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“I owe 100 percent of any success I’ve had to Berklee Valencia and the hardworking faculty. They taught me a solid foundation of a work ethic, the art of persevering, and being a perfectionist.” - Evan MacDonald (M.M.’16)
When Evan MacDonald (M.M. ‘16) was a student at Berklee Valencia, he attended a presentation on campus by Premium Beat, a Canadian music library. After graduating from the Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program, MacDonald started working for the company as a freelance artist. Since then, his compositions have been featured in advertisements for major brands and artists such as Google, Alfa Romeo, Audi, and the Jonas Brothers.
Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree at Berklee Valencia?
I received a pamphlet in the mail about the program when I was finishing my undergraduate degree in music at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. At the time, I was also taking an online film scoring course with Berklee, which fascinated me and opened my eyes to that world, so I decided to apply for the scoring program in Valencia. The next thing I knew, I was on the plane to go study in Valencia.
How has your Berklee experience influenced you as a professional?
I owe 100 percent of any success I’ve had to Berklee and the hardworking faculty. They taught me a solid foundation of a work ethic, the art of persevering, and being a perfectionist. They inspire me, even to this day, and they gave me the tools and the confidence that I can do this for a living. I think the biggest thing I learned is that you don’t have to be some prodigy. It’s just a matter of taking it one day at a time, putting in a lot of hard work, and eventually it will pay off.
How did you land your current job as a freelance artist at Premium Beat?
This is a connection I made at Berklee Valencia. I heard that a music library from Montreal was giving a presentation about their company, so I decided to pop in to see what this was about. What most resonated with me in their presentation was the chance to write music that inspires filmmakers to help tell a better story. After the workshop, I stayed in touch with them and worked on my application by writing music on the side. I sent in my application around the time I graduated. About a month later, I found out that I got accepted and joined their team of artists.
What is it like to compose music for a music library?
I work with an artist representative who gives me feedback on how I can improve the song to make it sound better. The only guidelines is that it has to sound commercially “good.” They’re looking for music that’s not just “stock music.” They want music that will hopefully inspire their clientele. In December 2019, I went back to AIR Studios, as Premium Beat asked if I’d be interested in writing music that would be recorded with live musicians. I put together a budget and a star team of people I met as a student while studying at Berklee Valencia. I recorded eight songs. There was also a video made about this process that will be out in summer 2020.
Which clients use the music you write?
The first time I heard my music on TV, I was watching a baseball game with my family. A commercial came on for the airline company WestJet and I said, “That’s my music!” From that moment, this started happening pretty regularly: Google, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Hyundai, and even the Jonas Brothers used one of my songs for one of their videos.
What other highlights from your work would you like to share?
I work remotely from Montreal for clients all over the world. Aside from my work for Premium Beat, I’ve been lucky to have scored a feature length documentary, two feature films, and more than a dozen short films. Merveilleuse, one of the short films I worked on, premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. I also do quite a bit of scoring for advertising. Recently, I scored 24 ads with The North Face to promote a new product line. I have won three awards with the SOCAN Foundation, which highlights Canada’s top audiovisual composers under the age of 30, including first place for best original score for a nonfiction film.