Tag Archives: the best game music

How to find music for your game


 
So.. you’ve been developing your game for a while, and now the time has come to add some music to it. But how exactly do you go about finding the right music for your game? Well, there are essentially two ways of going about it:

 

1. Hire a composer:

 

If your budget allows it, having a composer on board for your project is in my view the best way of getting consistent, high-quality music in your production. When you find someone who has a style that matches your vision for your game, you’ll be able to work with the composer to sculpt the music exactly the way you want it. If you find an experienced composer, be sure to use whatever input the composer has, as he or she is a specialist in music, and may have ideas you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

 

In my experience, the best way of getting the right sound for your game is by using music references. Music is such an abstract concept, and your definition of a “fun, cheerful menu track, with lots of cowbell – but not too much! Oh, and with a jazzy edge as well” may mean something entirely different to you that it does to your composer.

 

So don’t waste time (and money) having him or her compose loads of drafts without properly setting the direction first.

 

You can do this by picking existing tracks from other games, film or commercial artists – the source doesn’t matter, as long as the references fit with how you want the music to sound – and present them to the composer. That way, you’ll know he or she understands the direction you want to go in.

 

Game composing is a time-consuming task, so be sure to bring in the composer as early as possible, and make sure you set delivery deadlines that allow for additional tweaking of the music.

 

When it comes to the music budget, write a detailed description of your requirements (this guide might help) and ask your chosen composer for a quote. You’ll probably find that he or she charges a per-track production fee, or – as is more common – a production fee per minute of completed music.

He or she will probably also ask for a usage fee, depending on where/how the music will be used and where your game will be released. Some composers offer full buy-out on their music. This means that you pay a one-time fee, and you are then free to use the music where and how you want to.

 

Another model is to negotiate a profit-sharing model, where the composer is only paid a small inital fee for the music, and then gets a percentage of the profits from each copy sold. The advantage of this is that it allows you to make a smaller initial investment in the music, and that the composer will have a vested interest in the game doing as well as possible.

 

PROS:

* Custom work: Allows you to get a custom score for your game that is tailor-made to your vision for the game.

* Expert advice: You get an expert on board who can take the game music to a level you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

* Music that fits: Get tracks that fit exactly with your menus, ingame and cutscenes when it comes to lengths and style.

 

CONS:

* Expensive:  Unsurprisingly, composing game music takes time + composers need to get paid for their work and be able to run a studio and pay the bills = it all adds up.

* Time-consuming: Turn-around varies from composer to composer, but most composers can do 1-3 minutes of completed music per day, depending on the complexity. Then factor in revisions, the composer’s schedule and additional tweaking and you’re looking at weeks, if not months to get the music done – especially if your game needs a lot of music. This may not be a problem, as long as you remember to bring in the composer early on in the development process.

 

 

2. Use royalty-free music:

 

If your budget doesn’t allow having a composer on your team, or if you simply need something FAST that works, royalty-free music is a great option. There’s 100s of thousands of tracks available, and chances are you’ll be able to find something that fits in your game if you spend the time looking.

 

Well, actually you don’t have to spend that much time looking – have a look at the music collections on this site and see if anything fits. I’ve spent many (many) hours plowing through a myriad to tracks to find what I find to be some of the best royalty-free music tracks that work well in game projects.

 

Maybe you won’t find exactly what you need here, but if you spot a composer who does quality stuff from the collections above, you can use that as a starting point for further exploration. Or you could simply get in touch and I can lend you a hand finding what you need.

 

PROS:

* Affordable: Royalty-free music is a cheap way of finding music for your game. Prices usually range from around $10 to $70 dollars per track, depending on what sort of license you need.

 

* What you hear is what you get: When you have a composer on board, you’re never completely sure what the end result is going to be. Perhaps that track you love from him/her was simply a lucky punch, and he’ll fail miserably trying to get you the sound you’re after. If you’ve done your research, this is quite unlikely to happen, of course. But the thing about royalty-free music is you know EXACTLY what you’re getting. What you hear in the preview, is what you’ll get – no nasty surprises there.

 

CONS:

* Lack of consistency: Putting together a consistent soundscape from royalty-free music can be tricky. If you need several tracks, you’ll likely source them from many different composers – and each has his or her own sound, meaning that your soundtrack as a whole may not sound as coherent as you’d like. Actually, there’s a way to overcome this, and I’ll tell you how in a future blog post.

 

* Finding the good stuff takes time: With so many tracks around, be prepared to spend a lot of time putting together the perfect soundtrack for your game from royalty-free music. However, I really hope this site can be of help in doing so – at least that was kind of the whole idea why I started it in the first place :)

 

I hope this has helped you get a feel for your options when it comes to finding music for your game – and if you have any questions or feedback, do comment below or contact me directly.

 

Best of luck with your game project!

 

- Asbjoern


Posted by Aurie on June 22, 2012 - Contact



Category Music For Games Tags , , , , , , , , , ,

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