# Project Studio and Clientele Questions

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Hi everybody, I waited a long time to start this topic because I spent so long looking at archives and trying to find any references that I could find. Now I'm a little concerned I waited too long..

Anyway, I am writing a paper for a class (due Thursday ._. ). The assignment is to choose a career that requires a DAW and figure out how much you could make in a year, and then "build" a home studio with the budget based on your projected income. I am having a really hard time with this.

I should explain that I am not involved in the game industry (unless spending money and hours playing games counts -- hah) but I would like to be someday. I don't know what I would want to do, besides knowing that I want to be involved in the creation of them (that could be art, audio, QA, or anything really). I would be changing careers; I have my BA in lighting design for theater and I'm just not wanting to do it anymore. That's why I'm back in school (just at a community college) trying to see if I could fit myself anywhere in video games.

Hence this audio class, and this assignment that I am finding so hard. I have no audio experience besides this class (being a lighting person since I was 14, audio has always really intimidated me).

So the whole paper revolves around what we would use the project studio for, and I suppose since I would be owning this DAW I would be doing freelance work. I assume my clientele would be indie game developers. I think I can get through the part of the paper where I talk about marketing myself and the operating costs of doing so and the shopping list to build the studio. But in order to get to those parts I have to estimate my gross monthly income. And we are supposed to acknowledge that this will be the beginning of our career and not the peak of it.

I don't write music but for the purposes of this project let's pretend that I will be offering music as well as sound effects (which I am more comfortable with at this point) in order to make myself more qualified for this sort of work. I will also pretend that I have talent in this area; meaning potential to have a future in this business, even though I would have zero experience. So I figure I could give myself semi competitive pricing and get away with it here. I'm not entirely sure what that would be, so I'll just throw some figures out there and anyone can tell me if I'm crazy wrong.

Let's say I charge $300 for a minute of music (exclusive) and$50 per SFX. I know that this is high for someone who is just starting out and probably way too high for indie game developers too, so is it super unrealistic to put these prices into the project? Remember this is supposed to be the price for the whole year. I could put $150 per minute and$25 per SFX and feel like those might be more realistic for someone at my level (or even too high still, but I'm not a kid anymore so I know how I value my time, and even at this price it seems like almost giving it away), and then I would have to work a LOT more to be able to make a decent amount of money. Any input here?

Ok so that is one question, but the harder part for me that I can't seem to find any information on is how many clients I can expect to get in a month. Obviously this is a lame question because it seems like you can't expect any clients at all if you don't market yourself well (but let's pretend I do -- any advice given here will not be spurned though!).

So not only do I have to estimate the amount of clients I could get, but how many minutes of music and SFX they would need. Any help here? I can't seem to find any specific information anywhere; in order to get more information from developers you have to be looking for the job, and most audio people don't tend to share that sort of information (from my limited experience scouring forums and emailing people).

Other info we can put into the paper are related streams of income from our studio, so I'm thinking voice over work/ recording, film audio, animation.. anything else? Are the prices about the same for stuff like that? I guess voice over is priced totally differently, does anyone know anything about how you would price that or sell it if I were to sell voice overs?

I will keep looking around and emailing people even though it hasn't been too helpful, and I guess I will start trying to make up numbers and just get the paper written for now, and I can adjust figures and what I would be able to buy with it later on. Thanks so much

EDIT: I just wanted to add that you can PM me (I think?) if you don't want to put anything up publicly.

Edited by Megs

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So maybe people don't want to answer, that's fine. Honestly I can just come up with random prices for things and feel ok with that, even though we are supposed to provide sources for our information. I have looked around enough that I feel I could justify the price I come up with.

The stuff I am really looking for is how many clients per month. Is it one? Or more like 10? I just have no idea.

Other questions I have are how do they pay you, would you be on a payroll and receive a paycheck, or do you charge with PayPal or something? Do you usually meet them in person or just talk over email or the phone? Is there some sort of cool computer program you use to talk and share documents and stuff? When I say "you" I mean you individually, I am not assuming that you speak for everyone.

When it comes to actually creating the studio, what are the most important things to have the latest version of? I would assume that it would be the software, if anything, so please correct me if I'm wrong. What are the most important things to spend money on? Microphones or monitors? Or an expensive interface?

Now I'm just putting up more questions hoping someone will respond... ; _ ;

I know, it hasn't even been 12 hours yet! Maybe I'm just procrastinating.

PM'd

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Hi Megs,

For the purposes of your assignment, I think you're overthinking things :)..

Don't be afraid to be hypothetical.  For example, you could assume that you do 1 small game/month that needs 3 minutes of music, 50 SFX and 50VO lines.  Or you could do an estimate of 6 small, but more professional games/year: eg 10 min music, 300 SFX and 500 VO lines.

It be good to take a couple of different "clients" scenarios and a couple different "how much I charge" scenarios and see how they compare (Excel makes that kind of comparison trivally easy).  So do each of those 2 client scenarios against your two different costs (125/min vs 300/min, etc.) and see what kind of $that brings in. I think the reason your question didn't get a response right away is 1) you asked a lot of stuff :) and 2) there are no hard and fast answers to your questions. A game composer/sound designer can range from 0 gigs/year to so busy they have turn away work and there is no 'typical'. Good luck with your paper! #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Hi Megs, For the purposes of your assignment, I think you're overthinking things .. Don't be afraid to be hypothetical. For example, you could assume that you do 1 small game/month that needs 3 minutes of music, 50 SFX and 50VO lines. Or you could do an estimate of 6 small, but more professional games/year: eg 10 min music, 300 SFX and 500 VO lines. It be good to take a couple of different "clients" scenarios and a couple different "how much I charge" scenarios and see how they compare (Excel makes that kind of comparison trivally easy). So do each of those 2 client scenarios against your two different costs (125/min vs 300/min, etc.) and see what kind of$ that brings in.

I think the reason your question didn't get a response right away is 1) you asked a lot of stuff and 2) there are no hard and fast answers to your questions.  A game composer/sound designer can range from 0 gigs/year to so busy they have turn away work and there is no 'typical'.

Thank you so much! Yeah I kind of thought I was overthinking it after I started writing it, and I figured I could just guess. The problem was I really had no idea what even the ballpark range for amount of sound effects for a game. But I think I could guess that it was sort of a lot. I have to admit it's been a long time since I used excel for calculations but I will mess around with it.

At least I know that I wasn't completely off with the numbers I had been just randomly guessing I could get. I mean, assuming this world was perfect and I could get exactly as much work as I wanted... Hah

Sorry I asked so much, I was just trying to get it all out there. When I was emailing people I started out with just a few questions and tried to get them to warm up and get conversational, that's more my style, but by the time there were a few emails back and forth and I started really asking the important stuff they would just sort of... stop answering haha. I felt like I had learned my lesson about starting off with the small questions.

Thanks so much for the input!

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Like Brian said, the issue with this is the sheer amount of variance contractor to contractor and project to project. I have set rates but I'm more than willing to accommodate an indie developer if the project is really interesting or I really want to build a new relationship with them. When you add in the amount of new developers and contractors popping up monthly and how much haggling tends to go on in this industry and it's clear there's going to be a wide range! I've been freelancing full time since 2010 and my earnings differ month to month. There was a game developer's salary survey that you might be able to reference but those are mainly in-house positions.

I agree with Brian - set things up so you can produce a responsible budget and your prof should be fine with that.

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Other questions I have are how do they pay you, would you be on a payroll and receive a paycheck, or do you charge with PayPal or something? Do you usually meet them in person or just talk over email or the phone? Is there some sort of cool computer program you use to talk and share documents and stuff? When I say "you" I mean you individually, I am not assuming that you speak for everyone.

Most pay me via Paypal but I have a few, mainly larger companies, that send me a paper check. If a client is local then I'll gladly go into their office for meetings and such. Especially if we're doing implementation and I can get my hands on the device(s)/build(s). Other times the client is in another state or even in another country and then it's mostly Skype. Dropbox is my main method of sharing files.

When it comes to actually creating the studio, what are the most important things to have the latest version of? I would assume that it would be the software, if anything, so please correct me if I'm wrong. What are the most important things to spend money on? Microphones or monitors? Or an expensive interface?

Hardware is important - mics, monitors and the interface. This is especially true if you're recording source material. Some folks deal almost exclusively with library samples and therefore don't use mics too often. But so is software. For many, including myself, setting up a studio is a long process buying bit by bit. I simply didn't have enough cash to pay for everything I needed up front so instead I did it piece meal.

What I did (and I think most do the same) is figure out:

- how much cash can I spend now?
- what exactly do I need to get the job done now?

- what can get afford to wait and get later on to further enhance my studio?

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Most pay me via Paypal but I have a few, mainly larger companies, that send me a paper check. If a client is local then I'll gladly go into their office for meetings and such. Especially if we're doing implementation and I can get my hands on the device(s)/build(s). Other times the client is in another state or even in another country and then it's mostly Skype. Dropbox is my main method of sharing files.

I read a few other topics where implementation came up, and I was wondering how you did that if it was distance. It makes sense that it would be for local clients. I think I might be in a good area for that (San Francisco). Also thanks for the file sharing info, it was something I realized I forgot to ask about :)

Hardware is important - mics, monitors and the interface. This is especially true if you're recording source material. Some folks deal almost exclusively with library samples and therefore don't use mics too often. But so is software. For many, including myself, setting up a studio is a long process buying bit by bit. I simply didn't have enough cash to pay for everything I needed up front so instead I did it piece meal.

What I did (and I think most do the same) is figure out:

- how much cash can I spend now?
- what exactly do I need to get the job done now?
- what can get afford to wait and get later on to further enhance my studio?

This makes absolute sense, I think I would be using mics a lot. But knowing myself I would also want a number of plug ins and samples if I were doing music, since I don't play any instruments.

And yes, that part of the assignment sort of confused me. It seems like what he is saying is we are calculating this number in order to take out a loan (or know how much we need to have saved up) so that we can spend this money all at once -- which seems a pretty extreme to me -- and then be out of debt within a year. That last question is definitely something he wants us to address in the paper though.

Thank you thank you thank you for you response, this really helps me out a lot!

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If a client isn't local and they're not able (or willing) to provide a method for me to set the asset then it's on them to implement the audio. While not ideal, this happens often... at least in my experience. In these kinds of situations, I try to play the game and provide them with notes on any issues I find. To be completely honest with you, sometimes audio is an after thought. For example if I say "hey the roll off for sound A is a bit extreme. Let's flatten it out a bit more." it might be met with "we'll get to that when we finish these other items." Other times I've been promised systems to help speed up implementation only to later find out that's not going to happen.

And yes, that part of the assignment sort of confused me. It seems like what he is saying is we are calculating this number in order to take out a loan (or know how much we need to have saved up) so that we can spend this money all at once -- which seems a pretty extreme to me -- and then be out of debt within a year. That last question is definitely something he wants us to address in the paper though.

I see. Most of the folks I've talked to had a more gradual entrance into the industry. I don't have much experience with business loans but I've actually heard it's harder to get a loan under around 100K or so. For example to really get my studio off the ground, I'd probably only need about 20-30K if I wasn't doing an expensive studio construction and mainly just concerned with hardware/software. While talking with a mentor of mine he explained how he was actually turned down when seeking a lower loan amount and the bank explained they'd happily give him X more if he was willing to borrow it. He did and just didn't spend it, instead paying it right back.

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Sounds pretty rough :/ having to spend time doing your own QA and then not even being able to be there to make sure the changes get made. Yeah I would much rather be involved with the implementation now that I realize it's kind of like doing the final mix of everything. That really sounds like it could be a nightmare (for myself), but I guess maybe I'd just have to learn to let things go. Thanks for that insight!

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