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Aspiring audio for games producer here...

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I'm a fairly experienced experimental music producer and decided to follow my dream of making music for games.  I've been researching plenty and been pretty active promoting my work recently.  The question is, what's the best way of getting noticed by other developers.  I'm up for free work as long as I have an opportunity to show what I can do and get some experience of collaboration with game designers.

Is it simply a case of just keep doing what I'm doing?  Keep putting work out there and being persistent?  Is it reasonable to think I might be able to get paid work in the coming months? Edited by Tom Sloper
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1. what's the best way of getting noticed by other developers. 
2. I'm up for free work as long as I have an opportunity to show what I can do
3. and get some experience of collaboration with game designers.
4. Is it simply a case of just keep doing what I'm doing? 
5. Keep putting work out there and being persistent? 
6. Is it reasonable to think I might be able to get paid work in the coming months?


1. Networking. Go to local game SIG gatherings, indie events, IGDA events. Book now to go to GDC in March. Join the local IGDA chapter. Maybe WIGI has events in your area (look it up).
2. Be wary of the free work thing. Maybe do that once or twice, for indies who can't afford anything.
3. You may not be thinking "game designers" means what the industry thinks "game designers" means. You want to network not only with game designers but creative directors, audio directors, and producers.
4. No. Nothing is that simple. But do keep doing what you're doing (while also doing other things).
5. Yes. But also make stuff that's geared specifically for games.
6. Probably not. Edited by Tom Sloper

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While games have audio, it is a rather rare job.  

 

Consider the two main career paths of programming and art. A mid-size studio of 50-100 people is going to have 20 or so each of programmers, modelers, and animators and these careers have high turnover rates. Visit a site like gamedevmap.com and over the course of a few hours you can find a few dozen job openings in these career paths.

 

But audio, not so much.

 

A single audio expert can often provide all the heavy lifting needed for 2-3 games, doing the core audio work for all the teams in a studio of 100+ people.  There will be some lesser audio folks with some basic audio skills as well and some programming hookup of audio, but often one single audio guru who does the composition and creative work.  Larger companies with several hundred people can have a few more who work in recording and remixing audio, but the big studios still only employ a handful of audio experts.

 

Those studios that are even smaller generally don't have enough work to keep audio on staff, so they just contract out the audio to someone they know, or a friend-of-a-friend as a one-time deal.

 

That doesn't mean the are not needed, and it doesn't mean they are never hired.  It just means that finding that job is going to require a lot of patience, a lot of hard work and social networking to discover what your target companies need, and a bit of luck/perseverance to be at the right place at the right time.

 

I would avoid free unless you truly cannot find any other work in the field, but that won't pay the bills.  I'd recommend lots and lots and lots of networking and directly marketing yourself to smaller studios as having negotiable pricing for their projects, recognizing many are hobby projects funded by their saved-up lunch money that will never be commercially successful. In the mean time, there are many related jobs in advertising and marketing that could keep you fed and housed while building your experience and skill set.

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Take a look at the unity asset store, you could make some audio packs and put them up there. This will help you get some traffic to your site and you may even have people request specific sounds from you in the future. Also check out some other audio freelance sites as smaller projects look in these areas for people.

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Small plug..  I was interviewed by Electronic Musician mag on this about a month ago:

 

http://www.emusician.com/101/1348/how-to-score-a-gig-in-the-game-industry-plus-win-a-pass-to-gamesoundcon/54137

 

Networking is key to working in game audio. You want to build personal relationships with people in the industry-- personal relationships can take time to make, but they will serve you very well in the long run.

 

I don't know where you live, but if you're in CA, right this very moment, indiecade is going on in Los Angeles.  .  GameSoundCon is a week after that, also in LA.  GDC in March is a must-attend. 

 

You might also be interested in this survey of game audio professionals on the state of salaries, how they got their last gig, contract terms, etc.

 

(edit..fixed a link that this forum didn't like)

 

It's also possible to a certain extent to 'network' online.  facebook groups like Game Audio Network Guild, Game Audio Denizens, Video Game Composers and Sound Designers, etc are all good places.  One note there, though.  The very last thing people want to see in those groups are "Hey, check out my cool track" posts.  If (when) you join these communities, you'll gain respect by contributing to the conversation, not to polluting it.

 

I'd also make sure you're set up to do SFX work as well.  If you look at that survey, a huge percentage of people in games do both music and sound design.

Smaller studios (where you're likely to make your start) are more likely either to only have a single audio person or no audio person, and use only contractors.  In that case, make sure that you have both music AND sound design skills. 

 

And re-iterating previous good advice above.  Only work for free if others on the team are working for free--i.e. a student project or a hobbyist project.  Note that "for free" might mean "for no cash"--i.e. maybe you can barter your music/sound design for a new logo, etc.  

Edited by bschmidt1962

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Thanks a lot for the very detailed advice.  You've all given me plenty of food for thought.

Networking certainly seems to be key.  My main challenge with this being UK based and in Birmingham.

Even though Birmingham is the UK's "second city", I'm so far yet to hear of any game development community here.  It's certainly something I will be looking further into.  Maybe there's a budding indie scene here.

I could perhaps look into what's going on in London but the capital is always a very different beast to the rest of the UK.  Maybe Manchester is where it's at...

Regarding the free work.  I'd certainly be wanting some pay if I knew it was going commercial.

Edited by FastnBulbous

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