Leet Music 2014 Post Mortem

In the tradition of last year’s post mortem analysis, I decided to make another piece focusing on business highs and lows from the last year in review. This year was most significant for me in terms of big personal life changes rather than anything world-shattering that happened with music, but in some ways they are related. I could only think of 3 this time, so here goes…

Good #3: Getting paid to produce an animation (instead of paying to do it)

After producing 5 animated music videos paying out of pocket, I was paid to produce an animated commercial for a technology company. I was responsible for managing the animator, voice talent, as well as handling all the audio needs and keeping everything on schedule. The budget was high (by my indie standards) but the piece was done at a whirlwind pace. Overall it was an enjoyable learning experience in terms of seeing whether it could be done and working with a large company. I hope to do more work for commercial / advertisement based projects in the future.

Bad #3: Boston video game industry faltering

From living in Boston through the last decade, it was really exciting to be there when the video game industry was flourishing through the successes of companies like Harmonix and Irrational Games. Unfortunately 2014 marked the shuttering of Irrational and other Boston companies also experiencing layoffs and financial woes. It seems like after 38 Studios closed less people are taking Boston seriously as a game development hub. That’s not to say that there aren’t some recent successes coming out of Boston, but overall opportunity there seems to be on the wane.

Good #2: Becoming “the theme songs guy”

I’m getting lot of requests for vocal theme songs in video games and establishing myself as a leader in the field. Last year 2 projects I did for Winter Wolves Games were both released and (by their account) are exceeding expectations. Additionally I have a number of theme song projects in progress for multiple clients which are very promising. Really looking forward to the coming year and very excited about this! I even wrote an article about my process developing theme songs which was featured by a leading video game industry website.

Bad #2: Working for a really sketchy client

I’m not one to complain about paid work, but sometimes you get a project that makes you hate your job and reconsider why you do what you do for a living. I don’t want to go into details, but let’s just say that I found out this client was saying totally inappropriate sexual things to female freelancers, and then asking me for creepy things like making porn sfx. The project kept starting and stopping because of their internet drama, and eventually they disappeared and still owe me a small amount of money. Which begs the question: How successful is the game going to be if they focus more time on being creepy than on the project?

Good #1: Relocating to Austin, TX

I definitely was not happy in Boston, and was struggling due to the high cost of living there. This move was a long time coming and hard decision to make, but overall I’m happier, healthier, and generally making better decisions so far. Technically I don’t have any Austin-based clients yet, but I did get one referral from a friend here, and I was a speaker at a local conference as well. I’ve also been able to take several Boston clients with me. Thanks to everyone who has supported me in this huge life transition!

Bad #1: Putting LeetStreet Boys on hiatus

After almost 2 years of convention booking inactivity I finally caved. The project was a huge part of my life since 2008, but had become more stress and disappointment than fun, and putting it on hiatus was good for my health and state of mind. For those who want to know more, I wrote about it in detail here but it basically amounts to loss of physical sales, and personal burn-out. I’m still open to doing shows if a convention is interested, but I’m not gonna hold my breath. However the fanbase is still strong in spite of what the people who run conventions think, and it’s possible to surmount a comeback in 2015 on the strength of a new single. Remains to be seen!

Best music gear purchase of 2014: CLA Compressors from Waves Audio.

For someone like me who primarily works with samples, this has been a godsend in terms of taking some of the digital harshness out of my mixes. It’s a subtle difference, but for what I do it’s enormous and I use it on almost everything now.


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