Rob Jager talks being a freelance composer: “Stephen King writes 5 hours a day. I try to do the same with my music”
Rob Jager is a freelance composer and owner of ReauBeau. You might’ve heard his remixes in the Need For Speed Heat, FIFA 20 or 8×4 commercial. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg… In our interview Rob tells us what life as a freelance composer is like, speaks about his favorite projects and explains how to become a successful composer yourself.
Tell us more about what you do exactly.
I’m a sound designer, as well as composer for advertising and I’m currently working on three artist projects (ReauBeau, DOWORK and CASUAL) within which I create my own music. Next to that, I founded my own publishing label called Outerspace.
How did your career develop into being a fulltime composer?
I was able to go full time once Red Bull bought some of my existing tracks. A platform called Music Gateway is used a lot to apply songs for sync (ads, movies, trailers, games). At that time, there was a competition for Red Bull so I sent in tracks that I thought were a great match for their video and eventually we worked on four albums together. That was my doorway into becoming a full time composer.
Amazing. How do you stay successful as a composer?
- Be able to protect your professional boundaries. The music industry is a 24/7 economy. Make sure you check in with yourself and decide what is ok for you and what isn’t. Maybe working on Sundays isn’t doable for you. Maybe going below a certain fee won’t cut it. Don’t be afraid to say no if you’re financially able to in order to protect those boundaries.
- Select your sound. Make sure you know what your work sounds like, but stay open to creating something that doesn’t match your taste. You can’t always work on projects that reflect your own taste.
- Have a great ‘ear’. Don’t succumb to just one genre but learn to develop your sound in every genre to appeal to a broad spectrum of clients.
- Be reliable and have a good work ethic.
- Learn to direct. When you’re producing music, you’ll need to direct musicians, know what you’re talking about and how to phrase your question or assignment to the musicians in order to get the output you desire.
What concert or event are you looking forward to this year?
Jungle! I saw them in May this year and it was amazing. I haven’t seen a band this good in ten years and their shows are so well put together. They might also be my favorite artist at the moment.
What do you like about working in the music industry?
Connecting with new people. There’s so many genuine people who are doing what they love every day. Because they get to work with their passion every day, they’re very close to their emotions. Which makes them a great community to have real and deep conversations with.
Are you a musician and is it essential to be a musician to be a good composer?
I think the term ‘musician’ is relative. Does being a musician mean you can play an instrument like a virtuoso? As a composer, I think you’re a musician as well. You have to be musical to be able to compose.
What is something you struggle with in your line of work?
Clients who aren’t committed to my time. As a freelance composer you don’t always have a lot of time on your hands. You’re working on multiple projects for yourself as well as clients. A client once told me to free up my Sunday for feedback, and eventually I didn’t hear from them the entire weekend.
What energizes you most within your job?
Creating something from nothing in the studio. I don’t always realize, but when I go into the studio every morning there’s nothing. When I leave in the evening, I’ve made something from scratch. Next to that, I love genuinely connecting with people at events, on LinkedIn and organically.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Very organically. I once read that Stephen King writes 5 hours each day. There’s no judgement in whether it’s good or bad, he just creates. I do the same with my music. Ideas flow to me once I’ve started the creative process. But not only that: the people I work with often come from different backgrounds musically and provide a lot of inspiration as well.
What was an eye opener when you first started out as a composer?
The power of your network. The people you surround yourself with are incredibly important as to how far you will come.
Please give your fellow composers-to-be some tips.
Always show, don’t tell. Show clients why you’re good at what you do. Next to that, the music scene can be quite the party scene. Don’t let that distract you from working hard. Oh, and do not become arrogant! No matter what projects you’ve worked on.
Any dreams for the future?
I’d love to work on a Hollywood trailer. But my main focus is developing myself musically and experiencing and learning about working with new genres.
Rob (ReauBeau) works as a freelance composer and has worked with clients such as Red Bull, Mercedes, Tommy Hilfiger, Mastercard, Victoria’s Secret and many more. Next to that he works with amazing musicians such as The Golden Boys (Chef’Special), he creates his own music and founded a composers collective and publishing label Outerspace.