten, GoPro, and everyday people with great videos on their cell phones. proTunes is my first time in the music business, and I currently oversee sales and marketing for the company. Many of the ad agency and brand clients that I have worked with in the past are also customers of proTunes or potential customers of proTunes.

Music has a huge influence in the advertising world, can you tell us some trends you are seeing this year with the songs getting placed? 

We are coming out of, and in many ways are still in, a very interesting time in America. Creatively, it feels like ad agencies are getting back to feelgood and happy themes while still being conscious of the overall environment of any given moment. Matching that feeling in the scripts and tone of the creative with upbeat, fun, and inspiring music seems to be driving a lot of the placements that we are seeing. Additionally, sounds that are trending on social media, particularly TikTok, are guiding a lot of the digital-first creative, which has become the vast majority of work being done.

How does proTunes stay at the forefront of advertising music?

We really look to create conversation between our ad agency clients and our library partners. We rely heavily on the discussion between those two parties to drive the frontend of creative development. We see ourselves as connectors in that environment and really learn from both sides. As we create more conversation and drive more learning, I think proTunes can become more instrumental in displaying what type of music is culturally relevant at any given time.

From your point of view, how does music most affect the audiences in advertisements?

 Music can play several different roles in advertisements depending on the creative needs and the distribution outlet. 80% of the time music is an important background character. Particularly on social media where sound off is a very real consideration for building creative assets. 20% of the time, music is taking center stage as the main character in the creative. And it’s that 20% that brings out all the feelings. It connects you with memories from your youth, family moments that you’ll never forget, and major life accomplishments that change who you are. We all have that soundtrack to our lives. When it’s time for music to stand front and center in the creative, it can be the most powerful part of the entire project.

How does your team at proTunes handle the demand for content and constantly keep things fresh for its clients?

 It’s all about the people who work at proTunes. When I joined proTunes I did two things – I hired absolute experts in licensing, customer service, and account management, and organized our team so roles and responsibilities were clearly defined. If I can be so bold, there isn’t a team in the world that has more knowledge of creative licensing and rights management than we do. And that ranges from name, image, likeness all the way through music royalties. There isn’t a scenario we haven’t seen. So with that expertise comes the ability to manage any situation very efficiently. If you need a certain type of music, we have 150 partners to direct you to. If you need help with creating custom music, we work with hundreds of providers. If you need a major label track cleared, we know who to call. If you run into a problem, creatively, legally, or process-wise, we’ve seen it and we know how to manage it. At the end of the day, you can count on us and I think that’s all that anyone wants when you are doing business.

How does ProTunes help boutique catalogues like Level 77 Music?

 Our mantra is “rising tide lifts all ships.” By creating a platform that makes the process of music licensing easier for everyone, we can introduce the world to more music more efficiently. Many of our partners are 3-5-person businesses. Investing in sales and marketing for those businesses is a tough decision. We can be a supportive sales and marketing backbone to those businesses in the world of music. Our team spends hours and hours reaching out to existing and new ad agency and brand clients. Our core competency from a personnel standpoint is getting in front of brands and agencies. And we take our responsibility to introduce boutique music to those clients very seriously. As we continue to build, I’m very confident we can all grow together.

What do you currently have going on at ProTunes that you’re really excited about?

The pipeline for tech development is always most exciting to me. That means pushing our similarity search to the next level, introducing AI into our music search and discovery, and enhancing and refining our segmentation search. It’s a lot of behind the scenes, under the hood type work that takes time but could be game changing.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that we didn’t mention?

We are so appreciative of partners like Level 77 Music that work hand-in-hand with us and see the vision. It’s a process, but your support means everything to us and we will pay it back in spades in the future. So thank you!

A huge thank you to Brendon from us on the Level 77 team! His energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and his insight into the complicated dynamics of music, advertising, and technology should be at the forefront of any creator’s thinking.

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Brian Michael Fuller is a well-established media composer for television and film with music features across a myriad of network and streaming channels. Fuller has had over 500 placements ranging from the BBC to the Super Bowl. He has worked on songs for the Emmy-winning show “Born This Way” and has recently produced music for Level 77. Fuller was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions about his craft, his method, and what it takes to be a leading music producer.

How did you get started as a composer?

Like most musicians, my parents bought me random musical instruments when I was a kid for Christmas. I specifically remember getting an old Sears drum kit called the “Golden Beat”. Somewhere in my attic I have a picture of me wearing some sweet late ‘70s clothes in front of that thing ready to rock! I also remember getting a super cheap Casio “sampling” keyboard and I remember figuring out the riff to Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life” and the theme song to Jeopardy. From that point on I knew I had been bit by the musical bug.

Before that, I used to sit in front of my mom and dad’s stereo record player, which was literally six-feet wide by four-feet tall with massive brown speakers and was basically a piece of furniture. It always smelled like Pledge because my mom was always dusting it. I would wear out 33’s and 45’s of Rick Springfield and many of my parents “Jamming to the Oldies” (a compilation album of 1950-60’s hits) holding a tennis racket and pretending that I was a guitar legend. I can still hear “Beep Beep” by the Playmates like it was yesterday. Fortunately, I do not have any pictures of those moments.

I’ve basically been a budding musician all my life. Fast forward many decades until 2015, when I made the conscious decision that I was going to be an actual TV music composer. Once I started to really narrow my focus and eliminate all the other distractions, that’s when I really started to officially become a “composer.” I believe that the mental shift and extreme discipline is crucial and necessary for a musician’s career.

How do you decide the feel of an album before you start?

“Feel” is a great word to use because sometimes as musicians we can get caught up in the technical aspects of what we create. It’s the most important aspect of music for television and sync licensing. This aspect is critical to helping tell the story. As composers, we have a very important role to play to make sure that we feel it’s elevated. Unfortunately, it took me a lot longer to begin to understand this concept. Fortunately, I have amazing non-musicians in my life, such as my wonderful wife, who always reminds me to focus on the feeling or the mood of a track and not simply the technical aspects of it. You never hear normal people say “I love John Williams’ movie scores, they’re so technically well executed.” That’s only what obsessed music nerds like me say.

I always try to make sure that I analyze the brief deeply before I write a single note. I try to make sure that I understand what the client is wanting. Is the music for a specific show that I can go watch to capture the vibe of how they’re used to doing things? If so, then I’ll research that. Before I start a writing session, I’ll write down a specific word and put it in plain sight. As I’m working on the track, I always see that word. Maybe that word is “tense”. From then on, I try to make sure that everything I add to that track feels that way. It helps me stay focused that way the track doesn’t go off the rails and change moods unintentionally.

What is your process like?

I’m a pretty obsessive-compulsive person so my process is pretty methodical and planned out. I try to leave room for creativity when I can, but for the most part, I love spreadsheets, deadlines and schedules. I know that goes against the romanticized views of how a traditional artist works but most of the people that I know that are successful in this business are extremely organized and professional.
From a practical perspective, I usually spend the first few hours of a project just curating sounds and building a template of unique soundscapes and instruments that I feel will accomplish the original vibe of the project. Often, I am working on batches of songs at a time, 5 or 10, so I rarely ever do a project that’s just one track unless I’m writing actual songs with a specific artist, which I seem to do a lot less of these days.

I always try to spend extra time at the frontend preparing the sound pallets and colors. It’s much like the process of scoring films. When you’re done, you want everything to gel and sound like it’s connected and part of the same story. Being really methodical and organized on the front end allows you to ensure that cohesiveness actually happens. Once I have my sound pallet is done, I just start creating with that one-word “feel” or “mood” in mind. I’ll start writing from that point and see how it evolves. I end up either extremely pleased, or extremely disappointed, see “Imposter Syndrome.” Some days you’re the hammer, some days you are the nail.

How do you choose your instruments?

I think it’s important as a composer to use the instruments that you’re really good at playing. For me, I’ve been playing guitar for over 30 years so it would be foolish to not try to include that instrument into what I’m doing. I also play bass and percussion so I like to make sure I’m always adding those instruments live to my recordings. With all of today’s computer technology, it’s super easy for composers to fall into the hole of just using everything in the box. There was an entire year or maybe two where I think I recorded like 40 songs and never used one live instrument. Looking back on my catalog, I believe that was a tremendous mistake. I could’ve added so much more emotion flavor and color by simply adding a few tracks with my fingers on real instruments.

I think a lot of people think that you have to be an amazing musician to record on an album or to record on a track, but that’s just simply not true. Most great songs on the radio are actually really simple musical parts. Unless you’re listening to jazz or progressive rock you don’t have to be a virtuoso to throw down a basic G, C,D, Em progression on an acoustic guitar. Having said that, I have found that my best instrument of all is my DAW. I currently use Logic Pro X and Digital Performer. If you get really good at editing, you can pretty much play any instrument you have. I actually played live clarinet on a few tracks I made earlier this year with a clarinet I bought on Amazon for $40. I literally watched a couple YouTube videos to figure out how to make a sound and then I sampled myself playing it. I thought I was gonna die because it was so hard to make a note but once I was done and did all the magic editing, it actually sounded really cool and added a lot of character to the recording.

Obviously, the genre you are working and is going to determine a lot when it comes to the actual instrument selection. If I am working on crime dramatic tension, I know that I am going to use a lot of sound design drones and strings. Probably not much harmonica or banjo in there! I may use my guitar for really ambient sound effects or string resonance. Playing traditional chords over that would sound really wonky and weird and would not accomplish the vibe of the track. Using our physical instruments, including your voice, in a creative way is very important. I just try to always ask myself, “I wonder if I could squeeze my guitar into the song somehow?” Then I try stuff until I come up with something that works.

That’s why workflow is so important. Everything in my studio is always hooked up and ready to go. I used to keep my guitars upstairs in my closet but because of that I never used them! Now they are all right in front of my face so it only takes me about 30 seconds to grab one, arm a track and get creative!

How long does it take you to create an album?

It usually takes the exact amount of time between the project’s start until the day before the deadline. Just kidding! But seriously, Parkinson’s Law is the old adage that the work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. This can be really true in music because our art is never really done – it’s just “due”. There’s an amazing quote by Duke Ellington that goes: “I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.”

As artists, the best thing we can have for our careers is an actual due date. Otherwise we will get lost in the never ending pursuit of perfection and creativity. In sync music, the goal is to provide usable content for the end-client, not to make masterpieces every day. Our music serves a very specific purpose and a big part of that purpose is to be on the right person’s hard drive on the day that they need it. I always try to make sure that the tracks I’m composing are creative, unique and usable. But the most important quality is that they are finished! Otherwise, I’m just a hobbyist.

What was your approach with True Crime for Level 77?

Since this was my first album with Level 77, I wanted to make sure that I delivered something that was on par with the expectations Level 77 had for it. Jason Rudd and I spent quite a bit of time on the phone getting to know each other and talking about the vision for the album. Jason was super helpful in giving me direction and setting the expectations for what the project needed to be.

The last couple years I’ve been doing a lot of crime music so I knew it was in my wheelhouse. I already had a lot of direction for what I thought would work for the genre, but every time you start a new album you have the fear of wondering if you’re going to be able to deliver. So when I started this particular project I made sure that I created some really cool fun sounds that I had never used before. I wanted to make sure that at the end of the project it was something we were proud of and was usable for the end user client. Jason and I discussed a lot of words like fear, mystery, unsolved, dark, unsettling, and rarely if ever discussed actual musical terms. That helped guide the process and I think we ended up with some really cool stuff.

It’s easy to forget just how many sub-genres there are. Some people may just call it “Crime Music” but in reality, for the composer, there are about 100 sub-genres of crime. Is it murder mystery, is it investigative, is it documentary style, is it cyber-crime, is it espionage? There are so many creative options. The moment a composer adds a pulsing analog synth, it starts to go in one certain direction. Having a sense of vision for each project is critical. Otherwise, the music can get too sparse and lose its impact.

What are some recent placements that you’re proud of?

Every single new placement is like Christmas morning! Now, I start to get disappointed if I get less than one to two new placements per week. I guess I have become spoiled. Like a kid who gets too many presents!

I’ve dreamed about having success as a composer so I will never forget my very first placement which was on a show called “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” on E! in 2016. I got a phone call from my friend Joy Basu informing me of our first placement. It was a pretty exciting time and was a very affirming moment in my career. I was sitting in my living room with my wife and we were both pretty stoked. It solidified that maybe I was on the right track, but in reality, it was only the beginning of all the hard work that would follow. Ironically, I had never watched that show. But millions of other people have so it’s a really cool feeling. LOL.

After that, I just thought to myself, “OK I need to make about 1000 more of these!” And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. It really is a cool feeling every time you realize that your music is being broadcast to millions of people. You’re helping tell the story of some creative person and they’re using your music to do it. Here I am just a father-of-four in Chapel Hill, North Carolina pumping out music in my home studio that’s being aired all over the world. It’s very inspiring.

My favorite placement to date however, is my track that was used in Super Bowl 55. It was a rock track that I did with my friend and collaborator, Stevie Benz. Wow, that was a crazy moment especially because I am a huge NFL fan AND I was watching the game with my entire family. We all got to hear my track in real-time and my kids were so
excited!!! They were literally jumping up and down.

Over 96 Million People heard that track all at once! What a cool feeling. That track has since been used in countless NFL games including this past year’s AFC Championship game on CBS Sports where my beloved Cincinnati Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs to secure their spot in the Super Bowl for the first time in 33 years!!! That was like a dream come true. Too bad they ended up losing to the Rams by three points but there’s always next year!!! And with our newly upgraded offensive line, it may happen! But I digress.

What do you feel it takes to be a successful composer in the modern world of music?

I think the most important thing is to have a PLAN! It sounds uninspiring and non-musical and every artist and composer reading this is probably like, “Wow, what a lame answer.” But it is so true. Of course you need to have musical skill, but that is a craft you develop overtime. A goal without a plan is just a dream. If you really want your dreams to come true you have to put it into action.
If I could inspire anyone who is reading this that wants to be successful as a music composer, I would encourage you to read a few books about developing business strategies, managing budgets, and discovering your passions. There are thousands of ways to be successful in the music business. Most likely, each person needs to carve out what that specific thing is for them. It looks different for everyone. But there is room for us all!

I used to call myself a songwriter until one day I woke up and realized I wasn’t really writing songs. I just liked the idea of being a songwriter more than the idea of delivery pizzas and managing restaurants. In my early days of living in Nashville, I met many people who were professional songwriters. I realized that these people literally wrote 2 to 3 songs a day no matter what. It’s not what they called themselves, it was actually who they were and what they were doing. They were songwriters. Calling yourself something and being something are two different things.

In 2015, when I decided that I was going to actually legitimately pursue being a professional composer for TV and Film, I made the conscious decision that I was going to compose music every week, if not every day, from that point on. That’s when everything started to shift for me. If you want to do this for a living, you must consider yourself a business, not a musician. In order for a business to be successful, it needs a budget, a plan, a vision and a mission statement as well as solid boundaries for what you will do and what you will not do. If you don’t have each of those things figured out for your life, written down, start today.

Most importantly, make sure that all of your plans and your goals are measurable. So many artists are banking their career on things that they can’t control. That is not a formula for success. No one is going to hand you something for free and very rarely are you just simply going to be discovered for your awesomeness. You need to carve out a path for yourself and you need to make goals that are achievable, realistic, measurable and within your control. The biggest competition is going to be yourself. That’s what I’m learning every day.

Thank you so much to Fuller for being willing to give us his time and talents. We cannot wait to hear his newest compositions and experience his latest placements! If you want to get in touch with Brian Michael Fuller, please visit his composer website:


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