How does one communicates his needs to a composer?

Recommended Posts

I need music for a project. I've been listening to a lot of royalty free online music and assembled a little collection, but they're lacking two important things. First, they don't sound like they are part of one soundtrack because some tunes differ too much from one another.  Second, most of them don't match the theme of my game exactly like I want it to.

I know the first problem is fixed by hiring a composer that will make the whole soundtrack fit together. The question of this topic is for the second problem. I have the idea of what I want the music to sound like, but I can only express it in very general terms.

How does a non-music person communicates what he wants his music to be like? Do I try to find music that sounds like what I want and let the composer write the soundtrack from that? Do I ask the composer for previews and choose what to keep? Do I let the composer make his own vision of what would be the best music for my game? What happens when your client doesn't like the music you made for him?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Short answer: reference tracks. Give your composer a handful of tracks or artists that are in the style you want. Feel free to add any comments you feel relevant. (e.g. "I want a track like this one, but a little faster, and with no violins".)

When working with a freelance artist or composer, there is always the risk that they will work hard on your project and still produce something that you don't like. You can reduce this risk by agreeing to check the work early, e.g. via previews like you said, and offer direction based on what you see.

Some freelancers might agree to a contract where, if you choose not to use the final product, they get to keep the product (and sell it elsewhere) and you pay a reduced fee (because you didn't get the product, but you still had work done for you).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A composer's goal is to match your vision, not their own. Therefore a good composer will ask you a whole lot of questions.

Of course, as  composers are human, and as they need to add to your idea to merge it into music, there may be losses in communication. So you should gather as many drafts as soon as possible. 

Besides, I might be looking for a project to work on ;)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lots of good info in the first two responses!

Reference tracks (with good notes) are an absolute must unless you've hired a composer because you know his/her "signature sound" and want that sound for your game. A good collaborator will be able to ask you the right questions to suss out why you chose your reference tracks.

After sharing the tracks and talking over what aspects are part of your vision, I've had success producing a ~10 minute musical collage of different ideas and sounds that I think would work for the project. It's a good way to quickly get a broad scope of musical ideas for review and to avoid sinking too much time into work that will get rejected.

Good luck!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, reference tracks. And talk to me more about what you want the player to be feeling. Show me as many pictures and videos of the game and world you're creating. Tell me your story then I'll translate that into music and audio! 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
    • Total Posts
  • Similar Content

    • By AndySv
        Total Music Collection (   THE COLLECTION CONTAINS:   Mega Game Music Collection   Universal Music Collection   Huge library of high quality music for any project! All at an incredibly low price!   - 2,5GB of high quality audio - 100+ different music tracks - Loop and short versions   Action, fantasy, casual, horror, puzzle, epic, dramatic, romantic, positive, inspiring, motivational and more!
    • By Big Impact Sound Composer for Media
      Big Impact Sound | Composer for Media
      provides royalty free music and sound design for media, games, television, film, trailers, commercials, documentaries, YouTube creators, exhibits, websites, slide shows, corporate projects, podcasts, wedding albums, presentations, audiobooks, radio, apps and so much more.
      Royalty free music
      Big Impact Sound allows you to distribute the royalty free music worldwide  and without any additional fees.
      Our music licensing system is transparent and easy:  once the music license is paid there are no copyright issues.
      Wide range of musical styles
      Our award winning team has more than two decades of experience in the creation and production of contemporary and classical music.
      Composition on demand
      Custom-made composition and sound design that will maximize the impact of your game, movie, commercial, trailer, documentary or presentation.
      Music productions ranging from single tracks to full orchestral scores
      We can provide single tracks or full scores and our team helps you with your project
      from start to finish according to your specific wishes.
      Stock Music (Library Music)
      Fast and easy music and sound design browsing in our huge music library. All our tracks are immediately available for any of your projects.
      Fast turnaround time
      We are used to work with tight deadlines and will help you meet them. We are passionate about our work and always aim for perfection.
      Contact us (by PM or by the website) to discuss how we can enhance your project with a distinctive sound identity.
    • By Goat___Boy
      Hello all,
      I'm Goat___Boy, I love making noises.
      More precisely I love making background\soundtrack music for games\movies.
      I want to make a game just for composing it's soundtrack but alas I always end up with a full OST and little actual gameplay to show for it (mostly incomplete RPG Maker and Unity projects.)
      I realized I'm not made to be a solo developer so I'm looking for a project to compose music to.
      As long as you promise me it will be a finished project and it will see the light of day I'll gladly make it for free and PLEASE don't ask me to make generic orchestra tunes.
      I'm mostly inspired by the likes of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails (Quake is one of my all time favorite OSTs) so I mostly dive in the Dark/Psychedelic but I'll gladly make other genres as I try to be a broad as possible. I'm a multi instrumentalist so don't worry, if you need Guitars, Bass or other ''real'' instruments in your songs I got you covered! I also make have experience in sprite work and digital design if you need extra help with your art assets.
      Here are some of my tracks:

    • By nihitori
      This is the official Sales topic for the acclaimed Colossal Game Music Collection (100+ five-star ratings on the Unity Asset Store) and its Lite version, the Essential Game Music Collection.

      Updates will be made here every time a sale is taking place on either the Unity Asset Store or the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

      Current Sales:

      Christmas Madness 2016 Sale on the Unity Asset Store -

      - Colossal Game Music Collection at 75% OFF -!/content/88190

      Please feel free to post here any questions you might have about either the sales or the collection itself.
    • By willsavino
      Hey folks,
      I recently recorded this tune for my demo reel. I'm really psyched with how the flute and guitar worked out, but I'm worried my string patches (SONiVOX Orchestral Companion - Strings) are too cheap sounding. Are these passable for a game score? I know it's context dependent, but I can't tell if I'm just being overly sensitive. 
  • Popular Now