How to find Videogame Composer Gigs
Lately some composers I know have been asking me how I get to compose for video games: how I find projects and how I secure the gigs, so I decided to write this article. Here I will show you the places I go to find these projects and how I approach the people in charge of them. Let’s just go straight into it!
First of all, be aware that you are going to need a portfolio: a nice website with some of your compositions is a good option, but a tidy Soundcloud page will work too.
Where do game developers hang out? Where can you meet them? Where do they post their projects? These are questions you will need to ask you constantly as the industry shifts really quickly. Anyway, I found that I focus the majority of my research in these following platforms:
IndieDB: this is a very well known community of indie game developers where they post their projects and updates. You can browse projects, check the forum…
TIGSource: famous forum of game developers. Check the “DevLog” forum section to see new and active projects.
Twitter: there is a huge indie game development community in Twitter. It can feel like you are stranded in a desert island at the beginning, but once you start following indie developers your reach is going to expand and you will get a better impression of what’s going on in the community.
Let’s say you found a project you are interested in, so you need to contact the developer or the person in charge of communication. It’s possible that you won’t be able to find their e-mail in the platform you discovered the project, so do a google search with the project’s name and any relevant information you have like the name or nickname of the developer, and you will probably find their website, Facebook account, etc (and you will probably find their contact information somewhere).
Now you can contact the team, but you should take some things into account:
The development stage of the video game: your approach should be different if you see that the project is almost ready or if they just started developing some assets.
The size of the team: you will always want to be respectful, but your approach will also be different if you are contacting Sony than if you contact a solo developer.
Be professional and keep it short (these people don’t want to read your whole biography), offer solutions to their problems and see how it goes. The more relevant you can prove to be to the project the higher the chance you have to collaborate with them. This may seem obvious, but also check if they have a composer on board already!
Obviously not all of them will get back to you, but don’t give up, in the end it’s a numbers game: the more people you contact the more people is going to answer.
If you spend some time doing this you should get a couple of gigs. Work hard to give these people what they want so in the end you end up knowing and understanding each other: you will develop a relationship and they will want to work with you in the future (and recommend you to their game developer friends!).
With this I covered how to get gigs online, but hey, there’s an outside world out there (with HD graphics!) where you can have coffees and pints with developers as well (and can lead to more fulfilling and honest relationships). Here’s some ideas you can explore:
Meetup.com: there are loads of weekly meetings with indie developers to work together and share their experience, or just hang out with people with similar interests. Just do a quick search on the platform and you will find events in your city.
Video game conventions like Gamescon and E3: there are lots of them and everyone serious about it is going to be there. Here’s a link with a list of upcoming events you could attend: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/network/events
Look into game development courses and universities and send them an e-mail: the future of the industry is studying there and it could be a good investment to help some to-graduate students out with some music. Ask them to give your contact information to the alumni.
I have observed (and some developers have told me) that the amount of composers contacting indie game projects is increasing greatly: this is normal due the exponential growth the game industry (and media in general) is experiencing. But this also means that you will need to stand out and give a better impression than the other composers to get more and better gigs. If you really want to make it in this industry, I would recommend learning a bit of Unity (a game developing platform) and coding, and also Fmod and Wwise (middleware platforms to make and integrate interactive music into games). You can learn all of this online: Youtube is fine but they have a ton of courses in Udemy (they sell the courses for 10 bucks when they are on sale).
Video game music has its own aesthetics: there is a full story behind video game music, and the technical limitations composers had to face when composing for really old consoles ended up developing different styles and genres related directly to video games (like 8bit music). It would be advisable that you get familiar with this styles and ways to produce music.
Also, but not less important, play some video games and have fun, it’s going to make everything so much easier!
“Video game Music Academy” website.
“G.A.N.G." (Game Audio Network Guild).