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FreakazoidFr

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Hi everyone !

Firstly : sorry for the bad grammar of this topic, i'm not very fluent in English :)

Secondly : I didn't find precise topic about those subjects : if it exists, I apologie for advance about the repost.

I'm currently creating a game with a friend. We actually working on this project for 4 years, on our free-time and we are arriving at the end of the production ... except, we don't have any musics or sounds FX ...

And now, we have a lot of questions about those subjects :) we unfortunately don't have experiences on this domain. So :

- What's the common way to find a music author ? Is their a lot of collaborations which are make on the OCR forum between dev and musicians ?

- What are the different kind of contracts (for payment) used between dev and authors ? Pay all for at the receive ? Percentage of the sales ?

- It seems to be a little bit "hot" subject in the forum, but it's important : how much it costs :) for information, we are looking for an OST of 10 musics, in "16 bit style" => SNES/Genesis-Megadrive style. What are the standard budget allocate for the music on indie projects ?

- We have some ideas about the style we want for the game : is it usual to iterate a lot with the authors in case of "disagreement", until we are satisfied by the result ? or the creator gives musics and dev can't ask for adjustement ? or iterations but limited in a certain amount ?

- The author always keep the property of a music or develppers can "buy" it ?

Same questions for a sound designer :)

 

Sorry for the long questions post, but we have no really idea of what to do now and how it works on industry (indie or not) ...

Thank you,

- Vince -

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Hey there! There may be variant answers to this--some which may be better than mine. I bet someone like zircon would have some great input on this that's likely better than what I say, but here are mine, in the order that you asked:

 

- From my experience as a composer, it's been word of mouth or simply searching for someone, though there are quite a few video game composers out there, so that's often a tricky situation for the developer. What I see a lot is composers finding and going to the developers themselves.

- I assume this question is about what the dealio is with paying the composer. The way I charge is by the minutes in the track. So I charge a specific amount of money per each minute of a song. So if someone charged $200/minute, a 3 minute track would be $600. Some charge per hours of work they put into it but I personally don't prefer that. And I usually ask for the payment before I send the finalized version if the director or whoever is in authority approves of the track.

- Are you asking how much it costs? It depends on the composer. Some charge more than others, though I wouldn't say it's ok for anyone to be charging too low as that's harmful to the industry but there also is such thing as too high. Some will charge $100/minute, others will charge something like $300 or even $400 a minute, but usually it's negotiable--or at least, it should be. I can't say what the standard budget would be but if we met in the middle with my two extremes, somebody charging $200 per minute and each song was--let's say--2 minutes long, that would be $400 per song and if you need 10, that would be $4,000. 

- As for what type of music you want in the game, I don't see why a composer would argue with that, unless you might be giving the composer the freedom to tell you what he/she thinks about doing that style of music for the game. It's your game, not the composer's, so whatever you want is what they need to give you. You are trusting that they will pull it off and maybe even give you something better than what you expected and they may even go a little out of the spectrum and experiment; maybe you'll like what they did, maybe you won't. But it's ultimately your decision what makes it into the game. Also, the developer can always ask for adjustment, but some composers charge a little extra for modifications. I usually only charge extra for modifications if I'm putting a lot of work into tweaking it, but I rarely do that; in fact I think I've only ever done that once. I usually just give grace and tweak it with no extra charge, though I don't know what other composers' view is on that, and I sometimes work with an audio supervisor who basically is the one asking for tweaks and then hands it to the director who makes the final call.

- As for who owns the work, I've signed contracts before that basically state that it is the composer's work, but the developers own it and control it, at least until the game is released. I'm really bad with words so that was probably a horrible way to say it but basically I've signed contracts that just say "this is your work and we respect that but you cannot share this publicly without our permission or you will be fired". That type of deal. Does that make sense?

 

Man, 4 years! You guys are committed! 16-bit/Genesis-style? Love that. I have an obsession with Genesis-style games. Sounds like a cool game! I'd love to help you guys out if you need any! Hopefully my answers were useful! :)

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Thank you very much for your reply ! It's very usefull to have practical answers :)

Obviously, we need to found ... money :) but music is so important, we will try to find a way to fund this part of the game.

 

Thank you for your interest, the project is not finished yet but it's almost and we are working hard on it. I will post a trailer when it will be ready.

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Adding to what Garrett said about ownership, basically there are two types of contracts you'll likely see: "Work-for-hire" and "Licensing".

 

In the work-for-hire contract, the composer basically gives ownership to the publisher. This is more common in big-budget, AAA productions when having ownership is critical to secure a broad distribution deal, particularly an international one. Since the publisher owns the music, they can do whatever they want with it; not just use it within the originally intended project, but also in another game, sell the soundtrack as an album and keep profits, alter the music in any way they want, or sell the rights to someone else. Typically, they'll at least allow the composer to include the music in a portfolio or demo reel, and of course give the composer visible credit for their work. Often times they'll also work out a deal with the composer to share profits from the soundtrack album. But the key is that the composer does not own their work.

 

In the licensing contract, the composer gives what is known as a "synchronization license". This is more common in the indie world, where it's not really vital for the developer to legally own the music. This is simply the right for the developer to use the music in their project, nothing more; the actual ownership remains with the composer. It may be specified as an "exclusive" license, where the developer enjoys the privilege of being the only one able to use the music, or a "non-exclusive" license, where other developers may also purchase a license to use the music. Sometimes the contract will state exclusivity only for a set amount of time (usually a few years at least), after which the license becomes non-exclusive and open to others.

 

Because work-for-hire requires the composer to give up their work intellectually, and to forfeit basically being able to make a profit from their music unless a special deal is struck, it's not uncommon for composers to ask for more money upfront. Conversely, synchronization licenses can be more affordable and still provide full use of the music, and so are very common in the budget-conscious indie world.

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Are you asking how much it costs? It depends on the composer. Some charge more than others, though I wouldn't say it's ok for anyone to be charging too low as that's harmful to the industry.

Hey, I totally appreciate the majority of what you said as I've done a hell of a lot of composition for other mediums myself... however I feel like charging too low is a very opinionated statement. I feel like the wealth of a project shouldn't just be found in the monetary gain, but also in other factors. You can find wealth in new business partners, exposure to a compositional context you've never worked with before, and even just the enjoyment and desire for the success of the medium which you are composing for. Some amazing projects are made for little money, because there's just no money in independently developed games sometimes.

I feel like when composers only value their craft for monetary benefit, we lose a part of our artistic value and credibility. 

But yet again, this is opinionated. I'd love to hear some more opinions on this subject. :) 

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Hey, I totally appreciate the majority of what you said as I've done a hell of a lot of composition for other mediums myself... however I feel like charging too low is a very opinionated statement. I feel like the wealth of a project shouldn't just be found in the monetary gain, but also in other factors. You can find wealth in new business partners, exposure to a compositional context you've never worked with before, and even just the enjoyment and desire for the success of the medium which you are composing for. Some amazing projects are made for little money, because there's just no money in independently developed games sometimes.

I feel like when composers only value their craft for monetary benefit, we lose a part of our artistic value and credibility. 

But yet again, this is opinionated. I'd love to hear some more opinions on this subject. :)

 

I think what he means is by charging really low, or working for free, you're making it harder for those who compose for a living because they either have to charge less themselves, or face losing work. It's gradually making it less viable to be a "working composer". It's not that composers just care about money, but we gotta eat. We gotta survive.

 

So I think the argument is more aimed at the hobbyists who have a primary income from elsewhere, who compose for cheap or for free, and who make it harder for the working composer who composes as their sole income. It's not that we don't love making music, or that all we see is dollar signs. We're just in a situation where we rely on this for our living, and it's hard when other people do our job for free.

 

As a side note, it doesn't bother me when a developer tells me they can't pay me for my work (i.e. they don't have the budget). It does bother me when a developer can pay me for my work (i.e. they clearly have the budget), but doesn't feel like they should. I feel like developers are more and more encouraged by the oversaturation of free and low-cost composers to not feel like they should have to pay for music. And I think that is what is watering down the quality and integrity of music, because most indie games simply go with the cheapest option.

 

It seems like the "middle class" professional composer is slowly going extinct. Either you're a big-name composer who has enough clout to make a living working on high profile AAA titles, or you're working a day job and composing on the side for little to no money. No room for the guy who just wants to make a modest living doing what he loves.

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I think what he means is by charging really low, or working for free, you're making it harder for those who compose for a living because they either have to charge less themselves, or face losing work. It's gradually making it less viable to be a "working composer". It's not that composers just care about money, but we gotta eat. We gotta survive.

 

So I think the argument is more aimed at the hobbyists who have a primary income from elsewhere, who compose for cheap or for free, and who make it harder for the working composer who composes as their sole income. It's not that we don't love making music, or that all we see is dollar signs. We're just in a situation where we rely on this for our living, and it's hard when other people do our job for free.

 

As a side note, it doesn't bother me when a developer tells me they can't pay me for my work (i.e. they don't have the budget). It does bother me when a developer can pay me for my work (i.e. they clearly have the budget), but doesn't feel like they should. I feel like developers are more and more encouraged by the oversaturation of free and low-cost composers to not feel like they should have to pay for music. And I think that is what is watering down the quality and integrity of music, because most indie games simply go with the cheapest option.

 

It seems like the "middle class" professional composer is slowly going extinct. Either you're a big-name composer who has enough clout to make a living working on high profile AAA titles, or you're working a day job and composing on the side for little to no money. No room for the guy who just wants to make a modest living doing what he loves.

 

^Neifion took the words out of my mouth, hahaha

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Hey yeah, I totally agree with those points as a student, especially as my only source of income is composition jobs (namely more for concert music however). 
I just feel like saying "you gotta pay $100~ a minute gee" is a little bit of a strange sentence considering there are so many differing contexts of composition employment. 
If you're with a AAA studio, then yeah, charge a little bit more, because the time involved will need to be proportionate. However, I've done little jobs for indie peeps for like... $50 for an entire four minute piece of music just because it was something anyone with audio experience could do and it would legitimately take me two hours tops. 

I feel like context is a really big part of scoping a budget. I don't even think I would charge more than $100 a minute even at a AAA studio given that revisions also add to the paycheck. I dunno. Maybe I'm just rambling or w/ever, but if a company wants quality, they're probably gonna go for the highly esteemed composers rather than the guy who undercuts (or at least you'd hope so). 

Also on the note of the "middle-class composer" dying out... I really don't see that. I just feel like lots of people sit behind their computers and look online for opportunities, whereas there's an entire dynamic (ie. going outside lel) that they're missing which contributes to possible jobs. 

Anyway, that's my 2 cents and I'll probably piss someone off. :P Sorry if I do. 
ily bby xoxo 

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Maybe I'm just rambling or w/ever, but if a company wants quality, they're probably gonna go for the highly esteemed composers rather than the guy who undercuts (or at least you'd hope so).

 

No, they won't. They're going to go with the cheapest option that gives them good-enough music to serve their purposes. And many of those cheap ones are usually good enough for them. However, if those cheap composers started charging closer to the rest, the developers would have no choice but to pay fairer.

 

Again, this is just concerning those developers who have the budget and thus the choice.

 

Some developers do want the best, and will go the extra dollar for it. But I feel that more often, they'll go with who can get the job done for the lowest price. It makes no sense to pay more if you're getting what you need.

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Hey, I totally appreciate the majority of what you said as I've done a hell of a lot of composition for other mediums myself... however I feel like charging too low is a very opinionated statement. I feel like the wealth of a project shouldn't just be found in the monetary gain, but also in other factors. You can find wealth in new business partners, exposure to a compositional context you've never worked with before, and even just the enjoyment and desire for the success of the medium which you are composing for. Some amazing projects are made for little money, because there's just no money in independently developed games sometimes.

I feel like when composers only value their craft for monetary benefit, we lose a part of our artistic value and credibility. 

But yet again, this is opinionated. I'd love to hear some more opinions on this subject. :)

Nothing will kill your love of this faster than not getting paid (or not getting paid enough) for your hard work.  If there are small projects you'd enjoy working on just for the hell of them then shoot for the moon, but realize that's intentionally taking less than what your normal rate should be for other, less tangible benefits.  It's not and should never be standard practice.

 

Clients are there to get the most for the least, always, so there's nothing wrong with being shrewd.

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