Tag: game music

How to Find Work Online as a New VG Composer

Contributor: Chris Lines (http://www.gamecomposeradvantage.com/) shares his advice on becoming a successful video game composer. This is a short version of a longer series of articles from Chris’s site to help game composers. You can check out the longer in-depth versions here.

Many composers have either studied music formally for a long time or are self-taught to a pretty good level, and yet they haven’t actually worked on any video games at all, let alone been paid for one.

FGI was in a similar position until a few years ago… I’d always written music since I was fifteen, been in bands, had my own studio set up for years. But apart from a small amount of production music, and the odd student film, I had never really achieved that much. I decided something had to change…

I noticed that there were plenty of game composer websites talking about VSTs and DAWs but none on the actual hard work of freelancing. So I invested thousands of pounds in the best freelancing courses and books I could, and learned about positioning, pitching, selling and running a freelance business in general. What I learned wasn’t specifically tailored for musicians – most of my fellow students in fact were designers, photographers, web developers or other freelancers, but I found universal lessons that could be applied to music too.

What Most Composer Do Wrong

It’s all too common to see posts on game developer forums where composers are offering their services – and often for free. I have never done this. If a composer does get an answer, they’ll generally be asked to write for free, or for ‘exposure’. More likely than not they just won’t get a reply. When they don’t get inundated with offers to write music they then get disappointed.  “Why on earth not?”, I hear them cry, “I’m offering to write for free! What could be better than that, right?”

Most composers don’t see things from a developer’s perspective though. Try it for a moment – why would they trust this person who posted on a forum offering to work for free? Is this the way a professional composer would act?

There Is Another Way

What I quickly learned from my studies is that rather than posting adverts on forums and waiting for the phone to call, I came to appreciate the power of the hustle. By spending time upfront researching the most suitable developers, picking the games I really wanted to work on, and only then contacting the developers directly, things seemed a lot more hopeful.

Now I rather glossed over the part where I mentioned research – but this is essential and is where most of the effort should go. There’s no point pitching just anyone who is making a game. You need to choose carefully – take your time. The best places to look are game developer forums where devs are posting about what they are working on, but there are also sites like Kickstarter. Here’s a link to Quora with some suggestions of game developer sites.

And once you have found a game you like the look of you need to find the developer’s email address. Sure you could contact them via the forum, but I think email is best. You might have to do some digging and Googling to get an e-mail address, but again it’s worth it. Once you have an e-mail address you can then quite honestly tell them who you are, what you do and genuinely offer to help. It’s not magic – just maybe a bit braver than the average composer, and that’s the point. You don’t want to be the same as everyone else.

Get Used to Hustling

It has to be said, 9 times out of 10 a cold pitch doesn’t work. Game devs either already have a composer or they have settled on an alternative approach to the music. Or they just weren’t a good fit in the first place and just don’t reply. Don’t worry! Keep trying and occasionally… just occasionally… it does work.

Now it has to be said that cold pitching (even with the right research) is a numbers game. You’ll send out dozens and dozens of e-mails before you get any interest. And even when you do, you might only get a ‘maybe’. It’s then your job to keep in touch, keep pitching, making contacts and eventually something good will happen.

The point of this article is to show one method of finding work online. There are others, and I
should make the point that real life meet-ups, conferences and networking are just as important – they just aren’t the focus of this article.

What If You Aren’t Ready?

I’ve found a lot of composers are put off getting themselves out into the market because they feel they aren’t ready. This could be for a variety of reasons:

  • they don’t have a good enough website or portfolio,
  • they don’t know enough about games in general or interactive music
  • plus many other reasons.

You should at the very least have some kind of portfolio showing off your music, even if this is just a SoundCloud page. Otherwise how on earth will a developer hear what you can do? More than that is obviously nice, such as a smart, clean website with a dedicated portfolio section and maybe a blog, but it’s not needed in the beginning.

As for having expert knowledge of interactive music and middleware? In reality for your first few gigs as a game composer you aren’t going to need to know much of this stuff, if anything. Don’t wait till you are ready… take action now and learn as you go.

Ludomusicology Conference 2013: Call for Papers

We are very pleased to announce our 2013 Conference will be held at Liverpool University at Easter.  Please help to distribute our Call for Papers (PDF) and spread the word!  Further details will be added here over the coming weeks.

Osmos Time-Shift

Osmos has been around for a little while but I only just managed to give it a good play (Yes, it is a slow day in the library).

The game is a nice standard eat ‘em up taking place in an ambiant space-style pond.

The game features a solid ambient soundtrack to match and with one particularly interesting dynamic feature: The player has the ability to slow the level of play down which makes every action take longer to complete and the competition life-forms move slower. With this the soundtrack is time-shifted to match the new speed of game. This musical immersion in a game mechanic designed to make the game easier (or harder) really makes the slower movement of play stand out.

www.quixatocs.com
@Quixatocs

Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony London

Last night [Tuesday] I went to the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary concert.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a video games concert with better production value that worked to my sometimes overly awkward classical ear. This was something else! The quality of the sound was phenomenal. I couldn’t believe that the sound engineer managed to mic up the full orchestra and still get them to sound balanced with such consistency throughout the performance. Nailed it!

For those of you who didn’t manage to see the Tokyo, LA or London showing I’ll just mention that the CD will be well worth the buy when it comes out. All I’m going to say about the music is the obvious: it brought up so many memories from my child(adult)hood that at times I was very moved. By far my favourite of the night was the Wind Waker Medley, so look out for it!

Another great feature of this night was the host, Zelda Williams. For those of you that don’t know the story, she is the daughter of the actor Robin Williams, who named his daughter after [Princess] Zelda in 1989. At most video-game concerts I’ve seen, the host has usually been someone hired for their looks rather than for their knowledge about games. This girl knew her stuff!, and even admitted to being moved by the music as much as any other member of the audience there that night. She later posted on twitter that the London crowd were awesome, so well done team-UK!

I must say that as a trained classical musician I’ve never ever, ever seen a crowd get more behind, and emotionally involved in the music as I saw last night. So much cheering, so much applause, so much silence when the music required it! In fact, the sheer gravity of Koji Kondo himself coming out to play had the entire crowd holding their breath so as to let the master do his work. He commanded so much respect in that room that he literally could have played ‘chopsticks’ and everyone would have stopped their breathing to hear better.

In closing the concert, the orchestra played us the new theme from Skyward Sword. This piece uses the retrograde of the well known Zelda theme Zelda’s Lullaby as its main melody. Check it out on youtube.

Although I had the special edition of the game ordered a while ago I almost felt like I should order another copy just to metaphorically kneel before the new heir to the throne; the king of all games series: The Legend of Zelda.

May you reign for another 25 years.

www.quixatocs.com
@Quixatocs

%d bloggers like this: