I'm thinking about hiring an arranger to do a half a dozen or so of my compositions so that I can get them recorded professionally by a proper orchestra. My ambition is to compose TV theme tunes and for my tunes to stand out from the rest I'd like to think this is the way forward. The continual advancement in music technology means I just can't afford to buy £2000 keyboards or samplers etc, so my question is: is it cheaper to buy more than £5000 worth of equipment or get it done the professional way by using an arranger and orchestras? What are the pros and cons?
Paul Farrer replies: The big question (as usual) is one of budget. As I'm sure you know, there is a world of difference between simply printing your sequencer file out as a page of musical score and finding an arranger who can work with your music and who really knows how to score for an orchestra. Getting someone who can do this well, then booking the right orchestra, and then finding suitable studios to record and mix in can be a pretty complex, time‑consuming, and costly exercise.
If you are looking to get into TV music I would say it makes much more sense to invest in even a modest studio that you feel happy with and can produce good results in, then to pitch your services to the TV world at large. These days there are some amazing sound modules and sample CDs available to make you sound (almost) like an orchestra, and in my experience TV music commissioners are much more likely to be impressed by someone who can be flexible and who can adapt quickly to an ever‑changing list of requirements, than they are by someone who has written some great tunes in the past and had them well recorded.
Of course if the dream job ever does appear and you get a commission with a budget to use a real orchestra then fair enough. However, if you are making the initial investment yourself then £5000 would buy you a pretty impressive arsenal of equipment to get started with, whereas an arranger, orchestra and suitable studio with an engineer could set you back 10 times that amount.