In this episode of Madsen's Musings, I discuss creating exposure and building your personal brand within the industry.
Wanna learn more about me or my work? Go here: https://madsenstudios.com/
Subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me here on GameDev.net to see all the latest updates.
A transcript is provided below the video.
Alright guys, so we're gonna try a vlog really quickly in my studio. I'm here, I was just answering a really good question...
(By the way, I have a very noisy... there's the camera, I forgot where to look... sorry, so I have a very noisy studio chair, very squeaky... ah well, it was really cheap, was like $89, but...)
There was a really good question: "Besides of course composing and producing music, and the projects you've been hired to do, what else do you do that gives you more visibility in the job market as a professional. What's worked best for you".
Alright. This was onin the Music & Sound forum, which I am very humble and glad to be moderating. I've done that for the last nine years now. Ok, so my answer. I'll just read this out to you guys.
So it's all about the slow burn, You have to avoid the temptation, the desire to have a sudden explosion of exposure on the internet. You instead want to do just a lot of movements. It's just kind of like working with compression, EQ. A lot of small movements over multiple tracks will give you a better sound than like just smashing and doing a ten-to-one ratio. That type of deal. So approach this with small movements, because that's going to be more attainable, you're going to be able to chip away at that better than just saying I'm going to take on this massive thing. I just ticked off -- let me count how many: one, two, three, four, five, six -- six things I'm going to quickly talk to you about as fast as I can.
Try to be active in the industry. I interact with other artists and developers. This could be graphic designers, this could be animators, this could be devs who are making game engines, that type of thing. So yeah, I do this mainly on Twitter. I follow a whole bunch of people on Twitter that are making games. And so I'll see people post like "here's my new animation for the spell, or this movement/my character", "here's the new 3d environment", "here's this", I even follow other composers and sound "here's my music for that", and I will often write "hey I really like this", "hey, this is great", and it's very inspiring to me to see other people's work. What's really cool about this is it's not stuff I'm tied to; it's not stuff that I'm like "I'm taking part in this", so it's just me being a part of the industry I'm in. That's a huge part.
I also attend conferences and local meetups when I can. Now, GDC is one of the biggest ones, I've gone to that one nine times I think -- maybe eight times. Anyway, I'm not going this year for a lot of different reasons, one of the main reasons being the house purchase that we just did, so it's a little bit crazy time. I'm going to be staying here in Austin and working on the house move, but I've gone to conferences a lot. Now GDC what it does -- when you go to GDC, you show your face there. First off, people get face time with you. You're giving people time to experience you as a person, directly. They get to know your personality, your mannerisms, hopefully, you can create some relationships there.
The other thing is, everyone knows GDC is expensive. So unless you're going with a company shirt, saying "SGI" or "Netta" or whatever, unless you're going with something that paid your way, they know that you invested a lot of money, and you're investing your time, to go out there. It's kind of a hassle to travel to San Francisco and get a hotel. It's really expensive and then go to the conference. It's a lot of fun, but it's a lot of investment. A lot of energy and money is put into that, and so they recognise that and can respect that, and so that's something that helps distinguish you from someone who's just on a website saying "hey, I think you should hire me". If someone knows you spent time and effort to go out there and interact directly with folks that's gonna speak louder.
If you want to focus on local parts, there's all kinds of things you can do. There's meetups. There's a sound designer meetup for beer -- I like beer -- it's like once every quarter or whatever. I need to do one; I haven't done one since moving back to Austin, but when I lived here before I went to a couple. Lots of fun. I enjoyed meeting the other audio professionals and having some beer. Do those, do game jams. Just take part: be active.
Now you want to focus on your branding and your marketing. Now this is kind of one that's going to hit people square in the forehead. I'm guilty of this too, but I cannot tell you how many times I've seen particular people copy and paste the same exact post they did two weeks ago, again in some Facebook group or whatever. That's a big no-no. The reason being is because people will just generally recognise "oh I've seen this guy's post. The same wording as last time" and they'll skip over it. You need to just be really careful about that. You know marketing and branding is highly volatile. People will skip over something they've seen before in favour of something that's new, different, shinier.
So how do you know where the market's trending? Go back to my first points about being very active in the industry, going to conferences, going to local meetups, just knowing what people are doing. Having a pulse on it. That's gonna take some effort, that's gonna take some time.
This would be the fourth one. Know your skill set, and focus on that. You want to continue to grow, right? I like the idea of being a lifetime student, a life long student, just always growing, always learning. I'm growing. I'm trying to learn new instruments, trying to learn new approaches, new instruments, and new technologies, so I'm always in favour of being a lifetime or life long student, but you also want to know: where is the sweet spot for you. Is your sweet spot orchestral and sweet anime sounding kind of music, is your sweet spot jazz and rock, is it hip-hop and electronic? What is it you do really really well, that you really enjoy. Problems that you really like and have a natural aptitude for solving. Those are ones you really want to go for.
Put stuff out often. With NDAs, things like that, you can have situations where maybe you're working on a project that's multiple years and it's gonna take you a long time to be able to share that music publicly. That's a bummer, but that happens. So what can you do to get around that? Well first off, you can go back to older projects you've done before that you've shared and say "hey" and you can just put it out there again. I did this recently with a project, where I had written music about a year and a half ago, and I was really proud of the buildup at the end of that track, and so I shared again saying "I'm still very proud of this". It was not a new project, it didn't get a tonne of exposure the first time, and I did that in the hopes to one) fill in some dead space when I'm waiting for other things to become public and live so I can legally share them, and then two) just give that more attention. Bring it back into focus. Maybe someone else who missed it before will see it this time, or maybe someone who saw it before will be reminded, be like "oh, that's right, I remember that. I liked that" and then maybe they'll reach out to me.
Here's number six: Give back. I have these vlogs, I'm trying to do this just to give input and give advice, and my personal journey to you guys and gals, in hopes that it's gonna inspire and give you guys some motivation, give you guys some guidance, that type of deal. It motivates me too. I talked a while back -- this was a Facebook Live post, so you won't see it on YouTube -- where I was doing a whole bunch of mentoring, and I described that it's surprising at first, but when you mentor someone, a lot of people think it's going to go from the top down; from the mentor to the mentee. But if you're in a good relationship, in a good situation, very often the mentee can inspire the mentor. And so it's reciprocal, it goes back and forth. Yes, you're pouring into the person that you're teaching, helping, guiding, but they're also inspiring you with their energy, their fresh ideas and fresh outlook on things. It can go back and forth. So I'm a strong advocate of giving back as best you can.
I think that's about it.
So to recap:
Be active in the industry, and stuff that isn't directly you. Don't make it only about you, but take part. And not only about audio. Make it something that's not your discipline. I love the writing in this game. I love the art direction in that game. I love the battle system in this game. By the way, the subtext of that first little bit was "are you playing games?" I mean if you're working in the game industry and you're not playing any games at all you're kind of missing the point.
Attend conferences both on the global scale and on the local scale as much as you can. Interface with people directly. Get them to have face time with you directly. It makes a huge impact.
Focus on your branding and your marketing. What are you doing? Are you adapting, or are you doing the same stale post over and over again?
Know your skill set and focus on that, while on the side keep growing and learning.
Put stuff out often. Be just engaging.
And then finally, give back to the community in what ways you can.
Ok, so I hope that helps. If you like these videos please like, subscribe, comment, share.