What should you charge for your compositions / sound designs?

One of the most difficult parts of becoming a game music composer or getting a game sound design job as a freelancer is answering one of the very first questions you are asked when you meet a game developer. You know the deal– you’ve got a great conversation going, and then the developer asks you:

“…So, how much do you charge?”

This can be very difficult to answer, particularly when the developer (or film director) is “indie” and is obviously on a tight budget.

Before you answer, think carefully; the first words out of your mouth can make a huge difference…

The “Anchor Price” and the difference between value and price

Suppose you are in the market for a new string library, and your budget is $500. In your research you find 2 libraries, “Super Strings” and “Big Orchestra Strings” with very similar features:

— Super Strings sells for $450.

— Big Orchestra Strings sells for $750, but is currently on a 4-day holiday sale for $495.

Which do you buy?

If you’re like most people, you’d opt for Big Strings, even though it costs a bit more. Why? Because, you think to yourself, I can get a $750 library for just a bit more than a $450 library and it’s still within your budget. In our subconscious mind, we associate the value of Big Strings as much higher than that of Super Strings, even though rationally we may realize that the two libraries are probably pretty much the same. In marketing and psychology terminology, $750 is called the anchor price and is the value we automatically associate with it. By contrast the anchor price of Super Strings is $450. And it is very hard to now consider these two libraries on equal footing, since one is ‘worth’ $300 more than the other.

How does this apply to your game composing career and your interactions with game developers, particularly indie game developers?

When discussing price with a small game developer or indie film director, separate the value you offer from the price you quote.

Your goal is to set your own “anchor value” appropriately high and disconnect it from the fee you will charge. Your anchor value is how much value you will bring to their project as a composer, and will be the amount the game developer (or film director) will have in their head associated with your skills, technique and quality. Chance Thomas in his book “Composing Music for Games” lists some realistic “per minute” music rates for composers at various stages in their careers from $250 to $2500 per minute (much higher if you have ‘star’ status). That is a good range for your anchor.

You set your anchor by ensuring that the first number they hear associated with your services matches your value, even if it is not the price you will ultimately quote them.

“My normal rate for this style of game is $1,000/minute of music for a full buyout. However I really like this project concept and understand you’re on a tight kickstarter budget. So I’d be willing to offer a less expensive license, and also discount my normal rate for you, which I’ll reflect in my quote.”

When setting an anchor, it is important that your (higher) anchor value be the first number you mention. So don’t say:

Since you are an indie, my rate is $100/minute, although I usually charge $1,000 for this kind of work

It may seem like a trivial difference, but many studies have shown it is literally the first number you mention that will become your anchor value.

Discussing your rates in this way does three very important things in your relationship with the developer.

  • It establishes your anchor value. You are a $1,000/minute composer (and not a $100/minute composer)
  • It shows your excitement about the game or film idea
  • It shows your realization of the developer’s budget and willingness to be flexible

When you later come back with a proposal, you can also reference your anchor price in your formal quote. This further cements the anchor value you set:

Project X Music: 10 Minutes @1,500 $15,000 (Buyout Rate)

License Only Discount -$7,500

Indie rate discount -$3,750

Project X Music Package $3,750

One important note: An Anchor price is NOT simply an inflated value over your regular rate; it should reflect what you would normally charge if their budget weren’t so tight. So if you are just starting out, with few or no credits, setting an ‘anchor’ of $2,000/minute will backfire, since that is well above any reasonable “just starting out with no experience” rate.

Using an anchor price has an added benefit: It provides a point of contract negotiation for the case where the game does well. It is perfectly reasonable to ask, if the game sales take off, that you get back the discount you offered. After all, you are discounting your rates because of their budget situation; in effect you have become an investor in their game. And like any investor, you would expect to be paid back as the game generates revenue. (there are other issues to negotiate with an indie developer, which we will cover in a later article).

For music composers and sound designers, setting an anchor value is especially important. The value a composer brings to a game or film is always high. There are no situations, no matter how low budget the film or game is, where the value you as a composer bring to the product is zero or only a few hundred dollars. If all you do is quote a low price, you are setting value of your services to that low-ball rate, and that is probably not how you would like you or your work to be considered. People have lost gigs by quoting too little . That is not because their price was too low; it is because in the mind of the developer, their value was too low.

So, the next time you are talking to a game developer or director, be sure not to accidentally set your value low by simply quoting a low price. Establish your value first… and then talk price.

Source: https://www.gamesoundcon.com/post/2016/03/11/becoming-a-game-music-composer-what-should-i-charge-for-indie-games

Surprising Facts About Composing Music for Video Games

It’s no secret that a lot of composers from more traditional media such as TV, film, commercials are getting interested in doing games. Go to a GameSoundCon or GDC, and many of the composers there have done the bulk of their work composing for film, TV and other more traditional media. Oftentimes, these composers are struck by how different composing for games can be from composing for other media. Here are 6 things that typically surprise those getting into games for the first time:

Writing game music presents a whole new set of creative challenges in addition to those required to create great music.

As a composer, you know how to set the tone, evoke emotions in your audience and write to support story as well as how to orchestrate, record, mix and master. A game composer needs to do all of that, plus master techniques for non-linear composing and production.

Because you don’t know when various story elements will actually happen (it depends on the player), when composing for video games you have to write your music to be flexible, and know how to quickly change from “wandering around” music to” battling for your life,” while not sounding obvious or abrupt. Game composers also need to be able to write music that can be arranged and pieced together so as to not sound repetitive—even when the player plays the game multiple times– and to know the specific game music tools that enable that flexibility.

When you write music for a game, you will have technical limitations placed on you that affect how you need to compose your music.

Because of the technology used to deliver games, you will have restrictions placed on what you can do. These restrictions may be frustrating! You may be told that all your music needs to fit within a certain amount of computer memory. You may be told to learn and use a specific music tool that the game developer has created or licensed. You may be asked to break your music into layers which can be mixed on the fly in reaction to game actions. In the course of getting into composing for games, you may have very creative ideas you would like to see implemented, but may not be possible due to technical or other handcuffs.

With a few exceptions, there are no PRO (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC) royalties for video game music.

Once you are paid for the music for the game from the developer, that will likely be the last money you make off the music. In the US, you will almost certainly not receive any performance payments from ASCAP or other PROs. It’s not that game developers are trying to be sneaky, underhanded or dishonest. Rather, it’s because the purchase or playing of a game in the U.S. is not considered a “performance” in the legal sense of the word. So unlike a film which might be broadcast on TV or other media (which generate Performance Royalties), since there are usually no “performances” of games, there are no performance royalties due to the composer.

The above notwithstanding, it is always a good idea to try to get your music registered with a PRO anyway. There are few cases where game music can generate performance royalties. It’s relatively infrequent, but it does occur from time to time. Some of those cases include:

  • The game’s music appears in traditional media (movie, TV, etc.). For example, a character playing a video game in a movie or TV show would generate PRO payments the same as any other piece of music in the film/show.
  • The game itself is broadcast. “e-sports”, where people playing video games are broadcast live.
  • Game soundtracks (including covers of game music) played on services like Spotify or Pandora

In addition, in some countries outside of the US, a portion of a video game download is actually considered a “performance,” so the above item is mainly applicable to US companies and composers. If you compose music for games in Europe please contact your PRO.

Video game music is almost always done as a “Work for Hire” arrangement.

With very rare exceptions, a composer contracted to write music for a video game will sign away all rights, including publishing, to the game developer or publisher. Although licensees do occur (especially for smaller, indie games), the bulk of game music is done under Work for Hire. The bright side of this is that for a professionally developed game you won’t be told “well, we can’t pay you much up front, but you’ll get your ASCAP/PRO when they show it on the Discovery Channel.” Game music commands pretty good up-front compensation. So never low-ball a game quote thinking “well, I’ll take low payment from the game creator, but will make it up in PRO royalties.” You will be sadly surprised when there are none.

The team making the game works like a software company, moreso than a movie production company.

When a company is making a video game, they are largely in the software-writing business. Their work processes follow much more those of Microsoft than of Amblin. “Agile” development, “Stand-up status” meetings are common, as are the use of software development tools like “version control software” such as Perforce or SVN. (Hint: know how to work those on a basic level, and you’ve got a leg up on your competitors).Terms like “release candidate,” and “Check-in” are important to understand and will help you fit in with the rest of the team.

A surprising number of jobs composing video game music are full-time, ‘in-house’ employee positions.

While TV, Film and other traditional composing jobs are overwhelming freelance, many video game companies hire full-time employees to compose their video game music. Companies like Blizzard (World of Warcraft), Bungie (Halo, Destiny), Electronic Arts (Madden, Peggle) and even Microsoft get a good percentage of their composition work from their employees and provide typical perks such as vacation pay, 401(k)’s, bonuses and stock.

Source: https://www.gamesoundcon.com/post/2015/08/08/6-surprising-facts-about-composing-music-for-video-games

Review: Levela – Watch Your Step

If you’re not familiar with Levela then its about time we level with you. Undoubtedly one of drum and bass hardest working producers (who doesn’t always get the credit he deserves), Levela has spent the last few years digging deep to uncover his sound one that is darker, deeper and groovier than the jump-up driven artist who initially burst onto the scene over a decade ago. Following on from his epic debut ‘Heat Beams EP’ on Elevate with Document One which was something truly out of this world Levela is returning to the label with his ‘Watch Your Step’ single. Born from the artist testing out a new soft-synth/sampler plug-in DC Breaks built called HALO, ‘Watch Your Step’ is a track guaranteed to get even the most subdued dance floors bopping with its infectious bass riff.

Levela‘s ‘Watch Your Step’ has been out for a minute now (release date was 9.24.21) so some people might think it’s old news; but frankly I don’t care and I think this track deserves some love from us. Not that it needs any help, cuz it’s currently sitting at #42 on the top 100 DnB chart on Beatport. And it’ll likely be up there for a bit. Did I mention that I don’t care and think this effort deserves some love? I did? Oh good. Well, I agree with the press release from the label above: Levela is one of the hardest working producers around and has been for some time. But, he doesn’t always get the credit that he deserves. And so…here we are.

I’ve always loved Levela‘s work personally and he’s been on my radar for quite a while. You can count on his work to have that drive and punch that get feet moving and booties shaking on the dance floor.

This track is no different and delivers the goods. Starting out with a simple hi-hat and some atmospheric synths and what sounds like an warning alarm in the background. Pretty quickly a undertone of wub wub wub builds up to a brilliant sample “I know that I should accept reality and make my peace. But, fuck that” and then right to the drop.

That wub wub wub wasn’t just an intro element. It’s turns into the main bass line riff of the track and that warning alarm sound isn’t just an intro thing either. It’s there in the background building tension towards the breakdown. ‘Watch Your Step’ has all those elements that make a solid track: clean crunchy snares, really well separated arrangements, and so on. But, what really stands out to me is Levela‘s mastery of pitching up and down at the fills with the bass riff and his command of tone with the layers in the background. It really adds a lot of depth and texture to the music. He also makes some great variations in the back half of the track just to see if you’re paying attention.

I can honestly say that I have tested this track out in the lab myself and it has been found effective. So, what are you waiting for? Get it and start making them booties shake.





Elevate Records (UK)


Source: https://dnbvault.com/levela-watch-your-step-elevate-records-uk/

Review: René LaVice, Richter, Dr. Apollo – I’ve Been Waiting ft. Gracie

Epic chord stabs with delays accompanied by beautiful vocals from Gracie start this tune off as you quickly realize the production level on this is going to be top notch. With a fury the energy builds in the background while you get lost in the vocals. Quickly the drop steps in and provides a structure with a well seated bassline and tight crisp drums. The chords have continued but now having the drums and bass surrounding them providing a pleasurable audio experience that your ears cannot help but ask for more of. The chord stabs have an element that is a nod to trance in the most brilliant of ways as they pound along with the bassline, floating under the vocals.

This tune is an absolute dancefloor smasher that also has mainstream and radio appeal. This will most likely play in many sets across the dnb audio spectrum as it completely ignores the rules of any subgenre and simply creates its own brilliant effort to engage the dancefloor.

Words by Bad Martian



Rene LaVice

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Dr. Apollo

Facebook Soundcloud Spotify

Gracie Van Brunt


Device Recordings


Source: https://dnbvault.com/rene-lavice-richter-dr-apollo-ive-been-waiting-ft-gracie-device/

Review: Various Artists – Slither EP Vol 2

Boomslang Recordings isn’t even a year old yet. But, they have had one hell of a debut year. Knocking out one killer release after another. This month they bring us the highly anticipated sequel to the ‘Slither EP’. I hate to sound cliche’ but I’m just gonna say it…do not sleep on this.

SST – Feeling Strange

Some atmosphere and then a snare high hat intro rolls into some heavier atmosphere at at the drop it’s all business. Great buzzing bass and clean drum arrangements working to build the tension. The drums do this really cool thing about half way through the first section where it seems like they are speeding up. SST adds in layer after layer here as the song progresses so it’s giving you more to listen to as the track progresses. Love those dark subs and the “bounce” vocal samples are subtle. The random sounding glitches in the background really add texture. A good balance between “heavy” sounds and a “bouncy” feel.

Noize Komplaint – Chubs

Retro sounding key stabs give way to filthy reese sounds in the intro. A bass hit and some nasty atmospherics to float us into the drop and they go straight for the throat. Driving drum pattern, grinder of a bass line, subs that vibrate yer feet and high squelcher synth stabs that pitch up and down. What more do you want? Sounds like robots arguing before they get into a fight. And I’m pretty sure they’re gonna come to blows. These synth lines have all this tension with the swelling bass and drums underneath it for an impressive effect. The argument continues and get more complicated in the second half. So maybe I misjudged it and they’re really having a conversation about philosophy or something.

Bad Martian – Hard 2 Be A Martian (ft. Werd MC & Drea)

A ballad intro with tagging lyrics including guitar and everything that lists the challenges of being a Martian. At the drop it goes full anthem and this track does an amazing job of fusing heavy metal with drum and bass. A lot of the instrumentation sounds as if it was recorded live in the studio by an actual band. I have absolutely no clue how it was recorded; and frankly I’m not sure which possibility is more impressive. I’m always impressed by live band drum and bass. On the other hand I’m pretty impressed by reproducing that sound digitally. A great anthem that really stands apart from the rest of the crowd.

Vmbrella – Ectoplasm

The drama sounds epic right from the start on this one and it pulls this psych out at the drop. Instead of going for a big main stage sound goes the opposite direction but still with plenty of epic drama. With just this minimalistic pulsing bass, single snare drums and sampled and key stabs it punctuated by ripping reese sounds and tortured effects. This is a really deceptive track cuz on the surface of it it seems really minimal but there is so much going on. It breaks all the conventions of structure and style and completely breaks your expectations. The breakdown sounds like it could be in the main body of the track and vice versa. And to make it all more fun there are more layers of complexity in the second half. A completely unique track from start to finish.

Overall a worthy sequel. Everything on this EP stands out. You can pre-order ‘Slither vol 2’ now from the label. It’s available on all platforms August 27th.



Boomslang Recordings


Source: https://dnbvault.com/various-artists-slither-ep-vol-2-boomslang-recordings/

Dialogue for Video Games: 10 Things you Should Know

Video games are one of the biggest forms of entertainment world-wide with global revenue eclipsing that of the motion picture box office. And the majority of those games require the work of voice over actors and directors. But working on games, as either a voice over director, engineer or as a voice actor, can be quite different than working in more traditional media such as film or television. Here are some things about dialogue and voice acting for video games that may surprise you.

  1. Video Games can have a LOT of dialogue

Shortly after launch, the game Star Wars: The Old Republic received a Guinness World Record for the “Largest Enterainment Voice Over Project ever.” At that time there were over 200,000 lines of English dialogue. As of today, its over 370,000! To put that in context, that’s as many lines of dialogue as 125 or more feature-length motion pictures. Fallout 4 has over a Hundred Thousand.That dialogue may be recorded over months or years, and in sections as downloadable content (DLC) is added to the game over time. One challenge for games recorded over long periods of time, or with so much content is character drift. When working on a game where you have recorded characters before, it’s always a good idea to listen to your previously recorded lines as a reference!

2. The same dialogue may require multiple performances

Because a player may be engaged in different types of action while uttering a line, the voice actor behind the scenes may need to record very different takes of the same line of dialogue, so a game can play the right one based on context.

For example, the same line of dialogue may need to be spoken by a character when they are fighting/exherting themselves or if they’re just hanging around, so that same line may need to be recorded and delivered twice,

3. The Non-linear Nature of games presents unique challenges

Unlike traditional linear media, games’ storyline’s can ebb and flow or even take completely different directions. Writers, talent and directors must take into account the non-linear nature of today’s games, which is in stark contrast to the single continuing storyline of traditional motion pictures or TV. To influence the outcome of the game, the player must have behavior and choices that are each unique and diverse, and the writing and performance of those varied storylines and branching narratives need to be taken into account.

4. Games may be union or non-union

There are indie games that are union and big-budget blockbusters that are non-union. It depends on the project budget, contract, studio and contract. Note: you can read the SAG/AFTRA interactive media agreement here

5. Actors may be told little about the characters they are voicing

Video game studios can be incredibly tight with information. Video games take a long time–often years– to produce and studios are concerned about information about their game leaking to the public or press. Talent will likely be required to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) that may prohibit them from even mentioning that they worked on a particular game. An actor may not be told the title of the game, their character’s name, or any parts of the plot until they show up to record. Sometimes actors don’t even know what the game was until after it is released and a friend sees their name in the credits.

That said, new rules in games that involve union talent have been put into effect, giving actors more visibility into their characters ahead of time.

6. Vocal stress can be an issue

Voice Over sessions with lots of yelling, creature sounds, combat exertions, and dying are common in many genres of video games. This can be very stressful to the voice. It is important to schedule accordingly so actors can take care of their voices and not endanger their (your) health. Vocal heal the expert Dr. Reena Gupta says even a little bit of overly stressful VO session work can be damaging so be sure to talk with your talent–if you’re a producer– or your producer–if you are voice talent– to make sure everyone at the session is comfortable. If you are a voice over actor, be careful about scheduling other voice sessions around a game session that requires a vocally stressful performance.

Note that union games have specific limitations on the amount of vocally stressful work that can be done per session, so these need to be kept in mind if you are working on a union game and are excellent guidelines even if you are not!

7. There is a LOT of need for VO in games

Video games run the gamut from tiny indie projects with barely any dialogue to massive, high-budget games with lengthy scripts, dozens of characters and even full performance capture that involves full face and body movement.

Games with minimal or no character dialogue or game narrative may still need small bits of dialogue recorded for communicating player information, objectives, progress or to otherwise encourage the player. Things like “Start! Ready! Game Over! Great Job!” etc all might be given voice.

8. Small games can lead to big deals

People who work in the video game industry are extremely fluid. Designers, developers and directors frequently move from company to company, or form their own startup studios. Today’s little indie game developer asking for a dozen lines could easily be a voice casting director at for a major AAA blockbuster game 2 years down the road. So don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to a tiny VO session for a low-budget indie game– you never know where that director will end up down the road.

9. Excel is as important as ProTools

Managing the details is crucially important in dialogue for video games. Mundane issues such as filename conventions, versioning, properly tracking the script and managing/tracking actor improvisation can make or break a project. Fluency in spreadsheets such as Excel and Google Sheets is an essential skill for the game dialogue pipeline. I know of one person (a GameSoundCon speaker) who landed her first job in the industry in part because she was one of the only applicants to successfully complete the “spreadsheet macros” portion of the sound design take-home test she had as part of the interview process.

Game audio dialogue engineering has so many unique challenges that, in addition to spreadsheets, specialized game audio toolsets are often used to manage the whole process.

10. Virtual Reality is a whole new ballgame

Virtual Reality–and it’s close cousins Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality– present a whole new set of challenges. VR provides the player with such freedom of movement, it may require a whole new way of recording and implementing dialogue. Consider the impact of having to script, direct and deliver lines for a character conveying important information to a player, but must feel real and natural whether the player is in intimate conversation 6 inches from the character delivering the line, 3 feet away or on the other side of a large room.

Source: https://www.gamesoundcon.com/post/2019/09/09/dialogue-for-video-games-11-things-you-should-know

Hexany Audio’s Hiring Approach

Richard Ludlow is the Audio Director and co-founder of Hexany Audio one of the world’s leading companies specializing in game audio. He recently shared his company’s process and his own thoughts on how he hires sound designers and other employees at Hexany. (adapted from Richard’s twitter feed, with permission)

Step One: Your Demo Reel:

Our very first steps is a blind review of demo reels. We don’t look at names, years of experience, resume, or anything else. We’ll pass if your reel isn’t excellent. And if your link doesn’t work, we move on. Pro Tip: Test your link a private window before sending. We’re looking to hire video game sound designers. If your reel is 100% film and doesn’t contain anything at all from a game and your resume doesn’t have anything related to games, you’re probably not the best fit for this position. We are 100% fine with sound re-designs that aren’t from titles you actually worked on. So long as they showcase your work, we don’t care if they are from a game you didn’t work on. Audio-only reels are no good. We need to see sound work done to picture to tell what your creative intent was. Music, abstract soundscapes, and raw SFX without video aren’t helpful, and if you don’t have any examples of sound to picture, we’ll pass on your application. While not a factor in elimination, we don’t love reels that are entirely ‘stylized’ work. If you’re submitting all 8-bit work, spells or abstract concepts, it can be more difficult for us to gauge your abilities… …for example, we prefer a cinematic demo that is somewhat grounded in the real world, because we know what that sounds like and we can tell if you were able to successfully craft a scene that has less room for creative interpretation and a more expected end result. Did you record everything in your reel yourself? Bonus points for creativity! But if the end result isn’t incredible, we do not favor your process over the end result. We need to know you can make something amazing & at this stage we care much less about how you did it.

Step 2: Your Application

At this point, if we like your reel, we’ll look at the rest of your application. If you didn’t follow the directions when applying (e.g. naming your files the correct way, etc.) we flag you as not having an attention to detail. Attention to detail is critical in game work. We don’t immediately eliminate you for this, but looking back, we’ve never actually hired someone who didn’t follow all of our instructions explicitly. From here we look at your cover letter & resume. Not many things will eliminate you from consideration at this point, but one can be experience… …We hear from industry-seasoned candidates that they want to be considered for entry-level positions. But if we’re hiring an assistant position, it means we want someone who is a blank slate we can train. Likewise if we are hiring for a position with a ‘minimum years of experience’, we want candidates to meet that minimum. Too much or too little experience are absolutely factors.

Step 3: Your Interview & Sound Test

Next up is an interview. It’s extremely rare we pass on someone due to culture fit, personality, or anything else in this first interview. We’re looking to get confirmation your resume was truthful and that you love games. If so, you’ll probably get a sound test. Assuming you got an interview, the sound test is the #1 determining factor for us in hiring. This is your chance to shine, and is the primary driving force in our hiring decisions for sound design positions. This deserves all of your love and attention. The next step is the follow-up interview. This is where we want you to dive into your process for the sound test. Talk shop, give us details, and ask us questions. This interview will include myself, our lead sound designer, producer, and potentially others. In-Person Interview: Assuming that went well, we’ll want you to come over at this point and meet the team, see the studio, and socialize with us. You’ll be asked additional questions about experience, etc. to see if we think you’ll be a good fit for the job and the team. Final Thoughts 1: 99% of questions we receive through email or DMs can be answered by reading the job description and application. Sending us a question that can be answered by reading the position details doesn’t help get you noticed, it just wastes everyone’s time. Final Thoughts 2: When hiring for our sound design positions we are very focused on the quality of your work. Devote time to making your reel incredible and you’ll rise to the top for sure, even if things aren’t a perfect fit for this particular position.

This process is specific to Hexany and may not reflect how other companies do their hiring, but regardless of where you are applying, you can probably take Richard’s advice to heart when applying for your next sound design gig.

Although every company is different, looking for different things or having different emphases, over the years I’ve seen similar advice given by multiple audio directors for game companies large and small. Have a great demo reel. Pay attention to detail. Establish credibility in the interview. Keep the resume scrupulously honest. Focus on the end result

So before you send in your application for that sound design job, whether you’re looking for full-time employment at a company or as a freelancer, consider how your demo and application will look from Richard’s perspective and you’ll improve your chances of landing that sound design gig.

Source: https://www.gamesoundcon.com/post/getting-hired-for-game-sound-design-advice-from-hexany-audio-s-richard-ludlow

How to Get Hired as a Game Sound Designer

What are video game companies looking for when they need to hire sound designers or composers? Clearly skills like having a great ear, being fluent in modern recording techniques and knowing your way around a DAW are essential. But what specific skills or software are they looking for, above and beyond traditional sound design or composition expertise? What skills will put your resume on the ‘short list’ of people when deciding who to interview and hire?

To answer that question, we analyzed game audio job postings over a 4 month period from April through July 2020, looking at close to 100 job descriptions. We made note of what they listed as required or preferred skills and tabulated the results.

The jobs listed were salaried, employee-positions at companies; they do not reflect freelance work, such as a freelance composer or contract sound designer. Freelance work makes up about half of all game audio work. Also, for the purposes of this analysis, we did not track game audio jobs that were mainly computer programming jobs: i.e. “Audio Programmer” or other positions that did not include creating audio content.

Just about every job posting listed standard sound design skills such as familiarity with a DAW, audio creation tools, recording techniques and the like. So, we left out skills like recording, mixing, etc. However, we did count references to “ProTools” and “Reaper,” which were by far the most frequently called out DAWs.

Most Common Job Titles

There is no standard lexicon for game audio jobs. The most common job listing was for Sound Designer/Game Audio Designer, including everything from “Junior Sound Designer” to “Expert Sound Designer.” The table below shows the breakdown of job title as a percentage of all the job postings analyzed.

Skills Analysis

Below are the most frequently used terms in the job listings we looked at. Each listing was scanned for terms identical or similar to those below. The scan included the entirety of the job posting: the ‘required’ and ‘preferred’ sections of the job skills area as well as introduction and job function description. As noted above, we are leaving out standard sound design skills, such as “DAW” “professional audio tools” and the like, focusing on those most specific to game audio design.

Experience 69%

Not unexpectedly, the most frequently listed requirement was experience. Companies are looking for someone who can hit the ground running and is familiar with what it is like to work on a game project. Of note, however, is that although almost 7 in 10 job descriptions said that “experience” was a qualification, only about half of those specifically mentioned “AAA” experience, 36% in total. (AAA is the term the game industry uses for large-budget, multi-year games such as Red Dead Redemption, GTA and the like.)

Several job listings also implied that education might be a substitute for experience, though not for “AAA” experience (see education, below)

Wwise: 63%

More than 6 in 10 game audio job descriptions specifically called out Wwise as a required or preferred skill for their applicants. Wwise is specialized game audio industry software that takes sound and music files that you make in your DAW and puts it into an interactive format that can be integrated into the game itself. Wwise is completely free for the sound designer/composer and can be downloaded from www.audiokinetic.com.

Scripting 48%

The process of putting sound into a video game is more complex than dragging a sound onto the right point in a video timeline. Scripting—a sort of simple, ‘programming-lite’ is used to connect a game sound to a game action or event. Scripting was a skill listed in almost half the job postings that we looked at. Although no company expects their sound designers to be computer science majors, having a working proficiency in a scripting language such as Blueprints, C#, Python or Lua can be a big plus when applying for game sound design jobs.

In addition to scripting being used to hook sounds up to the game itself, it is common for a game sound designer to be expected to write simple scripts or bat files to facilitate their workflow. An example might be creating a Reaper script to batch export sound effects or reading dialogue file names from a spreadsheet to match the naming convention required by the game programmer.

Unreal: 41%

As we noted above, the act of putting sounds into a video game can be complicated and can vary based on what game engine the company is using to make their game. For larger, professionally produced games, the Unreal Engine is among the most popular. Someone familiar with Unreal understands how sound can be added to a game using Unreal’s Blueprints or game animations and generally knows how to get around in the Unreal Editor, and may even be fluent in a language like C++.

Formal Education 37%:

One surprising finding was the number of jobs that specifically mentioned that formal education, typically a Degree involving audio or music. 37% of the job listings stated that they preferred or required an applicant with a formal degree, preferably a degree in audio or music. Several of the job openings listed education as a possible alternative to experience, listed above.

ProTools: 38%

For specific audio software, Pro Tools was the most frequently mentioned DAW, with almost 40% saying it was a preferred or required skill. Note, however, that many of job postings listed more than one DAW, with phrases like “.. such as Pro Tools or Reaper…”

Reaper: 31%

Reaper is an increasingly popular DAW for game audio. One of its strengths for game audio production is its extensibility. Through its internal scripting language, it is relatively straightforward to create complex editing or export commands necessary for game audio. The game audio tools Wwise and FMOD also have taken advantage of Reaper’s scripting language to provide a smoother workflow.

FMOD: 24%

Like Wwise, FMOD—specifically FMOD Studio—is a specialized software tool that lets sound designers/composers create interactive sound effects or music in a format that can be more easily incorporated into the game. FMOD Studio can be freely downloaded at www.fmod.com.

Music Composition 23%

Almost a quarter of the game audio job listings we looked at said that having music composition skills was required or preferred. Note, however, that only 6% of job titles had the word “composer” in them, indicating that music composition was the primary job function. About half of the remining jobs that listed “composition” as a desired skilled said the job involved both sound design and music composition. In smaller studios, an employee may be asked to be able to do both music composition and sound design for a game, either by themselves or as part of a larger audio team.

Of those jobs that had “Composer” in the job title itself, 60% included “Wwise” in their list of required or preferred skills, with one in 5 also saying “Unreal” or “Scripting” was desired.

Unity: 23%

Similar to Unreal, Unity is a stand-alone game engine and editing environment somewhat more popular with smaller studios or indie games. A sound designer with Unity skills will know how to incorporate Wwise or FMOD into a game written with Unity as well as some simple C# (C-Sharp) programming and tagging of animations. Someone with Unity experience also is generally familiar with the Unity game editing environment, and how sound relates to other game components.

Other Skills Listed

Among the other skills listed as required or preferred, but not reaching more than 10% were: C++ (7%), Play an Instrument (6%), Agile (3%),Source Control (Perforce, SVN) (2%), Lumberyard (Amazon’s game engine) (2%) and 3D Art Tools such as Max/Maya (1%),

One final note: The skills listed above are generally technical and specific to game audio, and they are an important part of a game audio designer or composer’s toolbox. But it’s important to keep in mind that the job listings examined were all for content creation roles, where being able to create high quality sound and/or music is the primary skill required, and therefore assumed for all the job postings. In the end, it’s what comes out of the speakers that counts. Great C# skills won’t make up for a poor demo reel.

It is also important to keep in mind that the analysis may be somewhat biased towards larger companies’ listings; larger companies are likely to have larger audio staffs, resulting in more job postings. For this reason, some items such as Unity or FMOD Studio that are more common in smaller studios may be under-represented in this analysis

Getting a job in game sound design or game music composition can be extremely competitive. As reflected in the job postings, game companies are looking for qualified sound designers and composers with the specific technical skill sets listed above. If you want your resume to make it onto the ‘short list,’ when applying for a game audio design job, make sure your skills match what game companies are looking for today.

Read more at the GameSoundCon Blog

Brian Schmidt is a 33 year veteran of the game sound and music business and is the Founder and Executive Director of GameSoundCon

Source: https://www.gamesoundcon.com/post/game-audio-job-skills-how-to-get-hired-as-a-game-sound-designer

Das JUCE-Framework

Eines der bekanntesten Frameworks für die Entwicklung von digitalen Audioanwendungen und Audioplugins ist das JUCE-Framework. Das ist ein Framework, das speziell für die Programmiersprache C++ verfasst wurde. Es kann wie ein Werkzeugkasten betrachtet werden, mit welcher Audioanwendungen relativ einfach erstellt werden können, weil viele Lösungen für die Programmierung von DSP-Effekten bereitgestellt werden. Außerdem wird auch der rein technische Teil, wie das Erkennen von Treibern, die Kommunikation mit Wandlern usw. ebenfalls vom JUCE-Framework übernommen, womit sich der Entwickler der digitalen Klangverarbeitung widmen kann. Zusätzlich werden noch graphische Elemente zur Verfügung gestellt, welche die Interaktion zwischen Endbenutzer und Audioeffekt erleichtert bzw. überhaupt ermöglichen.
Als Alternative zu JUCE gibt es Steinbergs VST SDK und VSTGUI, welche älter sind, aber nicht so häufig geupdatet werden.

Neben dem, dass JUCE ein Framework ist, wird auch eine praktische Anwendung namens Procujer mitgeliefert. Das ist eine Oberfläche, mit welcher neue Projekte angelegt werden können. Es gibt eine Auswahl an Templates für unterschiedliche Projekttypen, wie z.B. standalone Audioanwendungen, VST-Plugins, reine Graphik-Anwendungen oder simple Konsolenanwendungen. Mit diesen Templates werden vorab erstellte Code-Fundamente geladen, welche mit eigenem Code gefüllt und erweitert werden können.

Projucer mit Template-Auswahl und weiteren Spezifikationen

Für die Verwendung von VST-Plugins wird ein Plugin-Host benötigt. Das ist in der Regel eine DAW wie Cubase, ProTools, Ableton usw.. Normalerweise müsste bei der Entwicklung von Plugins immer eine solche DAW neu geöffnet und dabei der Plugin-Ordner gescannt werden. JUCE ermöglicht das Testen eigens erstellter Plugins mithilfe eines eigenen Plugin-Hosts, welcher virtuelle Audio- und MIDI-Inputs und Audio-Outputs bietet.

Für den Einstieg in JUCE gibt es auf der Website des Herstellers mehrere Tutorials zur Programmierung von kleinen Audio-Anwendungen. Auch werden allgemeine Konzepte des Digital Signal Processings (DSP) erklärt, was die Vorraussetzung ist bei der Erstellung digitaler Audioanwendungen. Zusätzlich wird eine umfangreiche Dokumentation mitgeliefert, welche alle einzelnen Bausteine des Frameworks erläutert.






Musik Vortrag Ringvorlesung

Im folgenden sind die Ideen und die Vorträge in Notizen niedergeschrieben, um Sie für spätere Überlegungen festzuhalten. Die Vorlesungen mit den Professoren fanden kurz vor Corona statt.

Prof. Dr. Raymond MacDonald

What is music, health and wellbeeing – and why is it important?

Prof MacDonald ging nach einer improvisierten Saxophoneinlage zunächst auf das musikalische Verständnis ein. Dazu versuchte er zu vermitteln, dass jeder musikalisch sei. Als Beispiel zeigte er z.B. ein Video von zwei Kleinkindern, welche noch nicht sprechen konnten, sich jedoch musikalische Laute zur Verständigung nutzen, mit Elementen wie Tempo- und Pitchsynchronisation. Anschließend ging er darauf ein, dass jeder Mensch Musik mit seinen eigenen Ohren hört, und jeder seine eigene Interpretation hinzufügt, da es jeder durch kulturelle und persönliche Einflüsse geprägt ist. Musik ist dadurch auch eine Schlüsselrolle für die Identitätsfindung.

Danach ging MacDonald auf die Schmerzlindernden Effekte der Musik ein (Eiswasser – Hand – Experiment), welche im Krankenhausumfeld zustande kamen ein, da z.B. durch die emotionale Bindung an ein Stück eine Ablenkung entsteht. Dadurch lässt sich eine untrennbare Verbindung zwischen Bewegung und Musik erkennen. Zur Musik als Kommunikation erwähnte er, dass beim Sprechen nur einer reden kann, beim Improvisieren(Musizieren) kann jeder gleichzeitig spielen und sich abstimmen. Daher ist gemeinsames Musizieren sehr wichtig für die sozialen Aspekte und die Gruppendynamik sehr wichtig, eine Art Kommunikation. Als Hauptstützpunkte seines Vortrages spezifizierte er Music Education, Music Everyday uses, Music Community und Music Therapy. Zuletzt zeigte und analysierte MacDonald eigene Aufnahmen seiner Töchter, die bekannte britische Volkslieder singen, jedoch in völlig falschen Tonhöhen, wobei das Lied trotzdem erkennbar bleibt. Er analysierte anhand seiner Punkte die Aufnahmen und verdeutlichte dadurch diese.

Alison Short

Using music to improve music in Emergency rooms

Der Focus bei diesem Vortrag lag bei “Auditory environment” and “music therapy”, also die auditive Umgebung und Musiktherapeutischen Effekte in Krankenhausumgebung. Sinn dieser Forschungen ist, die grundsätzliche Befriedigung zu verbessern, da viele Menschen die Lautstärke einfach ertragen. In Krankenhäusern ist die Lautstärke durch den Alarm von Geräten oder Schichtwechseln sehr hoch und kann vorallem in der Notaufnahme sehr laut werden. Die Durchschnittslautstärken wurden in verschiedenen Krankenhäusern gemessen (Durchschnitt 64dB (normal 55dB)), wobei diese vorallem als kurze, scharfe und laute geräuschen

definiert werden. Außerdem verursachen mehr Leute auch mehr Geräuschpegel, wodurch bei Schichtwechseln oder in vollen Warteräumen die Lautstärke zum Teil unbewusst sehr hoch ist. In den von Alison Short durchgeführten Studien sollte herausgefunden werden, ob Musik in Krankenhäusern gespielt werden sollte und wenn ja welche. Diese sollte vorallem eine beruhigende und entspannte Athmosphäre schaffen. Herausgefunden wurde, dass Musik in Warteräumen einen positiven Effekt aufweisen kann, ein weiter Vorteil ist, das Musik einen Therapeutischen Aspekt hat, ohne einen anwesenden Musiktherapeuten.

Clarence Barlow

Algorithmic Compositions 

Clarence Barlow ist ein Musiker/Mathematiker, der versucht seine Werke ausschließlich durch Algorithmen zu erstellen. Dazu gehört zum Beispiel die Verbindung von Buchstaben und Noten/Klaviertasten um Textmusik zu erstellen. Daraus konnte er mit Textsoftware Briefe schreiben lassen, die auch die Tonarten mit einbeziehen. Er versucht außerdem die Verträglichkeit von Tönen im Bezug auf Verhältnisse zu untersuchen und geht da bei vorallem auf „Indegestibility“ und „Harmonicity“ ein. Also Musik die gut, oder weniger harmonisch klingt, hauptsache interessant. Barlow erstellte ein Programm namens Autobusk, welches autonom Musik in Midinoten schreiben kann, und entwickelte einige Schemata nach denen dann die Stücke komponiert werden, geht dabei aber oft nach wichtigen Mathematischen Folgen oder Algorithmen. Zuletzt berichtete er noch etwas über seine Forschung über die „Analysis of whitenoise“ und warum nicht jede Frequenz darin enthalten ist, und das multidimensional scaling, mit Karten von Klarinettenspielern.