Noah Luna started on the path to his dream job at age 13, taking guitar lessons in Mountain View, California. As he learned about chords and music, his instructor instilled in him the importance of finding a way to turn what you love into a career. “He would say, you’ll need these skills. He kept the real world in mind.”
Now, at 26, Luna is the owner and founder of Beauty in Cacophony Press, a full service company in San Jose that publishes sheet music and does pre-press editing and typesetting for other publishers. He is also a freelance composer.
“It’s a total dream job, working with people I know, whose music I respect and admire.”
When a composer finishes writing a piece of music, Luna and his team of contractors (and wife “when she is feeling generous”) take it to the next level: editing the music, creating parts for the individual instruments, and printing, shipping, and licensing the music.
Though he does have some more established clients, Luna primarily works with young and emerging composers who might not otherwise get picked up by larger publishing companies. “They’re great composers who need help marketing.”
Luna loves that his work allows musicians to reach audiences that they might not have otherwise. “As a composer myself, I know it’s really hard,” but if composers present a professionally published catalog of their work, it can help get them noticed and taken seriously.
“When you study music, you practice all day and are told that you probably won’t make any money. But, they fail to mention to you that if you have some business savvy and awareness of what music, art, and its role in the community is really all about, there are a ton of jobs out there that are exciting, fulfilling, and use all the skills you develop in music school, and more.”
He also appreciates the reciprocal relationship with his clients, working together to further both their careers, and to provide networking opportunities for his own music.
Luna has a BA in Music from California State University, East Bay, and a Masters of Music from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He said that learning early on about the software used for music printing was beneficial. “It definitely helps to be a little bit of a geek.”
Beauty in Cacophony Press was founded in 2005, but Luna said he was really in this field all through school, helping friends and colleagues to prepare their pieces, working as a guitar instructor, and freelancing as a copyist and arranger for composers and publishers. Earlier this year, the company expanded to full-service printing, and will launch a new web site in 2012.
Luna runs the company from his home in San Jose. He doesn’t deny that the beauty of the area is one of the reason he loves his job, but he also noted the major arts scene in the surrounding cities, like San Francisco and Oakland, that allows him to maintain professional and personal music contacts.
A highlight of Luna’s career so far is his involvement in the You Tube Symphony, which used scores prepared by Beauty in Cacophony Press and written by well-known composer and client Mason Bates, for the final performance by the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the thrill of being part of such a large production, Luna said he got to do most of the work and watch the performance in his pajamas.
“I always wanted a job where I could work from home,” he said. And now that he and his wife have a new baby girl, he is even more grateful for the work-life balance that he has achieved. “It’s a joy.”
But it is not always easy. Luna said that one of the biggest challenges he faces is his age, with people often assuming that he is inexperienced. It is something that many of his young clients encounter as well. “Some of it is justified, you have little experience and you are working with people in a high profile and high pressure environment,” he said. “But if you have the skill and the ability to demonstrate that on command, and quickly, usually that gets people over [that] reaction.”
He added that one of the most valuable skills that young entrepreneurs and artists can have is the ability to market themselves effectively. “You need to be a virtuoso at self-promotion without being that smarmy guy in the shiny suit.”
Luna also serves as a sort of mentor for his clients, fielding questions and doling out advice on what to charge or how to handle a negotiation. “It’s about knowing what you can ask for,” he said, explaining that a lot of young composers don’t realize, for example, that they should be paid every time a piece of theirs is performed.
He often quotes a teacher who told him that in order to be successful, you need to be really good at something and someone else has to know about it. “I try to be that person for some really talented people.”
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