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Licensing music

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I'm brainstorming ideas for the audio side of a game. I wonder, what's it usually cost to license a song for use in your own game? I remember reading that when Jonathon Blow was designing Braid he opted to license music so as to reduce development costs... so is licensing actually cheaper than having original music composed? I know all this is obviously relative, but in general what can you expect to realistically pay to use a known band's song in a game?

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It really does depend.

If you're willing to put in the effort to look, and take on someone who is still learning, you can often get original music composed very cheaply or even for free. Experienced composers are also often able to offer very competitive rates depending on your needs, 'though if you're after a lot of music or anything complex it can get reasonably expensive. You'll find rates vary from the very afforable ($10-20 for your whole project) right up to the very expensive -- thousands of dollars for full orchestral scores or complex soundtracks.


You can licence stock music pretty cheaply -- if you go to a site like AudioJungle for example you'll find tracks and loops of music in a variety of styles with prices ranging from $3 to around $25. Many other such sites exist, and you'll almost certainly be able to find something to suit your theme if you take the time to look - you can source packages of sound-effects the same way.


If you're after music from a known artist... be prepared to pay a lot, if you're able to licence the track at all. If this is the approach you want to take then your best bet for affordable music is to approach indie or hobbyist bands who might donate one or two tracks to your project for free or very cheaply in order to gain some exposure. If you're after stuff you would hear on the radio then you're almost certainly not going to be getting out of it cheaply.


So, if you're aiming to keep costs down I'd suggest one of the following approaches:
  1. Look for a composer who is just starting out who is willing to work with you at low cost.

  2. Licence stock music that suits your needs.

  3. Approach low-profile indie bands and seek permission to use some of thier tracks.


Hope that helps! [smile]

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I've personally used and been happy with AudioJungle, so I tend to think of it first when recommending sources for stock music, but you'll find plenty of similar services out there as well if you search for "stock music" or "royalty free music". [smile]

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