Making game music (new attempt!!!)

  • Since my bands going nowhere (I cannot find a good singer!!!) I was thinking about trying something else to pass the time.

    Maybe try to write some game music? I like old RTS / RPG games from the late 90s / early 2000s so that's my main inspiration I guess.

    My initial thought was trying to get in touch with some indie game developer and make music for them, there should always be some who makes old school RPG / RTS games and I think I could deliver decent enough music for that kind of games 8)

    What do you others think?? :rolleyes:

  • Once upon a time, in a previous life, I ran a sales consulting company and made a living training and teaching people how to sell stuff. Not my finest hour, but the bills got paid. Back then we used to have a saying, "Nothing happens until a sale is made." It means nothing about your product or business matters unless someone will actually pay you for it. And for that to happen, you need a salesperson.

    No matter what your creative talents (music, vfx, screenwriting, etc.), most people who strike out into the freelance world focus almost exclusively on "doing the thing," holding the common but mistaken belief that producing a high quality thing is the ticket to making money. Back then, I would routinely laugh people out of interviews who told me, "Well, if it's a good product I can sell it." My reply was if the product was so good that it sold itself, why the hell should I pay commissions to salespeople? (I was also kind of a jerk back then.)

    You're obviously a talented musician and your work, including this piece, is always high quality. But that's not going to get you gigs. Even though this won't make sense to most musicians, I promise you that the quality of your music is at the very bottom of the list of the things that will help you make money with it. Yes, I know. Blasphemy.

    At this point, most creative types simply stop listening, because a) it's not what they want to hear and b) all they really want is to "do the thing" and somehow magically get paid for it. It's not a realistic perspective so unsurprisingly, hardly any of them make money. The term "broke musician" is redundant for a reason.

    The things that will get you paid are all about sales and marketing. You can take the world's most average music, pair it with an excellent salesperson, and make a thousand times more bucks than a virtuoso musician who doesn't want to be bothered with all that salesman stuff. This applies to pretty much any product on the market, by the way, so it's easy to see in practice.

    If you learn the fundamentals of sales and marketing, have a thick enough skin to take the rejection of 99 "No!" answers to get to one "Yes," and are willing to spend lots and lots of time on trying to make those sales, you have a much better chance of making money. Even if your music is crap. The fact that yours is good offers almost no perceptible advantage at all.

    Another concept sales professionals understand is that it's all about running the numbers. I once had a client's salesperson complain that she couldn't make any money because 7 people had told her no that day. I explained that this was her problem. If 50 people had told her no, she'd be making some money. This particular person actually got it (it's a waste of time explaining this to most since they're really just looking for an excuse rather than results). She greatly increased the number of people she was contacting each day, and ended up being that client's top producer. If you only close 1% of the people you talk to, then you need to talk to 100 people to get a sale. Want 3 sales? No problem. Talk to 300 people. It's that simple.

    This really is the way things work, but hardly any creative people are willing to do anything but their creative thing. Not surprisingly, they don't make any money with their art. A rare few put in the effort to learn sales and marketing (and no, that doesn't mean post on social media and hope for the best, no matter how many bloggers write about it). They put in even more work each week looking for leads, contacting them and making effective sales presentations. Occasionally, some of their work is even high quality, but that almost never matters.

    I was thinking about trying something else to pass the time.

    If you have time to pass, learn the fundamentals of selling. There's a lot of books out there with a fair amount of BS you have to sift through, and a much higher percentage of BS on websites since there's no barrier to entry - anyone can write a blog post. Learn how to define what your market is, who the authorized buyers are, how to reach them, what they want to hear when you speak, how to construct an effective sales pitch, what a closing question is, what a rebuttal is, where to find leads, etc. It's a lot of work, and not nearly as fun as playing guitar. But if you put in the effort, you'll make money. Posting your stuff on music sharing sites and hoping for the best may pass a little time but it will accomplish little else. There's no big, black limousine waiting to discover you and whisk you away to profitability.

    There was a time in my life when I made a decent amount of money selling before I started training others. I could put on a thick skin, deal with hostility, sell absolute crap for seven times what it was really worth (like I said, not my finest hour) and put money in the bank. And yet, I could never bring myself to apply those proven principles to selling my own music because that's a portal to my soul, and the rejection would make it past the thick skin. So, even though I was good enough at selling to teach others how to make a living, I still have my own blind spots.

    I'm also a writer with a few books behind me, so I tried freelance copywriting. I was effective at making sales and got clients. Then one day, as I was writing copy for a trifold brochure about industrial floor mats, I realized that there was no joy in making money with my writing if I had to write about crap products (even though the client loved my work). What I wanted was to write "my thing," which I can assure you had nothing to do with the durability of certain types of flooring material. Once again, my product - the writing - was too personal for me to enjoy selling it. So I quit.

    If, unlike me, you can approach your music with detachment and just treat it as a product without having any personal feelings about it, then you can run the numbers and will eventually build up a client base. If you can't, knowing your blind spots is also a worthwhile realization since you won't waste time going down an unproductive path that you wouldn't enjoy.

    Periodically I share thoughts like these with creative types who want to make money with their art. Predictably, the response tends to be crickets. People are usually just fishing for folks to to tell them what they want to hear. However, you've always struck me as being pretty intelligent, so I thought I'd give you something useful if you really want to make a go of selling you music. Hope it helps.

  • Chris Duncan speaks the truth. I've been selling my own music for adverts through my own company for over 10 years, and luckily it's not my only source of income! The market isn't what it was when I first started, as there are so many online licensing libraries peddling poop for peanuts that it's difficult to convince the money men that quality costs. Fortunately, I have steady clients that can appreciate what I can offer in comparison to off-the-peg productions that they can buy a license for for €45 online, so I can still be creative, while not worrying that I'm not selling enough and have to spend more time schmoozing. That, and that I have a well-paid day job. Between playing guitar for fun, composing for sync occasionally and my day job as a sound designer, things are good, though I'm not sure I'd want to put the effort in to making a real go of the composing thing, if it came down to it. Getting someone to manage the sales push is definitely the way I'd go, if it were me. Good luck, min svenske nabo, you've got skills, so I hope you get to profit from them.

  • Cool to hear of your success, especially in a world where people think anything creative should be free.

    I've reached the point where I take a similar approach to life. I make a living as a programmer, which is something I enjoy doing, and my creative stuff is all non-critical adventures on the side. I'm currently working on my first fiction book (all my previous ones were career / business) and if it does okay, I'll enjoy the extra cheeseburgers. If not, like you, the day gig is still paying the bills.

    I also find that having that security makes me less stressed about it all, which in some abstract, philosophical kinda way just seems to make things go better.

    Getting someone to manage the sales push is definitely the way I'd go, if it were me.

    That would be my preference as well, but it's chasing unicorns. As a guy who used to hire salespeople, I found that the only thing harder than making a sale is hiring a capable and reliable salesperson. And that's before you even get into matters of trust, salespeople being who they are.