The Point System, Re-visited

For me, this whole thing started six years ago. I still love the idea, though, so here goes.

In a 2009 interview I mentioned the Point System, a career-scoring analytic first devised in 1996 by the always-brilliant Ron Jones. In the system, composers award themselves points based on those daily activities that advance their careers (or are otherwise important for ongoing health and sanity).

Since then I've received regular requests to re-post the infamous Point System in its entirety, and to update it so that it takes into account the growing importance of social media (and a few other 21st-century tweaks).

So. Today's the day.

Although the idea was originally developed for aspiring and emerging composers, the Point System can be useful for anyone, at nearly any career stage. There are a multitude of ways to earn points in this system, and I encourage you to dream up still more—write me at if you come up with a good one. I'll modify the list and post updates.

Along those lines, here's an idea that comes up from time to time: If you want to add negative-point items for things like not exercising or other detrimental behaviors, I think that's a fine idea. It's not for me to tell you how to live your life, though, so I'm omitting them in this "public-consumption" version of the system.

Some caveats: First, I've given serious deliberation to each of these point values. I believe they're accurate. If you disagree, feel free to change 'em up. But be sure to circle back in a few weeks to see if your revised weighting feels right. (After all, what do I know?)

Also, the daily max included on many of these is important. Racking up easy points by, say, tweeting the dictionary is antithetical to the purpose of the system… not to mention abusive to your followers! Having said that, there will be days where you want to hit social media hard: live-tweeting an episode of your TV show, for example, or reminding people about a score album release. But you still don't get credit for more than your daily max.

By the same token, certain activities (meeting with a filmmaker, running a recording session) demand your undivided focus. I've assigned them a full day's value to reflect this.

Which leads to my last caveat: you're likely to fail to meet your 100 points some days. It's the intention and the attempt that really count. So what if on a certain day you only rack up 60 points? Most people aren't getting 10. And they certainly aren't doing it in anything approaching a systematic way. Consider this, then, one way of going into the war with a plan… or just as a tool for motivating your hustle.

Your goal: 100 points per day, every day

Writing one minute of music: 10 pts. (max 50/day)

Holding a recording session for a paid project: 100 pts.

Reading the trades (Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood): 4 pts.

Score study (film scores, classical or other; 1 hr. minimum): 4 pts.

Watching a movie critically, with attention to the score: 4 pts. (max 4/day)

Daily exercise (30 min.s minimum): 15 pts.

Buying a new piece of studio gear/new sample library: 10 pts. (max 10/day)

Successfully telephoning a decision-maker (director, producer, studio exec.) who has the power to hire you: 30 pts.

Meeting with a decision-maker (director, producer, studio exec.) who has the power to hire you: 100 pts.

Sending an unsolicited demo package to a decision-maker who can hire you: 2 pts. (max 20/day)

Sending a solicited demo package to a decision-maker who can hire you: 40 pts.

Attending an Industry screening: 10 pts.

Attending an Industry (social or other non-screening) event where filmmakers are present—and meeting at least one decision-maker who can hire you: 20 pts.

Attending an Industry event where filmmakers are not present: 4 pts.

Attending a film festival—and meeting at least one decision-maker who can hire you: 20 pts.

Attending a music trade convention (NAMM or similar): 5 pts.

Attending a media (non-music) trade convention (E3 or similar)—and meeting at least one decision-maker who can hire you: 20 pts.

Attending a music awards ceremony (BMI or ASCAP Film & TV Awards, Grammys, etc.): 5 pts. (but it's fun)

Winning an award at a music awards ceremony: 50 pts. (and it's even more fun)

Winning a major non-music-exclusive industry award (Oscar, Emmy, etc.): 200 pts. (also counts 100 pts. for the next day… as you'll likely be out all night celebrating)

Holding membership in a music organization (Society of Composers & Lyricists, Film Music Society et al.): 1 pt. (max 1/day)

Holding membership in a professional (non-music-exclusive) Industry organization (AMPAS, Television Academy, GANG et al.): 2 pts. (max 2/day)

Handing out a business card: 1 pt. (max 3/day)

Having a composer website, SoundCloud and/or YouTube page: 2 pts. per site (max 4/day)

Having an IMDb page: 2 pts.

Having other social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram et al.): 2 pts. per account (max 10/day)

Updating social media (short form: tweet, Instagram pic, Facebook status update): 1 pts. (max 3/day)

Updating social media (long form: blog post, Medium or LinkedIn article, etc.): 3 pts. (max 9/day)

Uploading a (music-related) YouTube video to your channel: 5 pts. (max 10/day)

Klout score increases by 1 point: 1 pt.

New follower on social media: 1 pt. (max 10/day)

Replying to fan mail: 1 pt. per reply (max 5/day)

Releasing a score album: 50 pts. (day of release only)

TV episode that you scored airs (first-run only): 20 pts. (max 20/day)

Online episode that you scored is released: 10 pts. (max 20/day)

You're mentioned by name in a major trade publication (see above: Variety et al.): 10 pts.

A project you scored is trending on Twitter: 15 pts.

You are trending on Twitter: 45 pts.

Giving an interview: 25 pts. (max 25/day)

Attending a concert: 5 pts. (max 5/day)

Reaching Inbox Zero: 2 pts. (max 2/day)

Depositing money into your retirement account: 20 pts.

Celebrating a family event (birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc.): 50 pts. (max 50/week… but I'm not saying don't celebrate!)