So how do the small composers stand out? offer better deals? work harder?
One trap new composers sometimes fall into is the belief that their skill as a composer is 99% of what it takes work as a composer. Yes, it is true that--when that first gig or two come along-- you'd better have the chops. Making sure you've done your woodshedding as a composer/orchestrator is certainly job one.
But a huge part of starting out is convincing someone that you are worth hiring. And your compositional prowess is only part of equation.
In addition to your music being high quality, if someone is going to have you do their game, they want confidence that you're not a flake, that you will deliver what you say, when you say, that you will be good to work with in the face of criticism---Remember that by hiring you they are making a bet that you
won't screw up and therefore screw up their game project..
So how do you do that--- In a word, relationship.
Relationships are personal things-- it's that one on one human to human connection that lets the game developer know "If I take a chance on this composer, they won't let me down."
That takes many forms-- it's being professional and set up professionally as Nate said (web site, logo, etc.). It's being personable and exuding competence. It may include being passionate about games and gaming. I know of one composer who got their first game gig at GDC 3 years ago, simply because he struck up a random conversation with someone while playing in the indy game area. They talked for 2 hours about different games, what they thought of these indy games. That conversation gave the developer such confidence in this complete stranger that he used him on a game 3 months later. A lot of threads have discussed the importance of networking-- we're not kidding
. Go to GameSoundCon
-- Go to GDC
-- Go to your local college's "Video game programming club" events who are generally filled with people looking for people to write music for their videogames, but don't have a clue as to where to look for them.
Building a relationship almost certainly does not include working for free. Think about that. If you work for free, the developer has exactly zero influence over you.. If something better for you comes along, you might just decide to walk away-- If you wilt at first criticism of your work and go away, that leaves them in a lurch, potentially putting their game schedule at risk. If however, they know that you'll get a check (even a small one) when you deliver, they will have much more confidence you won't flake out on them.
So even a modest, token sum will probably make the developer feel better about your relationship than a freebie will. And it really makes your relationship a professional one.
GameSoundCon Oct 24/25 2012