Clay Butler ’03

Composed ‘Married to Jonas’ theme

If Clay Butler is switching TV channels and stumbles across E! or MTV, chances are he will hear a song he composed.

The LaGrange College alumnus has composed music for about 30 television shows, including the themes to E!’s “Married to Jonas” and MTV’s “Totally Clueless.”

“It’s been an interesting ride to see where my music ends up,” says Clay, who graduated in 2003 with a major in creative music technologies.  “Oftentimes I’ll pitch music to a publisher who then pitches it to a show, so I can sometimes be watching a show and say, ‘Hey, they just played my music.’ “

When Clay graduated from high school in LaGrange, he looked nationwide for a college that could teach him the business and art of music production and engineering. He finally realized that his “hometown” college offered exactly what he needed.

“I completely learned the production side of things in college,” he says. “Before then it had mostly been performing, primarily guitar-playing and singing.”

Along with traditional guitar and vocal performance classes at LaGrange College, he took music composing and arranging, production and engineering classes.

“I wish I could go back and do it all over again and soak up some new material,” Clay says.  “It was really a rich experience with my major.”

He started his own company, Butler Productions Multimedia, when he was still a student by purchasing equipment from a graduating senior who was moving to Nashville, Tenn., to pursue a music career.

“I started out by doing audio production for bands, civic functions and anywhere in which someone needed a relatively large sound system,” he says. “But I started getting the itch to do recording, so around 2005 to 2007 I started diving full force into recording and not so much live sound production.”

He recommends to those starting in the business. The website gives independent artists, songwriters and composers ways to find avenues for recording, publishing and film/television deals.

“You first have to make sure you’re up to speed on the latest music,” he says, “I did that by watching TV and really paying attention to what was being played. Sometimes I even put a towel over the TV so I wouldn’t get caught up in the action and could really focus on what music was being played.”

He also stressed the importance of recording production-quality sound. One may then submit music to be screened by and then submitted in listings to people looking for music.

“The opportunities are out there,” he says. “FOX Sports licenses 1 million songs a year. The market’s big enough if you want to get into it. You just have to make sure you have a quality product, and you can learn how to do that in the Music Department at LaGrange.”

Besides “Married to Jonas” and “Totally Clueless,” Clay’s music has appeared on such shows as “Jersey Shore,” “Bethany Ever After,” “The Seven,” “True Life,” “Good Vibes,” “Cuffed” and “When I Was 17.”

“To me, this is the coolest job in the world,” he says. “There’s a lot of flexibility, a lot of stretch. One day I might get a call for a dance/pop cue, and the next day it might be country with hip-hop or heavy metal. It’s always fun for me to do something I’ve never done before.

“And of course, it’s cool to say, ‘My music is on TV.’ “