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Creating soundtrack for mobile games--what to charge?
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yosemitesam
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#1
13th August 2011
Old 13th August 2011
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Creating soundtrack for mobile games--what to charge?

I'm a young producer, just got my first two paid music production gigs, and I'm trying to get more. I'm currently talking to a guy who is considering me to do the soundtrack for his mobile game. It would be six songs (five levels and a main screen) plus sound effects.

He said he's on a budget and asked me what I would charge. I have no idea what to tell him. Can anybody give me an idea of what might be fair?
Oop
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14th August 2011
Old 14th August 2011
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They all say they're on a budget! In fact everyone seems to be on a budget these days, it's just the audio guys who have magic pots of gold under their beds.

It all depends on how long it would take you to finish these tracks. How complex they need to be and if it's something you're comfortable with producing. Give him a package deal for the 6 tracks and tell him you'd do the sound effects for free. (Compensating for it in the package deal). It'll make him happy.

For a similar deal, I previously charged around USD1500. But, I didn't put a limit on the number of revisions. Sucks. It was a genre I wasn't familiar with and I kept getting it back to be revised or re-done.

Or, ask him what his budget is, see if that's okay with you, negotiate a little etc. If it's too low and not worth your time, check if you have anything better to do, if not just go for it since you're starting off and can add this to your portfolio.
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14th August 2011
Old 14th August 2011
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as a sales manager by profession, the piece of advice i can give you is get him to give YOU the number hes expecting to put out for quality work.

a few questions you can ask him to increase the potential value for your work are:

how important is the music to the overall production value of the game?

what kind of revenue do you expect the game to generate for you?

will you be producing more levels in the future and will they also need new music production?

based on all of that info you can just say...well all of that being the case, do you care to share your thoughts with me on what you had budgeted to acheive the sound quality your after?
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14th August 2011
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^ Yup.

My pappy always said "the first one to mention a dollar figure, loses".
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14th August 2011
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Thanks oop. Shanghai and tim, you guys are totally right. I'm just looking for concrete numbers so I know what the going rate is for this kind of thing.

I'm kind of embarrassed, don't scold me guys... But I said $100. I know now, I'm a dork and I underpriced myself. It is my first gig of this kind though, so I'm happy to be building my resume, portfolio, and network. And income, a little bit.

Anyway, anybody who is willing to put out more numbers for what this kind of work goes for, I'd appreciate it.

Oh, and if people have advice on how to handle revisions, that would help too. I can imagine those could be a real drag for an otherwise lucrative project.

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14th August 2011
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Everyone's gotta start somewhere dude. I did many gratis jobs when I first started out to build the portfolio, $100 would have been great Just don't starve to death!
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14th August 2011
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Also, once you're slightly established, it's good to demand for 30-50% advance while taking the job.

I guess, you can put a limit on revisions once you are fully established.

In my experience, this one client would approve the mix once I presented it to them. 2 weeks later they would come back saying they wanted the track to go in a different direction or some other excuse. (This is all in the game development stage). I did four revisions. and have received only 30% payment.


Yosemitesam, you learn a lot along the way. Different people have different experiences, some get lucky.
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14th August 2011
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Higher end titles can attract roughly $500 per minute for music, often more once recording fee's are included, just to put perspective into this.
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14th August 2011
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500-750 euros per minute OR per track, depending on how the track is used, if it's pattern based which loops forever etc. etc. etc. It's best to expect to get paid 500 euros per track so you won't feel blue afterwards.

If you have no previous experience, don't expect to get even that.

Also understand that you lose all the rights to your track, unless stated otherwise in the contract.
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14th August 2011
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Yeh asking for $100 was probably a bad move (peanuts really). Your client will keep coming back at you for new projects at this low rate, and scrubbing floors is not a good way to break through. Also, working for a crap price won't do anything for your sense of morale, and so in time you're more likely to cut corners, meaning you won't be happy with the music you're making. Your client will become addicted to finding newbies to do the music at low rates. As musicians, we need to stick together in unity to ensure we're keeping the average prices high for all of us. To be honest, it's bad enough having to compete internationally with people from far off places producing entire two hour symphonies for the price of a sandwich.

Generally I charge per 30 second block of music, but then multiply the final amount depending on technologies used. For example, a simple j2me MIDI composition isn't going to require much in the way of production or post-production. So I would classify that as tier 1. But iPhones and iPad games obviously are mixed at 44.1 CD quality.....so that would be tier 2. Upward from that you're moving into console territory which might require 5.1 surround, again would be a different tier.

So that model, as a guide only, works pretty well for me.
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15th August 2011
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1,000,000 euros
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1,000,000 euros




Seriously though, as the Joker says, "If you're good at something, never do it for free"




Apologies for all the movie shots..
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1,000,000 euros
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15th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yosemitesam View Post
I'm a young producer, just got my first two paid music production gigs, and I'm trying to get more. I'm currently talking to a guy who is considering me to do the soundtrack for his mobile game. It would be six songs (five levels and a main screen) plus sound effects.

He said he's on a budget and asked me what I would charge. I have no idea what to tell him. Can anybody give me an idea of what might be fair?
ask him to tell you the budget
then tell him what you can do for it
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15th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yosemitesam View Post
Thanks oop. Shanghai and tim, you guys are totally right. I'm just looking for concrete numbers so I know what the going rate is for this kind of thing.

I'm kind of embarrassed, don't scold me guys... But I said $100. I know now, I'm a dork and I underpriced myself. It is my first gig of this kind though, so I'm happy to be building my resume, portfolio, and network. And income, a little bit.

Anyway, anybody who is willing to put out more numbers for what this kind of work goes for, I'd appreciate it.

Oh, and if people have advice on how to handle revisions, that would help too. I can imagine those could be a real drag for an otherwise lucrative project.

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tell him you meant 100/track or effect not total
counting revisions as a new 100/track charge

i would charge by the minute of final content
and for every revision of it
based on the time it would take
so that i make a lot more than minimum wage
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15th August 2011
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It's very simple. Ask them what their budget is. Any production team has every aspect of a production budgeted for in advance. Budget isn't a bad word. If it higher than what you thought it might be..It's all good. If its lower, then you have to decide what taking the job will do for you. how busy are you. Can you afford not to take the job. But probably most importantly,, will it add to your body of work and possibly lead to more jobs in the future. The money part of music is important, but never let it encroach on your creative engine.
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15th August 2011
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Cool, thanks for the input everyone! So it sounds like US $200 - $500 per minute is in the ballpark of the going rate, for low or mid-level games. It also sounds like asking people what their budget is is pretty normal, and isn't likely to spook whoever I'm talking to.



If anyone else has input on how to handle revisions (do you have a policy on maximum number of times you can go back and forth? do you charge by the hour for revisions?), that would be great.
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16th August 2011
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I'm not trying to sound as if audio engineering is easy, but wow, you guys can charge that much hourly? Me thinks me chose the wrong line of work!

how great is that, doing something that you love with fat invoices.

I'm sure i'm not factoring in equipment costs etc. but still! cool.
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16th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonK View Post
I'm not trying to sound as if audio engineering is easy, but wow, you guys can charge that much hourly? Me thinks me chose the wrong line of work!

how great is that, doing something that you love with fat invoices.

I'm sure i'm not factoring in equipment costs etc. but still! cool.
Or the time it took to learn how to make music translate on all mediums.
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16th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonK View Post
I'm not trying to sound as if audio engineering is easy, but wow, you guys can charge that much hourly? Me thinks me chose the wrong line of work!

how great is that, doing something that you love with fat invoices.

I'm sure i'm not factoring in equipment costs etc. but still! cool.
It depends on how long it takes you to make a minute of music from composition to final production.

I think a common estimate is 8 hours, which would be $25 an hour.
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16th August 2011
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plus emails, phone calls, uploading... etc etc... far from fat invoices
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18th August 2011
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Dang....now where to go to sell my loops :P haha
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19th August 2011
Old 19th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldeanalogueguy View Post
tell him you meant 100/track or effect not total
Oh man, I talked to him on the phone today, and he asked me if I meant $100 total or $100/track, so I told him $100/track. Except I'm sure I sounded super awkward because I'm terrible at lying haha, but he semi-bought it enough that I'm pretty sure he's going to end up paying me that. So awesome, I'm getting paid six times what I asked for haha.
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19th August 2011
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nice! Hopefully he's not on GS
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19th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yosemitesam View Post
Thanks oop. Shanghai and tim, you guys are totally right. I'm just looking for concrete numbers so I know what the going rate is for this kind of thing.

I'm kind of embarrassed, don't scold me guys... But I said $100. I know now, I'm a dork and I underpriced myself. It is my first gig of this kind though, so I'm happy to be building my resume, portfolio, and network. And income, a little bit.

Anyway, anybody who is willing to put out more numbers for what this kind of work goes for, I'd appreciate it.

Oh, and if people have advice on how to handle revisions, that would help too. I can imagine those could be a real drag for an otherwise lucrative project.

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1500 is underpriced allready. When you guys dont need to live from that shit you maybe just shoudl do something else instead totally destroying the prices?

100 is really ridcolous... maybe you should clean theire office and kitchen aswell to make the package price more attractive to them. You know there are many kids out there that wouldnt even charge any money.


ok just read that you upgraded the fee allready..
I guess in the end of the job you will see that with 600.- the hourly rate for the invested time wont be really as good as the serving dishes rate.. when you are really fast maybe.. for me that thing sounds more like a week of work than one day..

I would say for 600 you have 2 days max 3. and you still would be very cheap for audio design and production services.
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19th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknobeam View Post
It's very simple. Ask them what their budget is. Any production team has every aspect of a production budgeted for in advance. Budget isn't a bad word. If it higher than what you thought it might be..It's all good. If its lower, then you have to decide what taking the job will do for you. how busy are you. Can you afford not to take the job. But probably most importantly,, will it add to your body of work and possibly lead to more jobs in the future. The money part of music is important, but never let it encroach on your creative engine.
the money part of music is not important.. but you are not doing music here. you do a soundtrack and fx production service. Somebody serves the dishes..another guy repairs washing machines.. its a service and service gets payed.

I really dont see that composing and sound design should be less payed than serving dishes or cleaning toilets ...

getting the rate for repairing washing machines would be great actually... but you cant even ask that for repairing ssl desks without giving the studio owner a heart attack..
so forget about the golden washing machine rates...
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19th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3phase View Post
the money part of music is not important.. but you are not doing music here. you do a soundtrack and fx production service. Somebody serves the dishes..another guy repairs washing machines.. its a service and service gets payed.

I really dont see that composing and sound design should be less payed than serving dishes or cleaning toilets ...

getting the rate for repairing washing machines would be great actually... but you cant even ask that for repairing ssl desks without giving the studio owner a heart attack..
so forget about the golden washing machine rates...
It's different because writing making music (and even SFX) is an art. Repairing a washing machine is simply about logic; there is a problem, generally there is usually only one solution, or at least only one range of solutions.

But music as with all other creative arts is a completely different skillset and cannot be appraised or priced via labour, or in the same manner as fixing an appliance. I mean, you could spend weeks on a piece of music, and the finished product could sound AMAZING, but still for some reason, as amazing as it is, the client decides to roll with a different piece. Music is.....in the eye of the beholder?

Where's a washing machine is either fixed....or it's not.
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19th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yosemitesam View Post
Oh man, I talked to him on the phone today, and he asked me if I meant $100 total or $100/track, so I told him $100/track. Except I'm sure I sounded super awkward because I'm terrible at lying haha, but he semi-bought it enough that I'm pretty sure he's going to end up paying me that. So awesome, I'm getting paid six times what I asked for haha.
Well done. Do a good job and remember not to sell yourself short in the future.
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19th August 2011
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Originally Posted by Oop View Post
They all say they're on a budget! In fact everyone seems to be on a budget these days, it's just the audio guys who have magic pots of gold under their beds.
BEST ONE!!!

* * *

Matter of fact, I was once told: what's wrong maan? you aint paying shit, no expenses, no travelling bla bla, just sitting in your plush chair with cappucino in the hand... why can't you make few beats for free?
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19th August 2011
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Well done. Do a good job and remember not to sell yourself short in the future.
sorry that is selling yourself short..

the details in the contract should match the low rate.

Like just a time limited transfer of rights and limited to the specified media/os.. So when they sell the game to another platform you get payed again.. or when it becomes for some strange reasons a classic and not just cybertrash and is still around in 20years.. not likely. So its actually not realistic that they really need unlimited time for such games. or you serve by accident the hook of a future pop hit...5 years should be well enough..10 in the max.

But usually the game guys want all rights unlimited.. But that has of cause another price than.

My opinion.
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