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Estimated fee for game composition...
Old 29th August 2013
  #1
Estimated fee for game composition...

Possibly getting involved doing the soundtrack for a video game, this is with an indie game company, but they have a decent budget with their Kickstarter campaign (+500k), with part of their budget being outlined as going towards the soundtrack.

I currently work in the commercial world, where I've had songs licensed anywhere from 3k to 35k (huge range there), and know nothing about what is considered standard for a game soundtrack. I've seen numbers on here like $500/minute, which seems somewhat low, but is that normal for this kind of gig? Commercials are 30 seconds mostly, sometimes 60, so it just doesn't seem like a reasonable amount given the amount of work. What about percentage of sales, is that something that can be negotiated if there is a low fee upfront? Also, how many minutes of music is typical for a game? (I guess that's specific to the type of game..)

Thanks!
Old 29th August 2013
  #2
Anyone?
Old 30th August 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Hi.

$500/min is rather low if you are an established composer scoring a game for a major dev. It's on the high side if you have no prior experience in the gaming world, and the co. is a startup with a person or two working out of their houses. Basically, the rates can be anywhere from $25/min to $2,000/min.

Try to get a feel for how much music they will need, and for what their budget is. Ask them. Say, "what's your music budget for this?" And try and go from there.

Good luck!
Old 6th September 2013
  #4
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

with a budget of around 500k then it would be very unlikely that they'd go above 25k for music. However - more details.... style, minutes of music and number of pieces. Also what are the uses and what would they want to do with the music on a tech level.
Old 7th September 2013
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
with a budget of around 500k then it would be very unlikely that they'd go above 25k for music. However - more details.... style, minutes of music and number of pieces. Also what are the uses and what would they want to do with the music on a tech level.
Cool. Thank you, that gives me a good idea of what to be expecting.
Old 8th September 2013
  #6
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Amber's Avatar
 

First off. Congrats on the gig. I think I know the game you're talking about (I got in touch with them myself). I need to work on some video game music stuff for my demo reel!
Old 30th May 2015
  #7
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Sam Watson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
with a budget of around 500k then it would be very unlikely that they'd go above 25k for music.
Old thread - resurrecting. That is a useful figure, Narcoman. Most things I see for features put the music budget at 3%. So games might go up to 5%.

What do they allocate percentage wise for audio production? I know your company does audio work for games via fmod in addition to music. (Yes?) Do most companies separate out that budget? Seems like on the indies the composer also wears the sound designer hat.

I'd love to hear more from any experienced folks out there. I've been hired as a composer for media & promos surrounding an innovative game with a genuine shot at very solid crowdsourced funding. I'd love to step into that world further - I've always loved immersive games!

Best,
Sam
Old 30th May 2015
  #8
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Watson View Post
Old thread - resurrecting. That is a useful figure, Narcoman. Most things I see for features put the music budget at 3%. So games might go up to 5%.

What do they allocate percentage wise for audio production? I know your company does audio work for games via fmod in addition to music. (Yes?) Do most companies separate out that budget? Seems like on the indies the composer also wears the sound designer hat.

I'd love to hear more from any experienced folks out there. I've been hired as a composer for media & promos surrounding an innovative game with a genuine shot at very solid crowdsourced funding. I'd love to step into that world further - I've always loved immersive games!



Best,
Sam
hi!

games are actually pretty terrible of budget. There never is a "if the game is this much budget then audio must be this".

I worked on a mobile title two years ago. budget was about $1.5million. It was only a couple of days work. I was paid about £3k all in. the game had no royalties (illegally i might add since it is a download game!!).... the game has since grossed around $100million in pay to play revenues. Terrible company...

I mixed the score for a very well known game with a budget of around 35 million pounds. I recorded the score over two days in abbey road. that cost about 70k. I was paid £18,000 for two recording days and the week it took to mix. The composer was paid just over £90k.

I helped out on another big budget game only doing the recording for one of the composers. The entire budget for the game was $50million. The music budget - £1200 a minute and 50 minutes of music from each composer.

Big budget pays a max of around $2000 a minute. Most pay rather less. Most iOS games will be looking for you to do everything fro $1500 to $10000 regardless of budget.

Another very well known franchise pays $200 a day and gets you to itemise your days.

They ALL do work for hire no matter what the legality in any territory. As soon as someone has the guts and bank balance - video games companies are set for a dirty court case!!!

I should write a book on this; the books i have seen are usually from people who've done very little in the way of product and just talk about method..... I think people may be more interested in money, contracts and real expectations.... .... maybe! dunno!!
Old 30th May 2015
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Sam Watson's Avatar
Narcoman! THANKS for the great info!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
I worked on a mobile title two years ago. budget was about $1.5million. It was only a couple of days work. I was paid about £3k all in. the game had no royalties (illegally i might add since it is a download game!!).... the game has since grossed around $100million in pay to play revenues. Terrible company…
Wow. I mean 3k pounds for a couple days work is good money - especially given the exchange rate to USD. But they REALLY cashed in on the gross sales!! It seems like if you retain songwriter's royalties (even if you grant publishing & master recording) one should be entitled to royalties. On CD sales it is mechanical royalties. But usually composers DON'T get it on DVD sales or theatrical showings in the U.S. So illogical. We need to strive for better contracts. Even if it were a penny per download you'd be doing well! A million downloads means an extra $10k!


Quote:
I mixed the score for a very well known game with a budget of around 35 million pounds. I recorded the score over two days in abbey road. that cost about 70k. I was paid £18,000 for two recording days and the week it took to mix. The composer was paid just over £90k.
So 90k + 70k + 18k = .005% of the budget!!!! Half a percent.

Quote:
Big budget pays a max of around $2000 a minute. Most pay rather less. Most iOS games will be looking for you to do everything fro $1500 to $10000 regardless of budget.
These numbers are not shocking. $10k for an indie feature is not uncommon. Although the complexity of the task could be monumentally higher in games than in features due to the programming requirements. If they just want music & SFX stems and they are going to do the technical work in middleware then that's not bad. But if you have to supply a lot of that implementation then the money will be quickly spent in talented and skilled man hours.

Quote:
Another very well known franchise pays $200 a day and gets you to itemise your days.
That's peanuts for such skilled work and I live in the poorest state in the U.S. We have a strong film tax incentive and thus get a lot of low ball indies here. They are often looking for crew for $200 / day and have a hard time crewing for that. (Of course, features shoot 12 hr / day minimum. Often 16+ hrs. You do the math. It's a grind. I turn them down.) Honestly, it is completely normal going rate for a sound man with a basic audio package to earn $650 / 10 hr workday for commercials & TV production in the field - plenty of it for talking head easy interview programs. Our skillsets as composers and sound designers & mixers are deeper and more expansive and should be priced accordingly!!

Quote:
They ALL do work for hire no matter what the legality in any territory. As soon as someone has the guts and bank balance - video games companies are set for a dirty court case!!!
Agreed! On the promos material from the very first bid I included my retention of writer's copyright and a right to soundtrack album use, etc. We'll see if the game gets off the ground how it works out.


Quote:
I should write a book on this; the books i have seen are usually from people who've done very little in the way of product and just talk about method..... I think people may be more interested in money, contracts and real expectations.... .... maybe! dunno!!
I'd buy that! SERIOUSLY. It is the same on the film scoring side. Lots of books have info about the writing process and such. Only two have good information about fees & contracts!! And that is **critical** information for being a working pro! Otherwise, you might not survive long enough to build a career.

I've started looking into some sites you mentioned elsewhere concerning middleware for game audio in an effort to broaden my horizons. (stephanschutze.com, etc.) Amazing stuff. Very cool and exciting to me as a sound nerd.

Thanks again & cheers,
Sam

Last edited by Sam Watson; 30th May 2015 at 08:16 PM..
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