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nsmadsen

Member Since 22 Feb 2006
Offline Last Active Today, 05:47 AM

#5308078 Trying to get into commercial composing. How much should I charge for my music?

Posted by on 26 August 2016 - 12:57 PM

How much should you charge? As much as you possibly can. Seriously! For several reasons: 

 

- you want the client to value you and your craft

- you want the client to value audio as well

- you want to stand out from the rest. Make great content and don't be afraid to charge for it

- you want to keep the audio profession alive and thriving. 

- you want to make this your business. So aim as high as you can!

 

Try to avoid: 

 

- working for peanuts (or even worse, for free!)

- being vastly undercut by counter offers. In other words, don't be afraid to say no

 

Some advice: 

 

Set a number that makes you feel good about yourself and your work. A number that will make you feel good about the transaction. Nobody likes working for super cheap. Don't fall into some of the common traps some devs will try and throw at you (i.e. "I'll pay you on the NEXT game!" "This will be a HUGE break for you!" "We'll do profit sharing and we'll all get rich") Be picky about who you work with and what you are work. 

 

Figure out how much it costs for you to pay rent/mortgage, pay your bills, have a little bit of fun, eat food and live your life. Then figure out how much time it takes for you to finish a track. And I don't mean when you, the composer, feels done but rather when your client feels supremely happy with your work. 

Here's a big one: you mention often how much money you've spent on your DAW/samples. That's only part of it. You've also spent your time learning, practicing and studying music/production/etc. Consider that as well. 


One follow up: 

 

If you set a rate and then after 6-8 months you've had zero sales, something's off. Either in your rate, your actual music or the way that you're marketing/promoting/branding yourself. I never freak out when a dry spell of a month to three months comes along. They always do and then it passes. Remember the saying "feast or famine" applies heavily to freelancing. But after 6-8 months, you SHOULD have at least one sale/commission/gig for your work. If not, then it's time to reassess and try new tactics, write/produce different music or adjust your rates. 

 

Best of luck! 




#5305643 "the Art Of Battle" A New Battle Theme By Me.

Posted by on 13 August 2016 - 11:46 AM

 

I'd say work on your mixing, the flutes are a bit louder than everything in my opinion.

 

There are some areas of the song where you have a major V playing and you aren't in harmonic minor, which is probably something that should be fixed, unless you did it on purpose. If you are unsure of what I'm referring to I can specify.

 

Good stuff though, I like the melodies. It really gives a tense feel.

I don't know if I agree. If the flutes were any softer, I think they would barely audible.

 

Perhaps you are correct about the major V thing. If you hadn't told me that I wouldn't even notice.

 

 

The flutes are too bright compared to the rest of the orchestration which gives them the impression of being right in front of the listener while the rest of the ensemble is farther back. Not necessarily a volume setting issue (as in moving a fader) as it is more an EQ thing. Take out some of the brightness of the flutes and it will allow them to sit into the mix a bit better.


Same rule applies to the string melody at 13 seconds in as well. I get that this your melody line and you want it to be predominant but this feels out of balance to my ears. There's a lot more highs than lows in your mix, overall, which creates a lopsided, top-heavy mix. As a result this reduces the amount of weight and impact your piece has. Also consider some nice timpani and bass drum hits to help emphasize the trumpet staccato responses at around 47. This piece is called The Art of Battle so having a bit more contrast and drama could really help the music live up to the title.

 

Some good ideas - they just need a bit more production and love!

 

Thanks,

 

Nate




#5303328 Looking For Input Regarding Voiceover

Posted by on 31 July 2016 - 09:40 AM

One other element that this poll doesn't include is localization, which is a major reason why some games choose not to have VO. Or they have VO only in one language and then translate the text only.




#5303275 Looking For Input Regarding Voiceover

Posted by on 30 July 2016 - 11:06 PM

Hey John,

 

Thanks for posting your poll and your input. I'm afraid your poll questions are pretty vague and need a bit more structure to be more useful to you.

For example:

Do you feel having voice in a game is important?
  1. Every game should be voiced!
  2. Would be cool to have but not a priority.
  3. It doesn't matter to me if my game is voiced.
  4. Games don't need voices. Those are just rich people wasting money
     

I would put a 5th option that says "Depends on the game." For example an retro 8-bit platform might do just fine without VO. In fact, VO might become distracting in that case.

 

What do you feel is a fair price for professional voiceover?
  1. $100/Actor
  2. $300/Actor
  3. $500/Actor
  4. $1000/Actor
  5. Why are these prices all so damn high!

These rates don't make any sense are not what you'd get when reading through bids from most professional (union or not) actors. For example, $100/Actor per what? Is that the total cost? Or is that per day? Per line? Etc. Qualify things a bit more. I've had to read my fair share of bids from VO actors and it's usually (but not always) highly specific which helps keep me and the actor completely in the know about the job. Also, I don't think option 5 is really productive or useful to you at all. I'd just leave it out. In fact, a better way to ask this question is to flip it around. Ask "what is your projected audio budget for voice overs?" A good follow up would be "how much would your total audio budget be?" This way you can get a feel for the percentage VO would be allocated.

 

The other two questions and set of answers are fine the way they are. I'm throwing this out there in hopes you'll edit and add in a bit to your poll. I think you'll find the data more clear and useful that way.

 

Thanks,

 

Nate
 




#5302074 Should I Learn How To Use Wwise Fmod Etc?

Posted by on 22 July 2016 - 09:41 PM

It never hurts to increase your skill set! All of the other posts have made some great points. You wont regret learning how to implement audio.




#5298455 Music for an old school adventure game

Posted by on 28 June 2016 - 03:43 PM

Hey!

I listened to On the Prowl and I'll give some quick feedback below:

 

What I liked:

 

I love the interplay with the organ, bass and synth melody. A good, fun and retro vibe. Nicely done! The return to the original feel at 1:44 is very satisfying. Good job on the pacing there. I do feel the previous section gets a bit too clutter (see my point below) but opening back up feels wonderful right here!

 

What needs work:

Change your cymbal crashes because I'm hearing them often enough and it gets annoying. There's no variation in the cymbal crash and it doesn't fit in the space.

 

At around 1:35 or so, I'd consider simplifying the bass part. You're adding in that clave-like (or wood block) element as well as having more rhythms in the synth, background chords of the organ and then your bass gets more active. It's getting too cluttered. I don't feel like the mix has a sense of glue or balance yet.

 

Some of your drum elements are way too loud while others are ducked back in the mix. Bass could use a bit more punch on the front end so it speaks out clearly. Could be done by either doubling it with a synth bass for clearer attack or using a transient designer to get more attack.




#5298135 Should you even bother making low-quality samples sound realistic?

Posted by on 26 June 2016 - 01:37 PM

YoungProdigy - I've was reminded of you this morning while I listened to the Chrono Cross OST. Many of the in-game tracks (but not the cut-scenes where they tended to blend live and virtual instruments together) really showcase how even fake sounding virtual instruments can have much more impact with a great arrangement and some careful production. It came out in 1999 so the sample set Mitsuda was working with was quite limited when compared to today's sample libraries. Plus I also think this soundtrack benefits because the composer chose to mix in synth and orchestral instruments together (instead of aiming for purely 100% orchestral tracks).

 

(For example Arni Village at 5:09 is particularly nice and is sub-par samples by today's standards.)

 

Take a listen to this soundtrack, if you haven't already, study the arrangements and see how your own music compares. Best of luck!

 

Thanks,

 

Nate




#5297991 Learning to write music faster!

Posted by on 25 June 2016 - 08:35 AM

One more thing - imposing external deadlines is great but putting yourself in true crunch situations is even better. So I'd recommend those game jams and 48 hour film festivals where the entire team is crunching and you're writing music/producing audio as quickly as you can. I just did one two weekends ago and, due to the nature of post audio, was writing much of the music on the last day. And because the shoot went different then expected the film's vibe and direction changed somewhat. So not only was I down to hours to produce the music, I was doing rewrites! That kind of stress isn't always fun but MAN is it a good test and barometer with how you can handle time sensitive situations.

 

At these kind of events, you're often you're working with a team of friends (who are also rushed), so it's not like you're gonna get fired. Put yourself in situations like this often and you get better and better at handling that kind of stress. I remember the fastest I've ever had to produce audio was for a MechWarrior game where I produced 18.30 worth of in-game music, produced 9 minutes of music and sound design for cut scenes and did all of the in-game sound design as well as implemented it all into FMOD in 8 days. I was working from 6AM-2AM every day during that chunk. It paid REALLY well but... pretty sure I took a few years off my life on that one!




#5297989 Learning to write music faster!

Posted by on 25 June 2016 - 08:28 AM

Very good thread - writing fast is a great skill. Part of it, in my own experience, comes from several things:

 

1) Know your set up well.

 

This includes both hardware and all software items. Spend time learning your FX chains and how they best work to achieve various textures and feels. Know your sample libraries well. For example, I know that combining two patches in a certain way creates a very useful texture to fill in orchestral sounds, be it long or short notes. On a very much related point, I also know that for certain instruments I'm going to have to pull the level or EQ out certain frequencies right off the bat to achieve the sound I'm after.

 

2) Have a template set up.

 

The less time you have to do the technical set up means you get to start creating that much faster. Writing to only piano and orchestrating later is useful for sure! But sometimes you need to compose and arrange (and mix!) all at the same time. Having a ready-to-go template for various kinds of genres can really help speed things along and help you focus on creative decisions instead of technical ones.

 

3) Keep your scope in check.

 

From what I've heard in both of your quick pieces, you guys are already doing this. Good job! When writing super fast, you may not be able to get a fully fleshed out orchestral piece so strive for what is vital and quick. Sometimes simple flourishes can be easily created and help give your piece that extra bit of polish.

 

4) Do it often.

 

This is what I love about this thread. You guys are already doing this! I once had a work situation come up where I was put on a game late Friday afternoon - about 3PM. The game was due on Tuesday. Normally these games would take about 2 weeks to do all of the audio. I basically had the weekend. So I jumped into hyper drive and wrote as quickly as I could. Thankfully, this kind of stress motivates me and I've been in this kind of situation many times before. But if it's your first time in a quick crunch, it can become a blocking instead of a propelling situation. So it's great that you guys are already imposing a time limit on yourself now.

 

5) Don't question yourself.

 

I don't mean just write crap. Be critical of your work and push for excellence! But the less time you have to work on something the more precious your decisions are! It may not be the best time to debate over a melody's note or two. Instead go with what works. It sounds bad to say but part of writing really fast is going into somewhat of an automatic mode. Again, not saying write poor music but you go back to your bag of tricks which you've already tested and proven (like you guys are doing now!) which you know will produce the right results.




#5297622 How to make low-quality speech like in SEGA games?

Posted by on 22 June 2016 - 01:42 PM

The sampling and bit rates for audio clips in the 16-bit era had to be VERY small due to low memory footprints. So you can record "normal" audio and then export out the audio in a low spec setting, it should achieve the low-fi sound you're after.

 

Aside from that, if you wanted to keep the file specs higher, then you can work with EQ to lower fidelity and then a bit crusher distortion type of plugin to add in some of that crunchiness. I would advice doing an either/or approach here. Doing both at the same time would make it sound even worse than 16-bit era audio clips. These are just two quick ideas - there are probably other approaches that would work as well.




#5295155 Should you even bother making low-quality samples sound realistic?

Posted by on 05 June 2016 - 05:03 PM

Well my samples actually do use FX's such as reverb. But perhaps the default reverb amount isn't enough.

 

I don't feel that it is, and perhaps that's some of how you and I don't seem to be connecting about the feedback I'm giving you. I realize that your sample library may have reverb attached to the samples but that's rarely good enough. I'm talking about a 3rd party (or native to your DAW of choice) reverb. If you can, select a close mic setting for all of your samples then work on creating your own space with a reverb plugin. I often use Space Designer (a Logic bundled reverb plugin) in combination with Valhalla's Room reverb. It works pretty well! And try having the reverb increase (via automation) at the end of phrases for key or solo instruments. Not talking about a lot but that can help give the ending of a phrase more body while keeping the rest of it more clear.

 

 

 

A lot of people don't understand that you can only do so much; with an outdated library. People seem to expect an ultra-realistic sound, from a dated library.

 

I can't speak for a lot of people but I can speak for me and I was looking and hoping to hear a bit more production. I don't expect an ultra-realistic sound from a dated library. I just expect a well produced song. :) One of my main points was even when producing chip tune music, which is very low fidelity, you can make it sound awesome by adding in many of the production techniques that have been mentioned.

 

 


I will eventually upgrade to the East West Hollywood Orchestra library. But money doesn't grow on trees and until I save up for that; there's not much I can do about the samples sounding "unconvincing".

 

Again, see my point above. There IS more than you can do to make your music have more impact. Will it sound like a real orchestra? Probably not! But that could be okay, especially if it's produced well enough. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, so I'll leave it at that. You do write good music, it just needs a bit more production and attention to detail. Do a lot of A/B comparisons of your music with other music you respect and admire. And I don't just mean listening to the notes and musical ideas. Listen to the production value! Best of luck to you!




#5295063 How much do I charge for my music in an asset pack?

Posted by on 05 June 2016 - 06:18 AM

I read in Aaron Marks book, The Complete Guide to Game Audio, that for selling with exclusive rights you should take your normal rate and multiply it by ten. Think about it, it's the one time (in most cases) that you'll ever by able to profit from that music. This developer will be able to use it and resell it as many times has they want, without giving you anything (again, depending on your contract). So make it a high enough number that you can feel good about it.




#5295006 Should you even bother making low-quality samples sound realistic?

Posted by on 04 June 2016 - 03:18 PM

Another way to say it:

 

When I mention "production" I'm talking about all of the things outside of the music notes you're doing. How is your EQ? How does your arrangement work (or not work)? Are there instruments fighting over the same frequencies and muddying up your mix? Is your panning good? Does it evolve as the piece does or at certain climatic points? What about your automation? Does your reverb/delay/FX chain help support the rises and falls in your piece? Do you have any tempo changes? Are your MIDI parts too quantized and therefore coming off like a machine, instead of emulating human players?

 

Your focus, in many of your replies, seems to be only focused on the sounds themselves instead of considering all of the production tricks and methods you could put into your pieces. These days we're not just composers, we're often arrangers, producers, mixers and doing our own mastering.

 

So, in short, start approaching your piece like an arranger would, then how a producer would, then like a mixer would and then finally like someone who's mastering would.




#5295004 Should you even bother making low-quality samples sound realistic?

Posted by on 04 June 2016 - 03:01 PM


I could spend hours trying to make the samples sound realistic and still end up with something that's not convincing.

 

However, if I upgraded to something more recent; I could probably come up with something convincing. When you have more articulations and more velocity layers to work with; it makes it easier to make something convincing.

 

This is where you're missing the real point: production. You'll learn a TON of very important and useful lessons and tricks by working as hard as you can to make even subpar samples sound convincing and good in your song. Even if you went out and purchased $20,000 worth of new sample libraries, you could still make it sound bad if you don't produce them right.




#5292405 Process of audio dev for games in 80's-90's?

Posted by on 18 May 2016 - 09:01 PM

Back in the 1980's most of the composers were actually programmers who also knew music. And they were code everything in via a trackr like system. MIDI and bank files with samples are still used today for 3DS games and even on the Wii in some cases.






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