Making a living making music

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Craig Dodge knew early on he would spend his life making music. Growing up near St. John’s, NL, he loved Elvis's music. Then Craig received his first album, Love Gun by Kiss, and he's had music ringing in his ears ever since.

Today, Craig Dodge is an award-winning classically trained film, television, and video game composer, and audio designer whose music is heard by millions around the globe each day. In the last four years alone he has composed 2,500 pieces of music. 

Prince Edward Island may be small in size, but Islanders are big on ambition, and Craig Dodge is living proof. Working from his home studio in Stratford, Craig has composed music -- with catchy names like Terror Eyes, Thuggy Groove, and Hot Pursuit -- for more than 35 video games and 100 films and television shows airing daily in more than110 countries.

“I am busy. I will be working through Christmas,” he said.  “If you can make a living as a composer on PEI you can make it anywhere.”

He wrote his first music for a video game in 2007 and went to a conference in San Francisco where he was introduced to the business. He told his new contacts he was ready and able to the work, and then the work started pouring in. These days, Craig can compose anything from a 198 piece orchestra to hip hop, and for anything from a kid’s video game, to a suspense movie.

 “There is so much content needed,” he said. “I have to write for different genres, really quickly.”

With the huge number of television shows, video games and online content, music buyers are hungry for product.  And, it can pay off in royalties. For example, a track Craig produced for Pawn Stars, a popular syndicated TV show, now earns him royalties every time it plays, anywhere in the world.

"I work with about 30 or 40 publishers and music supervisors,” he explained. “They send me briefs every week, give me a rundown on the show they are pitching, and send information on the style of music they're looking for."

Dodge has worked for names he is proud of, like CNN, Disney, the NHL and NBA, but there are a few that are less notable too (such as Toddlers and Tiaras, a show about childhood beauty pageants). His favourite genre is suspense, and he is most creative in the early mornings.  

But life in the studio can get isolating, so Craig likes to get out to his teaching gigs and to volunteer at the soup kitchen. He teaches at UPEI and Holland College, where he helps musicians and producers learn how to make money off their music.

“Getting $50 bucks a night at a local bar doesn’t cut it anymore,” he joked.

He sits on the board of Music PEI and is writing a book called “Make Money While You Sleep,” a guide for musicians to learn to make money from their art. Craig has a Specialist Certificate in Orchestrating and Producing Music for Film and Video Games from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He also holds has a Bachelor's Degree in Music from the University of Prince Edward Island.  

“It’s really neat to be back at UPEI as a professor now, instead of a student,” he said.

Prince Edward Island is the Mighty Island - we may be small, but we make big things happen.
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