Are You the Next Hollywood Hit Master?

Composer John Debney

Composer John Debney

Make a wonderful soundtrack to a high-grossing movie and you could earn millions: Top-selling soundtracks from films like Top Gun, Titanic and The Bodyguard have grossed earnings from $7 million to $18 million, Entertainment Weekly reports. Driven by hit ballads from Berlin, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, these soundtracks not only drove box-office hits, they sold well and became cultural reference points. To get started on your quest to write a million-dollar song, hone your skills and your pitch with these tips.

Inspiring Soundtracks to Favorite

From Hollywood to Bollywood, there are scores of inspiring film soundtracks that can influence your education, broaden your horizons and illustrate how music can inform a scene. Well-crafted soundtracks to know include:

  • Slumdog Millionaire – This feel-good Bollywood film combined traditional Indian music with M.I.A.s “Paper Plane” hit to get everybody dancing. Listen to get lessons on how to incorporate non-Western musical traditional into movies without giving your track a dated feel.
  • Pulp Fiction – The Pulp Fiction soundtrack combined retro hits with contemporary tunes to highlight key scenes from the violent thriller. The music became a hit apart from the movie, which helped launch director Quentin Tarantino’s star. If you want to make an indie hit that still finds favor with the masses, give this a listen.
  • Garden State – This twee, hipster film featured a twee, hipster soundtrack that helped the whole world (along with Zach Braff) fall in love with Natalie Portman, The Shins and Iron & Wine. Listen if you plan on writing your own script and soundtrack, or if you need the indie vibe (and street cred) for your hit.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? – If you dream of working on a film that is infused with a sense of space or time, O Brother, Where Art Thou? offers inspiring lessons. The movie, which depicts life in the south during the Depression, features a soundtrack packed with modern and retro-inspired alt country hits that became instant classics.


Composer Brian Tyler

Composer Brian Tyler


Honing your skills

A traditional music education can help you achieve your dream of getting your music in a movie. You might want to move to Los Angeles and intern for music studios to gain exposure to the industry, sign up for guitar/voice lessons, attend a California audio engineering school or take classes in poetry or songwriting.

Putting it out there and getting notice

As you improve your skills, play live as much as you can to improve your people skills, gain audience feedback on your songs and make more connections. Living in L.A. will help you make industry friends, learn the politics of the Hollywood machine and, of course, possibly be discovered by studio execs checking out new acts. Don’t forget about social media, which can be an extremely valuable tool in making connections with film and TV producers looking for new music. When you’re confident in your skills, take charge of your career and pitch music to people in your network. Be persistent in getting your music out there and honing your talent, and success will follow.


Guest Author: Melanie Simpson – Mel is a journalist and blogger who follows Hollywood happenings.


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