On a Facebook group recently someone asked about the benefits of subscription websites, where you pay a monthly fee and have access to job applications. I thought it might be useful to anyone looking to get into the business of making music to talk about my experience of them. At this point I have to point out this is merely MY experience - I have no idea how successful they are as a whole.
Over the years I've dipped in and out of these services. I won't mention any by name as the experience has been the same. You pay a fee, read the slightly detached ads (major label requires...feature film needs an outstanding composer etc) and apply blind. This could be a cover letter or a pitch (yes, often you have to work without a pitch budget or even contact with the potential hirer). Many times I've done this and many times I've not succeeded. By the way, I've learned to not use the word 'failed' after realising it's usually nothing personal, more that your take on it doesn't fit with the hirer's take; it doesn't mean you're not good enough.
Anyway, I've never been hired through a subscription website, and I think I know why. If there are, let's say, 100 applications for a job, there's a one in 100 chance of getting it. In contrast, for a regular TV pitch process generally a handful of composers are invited to pitch (again, I'm talking about my own experience). In addition you should be able to speak to the producers and decision makers to find out how best to approach the project, either verbally or by finding out their likes and dislikes. Very often finding out what someone doesn't like is a good steer. The bottom line is that everyone wants the best for the project, so decision makers will want to give you the best chance to succeed.
But surely the subscription websites allow access to those companies. How will I be included otherwise?
My simple answer: take the tenner a month and save it for networking events, for conferences, for lunches and informal gatherings. Get to know who you want to work with. Do your research and make it personal.
How to network is another topic entirely, but ultimately talking with human beings about shared passions is much better than paying to become a number.
The ramblings of a music man.