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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Mar 16, 2018

In Episode 11, Mark interviews Kevin MacLeod, the writer, composer and producer for the music used in this podcast.

Kevin MacLeod is an American composer and musician who is perhaps best known for his distribution of royalty-free library music through his website,

He has made over 2,000 self-composed pieces of music available for download under a Creative Commons 3.0 license which basically allows anyone to use his music for free as long as he receives attribution.

This open spirit has led to his music being used in millions of YouTube videos and thousands of films. As of July 2016, MacLeod had over 2,300 composer credits listed on the Internet Movie Database and his music has been used in Martin Scorsese's 2011 film Hugo, several commercial video games, and videos by online content creators such as CollegeHumor and Good Mythical Morning.

The Terrible Tongue Twister on this podcast (which Mark stumbles over) is sponsored by Findaway Voices. You can find out more about Findaway Voices on

In their discussion, Mark and Kevin talk about:

  • Kevin’s history as a musician and the origin of the launch of the incompetech website
  • The debate between openly giving away one’s work for free VS the “exposure doesn’t pay my bills” concept
  • Kevin’s philosophy on exposure that includes the following concept: “100% of the people who have never heard you, don’t like you.”
  • The importance of a service like Patreon that can help people support artists who are freely making their work available
  • The tens of thousands of videos and games out there where Kevin’s music is used and how that can lead to sales or custom work
  • Kevin’s thoughts on when he misses the target of his intended audience with a particular piece he composes
  • The core basics of the equipment needed as a musician in the digital realm
  • The types of conferences that Kevin gets the most value in attending
  • The conflict Kevin faces, as an introvert at conferences who loves hanging out with people while, at the same time, finds it an overwhelming experience that requires multiple “solo” breaks during the day
  • How his daily work process and work schedule continues to change over time and basic on the projects on his plate
  • One of the ways inspiration strikes, which is not in experiencing something brilliant, but instead, experiencing something terrible and imagining a composition that he feels might have worked better in that instance
  • How, when your job is to create media, every single activity can be a tax deduction
  • Kevin’s belief that everyone has the same job: to make life easier for other people
  • How connecting with other musicians and composers is an important aspect of Kevin’s world
  • Measuring a Starfleet captain based on the number of times his Enterprise has blown up
  • Kevin’s words of advice for those interested in pursuing a creative passion (whether it be composing music or another creative pursuit)

After the interview, Mark takes about two specific elements from the interview that he wants to reflect on.

The first is Kevin's advice for creators, that is similar to advice we heard in Episode 10 from Jean Leggett of One More Story Games. And it's the importance of starting small, of actually working at your craft, at practicing, at getting better, at just DOING IT. Interesting that Kevin's take as a musician is similar to Jean's in terms of story.

The second thing is a much bigger topic - and it's how free CAN work quite effectively in the rights ways at allow greater discoverability of an author's work which can lead to sales, to income, to opportunity that might not have previously existed.

Mark then shares a clip from his 2009 to 2011 short fiction podcast PRELUDE TO A SCREAM, with a piece of music from Kevin called "Noir Mild Tension"

Links of Interest: