Monthly Archives: July 2012
Wondering why royalty-free music tracks often have watermarks in them? You know, those voice samples playing over the royalty-free music preview tracks. If you are puzzled – or even annoyed by them – you’ll want to check the guide I’ve written over at sister site Music For Ads.
The guide will tell you 1) why the watermarks are there, 2) how you can get rid of them, 3) how you can use the watermarked tracks to you advantage when finding music for your project.
Read the guide here – and leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on watermarks in royalty-free music.
Posted by Asbjoern on July 12, 2012 - Contact
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If your game takes place in an exotic setting, one of the best ways of recreating the atmosphere is through music.
Here is a collection of new tracks that you can license, hand-picked for their great atmospheres and high production quality.
Click the black BUY button on the player to purchase the currently-playing track for your game project.
1. Arabian Nights by Art-of-Sound
An atmospheric track, evoking images of desert scenes and Arabian mysteries. Features a middle-eastern backing and beautiful playing on a Ney, an Arabian flute.
The following tracks are composed by Wellman
A groovy African track, featuring great percussion, kalimba and native African chanting. Also includes a loopable version.
Brilliant percussion in this Brazillian Batucada track – great for that groovy carnival ambience!
4. Salsa Resort
Looking to infuse your game with some Latin music? This track features congas, bongos, timbales and brass and really sets the tone. The composer also offers looped versions of the track on request.
If you need more world music for your game, you’ll find many more in the collections on top of this page. Click the ‘World’ button in the top-left corner on this page to hear hand-picked tracks spanning pretty much all corners of the world.
Hope you enjoy the tracks, and if you’ve come across – or have composed – some great royalty-free game music, let me know! You’re also very welcome to leave a comment below.
Posted by Asbjoern on July 9, 2012 - Contact
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Looking for some energetic electronica for your game project? I came across this well-produced trance track from composer dejeans which is worth checking out:
You can also get it as part of a three-track bundle and save 50% on it – get it here.
Always be sure to check that you’re getting a license that fits with how you intend to use the track.
Posted by Asbjoern on July 5, 2012 - Contact
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Making use of royalty-free music as a game composer
This is part two of my guide to making the most of royalty-free game music. It started with the following question: ‘Is royalty-free music a threat to game composers’, and in the first part, I examined how game developers can get great results with royalty-free game music.
In this second part, I’ll show how it can be a very useful tool for game composers to land new projects, keep your composing skills sharp and sell more music.
If you’re a game composer, the knee-jerk reaction when faced with the thousands of high-quality, dirt-cheap, game-friendly royalty-free tracks available is probably along the lines of: How the heck am I supposed to compete with that!
Running a studio, buying the gear and paying the bills is costly, and composing the music, doing the revisions and mixing and mastering it all takes time. Time you’ll want to be paid for.
And how’s that humanly possible if you’re up against some site offering a track for $14 dollars?
Well, I think you have to look at it differently. It can actually be a way of getting you MORE work. Here’s why:
Royalty-free music targets a different market niche – and you want to be there too
You probably won’t find many big-budget game projects resorting to using royalty-free music, unless the developer needs music in a hurry and/or simply can’t find the right music elsewhere. What you will find, though, is smaller indie game projects choosing royalty-free music as an option for getting great music in their game at affordable rates.
Developers like these likely won’t have the budget to hire you to do a fully-fledged score for their game, so you’re not really losing a customer in this regard anyway. But.. you may use royalty-free music to gain one.
* Use royalty-free music to market yourself
Stock music sites such as Audiojungle have thousands and thousands of visitors each month – and they’re all looking for music. By putting your music up there, you’re making yourself visible to an audience you probably wouldn’t have reached before: Clients with limited budgets, looking for quick-and-easy music for their projects. Why not reach that audience too?
Of course, you need some music to put up there, and here’s how you can do it:
* Make use of your back catalogue
If you’ve been composing for a while, you probably have a catalogue of tracks that ended up not being used in the projects you worked on. Maybe they didn’t exactly fit what the client was after, maybe you came up with a better idea for that theme song for the game, or maybe the project never got off the ground.
The reasons can be many, but the fact is that many of us have unused tracks lying around. Well, it’s time to dust off those tracks and put them to work.
First off, sort through your unreleased work and weed out the duds.
And let’s face it. We’ve all done tracks that, well, just plain suck. Maybe we had a great idea that just didn’t come out right, or maybe we just screwed up somewhere in the process. Whatever the reason, it’s part of the creative process, and hopefully it’s been something we’ve learned from to make our stuff better down the road.
In any case, you shouldn’t pick tracks you wouldn’t feel comfortable about selling, so leave out the ones that don’t work for you.
Pick the tracks that you like, check the levels and mixes – and tweak if necessary so they’re production-ready. Write down fitting descriptions and tags for the tracks, and you’re ready to unleash your work to an unsuspecting stock music audience.
Tip: When signing up at a royalty-free music site and you’re being asked if you want to be an exclusive or non-exclusive author, I’d strongly advise you to choose non-exclusive. This allows you to sell your royalty-free music tracks on other sites, and sell them yourself directly to clients too. In a future blog post, I’ll dig more into the exclusive vs non-exclusive author situation as a game composer.
* Use it to keeping yourself sharp while building your portfolio in the process.
Another way of building your portfolio is by doing music specifically for sale as royalty-free music.
If you’re like most composers, there are times when business is slow. Maybe you’re in-between projects, or it’s just a slow time of year. If that’s the case, don’t run off to the beach, or, at the other end of the spectrum, spend sleepless nights wondering if it’s all going down the drain.
Composing music is a skill that need to be worked on continuously to stay sharp, so use the available time to your advantage instead: Compose specifically for royalty-free music sale when your time permits it.
That way, you’ll keep improving your composing skills and build your catalogue of music at the same time.
If you’ve started out with unused tracks from your back catalogue, you may already have an idea of what’s selling on the site you’re targeting. You’ll also want to browse the Popular Music category to hear what kind of music is in demand at the moment. Then, whenever time permits, compose away and upload the results to your stock music portfolio.
It’s always tempting to listen to the top-sellers, and simply do stuff in that vein. However, that’s what many new authors are doing when joining the world of stock music, so competition is fierce within those popular genres.
When you’re a game composer, I think you’ll be much better off carving your own niche. Consistently upload great-sounding game music and market it as such, and you could have a successful business going within that field.
Since music can be used in so many different contexts, chances are you’ll be selling to non-game developers as well.
An important point to note is that, essentially, you can put up any kind of music for sale as royalty-free music, as long as the quality is good. So if you’ve been composing game music your entire career, royalty-free music can your playground where you take a break from the games stuff and try out other genres – and make money in the process. Not a bad scenario, if you ask me.
* Keep non-exclusive music handy for custom game music projects
Another advantage of having a catalogue of non-exclusive music – which is what royalty-free music is – is that you have yet another item on the shelf as a composer. When you’re working on custom music projects, your client may need an extra track or two before wrapping up – but can’t find the money for you to compose custom tracks. That’s an opportunity for you to sell some of your non-exclusive tracks and keep your client happy doing it.
You’ve probably also had game developers ask you for a quote, only to turn it down as they simply couldn’t afford custom music for their project at all.
Now, with non-exclusive music in your audio toolbox, you won’t have to lose a client like that again, or have to resort to selling your custom work too cheaply.
If the client’s budget is too limited for custom music, offer them some tracks from your non-exclusive collection. Since the whole business case for this kind of music is that you can sell your music at a very low initial price, but then make money on repeat sales, make them a good offer on your non-exclusive music.
That way, you retain a customer you would’ve otherwise lost to someone else – and if they like what they’re getting, they’ll probably be interested in working with you again in the future. And who knows, perhaps they can afford a custom soundtrack the next time around.
Market your work
If you want to really make use of royalty-free music, you can’t just upload your music and be done with it. You have to market it as well, and turn it into a tool that will land you new clients.
To do this, you’ll want to
1) Encourage feedback, collaboration and in-game attribution
From a composer’s perspective, one of the biggest drawbacks on royalty-free music sites is the anonymity of the buyers. You won’t really know who’s buying and where your music is being used. That’s just part of the setup, but there are ways you can work on forming a closer bond between you and the buyers:
When you set up your profile on a royalty-free music site, be sure to encourage buyers to give feedback on your work. Also let them know you’re open to doing custom music, and encourage them to credit you in their productions and let you know where your music is being used.
Mention this in your individual track descriptions too, as buyers may never end up seeing your profile in the first place.
Also let your buyers know if you’re willing to do track modifications for free, such as length adjustments.
It all works to make the client think about getting in contact with you. And it’s in both your and the buyer’s interest to start talking together, as this may open up interesting collaborations and land you custom projects later on, if they like what you’re doing.
2) Promote your material where your clients are
Another way of gaining sales is by marketing your content where your clients hang out. Upload previews to Youtube, Vimeo, link to your portfolio in your forum posts, email signatures and so forth.
There are many ways of doing it, and I’ll leave this for a future blog post.
Always remember to do your promtion wisely, and DON’T spam your prospective buyers.
If you’ve released a track that you feel would be awesome for a game project, be sure to let me know about it as well. If I like it, I might feature it in the collections of great game music on this site. I can’t guarantee that I’ll include it, though, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
Finally, let me make one thing very clear: You WON’T see massive sales from the get-go (if at all), and VERY few composers can make a living solely from royalty-free music. Competition is fierce, and it takes a lot of time and effort if you want to make it in royalty-free music. Someone wisely said about royalty-free music:
Royalty-free music is a MARATHON, not a SPRINT.
Think about it: You’ll have to sell a LOT of music at $14 per track – of which you give half or more to the stock music sites – to make a decent income.
But if you set realistic expectations and think of royalty-free music as another tool in your music arsenal, you can use it to market yourself, land new clients and stay sharp as a composer – and have fun doing it.
Best of luck with it, and do I’d love to hear how you’re using royalty-free music in your career, so leave a comment below.
All the best,
Posted by Asbjoern on July 3, 2012 - Contact
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I’ve been a game composer for many years, and it’s always been a platform I’ve really enjoyed working on.
However, a few months back I came across something unexpected:
I was listening to a track on Soundcloud with an embedded audio watermark from a stock music site – and it didn’t suck.
This is in no way meant to be disrespectful of stock music composers, I just hadn’t been paying attention to how much the quality of royalty-free music had gone up. I was expecting stock music to still be the cheesy, plasticky stuff I’d heard many years ago. This was not the case here, so I was puzzled.
If such great-sounding music is available to game developers at rock-bottom prices ($14-$70 per track, depending on the license), what does it mean to me as a game composer, and to game developers and the way they are finding and using music? And ultimately, is it a threat to my business as a composer?
In my view, the answer is a resounding NO, and in this two-part guide I’ll show you how royalty-free music can benefit both game developers and composers alike.
First off is a bunch of tips for game developers:
MAKING THE MOST OF ROYALTY-FREE MUSIC AS A GAME DEVELOPER
Let me start out by stressing that if you have the budget, I think you should go for having music custom-composed for your project. You’ll get high-quality, unique material that can be shaped and fitted to exactly match your project requirements. But if your budget is limited, or you’re in a real hurry, royalty-free music can be a great option.
A quick primer on what royalty-free music is:
Royalty-free music is music you buy on a non-exclusive basis, meaning that it can be used in your project – and since it’s non-exclusive, everyone else is free to license the music for their projects as well. So you won’t be getting unique, exclusive content for your game, but you’re getting music that’s extremely affordable and flexible.
You pay a one-time fee (often extremely low compared to having custom music composed for your game), and that’s it! There are no royalty-fees to be paid to the composer down the line, and no bonuses to be paid if your game is selling like hotcakes.
So it’s simple way to find, use and buy music for your game – and here’s how you can make the most of it:
* Quick, easy access to great game music
Royalty-free music sites offer you a way to get great, hugely affordable music for your game, fully-licensed and ready-to use. Some sites offer more than 50,000 tracks that are available in pretty much every style imaginable, so there’s loads to choose from.
There’s no waiting around for a composer to finish the music for your game – you can simply download the tracks instantly and start using them straight away.
It’s not all stellar material, of course – far from it, actually – but most sites employ reviewers to maintain a fair level of quality.
* What you hear is what you get
Having a composer do the music for your project has its pros and cons: You’re getting unique music content, and – if you’ve picked the right composer – high quality material as well. But you can’t be absolutely certain what you’re going to end up with.
With royalty-free music, you can preview the tracks in advance, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Don’t like a track? Don’t buy it.
* Finding the best game tracks
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to royalty-free music is finding the good stuff. As mentioned some sites have thousands and thousands of tracks of varying quality, and game music is not a top priority – at least not on the sites I’ve seen.
For instance, on Audiojungle, which is my current favorite for royalty-music, the biggest-selling category is motivational and uplifting corporate music – so that’s what a lot of composers are going for. Hardly the best music for a game.
But there’s lots of relevant music for game projects as well, and that’s why I’ve launched Great Game Music, where I feature tracks that specifically work well in a gaming context.
At the very top of this page, you’ll find an audio player where you can preview my selected tracks. Click the yellow buttons to change categories, and click the black BUY button on the player to go the purchasing page for the currently-playing track.
Navigate to the top of this page and have a look. You can use this page to find useful tracks for your game project, or as a starting point for further exploration.
A WORD OF ADVICE:
* Always check the license terms
Many sites offer tracks at incredible prices. Again using Audiojungle as an example, you can license a 3-minute track for $14 dollars. And believe me, that’s CHEAP for a three-minute track.
But beware: A Regular License only allows you use the music in a FREE game – so if you planning on selling your game (as I’m guessing most devs are), you’ll effectively be in violation of the license if you include that 14$ track in your paid game. An Extended License will cost you around $70 depending on the track length, and this allows you to freely use the track in the game you’re planning on selling. Other sites have similar terms, so be sure to check that you’re getting a license that fits with how you plan on distributing/selling your game. Otherwise it could end you in hot water down the road.
* Make royalty-free music a shortcut for unique music for your game
One of the tricky things with royalty-free music is getting a consistent sound for your game, as you’ll likely end up with tracks from many different composers in your final music package. And since each composer has his or her own sound, this might be noticeable in your soundtrack.
If that’s the case, I’d suggest a different approach.
Go exploring on stock music sites, and when you come across a composer who’s doing music with a style and sound that would be a great match for your game project, stop searching and get in touch with the composer. License the royalty-free tracks you want to use from the composer on the site, and ask him or her to compose some custom tracks to sort out your remaining music needs.
It’ll cost you more than just using royalty-free music, but a) you’re getting custom music for much of your game, b) you ensure that your game gets a consistent sound, and c) you’re still saving money compared to having everything custom-composed.
You also reap the benefits that custom music have to offer, such as tweaking if needed, unique content, and music that fits with the durations, timing and moods you want. And if it’s not important for you to have the music exclusively (which you won’t get with royalty-free music anyway), you may be able to negotiate a deal with the composer, where he or she creates custom tracks for you, but is allowed to sell the tracks as royalty-free music afterwards as well.
That way, you’ve effectively turned royalty-free music sites into massive music showcases that allow you to find the very best composer for your game – and save money doing it.
* Don’t use royalty-free music as an excuse to postpone your game audio
In general, I think one of the biggest mistakes when finding music for your game is doing it too late in the process. If you’re a week away from your deadline and you still haven’t found the right music, it’s going to be hectic. And that’s whether you work with a composer or use royalty-free music.
Getting a composer to create the right music for your game takes time and planning, and it ALSO takes time on stock music sites. Why? There’s simply so much content to choose from that finding stuff that fits with your project is not a one-day process. You’ll want to listen to a lot of tracks to find your direction, you’ll want to find a collection of tracks that go well together – and you want to try the music in your game to see if it really works in the context of your game.
So don’t make music for your game a last-minute decision, just because you’ve chosen to use royalty-free music. Bring it in early to make your game sound its very best.
I hope this has given you some ideas on how you can integrate royalty-free music in your game development process – and helped you decide whether it’s a direction you want to go in at all. I think that, if done right, it can be a valuable tool for finding the right music for your game.
In part two, I’ll show how royalty-free music can be a way for game composers to land new projects and keep their game developer clients happy at the same time. Read the guide for game composers right here.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear how you’re using royalty-free music in your projects. Do share your comments and thoughts below.
Posted by Asbjoern on July 2, 2012 - Contact
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Just a heads up that I’ll be posting a two-part, in-depth guide next week for both game developers and game composers, showing how royalty-free music can be made a brilliant resource for getting and making awesome game music.
I’m a game composer myself, and at first, I was a bit concerned that royalty-free music would be a threat to my custom game music projects. After all, royalty-free music is incredibly affordable, and if you look in the right places, you can find some really great stuff. But that has far from been the case.
I’ll tell you all about it in the guide I’ll be publishing next week, so stay tuned and will be looking forward to your feedback on it!
All the best,
Posted by Aurie on July 1, 2012 - Contact
Music For Games composing for games, game composer, game music, game music guide, music for games, royalty-free game music —
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