Edward White is an exciting talent, highly regarded in London and Los Angeles as a composer for film/TV.
Edward’s TV credits include multiple Bear Grylls series for ITV, Mankind for History Channel & narrated by Josh Brolin, & numerous high profile shows for BBC1, BBC2 and others. He scored the feature doc All You Need Is Love, narrated by Sigourney Weaver and Hollywood sci-fi thriller, Listening, amongst others.
We recently had the opportunity to chat to Edward about his work in the industry, his top tips for aspiring composers, and scoring his latest project, Warburtons’ new campaign starring Robert De Niro…
What was your route into the business?
I arrived out of University with a music degree, all pumped up on this heady mixture of film music by John Williams, Alan Silverstri, James Horner, Michael Kamen and Hans Zimmer. I was hungry to score films, TV and commercials but I had no idea how to get into the business. Thankfully, Patrick Doyle (Cinderella, Thor) took pity on me and invited me out to lunch. He basically said; “Go find some actors. Either they will get cast in something and you’ll get hired; or they’ll start directing and you’ll get hired. It was great advice. I got my first feature shortly after through an actor friend. My actor friends have made me a much better musical dramaturgist.
Apart from being a great composer what skills do you think you need to survive in the business?
People skills – cultivating and growing a network. Business skills – budgets, contracts, sales and marketing. Telesales skills!!! Book keeping. Computers. All the traditional business skills that composers hope they won’t need!
What trends are you noticing in the music for media landscape? What changes would you like to see?
Trends – the ubiquity of library music cannot be denied. But conversely, this is driven by the sheer appetite for content, shrinking post schedules and non-linear editing systems. And it means that there are still opportunities out there for savvy composers to eek out a living.
Clearly AI will start to take more of a role in low end productions but my personal intuition is that humans prefer other humans – I’m not interested in what an algorithm has to say about the human condition anymore than I’m interested in a singing rabbit. Sure – the singing rabbit has novelty value but are you really going to buy the difficult second album? AI music will inevitably find it’s tier in the market – hopefully in late night gambling shows.
Copyright has now become “access right” and that changes the relationship between creators of IP, their creations, commissioners of the work and media platforms. Since commissions are not getting more substantial, royalties become even more important in the economic life of a composer. And yet streaming platforms with their exuberant mantra of “disruptive innovation” have really dented this stream. I have a feeling, rather, I hope that something more sustainable is an inevitable consequence of this current flux – we will all have to compromise – and I imagine blockchain might have something to do with it.
Can you describe your working relationship with Manners McDade? How important is it to have a great team around you?
From a publishing perspective, as a composer agency and PR team; I really enjoy working with Manners McDade. Part of it is about having other people endorse and validate what you’re doing; which is really important – I work in a room on my own so value collaboration when it happens – but it’s also about the safety of numbers. I have my tribe, so, even though I’m in a room on my own trying to figure out which notes are the “good” ones, there’s always a friendly ear on the other end of the phone.
What was it like working on the new Warburtons campaign starring Robert De Niro?
Wonderful. Bizarre. I still remember watching De Niro in Deer Hunter on VHS as a kid with my Dad. Hearing “Cavatina”, the theme for the movie, by the brilliant Stanley Myers and learning to play it on guitar. And then all these years later, sitting in my writing room trying to figure out music that will accompany De Niro’s performance and help sell the comedy of our commercial. Strange and amazing.
If you could give aspiring composers three pieces of advice what would they be?
1. Always be working – whether it’s writing, marketing, whatever… Don’t waste time. Ten years will whizz by in the blink of an eye.
2. Pick up the phone and call that person that you’re most terrified to call. Don’t get through to them? Try them next week. And the week after. Like Stallone says, “if the door is locked, try the window!”
3. Never stop actively searching for and listening to new music – even if it’s out of your comfort zone. You only get good stuff “out” if you put a varied diet “in”.
Most exciting project so far?
Currently working on a secret AAA franchise video game for Microsoft. I played the first one on my XBox in 2006 and never dreamed that I would get the opportunity to write music for that world. Like De Niro, a career milestone.
Find out more about Edward White here.