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riuthamus

Music Costs

59 posts in this topic

I had a guy who was working with me until I asked him to sign an NDA. ( the work he was doing needed to be protected by one ) I pulled a standard NDA from the internet and modified some names and titles as well as ensuring it was for non payment ( since none of us are being paid right now ) and he wouldn't sign it. He did however let me use the work he did do which was very nice of him. I am very big on ensuring contracts are made as I am fully aware of how somebody could screw you over. i am sorry to hear that has happened to you.

 

As for the work, I just got it from the guy who is doing stuff for free. I personally think the work is amazing ( specially for free ) and wanted to see if you guys thought the same.

 

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/41065/rvpromo-04-03.mp3

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/41065/rvpromo-03-02.mp3

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/41065/rvpromo-01-01.mp3

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They're all great pieces of music. The sample quality makes me think iPad or indie rather than cinematic film score but the pieces are solid (and that may have been the intended effect)

However, I think you're kind of skirting around the iffy line of if you should be posting those or not. It seems awfully close to the subject matter of the last disagreement
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I dont need a price, just wanted to know your concepts of the quality. This is not the same guy and I own the rights to these songs.

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Judging just the music alone, each track works well. And if you and the team feel like each cue fits within the game and it's vision - then you're all set. Strange he wouldn't sign the NDA but that issue aside, the music is nice. Be warned though - liking music is very subjective so some may love these tracks while others dislike them. What matters most (at this stage) is that the team creating the game feels like these tracks align well with the game itself. If you get into play testing later and a large majority of your testers rate the music really low then something's amiss.

Edited by nsmadsen
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Sorry for bringing back the original topic, I'm not going to fire it up again, just add something I think wasn't said here yet. And many interesting information about music prices and cost evaluation was said already. Thanks. I was reading it yesterday and felt like I need to add something here.

I like to place another variable into an equation to make this case even more complex. Besides constant costs like, for example: warming up the gears, music software prices, computer hardware, bringing people together etc. etc. which makes the costs of music production very individual (so unique that it even cannot be said if the music price is to high or not, which you all actually pointed in the posts before. Besides the all of those costs, many of the freelancers evaluate their clients and the projects which they present to them with the base of project attractiveness itself, client reputation and more. This is especially important when comes to work online with people you never see face to face. It makes talking about prices for things like music (but not only the music) as unique as impossible.

Actually, even high profile music composers for quadriple A titles are willingly to do something for fun sometimes. And many of us (not AAAA ;>) have some dream projects that could support for a far lower rates than 'usual ones'.

In that moment I would like to support nsmadsen in his decision about not discussing the price, which one person gave to another, at the one day, when the sun was rising. No worries riuthamus, it is always good to gather as much information about the topic you go into as possible, but involving someone personally would not give any useful value in the end.

It was interesting reading, having to see how both sides perceive the value on someones else work, anyway. Have nice day :) Edited by grogon
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Some guy quoted me 150$ per Min... which seemed outrageously crazy

 

150/min is pretty darn low for professionally produced music.  In fact, I'd call it "outrageously crazy" low for a professionally produced game.

 

Agreed.

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Perhaps it may interest the threadstarter to know that in some situations (usually in cases involving real musicians), composers are paid:

 

Number of pages (4 bars a page) x (factor based on density of instrumentation etc.

It may be useful for composers to have their rates presented in such a manner so that game composers know exactly what they are paying for.

Note that this does not include other skills that should be paid for, such as the orchestral mockup/sequencing, mixing and mastering, as well as score and part preparation should the music need to be recorded. The recording time (if applicable) should also be taken into account if the composer conducts his own music. This way, there'll be absolutely no doubt as to what is being paid for. Some guidelines may be taken from union rate sheets and appropriate studies of the prevailing market rates.

 

I think this approach might take the guesswork out of what is really being paid for, and also forces composers to really put a dollar value on every aspect of their work, so that they can realize if they are overcharging or if they are being taken advantage of. That being said, flexibility and human negotiation should also be a part of every business transaction.

I have nearly 0 experience as a professional composer, but it seems to me that this would be a logical step to take, since "how much should I pay?" and "how much should i charge?" are very common questions on forums.

You'll probably find that people are making far below the wage required to sustain their business if people only pay 150 for exclusive rights for 1 minute of fully produced music.

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I had a guy who was working with me until I asked him to sign an NDA. ( the work he was doing needed to be protected by one ) I pulled a standard NDA from the internet and modified some names and titles as well as ensuring it was for non payment ( since none of us are being paid right now ) and he wouldn't sign it.

 

Happened with me once. A hobbyist composer was making music for me, but when I asked for him to sign a contract, he was very hesitant. Full understandable, because from the average Joe's perspective, they think they can get burned signing contracts just as much as the buyer could get burned by not having them sign one. Contracts are associated with lawyers and lawsuits and banks and debt, whereas a hobbyist is in it for fun or to help you out and suddenly you're taking the fun out of the situation and making the project seem financially dangerous to them when previously they viewed it simply an innocent hobby they were doing in their spare time.

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I had a guy who was working with me until I asked him to sign an NDA. ( the work he was doing needed to be protected by one ) I pulled a standard NDA from the internet and modified some names and titles as well as ensuring it was for non payment ( since none of us are being paid right now ) and he wouldn't sign it.

 

Happened with me once. A hobbyist composer was making music for me, but when I asked for him to sign a contract, he was very hesitant. Full understandable, because from the average Joe's perspective, they think they can get burned signing contracts just as much as the buyer could get burned by not having them sign one. Contracts are associated with lawyers and lawsuits and banks and debt, whereas a hobbyist is in it for fun or to help you out and suddenly you're taking the fun out of the situation and making the project seem financially dangerous to them when previously they viewed it simply an innocent hobby they were doing in their spare time.

 

Indeed, it was cool, we left on good terms and I totally understood his standpoint. The current team has all signed NDA's including those people who are working with the story.

 

The idea of chip music vs. epic orchestral being the two sides of the price spectrum is a little naive I think. Same with composers getting paid per instruments/staves, as you have to define the price of the work by some quantifier and it seems per minute is the most common and in my experience the least problematic.

 

I get that and it makes perfect sense. The guy seemed reasonable and said that the price was adjustable depending on the project. I was just unaware of the going rate/quality factor. I can tell you that art does not work the same. If i am using a freelance artist the most I would expect to pay is 25 - 50 an hour. You get a big name person and you are paying far greater than that. This is why I wanted to ask since I had no clue. You guys have been more than helpful.

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I can tell you that art does not work the same. If i am using a freelance artist the most I would expect to pay is 25 - 50 an hour.

You do realise that means you are paying more for art than you would have for music?

 

A decent composer is lucky to produce a minute of written+recorded+mastered music per day. That means that at $125/minute of finished music, he's only charging you $15/hour - well less than the $50/hour you are willing to pay for art.

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Composers would be capable of making a 3 minute track in half an hour but I would hope it isn't something they'd be proud to release under their name. This estimation is also assuming that you'll get ideas quickly and you won't have to revise the track too much. Be wary of the quality that comes from a quick job.

 

Be careful with this kind of thinking. I've had times when cues just came to me and I was literally done in a matter of hours. Both the client and I were very happy with the results and it was well received by the public. The more you do this job, the better and the more proficient you get at it. There's a story (or maybe it's a myth) about Picasso:

 

Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer went up to him and asked if he would do a quick sketch for him on a paper napkin.Picasso politely agreed, did a quick sketch  and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather large amount of money.  The admirer was horrified: “How can you ask so much? It only took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”

And then there's a story I read about Miles Davis, where an audience member complained that she didn't understand what he was doing. Miles griped that he had been working on this approach to music for 20+ years and this woman wanted to understand it in 20 minutes. This is the huge grey area about our industry - about our jobs. These are creative jobs and some can work better or faster than others. It doesn't necessarily mean they're careless or the quality is lacking.

My point - some of the best artists I've worked with are so talented and knowledgible that they can work at high quality, very quickly. In fact, in many circles that's what folks consider being professional. Having said ALL of this - I would tend to agree that most folks cannot create something of AAA quality in half an hour but ya never know. I've worked with some people who were supernaturally talented it seemed and incredibly fast. :)

Edited by nsmadsen
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Oh yes, indeed. Speed comes with experience and there may be times when you just splurge something and it all comes together! But generally speaking it's good to get an idea of how long (if you can ever pin down quantifiable data about the creative processes) on average it might take to produce one average-lengthed track. I only warn because I've seen people in past boast of how quickly they'll write a track to a dev and produce some stuff where it's clear corners have been cut and the brain has not been whirring!

But I generalise, of course. It's often the case for me that I've been playing around with a certain musical idea on the piano every now and then for a couple of weeks before I sit at the DAW and bring it to life. It's a funny ole business where you're making a lot of progress when you're walking in the park not thinking about much at all! Edited by Calum Bowen
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Composers would be capable of making a 3 minute track in half an hour

 

Be very careful working with someone who says they can do this.  Not because of the quality of the track, but for potential legal reasons.

 

There is a category of consumer music making programs that use pre-existing 'stems' of high quality music as building blocks for larger pieces.  You can certainly churn out very good sounding tracks very quickly!  But the problem is that if you read the fine print of these programs, you discover that the musical pieces that are created are often "limited for personal use" or some such.  Specifically it is not legal to ship them with your game.

 

That's also a good reason to try to use either professionals, or at least serious, well-credentialed hobbyists.  They are far less likely to inadvertently give you something that you don't actually have the rights to ship...

 

Brian

GameSoundCon

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I can give a funny example from past a few days. I was doing an research on Voice Over recording options here and there, quoting companies and people for the project we do. Some of them had give me their price, some not, some asked for more details etc... I've made my choice and machine started to go on... And after a couple of days one of the companies I quoted but not selected started to... renegotiate the price. They were asking for 'my preferred price' and some other things. They finished on "we will overbid anyone with 30%". Quite interesting, somewhat funny, spoken a bit idly... but my point is that the process of fixing the price is dynamic and when people starts to bid each other it can end far below a real value of their work.

I actually agree and disagree with Calum Bowen saying

I think one of the main problems is that a lot of people who give quotes are hobbyist musicians or aren't relying on music for livelihood
I don't think it is a problem. It is how free market works. Ok, I'm bending his quote here a little ;) to point that it is not something that someone can resolve or find a perfect solution.
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I don't think it is a problem. It is how free market works. Ok, I'm bending his quote here a little ;) to point that it is not something that someone can resolve or find a perfect solution.

 

I would argue that if someone is producing the music in their spare time then it's not really an example of an idealised free market where everything finds its true value - instead you have someone able to sell their services at below cost price due to having excess resources to fall back on (ie. their day job). This makes it a sort of inadvertent predatory pricing.

 

I'm not in favour of artists gathering together to agree artificially inflated prices, but on the other hand we mustn't mistake the ability for some individuals to be able to afford to give away free music as implying the cost of making music approaches free.

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oh lawdy, this topic has created a spiral effect of discussion. I did not think it would spawn this much attention! :)

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I can give a funny example from past a few days. I was doing an research on Voice Over recording options here and there, quoting companies and people for the project we do. Some of them had give me their price, some not, some asked for more details etc... I've made my choice and machine started to go on... And after a couple of days one of the companies I quoted but not selected started to... renegotiate the price. They were asking for 'my preferred price' and some other things. They finished on "we will overbid anyone with 30%". Quite interesting, somewhat funny, spoken a bit idly... but my point is that the process of fixing the price is dynamic and when people starts to bid each other it can end far below a real value of their work.

Were you asking companies for a quote (they were producing the recordings), or were they asking you for a quote (you were producing the recordings)?

Why would they overbid someone else by 30%?

 

If they were underbidding by 30%, they sound desperate, which probably means they aren't getting enough work, meaning no repeat customers, meaning dissatisfied customers. That's speculation though.

Edited by Servant of the Lord
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I was outsourcing VOs. They were doing the job for me (one of them actually and not the one I was talking about in my post).
Underbidding - that's the word - sorry for use of the wrong one and making it completely unclear.

Whatever it means to them, it is obvious that there are different strategies during price negotiation process. Some shot high to get one, rare lucky shot. The others keep it as low as impossible to get anything.

 

 

This makes it a sort of inadvertent predatory pricing.

 

Rite. That would need a deeper economic analysis than we are able to do in the forum (at least me :>). Everything blends more and more and technology makes an entry level below anything... but... that's another story.

 

 

 

I did not think it would spawn this much attention!

 

It's money man! smile.png

Edited by grogon
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oh lawdy, this topic has created a spiral effect of discussion. I did not think it would spawn this much attention! smile.png

 

this is a really good thread...  but on the subject of money - I'm still curious what a small indie project budgets for the music (or music/fx/voice etc -  all encompassing?)  I'm curious if you'd be willing to share the budget you have in mind - or if you could share the budget range of other game producers who are in your shoes (without naming them of coursesmile.png    )

Edited by fartheststar
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it really all depends. If you have no kickstarter and you are a guy with 3 other guys just making a game to try and get into the business your budget is rather small. Add that to the software costs for lisc. as well as possible distribution costs and shit starts to really pile up. None of the team members I have are paid at this point and they are only working on the basis that we HOPE it sales well. I am the only team member with a steady job and I make decent money but just getting a wife and starting to look for a house complicates that process and ties up a big pot of my "disposable income".

 

So, more to the point, the budget is limited if any. I will run down some costs:

  • Adobe Suite: $4000 ( or 79 a month for 1 year sub )
  • Github Subscription: $10 a month ( for 1 year )
  • Obfuscation Software: $850 ( for 1 lisc and one developer )

Those are just three of the big ticket ones. So... music? If i can get away with giving somebody a % cut for the end product that would be ideal but most music people are like us, striving to get by and make it paycheck by paycheck. They need that money just as much as we need the money to make our game.

 

All of that said, if you get a kickstarter and make 600k than this totally changes everything. So, TL:DR Budgets are smaller than a few thousand dollars and thats without paying artists or musicians "normal" prices for their work. I would beg to argue this is the case for most if not all indie developers as most of us are just doing this as a way to get into the business rather than a hobby to our really epic day jobs! :P

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Good. While reading your post riuthgamus I was wondering about something more on a side of it. I'm not sure if you would like to share, but let me ask it - who are your team members? Are they your friends, people you knew before project started? Or did they join you after the idea appeared? I'm asking this because music people actually are not far different from the others (gfx artists or programmers) and sometimes work only if they see a prospect of making good project and also struggling to get into gamedev in this or the other way. Maybe the main obstacle is not the budget you can (or can't) spend on anybody, but finding a man on with adequate level of advancement and attitude to this kind of work.

For me for e.g. is quite interesting how do you look for new people for your project. Especially a music concerned ones, of course :>.

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Those are just three of the big ticket ones. So... music? If i can get away with giving somebody a % cut for the end product that would be ideal but most music people are like us, striving to get by and make it paycheck by paycheck. They need that money just as much as we need the money to make our game.

 

Just as you have expensive software and such to help make your game, many audio pros (or folks wanting to become pros) spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on their set ups to be able to make music. So offering just the chance (i.e. risk) of making a percentage can drive off folks who make a living doing this line of work. Or even folks who do this on the side but need to make X amount of cash to offset the debts they took on to set up their rigs. If you can only offer profit sharing then might I suggest you at least allow the composer to retain all rights to the music? This way the person can re-use and resell the music in other situations and potentially make another buck or two. Either from other projects or royalty-free libraries, etc.

It could even be a hybrid situation - composer grants temporary exclusive rights for X amount of time and then you can either purchase the full rights (buy out) once the project has generated enough profit or the rights transfer back to the composer. Or if the game performs poorly or isn't finished, there's still options for the composer, etc.

I've done this several times with projects and it's a good compromise. What doesn't seem fair or appropriate to me, as a fellow composer, is only offering profit shares in exchange for exclusive use of the music. Because in that case there's a risk that the composer will end up not making any money and not even owning the music. And I'm probably somewhat biased because when starting out, I worked on a ton of profit sharing games and earned exactly nothing. Also none of those games were ever completed. So it left me a bit raw in that regard.

 

Just something to consider (for either this or future cases)!

Thanks!

Nate

Edited by nsmadsen
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That's a really good idea. The developer may think, "I have to take all the risk on this project, whether it succeeds or fails, so why should the composer get a fixed fee?" And that drives small developers towards trying to get free music, which isn't great for anybody. But if you can agree to transfer the exclusive rights only when a certain monetary threshold is reached then the worst case is that everybody keeps their own work for future projects, hopefully still acceptable to all.

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