How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Advice on everything from getting your music heard to setting up a label and royalties.

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How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by MusicGuy32 »

hey guys, a friend of mine wants to make a game app and i want to do some music for it but i want better to make also a contract with him, friend or not you never know :P, so i read around the web that people take for each track around $50 to whatever!

but what about royalty fees?

should you also get paid for each sold game app?

do you have any examples?
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Martin Walker »

Back in the 80's and 90's I completed over 100 freelance music/ sound fx projects for the computer game industry, and they were always for a lump sum.

Royalties were never an option for musicians in my experience.

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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by The Red Bladder »

As Martin stated - no royalties! In film, even the biggest names do not get (or want!) royalties. It is not a question of fee + royalties, but a question of fee OR royalties - i.e. non of that cake and eat it malarkey!

You can ask for royalties, but then you need to have the mechanisms in place to monitor sales - and that becomes a minefield!

As there are hundreds-of-thousands of game apps out there, the chances of him selling any of these apps is slight, almost to the point of being non-existent (unless of course he has a seven-figure marketing budget!)
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by MusicGuy32 »

thx guys for the replies, so for the industry i wonder why they dont take royalties? doesnt music artists get a few percentage of each sold song/album etc?

i always thought e.g. you compose for a movie you get not once paid but also for each sold dvd/blu ray or whatever ?

and if not what if you say ok i want the soundtrack as an additional one to be sold can you then say i want e.g. 30% off the sold price or something?

just stupidly asking! :) thx
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Arpangel »

I'm a member of the MCPS, it collects payments for the use of our tracks, this is what it says on their website, it pays royalties when our music is,

"copied as physical products, such as CDs and DVDs
streamed or downloaded
used in TV, film or radio"

In your case I think it’s all about a one-off agreement.
It’s a complex area and you have to be on your toes, you mustn’t be complacent, seek further advice from a specialist is my advice, and don’t think it’s not a lot of money, and it’s not worth it, that may be the case now, but things can change dramatically, believe me.
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That would be an ecumenical matter.

Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Rousseau »

Apart from fees, and of course soundtrack sales, PRS has an agreement with Sony PlayStation store. The first payment we got was in a May distribution in 2016 iirc, and the next one is due in this December’s distribution.
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Mike McLoone »

As Martin and Red Bladder have pointed out, there are no royalties in video games for the audio person.

>do you have any examples?

The first indie game soundtrack I did, I worked for free to get my name on something. The game sold 17,000 physical copies, so I guess they made a profit. The talk of "we're super impressed, people are asking for the music to be released, we're definitely gonna get you back for the next project and there will be a decent music budget!" amounted to nothing in real life. Lesson learned!

If you can get 50 bucks a track, take it! You will likely make more money out of the project than the developer themselves in the over-saturated app landscape.

There is a separate forum on each of the game developer websites, for budding composers to advertise their services. I guess they got tired of them spamming the main threads about coding. The composers are mostly offering to work for free. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

On a more positive slant, some real world figures could be:

AAA title on XBox/PS - Audio budget might be 10k - HOWEVER, this would have to cover all orchestral recording, session musicians, studio time etc. What's left over the composer might get.

A well established composer in the game audio field, let's say you are the Hans Zimmer of the game audio world, you could expect 4k per project as your fee. This is the top end. Very few people get this kind of money.

If you have some credits and a proven track record, so to say, entry level professional fee might be 2k for a project.

You will have to find out what the audio budget is for each project which comes your way. There is no flat fee you can just charge everyone. You can try to probe this when discussing with the developers.

Bare in mind that you will pay income tax on all that, so you only perhaps get half, depending on where you live. Then you got to pay for your studio equipment, acoustic treatment, software, furniture, rent, heat, electric, air-con, internet connection, web-hosting, business cards and the necessary coffee making equipment! What's left over, you might put towards luxuries such as food.

As for the rate of work, expect to knock out 3-4 minutes of orchestral music per day. That includes writing from scratch through to a basic mix. For purely electronic music you might have significantly more output, 2 or 3 tracks per day. It's called industrial composing for a reason!

Other useful talents for the game industry would include some experience with game engines (Unreal, Unity etc) and "integration" (the importing and setting up of the sound effects & music within the game). Smaller developers will have an audio person rather than separate composer and audio techie roles, and it's the audio person who will write the music (or find/buy music externally), make the sound effects and bring all of it into the game engine.

The speed at which you can work is important, not only that you can deliver on time and meet deadlines, but also because it decides what you are getting paid per hour. If you can knock out a soundtrack in 5 working days and get 250 for it, it's 50 per day. If you take two weeks to do the same thing, you are getting 25 per day. So half the pay, for the same work.

One useful book is by Aaron Marks, worth checking out:
Complete Guide to Game Audio: For Composers, Sound Designers, Musicians, and Game Developers, ISBN-13: 978-1138795389, ISBN-10: 1138795380

There is also an article "Getting Started In Music For Video Games" in the September SOS magazine.

Good luck!

Best,
Mike
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Sam Inglis »

Budgets for the very top titles can be orders of magnitude higher than that. I know of one game released this year where the total audio budget was over £5 million and more than half of that was spent on the music. But, yes, those are very much the exception.
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Mike McLoone »

Sam Inglis wrote: Fri Oct 29, 2021 10:56 am I know of one game released this year where the total audio budget was over £5 million and more than half of that was spent on the music.

Ooops! I guess you've spotted it. I'm not ashamed to admit, I am at indie game level. Not AAA. There, I said it.

Yes there are titles which cost 500M to make. But just starting off, as the OP is, will invariably mean more haggling over much smaller audio budgets. No hundreds of voice over actors, thousands of hours of dialogue to edit or booking of Abbey Road and a full orchestra. Sure, for AAA titles, there is an audio department, with a staff hierarchy and the composer will be one of those, either working on hire or in-house. The audio budget will expand to reflect this.

On the other end of the spectrum, I was once called up by a disgruntled CEO for a contract negotiation; "You want how much?? Forget it! I have three CVs right here from composers in Asia that will do it for a fraction of that. I'll give you half. Take it or leave it."

My advice to anyone encountering such a situation is akin to the Top Gear slogan of realising one is inspecting a dodgy second hand car, "Walk away."

On a more positive note, here's a nice article "How to Get Your First Job Composing for Video Games" by Leon Willett:
http://www.leonwillett.com/leonwillett. ... Games.html

What about the other composers on here? As the OP asked, what do you charge?

M.
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Rousseau »

Mike McLoone wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 9:02 am
What about the other composers on here? As the OP asked, what do you charge?

M.

I work on AAA titles (as well as film and TV), and each one is different feewise. But as I mentioned above, royalties are paid out on soundtrack sales and streaming etc, and Sony PlayStation store via PRS so a few revenue streams beyond fees these days.
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by blinddrew »

This popped up somewhere recently and might be worth a look: https://www.gamesoundcon.com/post/game- ... urvey-2021
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Re: How much do you charge? Any contracts available?

Post by Mike McLoone »

Rousseau wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 3:48 pm I work on AAA titles (as well as film and TV), and each one is different feewise.

Want to shed any light on your per-minute rates? 200? 500? 1000?

I had said 200 per minute was a good starting point earlier in this thread ( 20min at 200 = 4k). Then we had an example of 125K per minute (20min at 125K = 2.5M). I will hazard a guess that the everyday reality is somewhere between the two extremes, say 400 per minute for an AAA game these days.

I guess the PRS payout from Playstation Store, this is not by accident, I mean it was part of a contract negotiation?

I have read online about composers complaining that games companies do not fill out the meta-data correctly which could leave the extra revenue streams somewhat patchy.

M.
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