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Raffael

price factor: game music

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Every game developer is aware of how important music is in video games. As game developer you don’t just give up a lot of sleep, you also invest a lot of your time and even money into your project. Part of the expenses for your project is fitting music. Music does not only accompany images or video sequences, it also reinforces desired emotions.
As a game developer you should ask yourself these questions:

• „How much money can I spend?”
• „How long does the music have to be?“
• „Where do I get music?“
• „Which standard does my game have?“
• „Does the music has to be unique?“
• „How important is the quality of the music for my game?“

After answering all these questions, the developer may realize that he possibly has to compromise.
Unique music, the length and the quality influence the price of the track greatly so you start looking for alternatives

1. One solution would be to compose the music for you. These reduce the costs, but in my experience it also leads to bad results – usually because of a lack of experience.
2. Free loops of the internet are usually of poor quality or can’t be used to copyright issues.
3. Reducing the length of the music and repeating them to ensure a high quality. These tracks are called „loops“.

In my experience, number 3 is the best alternative if you face a small budget.
A loop repeats itself after 30 to 90 seconds. With a very good loop, you won’t hear the repetition. The alternation is nearly the same to a 3 minute soundtracks. The costs for an exclusive loop are usually between 500$ and 1.000$ .
Loops have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s have a look at those:

Disadvantages
• Repetition
• Usually no intro / outro
• Not useable as soundtrack
Advantages:
• Cheaper than a soundtrack
• Less data due to decreased length
• Less costs for producer
• Suitable for mini games and background music

Loops have some distinct advantages, but 1.000$ can still exceed the budget of a hobby game developer. But even for this problem there is a solution: „The loop may not be exclusive!“
This means, the composer can sell the loop several times and therefore offer it at a much lower price. Since it would take quite a while to find a lot of composers who offer non-exclusive tracks, you should take a ‚loop cd‘ into consideration.
A loop cd contains various royalty free compositions. You find some examples here at the gamedev.net marketplace.

Even though you lose the exclusivity, you save a lot of money with these bargains. The exclusivity usually is the only thing you lose, since the quality of the tracks is very high. The risk that a player hears the same loop over and over again is very low. Every game developer should have one of these cds in his shelf.
These cds offers game developers a good opportunity to save money. Currently there are not many cds available like the one mentioned above, but by searching „loop cd“ or „game music pack“ you can already find some on the internet
Every game developer should be aware what kind of music he needs and how important quality and exclusivity are for him.

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The costs for an exclusive loop are usually between 50$ and 100$


I would disagree with this part - price varies massively depending on the calibre of the composer and the type of music you need. I would very much doubt you could someone to compose an exclusive 90-second loop for only $50 - that would be the equivalent of only a few dollars per hour of the composer's time.

I think most of what you're talking about only applies to music libraries, which contain hundreds of pre-written tracks that will be licenced multiple times, as you mentioned. This means that you'll be less likely to find exactly what you're looking for, and run the risk of using tracks that have already been used for other projects.

If you're serious about your game you should invest in producing a proper soundtrack - remember that 50% of what your player experiences goes in through their ears. If it's just a small hobby project then by all means minimise on cost - but for proper games you should be prepared to budget for an original soundtrack to complement the rest of the work that you've put in.

And that's where I, and the hundreds of other composers on this forum, come in...

smile.png

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yes jonny,
I dont speak about 90seconds for 50$ but for 20 to 30seconds ;)

...sry it doesn't stand in the text.

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[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif]

I dont speak about 90seconds for 50$ but for 20 to 30seconds

[/font]
[/quote]

Mirco - even with that change it still equates to roughly $100 or so per minute of music and that is no where near the industry rate or norm for an exclusive loop of music. Industry standard for exclusive rights is floating around $1,000 to $1,250 per minute of music. Now granted this is for AAA ranked titles usually. Indie audio is (and can be) something completely different but I'd wager even just $100 per minute of music for exclusive rights is awfully low. Consider what Aaron Marks advices in his book The Complete Guide to Game Audio: (note I'm paraphrasing here) - For exclusive rights charge 10 times your non-exclusive rights rate as it will be the only time you're allowed to profit from this music. Of course if a OST is sold you might get some other earnings from that as well.

I'm glad to see you charging something though - too many start off with the naive idea you must work for free (myself included). Working for free simply hurts the industry all around.

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I'm working mainly for indie developers and their haven't so much money like konami. :)

I'll change the price in the post.

...I had worked for free at my "pop and hip hop phase" ^^ ....this time is over. ^^

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I'm working mainly for indie developers and their haven't so much money like konami.


Agreed - hence my statements "Now granted this is for AAA ranked titles usually. Indie audio is (and can be) something completely different but I'd wager even just $100 per minute of music for exclusive rights is awfully low."

[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif]If charging $100 per minute of exclusive rights fits your current business model and needs then go for it. I was simply pointing out that it is not the industry norm for exclusive rights to music - even when dealing with indie projects. [/font]

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Please don't ask low budgets, or we can all quit. If devs will be accustomed to low prices or free works the music art will be considered a minor art and it is not true. It's a real important artistic expression and creativity must be paid.

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Of course, free music can be the beginning of price dumping. I have had some requests for 10 soundtracks for example and the devs wanted it for free. ^^

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