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Music Costs

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I am new to the musical side of game development and am curious as to the going rates for current music. Some guy quoted me 150$ per Min... which seemed outrageously crazy. Any thoughts or ideas on the best price ranges would be ideal. thanks!

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It really, really depends. I'm thinking he was quoting $150 per minute of audio. I can't see that rate being acceptable for anything other than a AAA budget considering games often have over an hour of audio.

Considering you can get a lot of music free (to the chagrin of people who like getting paid tongue.png), you can use that as a baseline and work upwards from there. I imagine you're somewhere between hobbyist and dedicated indie studio realm. You should be able to find a price you're willing to pay for somebody who can do what you want professionally with good communication.

As to what that price is, I haven't managed to be successfully paid for a video game job, so that's not for me to say.

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Ah, well thanks for the info. We have a composer now but this is his first work so he didnt want to charge. This other guy saw our post on IndieDB and posted his prices... and the $150 a min of audio seemed pretty crazy. I can afford some stuff but spending 1k + on music only seems crazy unless I want some crazygood music ( which we dont need right now ).

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I usually suggest new musicians to charge something for their first works because doing it for free encourages designers to look for people who will do it for free (not that this is what you're doing since we're having this conversation)

That said, where I'm at right now, I'd sell a piece of music for $30 or $50 just to recoup something.

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The old saying "you get what you pay for" rings true more often than not. I once lost out on a paying job at the very last minute to a guy offering to do it for free. Later the client came back to me, explaining how things had been horrible and the free guy would either refuse to do iterations or just vanish for long periods of time. This client learned a hard lesson and wanted to pay me for my work and time moving forward. Something happens when a working relationship is built on a fair, agreed exchanged. But when someone is working for free, either the freelancer can flake out or the client can begin to abuse the situation. I've seen it many times.

I agree with Brian, $150 is not high when considering the going rate for even indie game audio, especially if that was $150 per minute of music for exclusive rights. I wouldn't even call it average for exclusive rights at the indie level. When doing indie work I've been paid several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars based on the project's specs and terms. (That's not thousands per minute mind you, but thousands for the total body of work. I'm not to that level... yet :P)

 

I DO want to applaud you for reaching out to the community and doing some research!! smile.png It's too bad when game developers don't do that and then want to offer drastically low costs. In fact, this very morning a guy wanted to pay me $3 per SFX asset and $25 per song. Mind you that's for a full song. At this point in my career, that pretty far below what I can afford to accept given my business and personal costs as well as credentials.

Edited by nsmadsen

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"AAA-budget games these days are typically paying between $1500/minute on the low end and $2500+/minute for fully produced music.  $150 isn't even remotely in the ballpark smile.png.  Yes, that means the music budget for a AAA game with 90 minutes of music is over $200k. (remember, you have to hire & record a 60 piece orchestra with that, too...)"

I carried one too many zeros and ended up with a cost of $150K for 100 minutes rather than $15K. My bad.

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Now if you're doing an indy/hobbist-project game, that's a whole different story.

 

We are an indie development team. Max of 5 members and none of us are being paid unless the game is released for profit. All of us are doing this in our free time as we all have primary jobs in other things. 2 of them are college students for game design and myself I am a member of the USN. The other guy works for the government making odd programs here and there.

 

 

Regardless-- make sure whatever agreement you have with the composer is in writing. It doesn't have to be a fancy formal contract (of course it's better if it is..), but at least have one clean letter or email (not an email thread with a lot of other discussions) clearly spelling out what you are getting (music) and what they are getting ($50... a new logo designed by you... credit on the game...whatever).

 

This is great advice and the management software we have provides me with the ability to create invoices. I would do such a thing for this and all other contracted work! smile.png

 

 

The old saying "you get what you pay for" rings true more often than not. I once lost out on a paying job at the very last minute to a guy offering to do it for free. Later the client came back to me, explaining how things had been horrible and the free guy would either refuse to do iterations or just vanish for long periods of time. This client learned a hard lesson and wanted to pay me for my work and time moving forward. Something happens when a working relationship is built on a fair, agreed exchanged. But when someone is working for free, either the freelancer can flake out or the client can begin to abuse the situation. I've seen it many times.

 

I am well aware of this fact. Our current guy is busy with other things and this is the delay in the music. That said, we do not have a direct need for music at this current point but will in the near future. I certainly do not expect the most epic soundtrack possible so paying 1,500 per min of a song seems silly.

 

 

I DO want to applaud you for reaching out to the community and doing some research!! smile.png It's too bad when game developers don't do that and then want to offer drastically low costs. In fact, this very morning a guy wanted to pay me $3 per SFX asset and $25 per song. Mind you that's for a full song. At this point in my career, that pretty far below what I can afford to accept given my business and personal costs as well as credentials.

 

Being an artist I know very much how inflated people make things in the freelance world. I just wanted to ensure that my mindset was not off. Who knows maybe 150 per minute is normal... and if so than I would need to adjust my thought process. That is why I value this place so much as it provides me, the developer, with some amazing background information that I wouldn't have anywhere else. I certainly plan to credit this site whenever and however I can in our process.

 

All in all, how about I link you his work and you guys suggest to me if you think it is valued at 150 a min or not? tongue.png

 

(edited by mod)

Edited by nsmadsen

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All in all, how about I link you his work and you guys suggest to me if you think it is valued at 150 a min or not? tongue.png


That's a horrible idea and is completely inappropriate. You're calling this guy out and publicly announcing his rate. I doubt he'd appreciate that if he were to know you were doing so. As such, I've removed the link. This sort of behavior is hardly professional too so I'd caution you against doing it again (both here on GD.net and elsewhere so you don't hurt your reputation in the industry).

I am well aware of this fact. Our current guy is busy with other things and this is the delay in the music. That said, we do not have a direct need for music at this current point but will in the near future. I certainly do not expect the most epic soundtrack possible so paying 1,500 per min of a song seems silly.



You're ignoring the composer's credentials and what it might do for your game. For example what if you got Jason Graves, the composer for Dead Space, to work on your game? That would provide a selling point and likely generate some buzz. Besides you've stated numerous times that you're not after epic or high quality music but I must point out - I want the best for anything I work on. Sure there's a reality between what's affordable and what's not. You probably cannot spend $40,000 and get some of the composers for WoW to work on your game... but shouldnt' you still strive for the best quality you can get in your budget range?

Finally, there's something to be said about hiring the best you can find (and they're not always the most expensive). Time is money and most developers would rather pay a bit more for someone they know is going to deliver than waste more time with someone who is a variable. This is why going to EA and such with really cheap rate sheets doesn't work. Those audio directors are so busy that they need to be able to hand off tasks and not worry about them again. If the project misses deadlines or has to go back and re-record live music parts... that can be quite costly.

 

Someone just starting out may not have the chops nor the gear to deliver under that kind of stress and THAT is worth something. smile.png

Edited by nsmadsen

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You probably cannot spend $40,000 and get some of the composers for WoW to work on your game... but shouldnt' you still strive for the best quality you can get in your budget range?

 

You are speaking as if I am a composer who can create the best. I hope for the best art that I can hope for as well but I know the limitation is by the budget I can afford. If i know that limit that wouldnt it be in my best interest to make whatever I can afford be molded to that limit? Example would be.... if i know I have 0$ and can afford nothing in the terms of such quality but I want to make a game ( this is not the case but using this example ) wouldnt it be in my best interest to try and make a game that plays to the strengths of $0? Instead of trying to aim for AAA graphics I would add 8 bit graphics with a hint of style thus staying within my budget and still creating a feel for the game that works.

 

The same could be said for the sound. AAA composers is not equal to perfect sound for the project I desire to make. Could it make the game better to have a big name on the music title? That does not mean that I couldn't make the next big person by hiring them to make something that fits my game under a reasonable price, right?

 

 

Finally, there's something to be said about hiring the best you can find (and they're not always the most expensive). Time is money and most developers were rather pay a bit more for someone they know is going to deliver than waste more time with someone who is a variable. This is why going to EA and such with really cheap rate sheets doesn't work. Those audio directors are so busy that they need to be able to hand off tasks and not worry about them again. Someone just starting out may not have the chops nor the gear to deliver under that kind of stress and THAT is worth something. smile.png

 

Agreed, that is not my project and I am not EA. I am a developer working to make an indie project. If the game got to be as popular as other indie games like Super Meatboy or Fez, maybe that freelance indie music guy could launch his project from that alone... and THAT is worth something as well. So the project can be mutually beneficial.

 

 

That's a horrible idea and is completely inappropriate. You're calling this guy out and publicly announcing his rate. I doubt he'd appreciate that if he were to know you were doing so. As such, I've removed the link. This sort of behavior is hardly professional too so I'd caution you against doing it again (both here on GD.net and elsewhere so you don't hurt your reputation in the industry).

 

While you have that right ( you are a moderator ) would it have been any different if i posted a topic saying "This guy ( post link here ) has a posted rate of $150 per minute, is that a reasonable price?" I doubt you would have modified that post or thought past the idea of saying "Yeah thats good" and left it at that. I am not attacking the guy and very clearly laid out in my argument that it very well could be the fact that I am too ignorant to the subject to know what is considered good or bad. Furthermore, I have seen 0 rules that suggest we should not discuss the rates of other people or companies as it violates some form of "code of conduct". ( note I have read your rules thread and this is all it states )

 

Hey guys,

Please remember that the Music and Sound forum is for
discussion, sharing one's work and getting feedback to help you improve.
The Music and Sound forum isn't the place for you to try and get clients. That's what the classifieds section
is for and there's both a paid and hobbyist section which can be used.
So post basically anything audio related as long as it's not you saying
akin to "HEY HIRE ME!!!"

Any posts that are clearly attempts at
getting work will be edited then closed with a nice note from me telling
you to post this in the classifieds section. There will be no warning
as this IS your warning. smile.png
There used to be a forum FAQ that detailed some of this but with the
various site migrations and changes, that seems to have vanished.
Hopefully that helps clear up any confusion.

Thanks!

Nate

Post link here: http://www.gamedev.net/forum/19-music-and-sound/

 

The entire point of a forum, according to my understanding, is to discuss and explore the game development process and in doing so find the answers or enrich your personal knowledge through questions and discussion. I can see your argument but I do not agree with the tone. If you could link to me some articles that suggest "professional" behavior that references what you are discussing that would be great. I would love to further my knowledge on the subject but at this point it seems like you are inserting personal feelings to an otherwise objective topic. It is not my attempt to break any rules or regulations.

 

So, following your guidelines, how can I get peoples opinions on the rate being quality or not if I can not link to his public work?

Edited by riuthamus

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