Game Music Jobs: A camp talk about game audio
Welcome to Game Music Jobs!
A CAMP TALK ABOUT GAME AUDIO
THE TRUTH “Gather Around”
Video Game Composers are a complicated lot, putting together complex multi-dimensional puzzles into some sense of musical coherence while possessing the flexibility of mind and style for interpreting mood and appropriate narrative dynamic. Composers are also a solitary lot, “Is he talking about me”? Yes, I’m talking about you! While you may receive less sun on your back than grass-fed cattle, and drink more caffeine than Juan Valdez, most successful composers know the value of excellent communication and networking skills. That’s why Game Music Jobs is here to help you.
I, Munchman, write for Game Music Jobs because it allows me a bit of a creative outlet. It also allows me to seek out comprehensive information, unique opportunities, and bring them directly to you. Munchman is always heard or read but never seen, and that does not bother me one bit because we are about you. We want you to grow. We want your career to be successful. We are your advocate. So, we tell it like it is.
In most cases, development teams will already be established, meaning you are coming to join a group. Welcome Junior. Game Composers can expect to work remotely from their home studios and set their hours. Sounds great. While you may set your hours, you may not fix your deadline. The development team may be anywhere from hundreds of individual artists working towards a common goal, to a few scruffy guys coding in a literal garage. “Hey, is he talking about me”? Yeah, I’m talking about you! Whether you are writing music for a company that produces games for millions of dollars or only in a few hundred square feet, the necessity for Communicative Clarity is the same. Communicative Clarity is one of The Tenets of Occupational Professionalism, aka Communication Skills.
No one goes into a business to be poorer than Uncle Joe’s turkey; that’s why a basic understanding of how money works in this business (yes, this is a business) is essential. An excellent book to read about the overall music business is: All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman. You may get work outside of video games, and this is a good source of information to (as Passman put it) “lower the chances of you getting mugged while jogging through the music industry.”
Usually, an artist needs a Personal Manager, Business Manager, Entertainment Attorney, Agent, and Groupies… But since you are a game composer, all you get is an attorney, and you are necessarily your business manager and agent.
It’s not all bad news.
As a Composer, you are in a better position than many musicians since the pop music industry is mostly a youth-driven market. Meaning, if you don’t look and act young (unless you are the Rolled Stones), you don’t eat. Composers, on the other hand- no one cares how you look, we barley see you anyway, so there are not as many hang-ups about appearance. You will tend to have a longer career than most pop artists, look at John Williams. The only thing that matters is the skill of your craft and one of The Tenets of Occupational Professionalism: (you called it) Communication Skills.
When writing music for games, you will almost always sign away any rights you have granted by royalty laws, because the contractual basis of the agreement is a work for hire. You will do all the sound work and pay all the taxes, too- when and how it depends upon your corporate structure.
Just as in the record business, it would behoove you to have a legal team or at least a legal expert. If you can’t afford one, Lawyers for the Creative Arts can provide pro bono legal services. There are other free legal help associations as well, Google it, alright?
Music rights are necessary because they determine how much you get paid and how often. Most music royalty rights will not apply to you as a game composer, although if explicitly stated on the contract, a composer may receive Performance Rights Royalties from their PRO. These are royalties paid to a composer when his music is played live. Live can mean on television, radio or in concert.
For example, Nobuo Uematsu, the leading composer for the Final Fantasy series, does not hold the master or publishing rights for his Final Fantasy compositions. However, he may own the performance rights to his works. That may be why he was able to tour playing music from the Final Fantasy franchise. Final Fantasy VII music was owned by the then Squaresoft Records Company and now Square Enix Music label and published by the now-disbanded Digicube Company.
Get those rights!
Ok, Hot Shot. If that is your real name. You’ve got some info from the Munchman. Good for you!
Now, let’s get to the pig simple truth. Your career heavily depends on how well you can write music. I know it’s a surprise to you, but ultimately it is what you do. It is what you do well. When you sign-up with Game Music Jobs, please be sure to upload a video link to your music on your resume dashboard. And please make sure your music demo represents your best work, and it does not sound like my neighbor’s cat on codeine. Please make sure your demo has been well mixed and mastered; here are links from past information about these subjects.
That’s all for this week. I want to thank Maury for his supporting me, bringing you this information. I will post the second part of this Camp Talk next week.
Keep your rights! Keep learning and always B#. I am Munchman with Game Music Jobs.
You can also to this listen article on ANCHOR with me, Munchman!