Jump to content
  • Advertisement
nsmadsen

Starting your career as a composer-sound designer (FAQ and answers)

Recommended Posts

Advertisement
While I agree with Nathan, but I think I should throw this out too...

And this is obviously arguable... The main problem with most musicians is that they think too highly of themselves and expect too much. And the problem with film makers and game developers is that they don't understand music enough. Unlike 10 years ago where these music making resources aren't so abundant, anyone today can make music. Nowadays, with the technology, making a full orchestral track in front of your system isn't as difficult. Bedroom-studio composers are popping up everywhere. So musicians shouldn't automatically assume that their service is a rare trade and expect too much out of it. Most of these people can imitate the generic styles without any problem. You're probably not all that special as you may think you are. You need to stand out... be more than enough.

But at the same time, developers shouldn't take advantage of this. The market is tight, that does NOT mean the price should be dropped because of the so many available composers. In the end, it's still a trade. You want something, you pay for it. Time is money. So while developers won't be receiving profit from their projects, time is taken away from composers. So the next time a composer agrees to do custom music for you free of charge, be REALLY REALLY grateful. Make sure that credit page is huge to show your support. Don't just excuse yourself with that "exposure" your project will be getting for the composer. Music plays an important role in how successful the media's end product will be.

[Edited by - Kaiyoti on September 11, 2008 6:54:41 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by nsmadsen

Quote:
I think composers at first should be willing to work for free on projects to get experience and to put their name out there so you can point and say "there I made the music of that game".


The problem with this is it becomes perpetual. Let's face it, most folks with take something free over paying for it any day of the week and twice on Sunday. It's just human nature. I understand most young projects have little to no money, but working for free makes it hard for both the composer and the developer to break away. The developer will likely either want to keep using the composer on the next projects at a free rate, or move on to the next free composer.


Also consider what I've seen in the film world with some colleagues who thought that lots of free work was a great way to get a start. More than once I've seen a budding director hire a very cheap or free composer when he had no budget. Once that director moves upward and receives a decent budget, he doesn't hire the cheap composer. Why should he? Now he can afford the expensive composer he really wanted in the first place!

Also, the studio (think developer/publisher) who is putting up the money doesn't want the director to spend all that money on someone it has never heard of and who has no recognizable credits. There is too much money on the line to risk an unknown. ...And no director in that position is going to say, "I have to have this composer or I won't do the project."

Quote:
Original post by Kaiyoti
Unlike 10 years ago where these music making resources aren't so abundant, anyone today can make music. Nowadays, with the technology, making a full orchestral track in front of your system isn't as difficult. Bedroom-studio composers are popping up everywhere. So musicians shouldn't automatically assume that their service is a rare trade and expect too much out of it. Most of these people can imitate the generic styles without any problem. You're probably not all that special as you may think you are. You need to stand out... be more than enough.


This is a good point. Sure anyone can make music in their bedroom, but the truth is that most of it is very bland, ordinary, and sounds like a copy of some well-known music made by someone in a bedroom with no budget and half the skill. Orchestral music is some of the easiest to spot in this case. A trained ear can instantly hear someone's skill and experience when they write orchestral music either on a sequencer or record it live (and it has little to do with the quality of the samples). A non-trained ear may not be as critical, but it can instantly recognize the superior product when two tracks are compared.

Having the tools to make music doesn't make someone a decent composer any more than buying a hammer and saw makes you a carpenter. Anyone can pound a nail, but I wouldn't want just anyone building my house. As Madsen has stressed there is a lot of skill and learning involved in becoming a good musician. Someone who has put in those years of effort is much less likely to want to work for free, but that person probably won't sound like the free composer either!

Think carefully about what you are offering as a composer. Be critically honest with your abilities. Have the humility to recognize the amount of work it takes to perfect your art and your craft and then do that work. As Madsen has said, being a musician (or any artist) is a never-ending journey of learning.

[Edited by - Muzo72 on September 11, 2008 12:20:10 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:

This is a good point. Sure anyone can make music in their bedroom, but the truth is that most of it is very bland, ordinary, and sounds like a copy of some well-known music made by someone in a bedroom with no budget and half the skill. Orchestral music is some of the easiest to spot in this case. A trained ear can instantly hear someone's skill and experience when they write orchestral music either on a sequencer or record it live (and it has little to do with the quality of the samples). A non-trained ear may not be as critical, but it can instantly recognize the superior product when two tracks are compared.

Having the tools to make music doesn't make someone a decent composer any more than buying a hammer and saw makes you a carpenter. Anyone can pound a nail, but I wouldn't want just anyone building my house. As Madsen has stressed there is a lot of skill and learning involved in becoming a good musician. Someone who has put in those years of effort is much less likely to want to work for free, but that person probably won't sound like the free composer either!



When I pointed out the bedroom studios, I should've mentioned that in the current digitally-packed world, being a musician is different then before. If you can still pull off live-recordings, then you're golden. But these days, everyone does music composition on electronic equipments or software. "Composing", is only a minor part to music arrangement. Producing is the major part. It's a common misconception to think that higher quality samples = producing. Like muzo said, samples play very little in producing. Game developers and film directors can only go as far as hearing that high quality sound, as opposed to how well the mix actually is. That means anyone can sound awesome to the director/developers. It's not hard for anyone to run their midi music through these softwares, get a domain, slap on a banner that says [name], composer for TV/Film/Game and "join" this industry. So it doesn't matter if you have 10 years training spent in RCM institute, if you are willing to do digital music composition, then you need to learn how to produce, mix, tweak, master your sound.

Good analogy with the carpentry. Which is why I don't ever call myself a composer, because I think it's an joke/insult to the big guys. A suitable title is a "musician" who composes... It's a silly thing to think but that's how I'll show my respect for them. Not everyone deserves the "composer" title. My analogy had always been that just because you cook doesn't make you a chef. What would the world be when people can call themselves chef just because they can make instant noodles. And no, cooking is not a common knowledge either, some people don't cook at all. I also don't believe in the variant degrees of level like "amateur" or "professional" composer. You're either one or not. Digital music composition is not an art anymore, it's a skill. And it requires more than you can imagine. You do NOT need the "composer" title to be hired to work on projects, what matters the most is the demo's and samples.

I realize how very demotivating my posts can be (rendering the original topic useless)... don't be. They're just subjective opinions and suggestions.

[Edited by - Kaiyoti on September 11, 2008 7:18:35 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What a great post! There are so many ways to get involved with games. Mine was landing the first gig locally (paying gig) and then going to conferences and speaking about the work in front of small crowds. This led to more work as well as an invite to contribute to a new game audio design textbook!

http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/601-7083768-8864113?asin=1428318062&afid=yahoosspplp_bmvd&lnm=1428318062|Game_Development_Essentials:_Game_Audio_Development_(Game_Development_Essentials)_:_Books&ref=tgt_adv_XSNG1060

just googled it and Target is selling it!? I was interviewed in the book and also contributed to the sample DVD. I have since worked on coin-op, casual and mobile games. I get my work by attending any and every event that is remotely associated with gaming. I look forward to doing larger scale work as my studio was recently re-located into a 20,000 sq. ft. church built in 1890. If you come to Denver, be sure to contact me for the grand tour! It would be good to talk shop with other composers

cheers
Ben
www.noisebuffet.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You're in Denver? So am I! We should have coffee and talk shop.

Thanks for your input and support of this post.

Cheers,

Nathan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Indeed! I just moved my studio into the giant red castle at 30th/Vallejo. Can't miss it from anywhere downtown. looking forward to meeting

cheers,
Ben
www.noisebuffet.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hahah, I forgot, I know both of you--I should've introduced you two or something, hahaha.

Nathan, you should come to the Colorado IGDA Chapter meetings sometimes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Temporarily removed for reasons I'll explain in a bit. Trust me on this. :)

[Edited by - nsmadsen on November 14, 2008 11:12:13 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edit: Temporarily removed for reasons I'll explain in a bit. Trust me on this. :)

[Edited by - nsmadsen on November 14, 2008 11:39:44 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!