Do you have American Idol Syndrome?

My family and I used to love watching American Idol.  (It lost much of its original appeal when Simon left).  We loved the early rounds because you never knew what to expect.   There were contestants that stepped onto the stage without much confidence, dressed pretty ordinary and talked to the judges in a very timid manner. THEN….. they would begin to sing and knock it out of the park!  Other contestants would step onto the stage having it all together, confidence, the right look, and belt it out of the park as well.

Then, there were the oddballs that you knew were going to be awful before they started by the way they presented themselves.  They were fun because you knew they were there to have fun and maybe get on TV.  They knew they couldn’t sing but gave it a shot anyway.

The ones we always hated were the people that auditioned who were totally clueless.  So… what do I mean by clueless?  They would come on the show with confidence and make you think wow, I bet they can sing!    In minutes, they would start singing, and you quickly realized they were truly awful.  When they were done and the judges tore them apart, they would be crushed.  On their exit interviews they would be indignant – they truly thought they could sing and couldn’t understand why they were slammed by the judges.

As a composer in the royalty free music marketplace, I see these three types of writers every day.

The Hidden Gem
These guys have an awful profile and little or no bio but write incredible music.

The Professional
These composers have amazing profiles, beautiful websites and amazing bios and they write as well as they present themselves.

The American Idol Syndrome Composers
Lastly, there are the writers that have what I call American Idol Syndrome.  These writers think they are amazing in their own minds but are truly awful.  They usually have profiles full of poorly done graphics, often with a bizarre picture of them, inflated bios extolling their virtues, and awful tracks.

I know it sounds like I am hammering on these writers, but I am not.  As a composer, it is vitally important for you to continually perfect your craft.  You must be self-aware, both of how you present yourself as well as your skill set.

Action Items

So, what are some steps you can take to make sure you are not a composer with American Idol Syndrome?

  • Get feedback from other impartial composers and artists.  (Your friends and family don’t count).  Reach out to other artists and ask for feedback on your music.  Make sure you take any feedback you get graciously.
  • Hire a freelancer to help you with your graphic presentation.  There are a ton of freelancers online that can help you for very little money.  Usually, the graphics you need created are simple and easy to do quickly.  (Try,
  • If you don’t have money to hire a designer then spend some time reading and learning about basic design at websites like:,
  • Spend some serious time listening to top composers in the libraries you want to submit to and make sure your music stacks up.  This can be difficult if you don’t have an optimal listening environment.  If you don’t have a good listening environment, download tracks onto your phone or iPod.   Mix a “top” track from a great composer followed by one of your tracks and spend some time listening back to back.
  • Listen to the top commercial artists in the genres you are interested in composing.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how good you are there will always be someone better.  BUT, that is ok.  If you are reading this and interested in composing for music libraries you probably have talent.  It is up to you to make an honest evaluation of where you are at and to take the time and energy to enhance your skill set.

If it were easy, everyone would be a top seller.

About the author

Tim Brown

Tim Brown, the artist behind Brown House Creative and is an award winning producer and composer based in Nashville, TN (Music City USA ). Tim is a prolific writer whose music has been used by a number of his high profile clients, including Monday Night Football, The Olympics, ABC Sports, and A&E Biography, to name a few.

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Tim Brown - August 8, 2015

Great tips for perfecting your craft!

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