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Nick Bailey writes music for TV shows on TLC, A&E

By Kelley Kirk


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When you watch a TV show, you probably don't notice the music that accompanies a scene. It's there however, assisting in setting the appropriate mood, enhancing the visuals of the show and complementing the performance.

Most of the music for TV is original and written specficially for the show.

When Nick Bailey — the front man of the local band Nick and the Babes — isn't teaching guitar, working at Wells Fargo or DJing at 519, he's at home, writing music for TV.

His music can be heard on such shows as “The District,” “Crime 360,” “My Deadly Appetite,” “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” and “Lock Up,” just to name a few.

The New Bern native began guitar lessons when he was 13. While he chose the guitar, his identical twin brother Graham took drum lessons.

A year later, the young teens formed their first band.

“The first band I really got into was Guns and Roses,” Bailey, 30, said.

For four years, Bailey paid his dues in a piano bar, where he performed acoustic guitar for three hours at a time.

“Yes, it was a piano bar, the only difference was that I played a guitar instead of a piano,” he said.

In his spare time, Bailey began to write what he called, “all these little tunes.”

An ad on Craigslist changed Bailey's career path.

“The guy was looking for a techno tune. It had to be original and offered to pay if it was used,” he said.

Bailey answered the ad.

Little did he know at the time, but the music was sent to Scott Pearson of Influence Music Publishing and was for the TLC's “Jon and Kate Plus 8.”

His piece didn't get used, but the new contact proved invaluable.

“I spent alot of time hounding him,” Bailey said.

And for two years all Bailey heard about the music he submitted for use in TV was no. Pearson, however, would give him some guidance.

But even though it wasn't just what the TV producers were looking for, Bailey was convinced he could do it. Then in 2008, he did.

“It was almost two years before (Pearson) said, ‘This piece is good so I'll submit it,” Bailey said. “Without him I would not be where I am now.”

The piece, called “Wednesday,” was used on TLC's “18 Kids and Counting” about Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's large and somewhat unconventional family.

Bailey has written music now for about 30 episodes about the Duggars.

“That opened things up for me by giving me some legitimacy,” Bailey said.

Two years is a long time to constantly hear “no, this isn't right,” but Bailey said he never took the rejection personally and that his persistence was key.

He continues to write music for TV full time but said that it doesn't pay all his bills. As such he supplements his income with his others jobs.

“I pretty much write full time but it's not a regular paycheck,” he said.

Bailey explained that he gets paid an initial fee than royalties from episodes that are syndicated. He records out of a room in his house, usually using a guitar and electronic keyboard, which can synthesize other instruments.

Writing music for TV isn't like writing music for band or a live performance.

It's quite the opposite.

“You don't want the music to distract from the visual,” Bailey said. “It really has to support the scene.”

Bailey explained that feeling, tempo, theme are all important. Once a piece is accepted, five different versions of the same piece need to be written so they can be shown throughout a single show.

On the episode “Duggars Explore Central America,” which aired Feb. 21 during the show's fifth season, the music Bailey wrote had a Latin feel, for example, in keeping with the show's location.

He and his fellow band mate Rob Wank recently finished a promotional piece for Duke Children's Hospital.

“It's cool because I feel like that's something that going to make a differece,” he said.

Bailey will continue writing for TV shows but hopes to move into writing music for movie trailers in the future.

“It's big business and bigger money,” he said. “I can't get too comfortable. “


Bless your heart
Bless your heart