Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

 
Advanced search

1059434 Posts in 43077 Topics- by 35033 Members - Latest Member: James McDino

October 31, 2014, 05:06:39 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeAudioCharging for work? How much? Sharing insights!
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: Charging for work? How much? Sharing insights!  (Read 4085 times)
Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« on: October 12, 2012, 04:33:02 AM »

Hey

I just wanted to get a discussion going here about potential business models for us music and audio guys. I know there are people that do this purely as a hobby and have fun in their spare time (and thus are happy to do it for free). On the other hand I'm sure there are people who would like to get paid at least a little something or even, like me, who are trying to do this full time and thus would actually need to charge for music and sound in order to make a living. This isn't always easy, of course. When you're trying to get into the indie scene, you start looking for projects and maybe offer some soundtracks for free to start filling your portfolio and have something to show that makes you more valuable and which enables you to start charging for stuff as you have quality work to show off.

But when talking to composers it sometimes seems like a biiiig secret how much they charge, and few people actually really calculate what they would need to charge in order to pay their bills and the gear they use to make music. I'd like to get a discussion going.

What have you experienced regarding projects? What models worked for you: Did royalties work out for you or did you get paid upfront? How much did you charge, how long did you work on the album, have you actually counted the hours? Do you charge per hourof work or per minute of music? Did your projects work out for all sides in the end or did anybody get away unhappy? What's your cost structure: How much would you need to charge to pay your bills and live from the work you do. Of course, this is also a very geographic discussion. I for example live in Switzerland, which is a very expensive country. So to survive I need to charge completely different amounts, which is mostly a deal breaker for people. Why get the expensive guy from Switzerland if we can have more affordable guys somewhere else?

This thread is not meant to expose what others charge and then charge less to get an advantage over them. This is really meant as a friendly benchmark, to learn, and to improve. I would like to understand what business models work, how much time you need to write music, how much you need to charge for it. I would like to understand and to benchmark myself. Do I work slowly? Do I need to get better? Am I doing something wrong in my calculations? This thread is to help each other out and to see what's involved. To maybe not undercut ourselves in prices and to sell us for cheap. I often get questions like "What? A minute of music is sooo expensive?" But once I say what's involved it's clear why it is. So, if we all understand what's involved we may understand the business better, help developers and customers understand better what they're paying for and why, and create an environment that's a fair playground for everybody.

I really like to share information. I think especially in the indie area, where we're not bound to NDAs and really have the freedom of sharing ideas and knowledge, we should take the opportunity to do so.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 05:05:27 AM by Chris Polus » Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 05:13:31 AM »

And I'll start with sharing my experience.

Upfront Payment or Royalties?
As you know, unless the developer of a game has a well-paid job and pays for music upfront, it's probably going to be a profit share if you don't work for free. I updated my portfolio posts on several forums and constantly got contacted by people. They liked my music and wanted me to do music for their game, too. Because they couldn't pay me upfront, we negotiated a profit share.

In late February 2012 both devs urged me to create the soundtrack. They wanted to release the game sometime March. So I really sat down and created some pieces for their games. All in all, with feedback and edits, it took me about 33 hours to create a 7.5 minute soundtrack for one project and 24 hours to create an 8 minute soundtrack for the other project if I only count the time I really worked on it. I still check back with the devs how far they are but the games that should have come out in March are still not finished. Basically, people asked me to work on a soundtrack for a profit share and somehow lost the drive, maybe completely lost interest.

I'd like to add that one dev was veeery secretive about his project. I didn't see any screenshots of the project I only knew what music he wanted. But he said it's going to be released in March and he needed music. Today I'd never again do such a project. If I work for a game with a RISK (profit share) I'd like to know what the game is really about and if it's fun. Why spend a week of work on music if you can't believe the game will be good in the end? Thus working on a game you think won't sell well? This is definitely not going to bring you any money if you work on a profit share.

My learning: Check the project and the developer thoroughly. How far are they with the project? Does it feel like they're determined to finish the project? Do you think the game has potential? Would you like to play the game the dev team works on? Do you think you can get some royalties in the end or sell the soundtrack for some extra coins? CHECK THE PROJECT. You invest your time in it, so you should better believe in the project's success.

So for me, from an earnings perspective, royalties didn't work out at all. And I was too naive to really check the projects, the devs, and if I believed in a game.

How do I count my time / how do I charge?
I came to the conclusion that the most fair way of charging is to charge a potential client by the minute of finished music. Here's why. It's very easy for me as service provider to count per hour. But it's a super high risk for the customer. You say: well it takes me about 5 hours for this track. In the end, it's maybe 8 hours and the customer has to pay almost double. This way you really push all the risk down the customer's throat. I don't go into a shop to buy a car for 20,000$ and then it costs 35,000$ when I checkout. Or I don't pay for 8 hours of machine usage at the car manufacturer's site. I have no idea how long the car was in production and I don't care. The manufacturer counts how much time it takes him to create that car, how many people are involved, what the facility costs him and all that and breaks down the time and costs to one single car. And I tend to think along those lines. I know based on experience how long it takes me to write a simple electronic song, or a complex electronic song, or a medium orchestral song. I have to do all the calculations of how much I charge for my time, how much my gear costs and how long the amortization period is for that gear. I then calculate what all the gear costs me per day, or per hour. After defining with the devs or customers what kind of music they want, I know how long a minute of music will take me. Then we define how much music there will be, let's say 40 minutes. And then I can tell the dev, this is how much it is going to cost.

My way of calculating costs: So in the end I as a manufacturer have to do the heavy calculations. I don't hand the risk of costs down to the dev / customer. I have to bear the risk. If I have a bad day and don't produce that much music, it's my fault. I have to calculate all those risks into the price. But I don't hand the risk over. This way the customer has transparency on what it's going to cost if there is going to be more or less music.

How much time do I spend on music?
This of course depends on the type of music. I sometimes do concept tracks where I have a particular sound in my head already. Other times I first need to find the right vibe. Also, I found sometimes electronical music is easier for me to compose than a full blown orchestra as I lack experience and practice, so it naturally takes longer. Here's my breakdown.

It took me
  • 1.9 hours / finished minute of music for an electronical concept track.
  • 3.6 hours / finished minute of music for a mixed electronical / orchestral concept track
  • 5 hours / finished minute of electronical music for an animation short movie I did
  • 6 hours / finished minute of music for a purely orchestral project (music for an iPad audiobook)
  • 4.5 hours / finished minute of music for a game with orchestral soundtrack
  • 3 hours / finished minute of music for a game with orchestral soundtrack

So this is to start it off. How do you work? What were your experiences with projects?
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 02:07:07 PM by Chris Polus » Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
trurkowski
Level 1
*



View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 07:26:13 AM »

Bump! I'm just starting off and this information is ridiculously valuable to me!

I'll give work time for my track types when I have time laters Smiley
Logged

Sound Design & Music Composition<br />http://soundcloud.com/trurkowski
StauntonLick
Level 0
*


View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 07:38:31 AM »

Thankyou for a great post. Too many people are far too cagey about this information - audio being the crowded workplace it is, rates and means of getting clients are hard-won secrets.

I think the primary problem for me is convincing developers that they should pay a living wage for their audio. A lot of developers I speak to totally switch off when I tell them my rates (which are far lower than what I charge for other types of work), but the reality is that you can't keep the lights on with what developers expect you to charge.

I tend to work on an average of 4-8 hours per minute of music, depending on the complexity. A recent client wanted a 1:30 piece of epic orchestral/rock synced up to a trailer - all for $50 per minute. So that rate equates to under $6 an hour - far below minimum wage in the UK. This is just one of many examples I could give.

If you are freelance then your hours are precious - you can't afford to make music for a pittance just because you love it. The problem is that for every composer that stands their ground and demands compensation for their work there are 100 in line behind them desperate for any sort of work. It's a buyer's market out there!

Logged

Jonny Martyr <br />Composer & Sound Designer for Games & Film.<br />www.jonnymartyr.com
ZackParrish
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2012, 07:16:47 AM »

Chris: I think you mean it took you 24 hours to make an 8 minute soundtrack, because making an 8 hour soundtrack... MOTHER OF GOD....  WTF

Anyway, my process...

I base my rates on how much time I have, how much time the project consumes, and how fast I work.  As long as I'm not working for "minimum" wage by the end of a track, I have no problem dropping my rates accordingly.

As far as finding "work", it starts out rough, like you said finding projects that'll take you on to do the music for free.  I honestly recommend places that are loaded with freeware projects for this, like this forum and the gamemaker forum(yeah... I said it).  

Eventually, after spending years building from the ground up, you can gradually charge more and more.  I've had private conversations with composers about their rates and heard things from a measily $10 per minute(Seriously... ), all the way up to $800(yes... for indie).  

I won't publically diclose what I charge because it changes depending on certain scenario like I mentioned above.  But I will suggest that when you sign a contract with a developer, you specify certain restrictions with certain levels of rates.  If you do music for $50-$100 per minute, do NOT give them full rights.  Give them just enough rights to use the music in their game.  If they want to pay for more rights, jack that price up.  They are going to make bank on some projects, and they know they are.  You don't want to give them the intellectual property rights for $50 a minute for a combined total of... let's say... $500 dollars for 10 minutes of music, and then sell the game and make about $50,000.  Who's losing here?  

Build a reputation, not just with the public, but on a personal level with the developers you work for.  If you make the experience good enough, they'll toss your name to other devs, and even do a bit of promotion for you as well, untimately coming back to you in the future when they need music again.  Some of my best gigs came to me from other developers I've worked for in the past.  They listen to each other more than they listen to your forum posts and emails.  Don't let that deter you from sending emails though, by all means... send lots and lots of emails.  

Another thing I do is promotional work, writing intro themes for podcasts, video reviewers, trailers, etc.  You can get quite a bump in promotion from that and you only have to put a small amount of time into it.  It takes me about... 20-30 minutes to write a podcast theme(15-30 seconds of music), so I have no qualms taking a loss on those.  I've even been forced to accept payment for one of the ones I did... despite trying to refuse several times. Make them happy, they'll make you happy. :p

But most of all... just remember there are thousands of us out there.  We are all competitive, and we will all continue to be that way.  Stay strong, stay positive, and keep doing what it is that you love, regardless of the hurdles that get thrown in your path.

Tootles,
Zack
« Last Edit: October 13, 2012, 07:23:41 AM by ZackParrish » Logged

Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2012, 02:19:00 PM »

Hehe, lol, Zack, I wish I could write 8 hours of music in that time! Maybe if I'd do generative sound and would let the computer do the work... I corrected the error, thanks for the hint.

I'll prepare a post on how I calculate costs and what aspects come into the calculation so everybody can have a look at it. I think it might be interesting after all.

I understand if you don't want to reveal what you charge. I too have no fix price. It's all based on negotiations in the end. A huge company that wants a jingle should be able to pay a reasonable price whereas an indie project that you find very interesting might "get away" with paying glory and honor. It always depends what it's worth to you. On the other hand, we're here to help and share each other. This is not a price list and I hope nobody comes here and says "but in this thread you said you charged x amount of $". It's just to see what you charged and what worked for you, if you could cover costs in the end.

I also know a colleague that charges up to 700$ per minute, also in the indie space. But his work is epic. I guess it depends on the definition of "indie". There are a lot of indie companies out there that do have money and pay, even if they're not part of a big publisher or movie studio and can thus be considered indie.

As I mentioned, my achievements are working for royalties on 2 projects that still are not released and thus I made 0$. For orchestral songs for an audiobook project I actually made 800$. But broken down to the 70 hours it took to make that soundtrack, it ended up being 11.40$ per hour. Which is kind of very bad.

So, I'll work on that calculation sheet a bit more and hopefully have something tomorrow during the day. I'm eager to get some feedback on that, if you find it useful once it's finished and if I forgot something. It should help understand what influences final cost.
Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2012, 07:26:54 AM »

I finally managed to clean my calculation Google spreadsheet and make it easy to use. So, here it is. I took out some private stuff but this is basically how I calculate what I need to earn in order to survive.

I think this could be pretty valuable for anybody wanting to start his/her own business to see what you need to include in your calculations. It's a useful and versatile template and I put it under a CC-BY license. So you can copy it to your own Google account, adapt it, distribute it, heck even sell it if you think you have to, as long as the credits in the file stay intact.

I also opened this document up for editing. Anybody can play around (please don't destroy it - I got a copy but it's no fun for others). If you find a mistake, add a comment and I'll look into it! But go right ahead, play with the numbers and see what comes out the other end!

Let's make this sheet really useful for all us composers and artists out there!

I tried to comment as much as possible to explain what's going on. Look for the black triangles that indicate notes in cells. All the numbers that are GREEN can and should be modified. It's version 1. So I'll make version 2 when I get some useful feedback.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApW5_Vl64KSFdE1vMDZKQXdwSnBVZ2VjeFZBNlI1UEE

Help me make this really good and help others Smiley Share the love!
What do you think about it?
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 09:20:09 AM by Chris Polus » Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 02:27:19 AM »

I just updated the sheet. All you need is now on the first page. No need to switch tabs / sheets anymore!

Just play with the numbers on the left regarding your desired salary per month, how many holidays you take a year, and you'll get the price you need to charge on the right!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApW5_Vl64KSFdE1vMDZKQXdwSnBVZ2VjeFZBNlI1UEE

It's great for any startup business or anybody who would like to get compensated in a fair way for their work.
Still, if you'd like to dive deeper, everything is still there. All formulas. You can adapt this sheet to your heart's content!

I hope you like it!
What do you think? Is it useful to you?
Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
moi
Level 10
*****


DILF SANTA


View Profile WWW
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 05:39:59 AM »

interesting spreadsheets, chris polus, but that means that to attain your goals, you'll have to get a lot of music (or whatever) contracts per month.
Is there that amount of work available for indie composers( or whatevs) ?
Logged

subsystems   subsystems   subsystems
Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 07:00:27 AM »

Hey moi

Yes, it means you would need an awful lot of projects!  Concerned

Well, all this spreadsheet helps you with is to calculate what you would need to charge hourly or daily if you ran your own business, earn a certain amount of money and take into consideration public holidays, vacation and such stuff. It helps getting your calculations started and see what it means if you wanted to make a living.

The sheet can of course be used in other areas as well, it's not only for indie game composers. And, judging from the numbers that come out of it, I doubt there's enough business around in the real hardcore indie sector (if I may phrase this that way) to make enough. If you broaden the scope, make music for small commercials for local companies, music for companies jingles in your area, it might work after growing and growing your business and network slowly. I think it's impossible to get to a breakeven point right away.

And then, of course there are people that do this as a hobby and are not dependent on this money, they do this as a hobby and either do it for free, or for some additional money. Then it's up to them if they work for fun and for a handful dollars. The world is big enough Smiley. But I talked to a few people that were interested in these calculations. This helps them realize what they would need to charge if a company would approach them at some point in time. Because I also tended to just say a number if I needed to provide a quite to anybody, without thinking, and later realizing that this was just very low and I sold myself short.

So now I at least know what I would need to make to survive, and then I can deliberately say: OK, I do invest in this project. I offer services cheaper, but maybe I get some cut of the sales, thus taking a risk with a potential higher outcome in the end in the case of a success. I just thought I put the sheet out there for anybody interested.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 07:06:49 AM by Chris Polus » Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
RoanSong
Level 0
**

I live on a dairy farm.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2012, 01:03:13 PM »

Very useful post, thank you.
I'm one of those hobbyists who will make music for just about anyone, for just about any compensation. I'm looking to work on as many projects as possible in the near future, for an extra bit of income.
Logged

http://soundcloud.com/roansong - I compose. You listen. You like.
Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 05:03:55 AM »

That's cool, thanks RoanSong.

It would actually be really interesting to see what spectrum of people there are on TIG. I think there's everything from 'doing it just for fun' to 'I have to make a living'. It would be really nice hearing from everybody!

So, how do you work guys? For money, for free? To learn, for fun, to live? What's your story?
Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
Lauchsuppe
Level 2
**


hruabp


View Profile Email
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2012, 05:38:19 AM »

I really appriciate this thread, thanks Chris! Sadly, I can't contribute very much due to my lack of experience; I enjoy reading though. Well, I'm still at the very beginning of my career in game audio -  being a fulltime university student, I'm basically happy with whatever payment I think is adequate for the respective project. Since I don't have to live from my income so far, I didn't yet feel the urge for precise calculations regarding payment. However, it was really insightful to read your calculations!
Actually, I'm currently reading "The Complete Guide to Game Audio" by Aaron Marks. While it may not be complete, it's definitely an interesting read! There's also a huge focus on the business aspect, so anyone interested in this particular topic might want to give it a try as well.
Logged
MoritzPGKatz
Level 3
***


"Was he an animal, that music could move him so?"


View Profile WWW
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 06:27:27 AM »

Hello,

I had a nice little "spreadsheet chat" with Chris the other day and promised I'd share some thoughts on this later Smiley

First off, to answer this question:
So, how do you work guys? For money, for free? To learn, for fun, to live? What's your story?
I'm lucky enough to be able to produce music and sounds for a living.
That said, I'm not just producing audio assets for games, I also do the odd TV commercial, work as a private teacher and choir leader and do all sorts of studio and live jobs. I also study philosophy on the side 'cause philosophy rocks.

The reason why I ended up doing mainly game audio is quite simple: I've been in love with games ever since I first sat in front of my dad's 386 when I was but a wee lad, and it was just a logical consequence to combine that passion with my equally strong love for music.

My musical background is very diverse, I've taken classes in piano, guitar, drums, music theory and classical vocals, played in lots of different ensembles and bands and ended up studying jazz singing, music production and education here in Hamburg. I don't consider myself a virtuoso at any instrument, but I know my way around most instrument groups well enough to produce with them and, most importantly, to communicate with other instrumentalists properly.

I won't be able to disclose what I'm charging for game jobs, but here's something I find worth mentioning:
I always try to make a point of the value and impact that sounds and music have on a game and this is indeed reflected in my rates. Still, I know that especially start-ups mostly don't have big budgets, so here's what I do in these cases: I give discounts and explicitly mention them in my bids, in the contracts and in the invoices.

This has a couple of beneficial effects. For one thing, if the company's first game is successful and they decide to work with me on another project, I have an advantage in discussing the budget.
Also, giving discounts implies a higher value of the music. "My work is worth this much, but I really dig your project, so I'll give you a discount in hopes of future collaboration."

What's really important about this is that I only grant discounts like this iff (if and only if) I genuinely like the project and the dev, i.e. I dig the game concept and/or art, I find it a great challenge, I like the way the team communicates... in a nutshell, don't be afraid to decline projects. Nothing is more frustrating than a job that leaves you in a grumpy mood, and offering these generous discounts to projects that you don't really have much hope for is dishonest and will inevitably make you sound like a used car salesman.

I have a few other thoughts to share: like I've mentioned in a similar thread, I'm writing a full article on this. Threads like this are really helpful for gathering ideas and other people's ways to deal with the tiresome subject that is being paid for doing what you love. Many thanks to everyone who's willing to share their experience. In my opinion, there's enough work for everyone who's truly passionate and hard-working, so let's forget about the fact that we're competitors and help each other out the best way we can. Smiley
Chris, may I quote some of your explanations for this? I'll provide a link to your website in the article in exchange.

In the meantime, I agree with my fellow-countryman Lauchsuppe: Go get Aaron Marks' book! It's a must-read for both audio people and game developer persons in general.

Cheers,
Moritz
Logged

Here's my SoundCloud - currently showcasing OSTs from 6 different games, crappy live jazz piano, and some other neat stuff.
My day job is composer/tonmeister at The German Wahnsinn
Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2012, 07:56:34 AM »

Oh wow. That was years of experience in dealing with clients and projects in one single post. Thanks so much for your post Moritz! It's nice to work on something in one's ivory tower, but it's just a good feeling to get to know how other people work, what makes them tick, how they go about projects and clients.

I always try to make a point of the value and impact that sounds and music have on a game and this is indeed reflected in my rates. Still, I know that especially start-ups mostly don't have big budgets, so here's what I do in these cases: I give discounts and explicitly mention them in my bids, in the contracts and in the invoices.

I think this is very important. In today's free everything economy it's important to tell clients, or even "educate" them that composing is work that takes time and is valuable. Music and sound adds so much the an overall feel and ambience in the background, but if it's not there, a game and movie feels totally empty and hollow.

I use the discount technique, as well. I created my sheet to know what I would need to charge to get a certain income. I then freely adapt the price from this guide value. For high profile projects in for industrial clients I charge more and I know I get a little extra something, for other projects I charge much less. But I always know what I do and can make an informed decision. If I like a project and I'm ready to take a risk, I'll discount it. But I always show the information how much I discounted, so clients get the impression that they got a discount on something valuable and not that a service costed 10$. It was 100$ but I really wanted to help out and was intrigued by the concept. And thus I granted a discount.

And it's easier getting the correct price next time. Clients don't ask "why is the same service now 100$ instead of 10$ as before?". They know it was discounted. They appreciate the help they got and will favorably think about you next time.

so let's forget about the fact that we're competitors and help each other out the best way we can. Smiley

The world is big enough for everybody. I share knowledge where I can. Besides, many people fear that if they share too much information, they give other people the recipe to copy them and lose work. I think this is mostly untrue. If I give you all the information about how I work, what tools I use, you can't reproduce my life, my feelings, the way I work. Your music, your art, will be different from mine. So I don't see any reasons why we can't share knowledge. It helps you make the work you do better, more efficient and more fun for you. It doesn't help you copy my work. Everybody wins.

Chris, may I quote some of your explanations for this? I'll provide a link to your website in the article in exchange.
In the meantime, I agree with my fellow-countryman Lauchsuppe: Go get Aaron Marks' book! It's a must-read for both audio people and game developer persons in general.

Sure Moritz, go ahead. If you tell me which parts you'd like to share I could adapt the wording a little as I wrote some things in a hurry and would maybe rephrase them now for clarity's sake.

Cheers
Chris
Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
ROCKYIII
Level 0
***


View Profile Email
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2012, 11:19:10 AM »

Hey Chris,

Some great info here. Really useful!

-Michael
Logged
sinoth
Level 0
***


hotdogger

sinothdither
View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2012, 01:25:44 PM »

If you do music for $50-$100 per minute, do NOT give them full rights.  Give them just enough rights to use the music in their game.  If they want to pay for more rights, jack that price up.  They are going to make bank on some projects, and they know they are.  You don't want to give them the intellectual property rights for $50 a minute for a combined total of... let's say... $500 dollars for 10 minutes of music, and then sell the game and make about $50,000.  Who's losing here?

Can you explain this?  I'm a dev and looking into contract work for the first time, and I have no idea what kind of rights exist to negotiate.  Specifically, what would keeping these rights gain you or the developer in the end?  In your example, what is the ideal agreement to be in for a game that will make $50,000... does it involve both up-front cost and profit share?

Thanks for the post!  It's been helpful to me as someone outside your field Smiley
Logged

i am not regret
PythonBlue
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2012, 05:11:57 PM »

I'm getting seriously confused by this thread. Not to bring it off-topic, but every time I try to find paid work, I'm deliberately ignored, at best. That being said, I am shocked at how high the suggested rates are; they do not sound entry-level for the position at all!
Logged

ZackParrish
Level 3
***



View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2012, 05:42:10 PM »

If you do music for $50-$100 per minute, do NOT give them full rights.  Give them just enough rights to use the music in their game.  If they want to pay for more rights, jack that price up.  They are going to make bank on some projects, and they know they are.  You don't want to give them the intellectual property rights for $50 a minute for a combined total of... let's say... $500 dollars for 10 minutes of music, and then sell the game and make about $50,000.  Who's losing here?

Can you explain this?  I'm a dev and looking into contract work for the first time, and I have no idea what kind of rights exist to negotiate.  Specifically, what would keeping these rights gain you or the developer in the end?  In your example, what is the ideal agreement to be in for a game that will make $50,000... does it involve both up-front cost and profit share?

Thanks for the post!  It's been helpful to me as someone outside your field Smiley

It's pretty much a matter of limiting what the developer can and can't do with the music.  Giving them basic distribution rights to use the music commercially in their game, but retaining the intellectual property rights and not giving them exclusivity so that you can reuse the tracks as stock music and album releases for additional compensation.  If the developer wants full control by purchasing the intellectual property and exclusivity for their project, then hike the price.  Think of it like... stock in a company.  The more stock you have, the more of the company you own.  But it costs more the more you try to control.  If you want full control then you have to be willing to fork out the cash to do so.  Composers that write music for between.... $800-$1200 per minute of music, sign over all the rights to the music.  Basically, they no longer own any aspect of it.  The developer can reuse it as they wish, when they wish, release it however and whenever they want, chop it up, slice it, dice it, remix it, arrange it, etc.  Some composers really don't care that much about it and will take a huge loss in the end just to get a gig with no consideration for how much they might be losing.  If a composer does music for a game, flat rate, like my example of $50/minute for a game like angry birds with no prior agreements for royalties or revenue sharing, and agrees to sign over all the rights... they will have been seriously ripped off. 

Royalties are nice but high risk... because even some of the best looking games don't sell at all, and the %'s can and most often times are really low for the audio side of a game.  Flat rate is a gauranteed payout.  Royalties may or may not be. 

Hope that helped you understand the tiered rates/rights ratio.  More you pay, more you get. 

Python -  It depends on your target clientelle.  Some pay, some don't.  Find out a developer's budget before making an offer to them.  Define the types of restrictions their budget would entail by hiring you.  And as far as being ignored, you have to build a reputation to deliver.  Peer influence has been the most effective means to get more gigs for me.  I rarely post on forums, and NEVER send emails anymore.  All the gigs I've received in the past 2 years have been from one dev recommending me to another.  They will listen to each other loooooooong before they'll read the first sentence of an email from 1 out of 100s of emails they get from composers.  They will listen to each other looooooong before they browse a forum looking for a composer, swimming in a sea of 100s of other composers.  Build strong working relationships with the people you write for, so they'll be compelled to use you again.  You could write the greatest soundtrack ever, but if they don't like your personality or the atmosphere through which your business is based on is not a pleasant one, they'll likely never come back to you, or recommend you to someone else.

And honestly, taking advice on how much to charge from someone else, especially set numbers, is bollocks.  It's like selling collectibles, you only get what someone is willing to pay.  And they should only expect to get what their payment is worth(in terms of rights, length, quality, etc).

Stay positive, stay strong.  It's a tough industry.
Logged

Chris Polus
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2012, 04:09:41 AM »

Also, don't forget the marketing aspect of things. If a developer gets a composer that's widely known in the community, this composer will make some marketing for the game and have a huge community that follows him and suddenly gets interested in a game.

Why else would trailers for movies start with "From the Director Of XYZ". People will more likely flock to cinemas when they liked the other movie the guy/gal made. So getting rock stars on your project will boost your project automatically, if you can afford them. Teams nobody heard before suddenly get featured in the press because <insert known name here> does something for them.

So it's like Zack said. You probably have to work your ass off, get to know people, build a reputation until your fingers bleed and people start to know you via the many projects you worked on. Until you're that rockstar everybody wants to have on their project. Smiley

As far as the rights go. Great food for thought on how to modify your base prices to make them reflect what you're actually selling. Just the rights to this one game, for re-use in other games, exclusive license so they can even sell the OST and make money from that while you don't get anything? You have to consider what you sell wisely.
Logged

http://about.me/chrispolus - my website, music, sound design, videos and services.

I'm the
- sound designer of Son of Nor (Devlog) at stillalive studios
- sound designer of the Arcan Chronicles
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Jump to:  

Theme orange-lt created by panic