Social Composers: VI-Control

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Today I am happy to interview the 2 people that have made possible for countless composers to share their knowledge for the past 15 years with VI-Control, one of the most popular online forums out there. Frederick Russ founded VI-Control in 2004 and managed it until 2017. Mike Green took it from there and has been managing it since.

Frederick Russ

Hi Frederick, I am very happy to have you on this series! Tell is a little about yourself. What do you do for a living?

I write music for media. Lately for music libraries. I also counsel creatives who struggle.

When did you start VI Control and what was the composers’ forum landscape like back then?

I started VI in 2004. The first day we had a grand total of ten members. I remember celebrating! Forums for composers were brutal back then. Advertisers could do no wrong; composers members paid the price for saying anything derogatory (since it was considered a threat to the forum income) so they were routinely banned, no matter the length of their membership. It was wrong, everyone knew it, yet there was no alternative.

What was the philosophy/mission of VI Control?

VI returned the power back into the lives of its members. They were considered important commodities and treated with respect and could freely speak their mind (hence, a forum). In return, we expected members to police themselves. Our motto has been Musicians Helping Musicians. The vision was to be a place to share secrets and ideas related to composers who use samples and midi mockup to create music for media.

Banning did occur however under extraordinary circumstances if A) a member was attacking another member publicly after repeated warnings from a moderator or administrator; B) was trolling repeatedly to disrupt the flow of conversation; and C) continued spamming the forum with unvetted ads after being warned. For a time, we had a standing rule to proceed with a banning by the decision of at least two moderators.

What was your role in the group/forum?

I was the administrator. I ensured that the forum stayed updated technically. I also moderated.

Can you share the best tip you have read on VI Control?

To continue writing, even when you don’t feel like it. To always write. You can find musical jewels in what seemed like half baked ideas. Composers were encouraged to compile their ideas and then go back periodically to review them in brainstorming mode (suspending judgment while you try combining short snippets of ideas to create an entirely new piece). It’s a mental game to compose. While it’s important to remain aware of problems, it’s also important to remain open to the creative process without abusing oneself for not being perfect. I’ve abandoned hundreds of cues only to return and build 3 out the ideas I find. Seemed to be a recurring phenomenon amongst composers.

Are you member and active on other groups/forums that you’d recommend to your colleagues?

Nothing remotely close to VI. There are some cool Facebook groups though.

Do you feel Mike Greene did a good job leading VI Control after you?

Of course. I personally chose Mike and had known him for years before VI switched hands. Mike knew the philosophy quite well and was balanced in his decision making. Besides, Mike is a great guy and is making a difference at VI.

Thank you so much Frederick, I am going to pass the mic (or should I say the pen?) to Mike.

Mike Greene

Hi Mike, thanks for taking part in this chapter of the Social Composers series. Can you tell us a bit about your work?

Currently, I am the owner of Realitone, a company that makes sample libraries. Before that, I was a composer for TV shows and I wrote and produced songs for records. I still do the occasional tv show or record, but I’m too busy with Realitone to do much of that anymore.

What is your role in VI-Control?

I am the owner and administrator. Previously, that was Frederick (That’s who I bought the forum from a few years ago).

Why is VI-Control it unique?

VI-Control is the main forum for film, TV and game composers, as well as the premiere platform for sample library instruments. This is the place.

Frederick has told us about the values/mission he gave the forum during the years he managed it, did you keep or change them?

The values and mission are the same as when Frederick owned it.

Can novice composers join and why should they?

Many members are novices. The only way to know if it’s right for you is to visit and see what you think.

What about experienced composers?

We also have many experienced composers, some of whom are very well known. I won’t name them, because i don’t want people thinking they should visit so they can pester them with questions.

Have you ever witnessed new professional relationships born from interactions between members in the forum?

Yes, although VI-Control is not a place where you are going to get composing gigs. It is a forum for other composers, not directors.

Are there other services tied to VI Control?

We have meet-ups very rarely, but they do happen from time to time. (Maybe once every couple years?)

Can you share the best tip you have read on VI Control so far?

Don’t eat the yellow snow.

Are you member and active on other groups/forums that you’d recommend to your colleagues?

The Soundboard is also cool, although much smaller.

Thank you so much for participating!

You’re welcome!

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Giovanni Rotondo

Editor in Chief of Film Scoring Tips. Giovanni Rotondo is an experienced film and television composer based in London. He has scored many award winning feature films (Elijah and the Rock Creature, Orphans & Kingdoms), TV movies (Il Giudice Meschino, Il Confine), documentaries (Ilaria Alpi - L'Ultimo Viaggio) and video games (Thunderbird: The Legend Begins). More info here: giovannirotondo.com

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