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1066057 Posts in 43502 Topics- by 35532 Members - Latest Member: Michaels Music

November 24, 2014, 05:52:14 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessWhat is a fair price to demand as a Indie Soundtrack Composer/Freelancer?
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slinwyeg
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« on: March 24, 2012, 07:11:30 AM »

Hello,

I have no clue what would be a fair price for composing music for indie game projects. You can only find statistics what the big hollywood composers get per minute, but that is not my goal Smiley

I want to demand a fair price. So do you have any experience, guesses or wishes how much is fair, what is too low and what is too high?

I know only to calculate prices per finished and delivered minutes of music, but if you have another model, fine with me.

Euro or Dollar is fine.

Greetings,
Nils
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TeeGee
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tomek_grochowiak@op.pl
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2012, 07:27:11 AM »

I've seen it range from $50 to $250 per minute of music. $250 being pretty steep, and $100-150 the average "indie" rate for quality music.
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stevesan
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2012, 09:09:40 PM »

I'm also curious, as the client, what's a fair deal for quality control? Ie. what if I don't like the tracks? Do I usually just pay anyway, or do people set up some deal where I only pay for what I like (though I imagine it's a bit more complex than that)?
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slinwyeg
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2012, 03:32:41 AM »

There are two problems here:
1. Who has the rights to decide what goes into the game
2. What part of the delivered music will be paid.

I am not naive. If a musician contacts you and shows you good demos then you are inclined to believe this is his level or art. If the actual work then consists of some uncreative drum-loops from a music recording magazine CD and uninspired e-guitar solos on top you are fooled.

This means the problem is likely to go away if you know the composer and his work. If you trust the person, based on good reasons, then I see no problem to let the composer decide what is good what is bad and what goes in the game and what will be paid.
In this case I, as a composer, would expect to decide myself. If we agree on 5 tracks a 3 minutes before I start and in the end you want only 4 because your budget shrunk... either it is the producers problem or we negotiate something else for compensation, working around the money problem. I don't see real practical problems here.

Back to the fraud composer:
Although I think it is theoretically possible to rate music and art objectively this is very hard in practice.
a) There is technical quality. Right formats, clean recordings, no distortion or clipping. If you got a cheater-composer maybe he is amateurish enough to get these things wrong. There are many technical things which are related directly to the workflow and style, more than meets the eye/ear. For example someone who works with compressed (mp3) samples and delivers you a wave. If you compress that again you will get audible compression artifacts. This is a reason to not accept the work. Technical quality not met.
 
b)In case you are not satisfied with the music itself, and the composer is a person who does not listen to "I don't like this part, could you please work on it again".
If you, and others, have the feeling that the music does not hold up to the promised quality this usually has objective, measurable reasons. It is not so subjective at all to rate music. What many producers lack, of course, is the education to analyze the reasons why they don't like a piece and to find the right word. In that case get a second opinion. Find a musician and composer whose hearing is trained and who knows a lot about music theory. These are the people which can say objectively why them music you got suckz Smiley

In other words:
If you work with a suspicious composer and you've managed to make a contract that you only accept music which fits the overall quality of the game (and you a fair producer!) then it is absolutely possible to actually analyze the quality and reject music based on that. But that is work itself.
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stevesan
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2012, 07:38:40 AM »

Wow thanks for the detailed reply. I do imagine most contracts involve an "iteration phase", where we go back and forth, and possibly even ask for multiple songs to choose from? You
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Xienen
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2012, 02:02:24 PM »

With our composer on Break Blocks, we were indeed within that range per minute of music.  We had a continual iterative process where we never had to tell him to "go back to the drawing board", but often requested adjustments/changes where needed.  The first song was the hardest to nail out with him(due to the common "trying to get on the same page"), but by the end of the project he knew what we were looking for and impressed the hell out of us as he pumped them out.
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stevesan
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2012, 08:34:33 PM »

With our composer on Break Blocks, we were indeed within that range per minute of music.  We had a continual iterative process where we never had to tell him to "go back to the drawing board", but often requested adjustments/changes where needed.  The first song was the hardest to nail out with him(due to the common "trying to get on the same page"), but by the end of the project he knew what we were looking for and impressed the hell out of us as he pumped them out.

Glad to hear it worked out! Did you guys have any contractual deal about how many iterations, etc.? What would have happened if you just didn't like the songs ever?
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Xienen
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2012, 08:02:56 AM »

Sorry for the delayed response. We didn't have a contractual limit on the iterations, but we did build in the ability for either party to terminate the agreement for any reason with a sliding percentage partial pay from (70-100%).  Meaning, if the agreement was $100 per minute of music, if either side decided to terminate the agreement, we'd calculate the full amount and then do a partial payment using the following formula where M is Minutes of Music Completed and T is Total Minutes of Music for the whole project:

$100 * M * (0.70 + ((M/T) * 0.30))

So, if he created 10 Minutes of Music before terminating the agreement and the project called for 100 Minutes Total:
$100 * 10 * (0.70 + ((10 / 100) * 0.30)) = $1000 * 0.73 = $730

Basically, if the whole process became too much of a pain for either side, we could walk away but there'd still be some sort of penalty for either of us.  The whole idea was to deter either side from wishing to terminate the agreement except as a last resort.
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stevesan
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2012, 09:56:29 AM »

@Xienen - Wow that is fascinating. Thanks for going into detail. I plotted that function out, and it looks like more or less a linear scale, but with a slight penalty for the musician if they exit early. That makes a lot of sense - it's like incremental risk, rather than fully committing. Is this how a lot of contracts are done, whether with musicians or coders or artists? I'm totally new to this, but I'd love to learn more. Any resources, books, websites, etc. where I could learn more about this?
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Xienen
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« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2012, 05:48:20 AM »

You know, I have no idea how common something like this is.  I basically decided that there needed to be a way out for both us and the musician, but that we wanted to make that a last resort, particularly for the musician.  That way, the musician had incentive to finish out the contract, because he'd get paid more for his time the further along he went in the project...and we couldn't just terminate the agreement and not have to pay anything, but beyond that, if we just made it a flat X% of the work done paid for early termination, we would have been able to terminate the agreement just before he finished and saved money.  This sliding scale resolved every potential issue we could come up with, so we just rolled with it.
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stevesan
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2012, 09:13:26 PM »

You know, I have no idea how common something like this is.  I basically decided that there needed to be a way out for both us and the musician, but that we wanted to make that a last resort, particularly for the musician.  That way, the musician had incentive to finish out the contract, because he'd get paid more for his time the further along he went in the project...and we couldn't just terminate the agreement and not have to pay anything, but beyond that, if we just made it a flat X% of the work done paid for early termination, we would have been able to terminate the agreement just before he finished and saved money.  This sliding scale resolved every potential issue we could come up with, so we just rolled with it.

Cool, it certainly makes good sense. I'd love to hear further experiences you have using this model!
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ZackanThePacman
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2012, 04:41:48 PM »

You can buy royalty free video game music on Jamendo for about $200 per song, but the songs will not be exclusive since anyone can buy them. The artists gets half of revenue.

I've been involved with a few different games where the artists accepted 1-3% of game revenue, and the songs were exclusive to those games.
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oganalp
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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 04:17:18 AM »

Per minute prices usually apply for more established composers and for agencies. Composers can also go for per track prices, depending on the project. There are also bundle agreements. Like if the price of a composer is 100 USD per track and you want to have him/her compose 25 tracks, but have 1700 USD as budget, almost no composer within that price range would say no.

Especially nowadays, since the market is flooded with composers and such.

When you want to work with uber famous names like Inon Zur, Zimmer etc, the prices are usually around 1.000 USD / minute which includes the agency fee, which varies from 20 % to 50 %.
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stevesan
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« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2012, 12:46:48 PM »

Per minute prices usually apply for more established composers and for agencies. Composers can also go for per track prices, depending on the project. There are also bundle agreements. Like if the price of a composer is 100 USD per track and you want to have him/her compose 25 tracks, but have 1700 USD as budget, almost no composer within that price range would say no.

Especially nowadays, since the market is flooded with composers and such.

When you want to work with uber famous names like Inon Zur, Zimmer etc, the prices are usually around 1.000 USD / minute which includes the agency fee, which varies from 20 % to 50 %.

$1 / minute and $100 / track? Those seem like very odd prices compared to each other. Did you miss a decimal point somewhere? Tongue
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Xienen
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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2012, 02:37:46 PM »

$1 / minute and $100 / track? Those seem like very odd prices compared to each other. Did you miss a decimal point somewhere? Tongue

Nah, in a number of countries 1.000 means 1,000...I assume this was the case with his post, since he kept putting USD after the prices...which Americans are typically arrogant enough to assume everyone knows $1000 means a thousand USD.  And before anyone gets offended by me calling Americans arrogant, I'm American...and we, in general, are arrogant =P
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stevesan
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2012, 08:09:15 AM »

$1 / minute and $100 / track? Those seem like very odd prices compared to each other. Did you miss a decimal point somewhere? Tongue

Nah, in a number of countries 1.000 means 1,000...I assume this was the case with his post, since he kept putting USD after the prices...which Americans are typically arrogant enough to assume everyone knows $1000 means a thousand USD.  And before anyone gets offended by me calling Americans arrogant, I'm American...and we, in general, are arrogant =P

Oh i see. I wouldn't say arrogant..just insular Smiley
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ZackanThePacman
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« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2012, 05:29:19 PM »

Nah, in a number of countries 1.000 means 1,000...I assume this was the case with his post, since he kept putting USD after the prices...which Americans are typically arrogant enough to assume everyone knows $1000 means a thousand USD.
It was naive to assume 1.000 means 1.0. But on an international website or forum $ is usually going to refer to USD. Every other country combined that uses a non-USD $ have only a fraction of the US GDP and economic importance. Not only that but it is involved in nearly all international currency trades and is the international dollar.
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