DennalMan

Asking original composer for permission to use a (non-VG) remix in an indie game?

5 posts in this topic

Long story short: There's an electronic remix that I'd REALLY REALLY LOVE to include in the indie game I'm developing, but I'm not sure how to go about asking the artists for permission, so, I'm looking here for advice.  The game's music consists of songs that I've found and then asked the artists permission for, which has worked fantastically well so far.  So far I've included only smaller more indie artists that I've been able to contact directly.  But now for this one particular song/remix, the artists are less "indie" - I can't contact the artists directly, and must instead contact their management.  I've never done anything like this before, so basically I want to make sure I know exactly what I'm doing before I contact their managements, and, I figure this would be a good place to ask :)

What should I say, and how should I say it?  Do I need to provide a demo of the game? (Or, only if they ask for one?)  Should I include screenshots?  (In my opinion the screenshots are rather non-flattering, though if I had a way to record 60 FPS video it might look quite a bit more impressive...)  Should I get more alpha testers before contacting the artists, to ensure the game's quality & balance is good enough first?
(And somewhat of a side-question: Do you think it's ok for alpha testers to play a version of the game that includes the remix, before permission is given?  Right now I'm erring on the side of "it's not ok", except maybe for family&friends testers...)
(Edit: It appears there's now a direct contact email address for the remixer - do you think I should contact the remixer directly, or his management?)

The remixer is an awesome electronic artist named Nitro Fun, whose songs are often VG-themed.  Nitro Fun uses the electronic music label MonsterCat (which is also somewhat VG-themed) - however this particular remix does not appear to be a MonsterCat release (though I'm not 100% sure on that).

And the original composer... is Porter Robinson.  For those not familiar, Porter is ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE, and deservedly so - his album "Worlds" is amazing.  The thought of actually contacting his management makes me nervous! >_<  Would you say it makes sense to contact him only *after* I have permission from Nitro Fun?  (Or, does anyone think that I don't actually need to contact Porter's management at all, that permission from Nitro Fun is enough?)
(And on top of that, I'm not even 100% sure *how* to contact his management.  I found email addresses on an old artist-bio somewhere, but I'm not even sure if they're current...)

Thoughts on all this?

Incidentally, I *am* serious about officially licensing (i.e. paying for) one or two songs for some later parts of the game, but, not until later - first I want to release a public demo of the first half of the game, which is nearing completion.  ...Do you think I should also try to officially license this particular remix?  (I have a feeling that trying to license a song may be much trickier when there is no demo of the game released yet... I'm hoping to include the remix IN the demo.)

 

Alternatively, does anyone here know a similar song I should maybe use instead?  Similar in its "feeling" or "mood" I guess, not necessarily in genre or sound.  The song is: "Porter Robinson - Flicker (Nitro Fun Remix)"  (Soundcloud link which auto-plays the song, which may be a bit loud: https://soundcloud.com/nitrofun/flicker )

Thanks for reading all that, looking forward to hearing some advice!

 

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Oh, I should also mention, the game will be free.  (Perhaps that will make things a bit easier for me?)

Also, does anyone have any advice regarding music licensing?  My current plan is to use a music licensing service called The Rights Workshop to handle the all licensing for me, assuming they serve clients in Canada (They're based in San Francisco and LA).  I currently don't know of any other music licensing services that exist (that can get me the songs I've chosen)...

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Well, seeing as how the remix was by Nitro Fun, AND was of a song composed by Porter Robinson, I would try contacting Porter Robinson and Nitro Fun, making sure you:

  • Make it sound like they're worth your time, so to speak, and that you're genuine. I'm only saying this because it's possible they might think it's spam, or they might not be impressed, or some other reason that convinces them they don't have to read the message. Consequently, try to make the message look nicely formatted, so that they can (hopefully) see you put some care into the message.
  • Try to be concise, if that's something you have a hard time with. Shorter emails with fewer big paragraphs are more enticing to read.
  • Do show evidence that you have an actual game going on, so that they're not just giving away permissions for a song to you for no reason

That's my take on it, anyway. Hope that helps. I agree, Porter might be hard to contact... he might be your bottleneck, but worth a shot...

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2 hours ago, DennalMan said:

Oh, I should also mention, the game will be free.  (Perhaps that will make things a bit easier for me?)

Likely won't help you at all, to be honest. While they're unlikely to turn down money if you're willing to pay it, they do still have to consider the other benefits of licensing the track, and if the game is just given away and/or you don't have a proven track record of making great games, it offers little promise of many royalty payments or other financial return down the road.

The only option is to contact his label and/or management and ask what they would charge to license that song to you. I don't see you walking away without pay at least a 3-digit number, to be honest. Established musicians who aren't film/tv/game composers by trade, but are pop artists, often demand high prices on licensing their songs with no regard for the scope of the project. Their stance is often "You want this song for whatever project, you pay X amount of dollars."

Your best bet, is to just stick with licensing music from stock music libraries like Position Music, Audio Machine, Killer Tracks, Liquid Cinema, AudioJungle, etc. as their entire purpose is to distribute music made for media and it will be easy to find whatever kinds of styles you're looking for and the prices are generally pre-determined or negotiated based on the type of project.

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Good points, thanks!

It's looking like the best option then may be to try to license the remix (e.g. using The Rights Workshop), so I don't have to worry about carefully wording messages to the artists and such.  The Rights Workshop probably deals with work-in-progress projects all the time (e.g. films in production or pre-production), so I might not have to worry as much about providing a hyper-polished demo or anything like that.  Only downside may be the cost, as The Rights Workshop charges some additional fees (on roughly a per-song basis I believe).

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