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jcblade

Do People Actually Lease Music?

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Hey, how's it going?

My name is John, and I produce music under the alias of JC Blade. Up until relatively recently I've mainly produced rap, hip hop and R&B beats, which I have leased to rappers and singers around the world with some success. That industry is definitely set up for leasing music.

As I am now producing soundtracks making my beats available for video games, I was going to transfer my philosophy to the video game developers market; those who can't afford custom or exclusive music for their video games will most likely pay for non-exclusive leases, if they're affordable.

However, after browsing the forums for the best part of a year, I'm not so sure if this is as true as I thought it was.

There are A LOT of sound designers and producers who are willing to work for free to build up their portfolios, and I am seeing a recurring trend of low-budget developers going to these guys before looking at leasing music. Hell, it makes sense really.

But, does this mean that the leasing market isn't as successful in the video game industry? I know a lot of producers on the forums do have pages on their websites for leasing, but I'm not so sure that they're actually getting business that way.

Could you please lend your opinions. I just don't want to waste my time trying to build a portfolio of soundtracks to lease then market them if there isn't a market for them, I'd instead try a different approach.

Thank you for time :)

JC

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Working for free is one of my biggest complaints about the audio community because it often goes abused and doesn't tend to translate into the kinds of exposure and career advancement most new audio producers think it will. Game developer X looks for free audio. Finds it. Makes a game. Next title - the same game developer tends to look for free audio again. That or audio that is severely under priced. And they tend to want triple AAA, Hollywood quality while paying little to nothing. Frustrating. And if this game developer makes it into the "real" world then he (or she) will likely carry that perception of super low cost, cheap audio with them. Thus the price wars for audio production continue...

(can you tell this is one of my pet peeves?!wink.png )

I would urge you to continue to put your non-exclusive tracks out there and see who bites. If your music is good enough and your rates are compatible/competitive with the market - I'm sure you'll end up with some offers!

Personally I've re-used some of my cues that were originally non-exclusive but if I had to put a percentage to it then perhaps 30% of the time it's re-used. Maybe even less. Much more of my work comes from custom content where the client usually needs exclusive rights. I've also put some of my cues up on those large library, a la carte method websites but haven't much money from those kinds of avenues. I think this is mainly because there are large production houses that license out literally hundreds (if not thousands) of cues and my stuff just gets buried.

My advice would be to avoid those budget game makers if you're out to make some money while also building up your rep. Those truly wanting free assets or services to make their games will most likely skip over folks like you and me who need to make a living doing this and opt for those that, in my honest opinion, have delusional ideas that somehow working for free will help move their career forward.

Will it get them some credits on their resume, assuming the games are completed? Yes. But how many people have actually played game X? In some cases it might be as few as 10 people! So... was the credit really worthwhile? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm being longwinded here but I think that is the trap that some folks get into when they're new to this industry. They feel any work is valid and good for their career. It isn't. You want to align yourself with great, cool, promising projects with capable, driven teams. Not some 14 year old making the next WoW-killer on RPG Maker. smile.png

So to summarize - I'd put it out there and see what kinds of bites you get. Best of luck!

Nate

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Your response wasn't long winded at all, it was exactly what I was looking for.

I'm just struggling to see the market, you know? I really think that the video game audio market is dangerously contaminated by people who are willing to work for a percentage of future profits of a project that may not even see light of day.

I have been burned a few times so far on gamedev where I have offered my services for free, only for the project to be cancelled due to developers getting bored or the like, which is why I have tried to promote buying exclusive licenses, because anyone buying music is more likely to have a larger interest in getting the project finished. In theory, anyways.

However, as I probably said before (and I may be rambling lol), non-exclusive leases are aimed at people who can not afford exclusives, ala small teams working on small projects (or even one person with his laptop and a can of Red Bull). But I'm seeing more and more of these small teams recognising that they aren't a big budget project and instead deciding that they may as well recruit producers willing to work for free. Which makes sense financially for sure, but is a kick to the teeth for any producer actually operating as a business and trying to make a living from his music.

I guess I will attempt to pursue the lease market in the video game industry for a little longer, but it is hard to continue to expand my available soundtracks when the interest just isn't there.

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I have been burned a few times so far on gamedev where I have offered my services for free, only for the project to be cancelled due to developers getting bored or the like, which is why I have tried to promote buying exclusive licenses, because anyone buying music is more likely to have a larger interest in getting the project finished. In theory, anyways.


Have you tried looking for indie game companies?

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Unfortunately, beginning a freelance audio career in the videogames industry is very difficult.

Or you work since years, so you have your customers that love you, or you can really struggle and compete for prices, first of all.

About quality, there are many good composers, each one with its specific peculiarities, so it is more a subjective choice, when a developer prefers a composer and not another.

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