View Profile BenTibbetts
Ben Tibbetts @BenTibbetts

31, Male

Pianist and composer

Massachusetts, USA

Joined on 9/27/09

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Hello Newgrounds! (Update on things)

Posted by BenTibbetts - October 14th, 2019

Hey Newgrounds! It's been a while and I'm very happy to check back in here, loving the creepy wall art by VonGrimsworth I'm seeing on the site right now. I have some time this morning so I thought I'd write a little about what I've been up to.

My professional life recently has been intense and mostly enjoyable. The last few years I've settled into a career of mostly piano accompaniment with the rest of the time spent on other music freelance work. I would say the time split overall has been around 70% / 30%, with 70% being piano accompaniment gigs, especially at UMass Amherst where I work as a staff accompanist for the music department.

I feel like I'm growing a lot as a musician, working with lots of players I admire and getting their feedback on my playing and writing. I'm sitting on a lot of recordings and original music that I need to sift through and share online at some point. The downsides have been that it's exhausting and not very lucrative, frankly. I'm supporting myself totally through my musical work, especially through playing the piano, but there is a lot of truth to the stereotype of the starving artist. At least there has been for me so far. I'm certainly not starving but looking ahead, I hope to boost both my income and my output, shifting more to projects that are close to my heart, without doing 100 hour work weeks or anything like that. That said, unlike a lot of freelancers I definitely wouldn't say I'm looking for more work. I have lots of musical work in my area, which I'm grateful for. I'm just looking to eventually shift the type of work a little bit, perhaps to more audio production (?). I'm really not sure, I'll just have to see how those things shake out as I move forward and collaborate with other people. I will say that for me the absolute best thing about making music is doing it with other people, feeling that energy, hearing how they think and going to creative places that I would never have thought of trying.

Anyway, those are some candid thoughts on my professional life at the moment--mostly very happy with how things are going and proud of the music I'm making with college students, ensembles and other collaborators. I haven't been uploading much at all to Newgrounds, though. Sorry about that! I did upload a couple of things since my blog post in late 2018, though. If you've followed my work here in the past, you should take a look at my latest audio to hear a podcast I did with my friend Mike Foster, a weird and not-very-successful experiment with Virtual Singer, and some video game music I had a lot of fun tinkering with. I'm especially proud of the podcast, which is about the split-brain syndrome.

Lots of thanks and appreciation as always to Newgrounds, to Tom Fulp for creating this weird and lovely place to share bizarre and beautiful things! I plan on continuing to support this site, and if you're a regular here and you have the means I would encourage you to support it too by going to newgrounds.com/supporter. I really don't think Newgrounds will ever be like YouTube or anything like that, but it's cool that it exists. Even if most of my own work is mainstream and SFW, I really appreciate some of the out-there things that have come from Newgrounds over the years. Like the Salad Fingers series, which I think is ingenious, or even that disturbing/surreal animation by Jaime-R that came out last month. There always need to be spaces where people can experiment and try things out and not worry too much about being disgusting or breaking taboos.

Best wishes to the Newgrounds community, I'll see you guys around. And feel free to reach out if you'd like to use my music in an animation or another project. My email is contact@bentibbetts.net and that's probably the best way to reach me these days.


Comments (2)

Split-brain syndrome hmm, hadn't heard that term before, will definitelylisten in on that (doesn't seem all that long either). NG a weird and lovely place to share bizarre and beautiful things... that's a nice way of phrasing it. Props on the Supporter plug too!

Interesting read on the ups and downs of life as a professional musician. Seems like when demand outweighs need, the usual thing to do is raise your price a bit, earn more doing less and balance the demand a bit at the same time? But maybe the competition's just too tough with what you do/there's just not $$$ there in the first place? If you can do what you love for a living though: sounds awesome.

On that last point, yes I probably will raise my fees as I become a more experienced pianist, though the leeway for that in my area may be somewhat limited. Because I'm often working with college students who don't have a lot of money I'm uncomfortable raising prices for them too much. One solution for that I thought of recently was to raise my recital fees considerably and offer a sliding scale for students who are struggling. I may do that.

Sounds like the ideal solution. :) Great to help out too. If only we knew what everyone was able or willing to pay we'd be able to price services accordingly too, shame telepathy's such a limited skillset...