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Taking One For The Team


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#1 M4uesviecr   Members   -  Reputation: 419

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:42 AM

So I am working on a project, and as of recently, another composer was recruited. Long story short, the guy is making music of much higher quality than me. (When I say higher quality, I mean the samples and instruments sound better).

I knew before long that a problem would surface because of this, and before long, it did. I was asked, (albeit nicely), to make a different set of sounds for the game because they "required less-quality instruments". So, to avoid being all but debunked of my composer position, I agreed to use the program that the other composer was using.

The problem is... it is Magix Music Maker. It is a loop generator. And as far as I am concerned, unless I am using the loops (which I REFUSE to use), our quality isn't that far a part.

I am currently on a job that, because of the gaming system being used, I have had to use a different program to compose with. Like using Famitracker. But having to ... acquire (for lack of a better word), a different program because of conflicts between composers (and they would kindly turn down the idea of having the idea reveresed, since his music sounds much better), feels like a stab in the gut.
It is nothing against someone composing better than me. I would love to work with someone whose compositional prowess is on a higher level. It's the fact that, because of quality, I have to abandon my way of composing. To be honest, I don't think Magix is worth investing in. But if this project takes of, money WILL be invested in it.

Not to mention that the composer was able to make 10 songs in 2 days! That leaves me to believe that he is using loops. I'm not sure how any other composers feel, but I see using pre-made loops and composing music as... well... cheating. At least when it is going into a game that people plan on selling!

So, is it just me? Should I suck it up and take one for the team?

Has anyone else been in this predicament?

Edited by M4uesviecr, 15 August 2012 - 10:45 AM.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob


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#2 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17664

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 03:46 PM

Food for thought: unless it's audibly obvious in the final tracks, the people playing the game won't care if the music is made from loops, recorded by a skilled musician, or painstakingly clicked into your software note-by-note - they only care that the music sounds good, is not overly distracting, and does not become annoyingly repetitive.

#3 phantom   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6857

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:44 PM

I'm not sure how any other composers feel, but I see using pre-made loops and composing music as... well... cheating. At least when it is going into a game that people plan on selling!


Which begs the question of do you program all your sounds from scratch too? Does everything you do start from a blank VST and programmed up? Or do you use samples and preset sounds in your software? At what point do you draw the line between 'tool' and 'cheating'?

Putting together loops isn't that easy either; while I'm somewhat an amature I've got a fair few loops around the place and getting them to sit nicely together in a track is proven very hard for me.

Finally, as a listener who likes a wide form of music I couldn't care how it was made, as long as it sounds good. Be it a group knocking out some metal or an EBM or Aggrotech group throwing some samples and loops together.(In fact I often find the latter sonically more intresting but that's a side point).

The end result is what matters.

#4 j-locke   Members   -  Reputation: 811

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 06:35 PM

I'll agree with the idea both of the other posters have had. Ultimately (especially if this is about a project that will have money made and money invested in it), it's about what the end consumer hears. The source of that material is pretty irrelevant. Waxing poetic about the core values and source material is fine for talking among other composers. But when it comes to getting enjoyable material into the ears of your consumers, the end result is what matters.

Programming has a similar "disconnect." The ideals that are taught in a classroom are rarely what is produced out in the real world because the real world is less concerned with a "perfect structure" and more concerned the end result.

#5 M4uesviecr   Members   -  Reputation: 419

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:24 AM

Which begs the question of do you program all your sounds from scratch too? Does everything you do start from a blank VST and programmed up? Or do you use samples and preset sounds in your software? At what point do you draw the line between 'tool' and 'cheating'?


I understand what you mean, but I feel as if there is a difference between someone coming up with a melody in their head and putting it on paper, in a program, etc., and someone using various parts of pre-arranged melodies, and making music. I used to do that all the time when I was a kid. I guess I was stuck in a stigma where it wasn't truly composed unless it was "made-from-scratch". Now, I understand that phrase, in itself, is subjective.

Needless to say, I want to thank you guys for your feedback and input. I can actually start focusing on what matters with a clear conscious.

Edited by M4uesviecr, 16 August 2012 - 12:25 AM.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob


#6 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1775

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 12:50 PM

The above debate notwithstanding... Posted Image

The issue of what can be done with Magicx-created music is apparently somewhat heated and not entirely clear. Magicx has apparently changed their license terms a couple of times, and people aren't exactly certain what they can and can't do with music crated with it.

Here's what appears to be the Magicx Musicmaker License Agreement.
http://www.magix.com/gb/eula/consumer/

Of interest is section 6 and 7 (Bold highlight is mine).

6. Use of music, video and photo files:
The music, video and photo files included with MAGIX products may only be used within the scope of producing personally created works to be used for non-commercial purposes.

7. Claim for damages:
MAGIX is entitled to proprietary and copyright protection for the licensed software as well as the music and video files. Anyone responsible for any violations against such rights may be sued by MAGIX.

Now there may be a way of licensing the sample/loops differently to allow for commercial use, paying an additional license fee, etc.; I don't know..

Without wanting you to start an ugly battle, one tact might be to kindly say that you're not necessarily 100% comfortable using that program to create music to be shipped with their game, and perhaps suggest that you'd feel better if they had their lawyer look over the EULA for the current version of MagicX MusicMaker first.

Also note that the contract you signed with the developer probably states that you warrant that what you create is free to be shipped and distributed by the developer/publisher. So you'd probably want to make yourself comfortable that what you're doing isn't in violation of the Musicx license agreement, or ask them directly about "commercial license fees", etc.

Lest you think this is all "theoretically" only--
Last GDC I was talking with the audio director of a well known publisher. He told me they had been sued because a sample library maker had recognized their samples in a successful game, looked up the composer and saw that the composer didn't have a license to their sample library--he apparently had obtained a cracked version. The very last thing you want to do is deliver music that results in a call to the company's lawyer....

Thanks for a great idea for a topic for GameSoundCon's business panel Posted Image..

Brian Schmidt
Register now for GameSoundCon 2012, San Francisco
October 24-25, 2012
www.GameSoundCon.com

Edited by bschmidt1962, 16 August 2012 - 12:56 PM.

Brian Schmidt

Executive Director, GameSoundCon:

GameSoundCon 2014:October 7-8, Los Angeles, CA

 

Founder, EarGames

Founder, Brian Schmidt Studios, LLC

Music Composition & Sound Design

Audio Technology Consultant


#7 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1775

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:26 PM

I understand what you mean, but I feel as if there is a difference between someone coming up with a melody in their head and putting it on paper, in a program, etc., and someone using various parts of pre-arranged melodies, and making music. I used to do that all the time when I was a kid. I guess I was stuck in a stigma where it wasn't truly composed unless it was "made-from-scratch". Now, I understand that phrase, in itself, is subjective.


Actually, it's not just you that "feels as if there is a difference."
The law believes there to be a distinction as well. Creating your own melody is vastly different (from a legal perspective) from stringing together other pre-existing ones. The former is an original work. The latter is a "derivative work." You can do what you want with the former-- the latter requires explicit permission from whomever created the original melodies (loops in this case).


I do agree with all the comments about "in the end, it's what it sounds like" or "consumers don't care what is used to create the music, only if it sounds good". All 100% true.
But the game developer's lawyer probably has a somewhat different opinion.. :)

Brian Schmidt

Executive Director, GameSoundCon:

GameSoundCon 2014:October 7-8, Los Angeles, CA

 

Founder, EarGames

Founder, Brian Schmidt Studios, LLC

Music Composition & Sound Design

Audio Technology Consultant


#8 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1775

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:25 PM

Apologies for my 3rd post on this Posted Image... But I found it quite fascinating so researched it a bit further...
Disclaimer-- although I'm reasonably well versed in copyright and contracts law, I am not an attorney, so any legal conclusions I seem to draw should be taken with an "I read it on the internet" level of trust..

That said-- it looks to me like.....
1) if you just buy MusicX Music Maker, you can NOT use the music you create with the loops provided with it in a commercial product. I.e you can NOT stick the music in someone else's videogame.
1a) That said, there is a way to make commercial use of the loops possible.
2) If you want to use your music commercially, you have to make sure you license each and every loop that you use from the actual rights-holder of those loops.
3) There is a web site that serves as a sort of middleman--between you and the loop makers (who hold the actual rights). That site is catooh.com
4) When you license through that site, the rights you get may very from loop to loop, but most use the same terms which is here.
5) Those terms are semi-ok, but there is a 'gotcha' or two that could be a problem, particularly 3(3), which says you are "obligated to reproduce... references to copyright or brand names that may be connected with the content." In other words, you may need to guarantee credits be listed in-game for each loop you use. Another potential 'gotcha' is 2a.(1), which prohibits the use if you game has any "time-limited permission to use (rental or lease). That'd mean no games that require subscriptions--and the game could not be used by GameFly, nor OnLive, etc.

I've been on both the composing side of the fence and the hiring side of the fence.
If I were on the "hiring" side of the fence, at a minimum if I knew the composer was using loops, I would insist, as part of the deliverables:
-- Copy of the license they used to purchase the rights to use the loops
-- proof of purchase of license for each loop used in the music they were providing to me.
-- I would demand written exemption of the brand/copyright, etc reproduction listed in 3(3).
-- I'd require another exemption from the rental/lease prohibition.

In short, I would not hire someone who created music using loops.Posted Image

On the composing side--I don't think I'd touch them either. There is just way too much potential liability sitting out there, and too many hoops to have to jump through to make me (and probably they developer) feel comfortable.

Sorry for the long-winded posts, but it's a very interesting topic you've raised..

Brian
Register for GameSoundCon San Francisco.
Oct 24-25 2012
www.GameSoundCon.com

Edited by bschmidt1962, 16 August 2012 - 04:28 PM.

Brian Schmidt

Executive Director, GameSoundCon:

GameSoundCon 2014:October 7-8, Los Angeles, CA

 

Founder, EarGames

Founder, Brian Schmidt Studios, LLC

Music Composition & Sound Design

Audio Technology Consultant


#9 nsmadsen   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3729

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 06:11 AM

Brian raises some excellent points and good strategies for bringing this up to the team. Others have touch on using loops vs. "real" composing and the impact (or lack therefo) to the player. I'd like to add two more points:

1) It's never a bad thing to acquire and learn new software if you feel it will bring something useful to your workflow and sound pallete.

Each time I've been hired for an in-house job, the company had an existing rig for me to work on. While a company might be open to purchasing a few items just for me, the overall set up was unified with the rest of the audio team. So knowing a variety of platforms often helped me make faster transitions and I believe was one of the contributing factors to me landing the job. I've changed from PC to Mac and due to both in-house and freelance situations I've worked on all of the following platforms since 2000:

(not listed in any particular order)
Cakewalk Sonar
Acid Pro
Finale
Cubase
Logic
Pro Tools (both HD and LE rigs)
Reason (and Record when it was still around)
Digital Performer
Reaper

Was I a master at all of them? Doubtful. But audio software is a lot like different brands of cars. They all do basically the same core actions although labels and the processes might differ slightly. So you learn one and master it - taking on new ones is much easier. Also I didn't use all of them at one time either. Now I mainly use Logic, Reason and Pro Tools depending on the job.

2) Make purchases when it suits YOU and your studio, not when it suits just the developer.

I'm assuming you have a contract but you've mentioned there's a chance (perhaps only a slight one) this project will not make money. It sounds like there's some risk involved with this production and that's okay. How would you feel if you purchase Magix, finish you work on this project only to find you earn nothing? Would you feel good about that purchase? Would Magix Music Maker remain a tool you reach for in the future on other products? Or would it just sit on your shelf, unused?

My suggestion would be if Magix isn't going to remain a key part of your toolset then don't purchase it. Instead look at the real problem - your set of sounds is lacking. I think it would be a better solution to invest money into higher quality samples which wont make you change your workflow or approach to composition and would remain a wise investment in your studio for this project as well as future ones.

Best of luck!

Nate

Edited by nsmadsen, 17 August 2012 - 06:16 AM.

Nathan Madsen
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

#10 M4uesviecr   Members   -  Reputation: 419

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 11:07 AM

2) Make purchases when it suits YOU and your studio, not when it suits just the developer.

I'm assuming you have a contract but you've mentioned there's a chance (perhaps only a slight one) this project will not make money. It sounds like there's some risk involved with this production and that's okay. How would you feel if you purchase Magix, finish you work on this project only to find you earn nothing? Would you feel good about that purchase? Would Magix Music Maker remain a tool you reach for in the future on other products? Or would it just sit on your shelf, unused?


No, with a capital N-O. If I were going to have them go out of their way to buy tools for us as composers, then I would point them in an entirely new direction.

Also, I agree whole-heartedly when it comes to working with different DAWS. I would love to try Reason, Logic, Reaper... It is this program, in particular, that I have no desire to work with, whatsoever.

Thank you Brian, for all of that indepth feedback on the clauses and rules of using the loops found in Magix. That really brings to light a completely new dilemma that the team will face if they continue on in the direction that they are moving towards (which may include profit).

I will talk to them, but it is getting to the point that I may, a strong may, drop this project.

I have a very hard time just dropping something, but I feel miserable, and practically useless, and I want to be on a project were I feel as if I am an asset to the team. And I feel valued on every other project except this one.

I thank you all for your feedback! And I truly do hope that this thread will help any others who are dealing with a similar situation.

Edited by M4uesviecr, 26 August 2012 - 11:08 AM.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob


#11 Moritz P.G. Katz   Members   -  Reputation: 1053

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 12:34 PM

Hello,

Magix Music Maker... phew.
Not saying you won't ever be able to make good music with that tool, but really... well, everything has been said about that matter: I strongly agree with Nate's argument and Brian's concerns.

That said, Magix does have a pro line of DAWs called Samplitude - while I've never used it myself, I've met a few producers who use it as their main sequencer and are very happy with it. Maybe you could suggest using that program instead?
I mean, if they insist you use that program, countering with "Sure - but let's not toy around and actually use the company's professional software solution" seems to make sense.

Cheers,
Moritz

Check out my Music/Sound Design Reel on moritzpgkatz.de





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