Composition Careers

Careers as a composer can take on a lot of different forms and each has different demands. All composition careers, though, are based on writing music.

Arranger A music arranger works with a composer or songwriter to fill out their composition. They may add different instruments, change the tempo, or the markings. They can take a simple tune and make a full song out of it.
Broadway Show Adapter A show adapter takes existing material and creates a new show from it. They may compose music based on existing tunes or create totally new works, adapt characters, and create dialogue.
Commercial Composer A commercial composer is someone who writes music for television, film, advertisements, or video games.
Composer A composer is someone who writes original music to be performed by an ensemble, in a movie, stage play, or television show.
Composer’s Assistant A composer’s assistant is a highly technical job. They work mostly with commercial composers. Some of the work they do includes keeping track of cues, setting up sessions, and making sure computers are running properly.
Film Scorer A film scorer, or film composer, meets with producers and directors to understand the need for music in a film. As part of a team, they decide where music should be in a film, then they write it. They oversee the recording of the score and make sure it matches the goals of the production.
Lyricist A lyricist specializes in writing the words to a song. They work closely with composers and together, they create words and music that work together.
Music Copyist A music copyist works with a team of other music professionals who help prepare written music for playing. They will often proofread, transcribe, or organize the written piece in preparation for recording or live performance.
Notesetter A notesetter is someone who transcribes music from what they hear played. They have to have a good understanding of music theory, musical notation, and a finely tuned ear.
Orchestrator An orchestrator takes the work of a composer and expands it for a full orchestra or performance ensemble. They select different instruments to carry different parts of the work. They transpose the composer’s sketches into the key and clef the performer needs.
Publishing scout A publishing scout often works in the A&R department of a label. They look for songwriters and composers to sign to their label.
Songwriter A songwriter writes lyrics and music to be performed or recorded.
Television Composer A television composer writes music for productions with a short production schedule and a limited budget. A composer may be hired to write a package for music within an episode or to write the title song for a series. In either case, the composer is paid a residual fee each time the episode with their composition is performed.
Video Game Composer A video game composer writes original scores for use in video games.

There are many Composition Careers to choose from. This list can be a stepping stone for picking which of the composition careers is right for you.