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El Rosa

is it possible for a musician/band to earn money by playing video game music?

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Hey everyone

 

I'm currently 26, and been a fan of vgm since I can recall, It all started in the SEGA genesis with sonic themes. I'm in love with video game music because of so may reasons, and mostly with OLD generation consoles, which have really catchy melodies and sounds, things that I don't find in new generation games, because with all the electronic advances, music now is more "real". I'm talking about chiptunes mostly. Aside of that, lets get to the point, I hope you all can enlighten me a little bit.

 

I have always had the "dream" of having a band that plays covers of old themes (NES, SNES, SEGAgen, ps1 and earlier), adding my/our own touch to each song to make it unique and more rich just like the remixes on this site.

 

My question is: is it legal? is it right? is it possible to make profit out of that?Not that I mean to rip-off the artist and their music. What I want is to reach out to more people and make them know there's a whole world of video game music, and of course, do it for fun and if possible, get paid/rewarded for the effort put in. 

 

I think the songs could always be offered as free in the social media, internet, etc, to avoid copyright infringement, but, is it ok to get paid to perform on stage on events? to "sell" the band? or how does this work for us that love playing game themes?

 

I saw this guy that does covers of game themes in mariachi style in youtube, and he sells the songs on iTunes, is that legal? can anybody do that? 

 

I have been trying to find some information about all of this but have not been succesful and don't know where else to look around.

 

Also, it makes me sad that when  this happens: 

 

Someone -"hey what type of music do you listen/like?"

 

Me -"almost anything, but I'm really into video game music above all others" 

 

Someone -"oh yeah like super mario and that righ? (sings theme) turu tu turu tu"

 

*conversation ends or subject changes*

 

 

That's why I want to make more people to know the vgm world.

 

This post enden being way longer than I expected, I think the reason is that I feel there will be a lot of people here that will understand me so I thought I would just let it all out. Also English is not my first languaje so sorry for any mistakes. And if you took the time to read all of this, thank you for your time. 

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Best advice: don't quit your day job. Music success is a lottery ticket. Do it for the art instead of the money until the money starts matching your paycheck.

And even then, don't quit it. Now you have two paychecks twice a month!

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Most VGM bands (even most of the biggest ones) do not earn a viable living doing VGM. Your best hope with a VGM band or charging for VGM arrangements is to have it pay for itself in terms of CD manufacturing, shipping/distribution and production fees. At best.

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Yeah exactly, and even then I've heard some stories about VGL (though unconfirmed so I wont share them here). The goal is to break even so your valuable time is not wasted. If you can spare the time and find value in the process of making music itself then that's payment enough (and has been payment enough for all of us here at OCR for over a decade).

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It's also worth mentioning that a lot of people still don't take video game music seriously. It could be hard to get gigs if you're starting out.

 

About a year ago, a friend asked me to play with his band as they were going to do some instrumental-rock arrangements of video game music. We weren't even actually going to do it for money, but I'm told the venue they were planning to play at actually refused because they only wanted to book bands with vocals and didn't feel a band playing video game tunes would attract a crowd and of course, simply telling your friends on Facebook isn't enough to convince them. So that never happened, they never bothered trying another venue (there aren't many here, though) and we didn't want to go to "open mic night" at the local biker bar. 

 

Some of the guys wound up playing pop cover tunes instead without me a few months later.  :roll:

 

My point is, it's a niche thing and while that was just one experience, I suspect it's not an uncommon thing for venues that usually host bands in the "traditional" sense to scoff at the idea.

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Thanks to all of you who read my entrie post.

 

I get your points and I totally agree on that you should never rely on music as a living.  I do it for the fun and obviously if in the future I can get some kind of reward for it the that would be great.

Another of the main doubts I have is about the legal stuff.

I mean, can anyone play/record game tune covers and (try to) sell them? sell the song? sell the cd album? 

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You should worry about making money with your own music instead. You can stop thinking about selling your VGM covers.

Not trying to kill your dream, but dream of something else for your own sanity lol

Hey I'm not "laughing", but it's funny to see such discussions pop once a while.

Anyway, do it, who cares if you make 9$ a year selling covers.. not me !

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You should worry about making money with your own music instead. You can stop thinking about selling your VGM covers.

Not trying to kill your dream, but dream of something else for your own sanity lol

Hey I'm not "laughing", but it's funny to see such discussions pop once a while.

Anyway, do it, who cares if you make 9$ a year selling covers.. not me !

 

Despite your meager apology, this has to be one of the most snide posts I've ever seen around here. Like, holy crap dude. 

 

Anyway, regarding the legal aspect, I'm no expert but I do know that you'd have to license the tracks directly from the companies that own the rights to them. I have no idea how to go about that, but I'd assume you'd probably need representation of some sort as well since I'm sure game publishers and developers get emails from musicians like that all the time and they probably don't even respond to them. I think a couple of OCR people have actually released commercial remix albums, but I can't remember who. There was also that one Megaman album which I think was an album that you actually had to buy through Capcom, so Liontamer or maybe DJP might be able to provide insight on what you'd have to do. I apologize to them in advance for recommending them if it turns out they're not the people to ask.

 

What you'd need is called a "Mechanical License" and I know that for songs, it's often done through agencies, but I have no idea if video game music would be included there.

 

To summarize - I'd agree with the others that if you're serious about about making money with music, VGM covers are definitely not the way to go. As a fun project that could maybe earn you some beer money, you'd have to decide if the obstacles you have to overcome are really worth it.

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In brief, if you're performing live, it's the venue's responsibility to pay for licensing. If you're releasing recorded covers, getting a license (known as a mechanical license) is your responsibility and is typically done through a third-party -- dunno how well represented VGM is with it, but generally in the US the Harry Fox Agency/Songfile would be a good first place to check. If it's not in their database, there are other companies that can get you a mechanical license. I don't, however, have any personal experience with the acquisition of mechanical licenses, so I can't give details on the process.

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"Do your shit, don't do shit with other's shit, stop thinking about shit. 

Not trying to shit your shit, but dream of other shit for your own shit.

Not laughing about your shit, but it's funny to see such shit.

Anyway, shit, who gives a shit if you make shit shitting, not me!

Lol, chill dude.  

Thanks everyone else for the opinions and info, I did this just to share my thoughts and to learn a little more. I will check the other threads.

For me the money is the least, I was just curious about that aspect, I do it for fun and because I love music.

 

Also I learned a new word: "snide" haha thanks.

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You should worry about making money with your own music instead. You can stop thinking about selling your VGM covers.

Not trying to kill your dream, but dream of something else for your own sanity lol

Hey I'm not "laughing", but it's funny to see such discussions pop once a while.

Anyway, do it, who cares if you make 9$ a year selling covers.. not me !

 

The funniest aspect of your post is not anything you said, but the fact that you pretend you know anything about what you're talking about.

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The funniest aspect of your post is not anything you said, but the fact that you pretend you know anything about what you're talking about.

 

You can laugh at what you want, but can you show me a success story selling VGM COVERS... please please please A LUCRATIVE one.

 

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This recently became one of my favorite quotes:

 

"Better a witty Fool than a foolish wit." ~ Feste the Fool

 

This is pretty terrible advice and has creepy anti-intellectual subtext. For shame, Timaeus. :P

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You can laugh at what you want, but can you show me a success story selling VGM COVERS... please please please A LUCRATIVE one.

You know, not too many musicians achieve "lucrative success stories" at all. Limit the field to just VGM artists, and of course it will be hard to find many.

I don't have any numbers, but I would be willing to bet that the Black Mages have been pretty profitable, and I'd also estimate that Taylor Davis makes enough off of YouTube revenue to make it well worth her time. Heck, given that Lindsay Sterling is in the top 10 YouTube personalities by revenue, I bet her Zelda and Skyrim covers have made a ton of money. Granted, that's a halo effect from her original music, but still.

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You know, not too many musicians achieve "lucrative success stories" at all. Limit the field to just VGM artists, and of course it will be hard to find many.

I don't have any numbers, but I would be willing to bet that the Black Mages have been pretty profitable, and I'd also estimate that Taylor Davis makes enough off of YouTube revenue to make it well worth her time. Heck, given that Lindsay Sterling is in the top 10 YouTube personalities by revenue, I bet her Zelda and Skyrim covers have made a ton of money. Granted, that's a halo effect from her original music, but still.

 

The Black Mages don't count, it's Nobuo's band, he composed those songs.

Lidsay Sterling is one tho, you're right.

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You can laugh at what you want, but can you show me a success story selling VGM COVERS... please please please A LUCRATIVE one.

 

The issue doesn't lie in what you're saying, but rather how you're saying it. You're saying it incredibly pompously and dismissively, as if you're anyone who's deserving of trust on career advice in the musical realm.

 

Yes, VGM covers is hard. You can tell someone "VGM covers are not lucrative for xyz reasons so I discourage pursuing it as a main career" instead of "lol good luck being dirt poor sorry-not-sorry for being a fucking asshole". In short, stick to facts, anecdotes, stats, etc. when your word alone isn't credible, generally don't dismiss people who have genuine questions, and save the "sorry kid, not gonna happen" attitude for when you have insightful career advice to give someone and it is an appropriate counter-attitude to the way the advisee frames the question (i.e. if the person asking is also an asshole, you could finagle a justification for your response).

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Nobody deserves to make money from covers and that's my opinion. Make your own music instead of stealing others. And that's how I say things, you can call me an asshole :)

:|

 

Stealing is a strong accusation. It's not stealing unless you didn't acquire permission, i.e. from licensing via the HFA, for instance.

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Nobody deserves to make money from covers and that's my opinion. Make your own music instead of stealing others. And that's how I say things, you can call me an asshole :)

As someone who is about to complete and eventually market an acoustic cover album I can say with the amount of time I have put into rearranging and recording each track that it has taken every bit as much time and effort to make my album when compared to the original releases, if not more so.  I'll have each song licensed and will sell the album for something but I don't expect to turn a net profit on it at all.  So, "making money"...?  Hopefully just enough to cover the licensing fees and i'll be happy with that.  

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