Making music, or whatever, for a customer?

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  • Hi guys.

    Was wondering how other people went about it when they need to produce something creative for someone else's game. I've agreed to make music for someone. Currently I make small bits of 30-60 seconds, he says what he likes and dislikes and I make something new. I've realized this could end up taking forever. The problem is that he, like many customers, doesn't know exactly what he wants. Friends have suggested I write up a questionaire to send to people.

    How do you guys go about it?

  • I am currently working on a short film with a similar client. With the addition that the client I have wants to control/dictate how I compose the music. So I know your pain!

    Deadlines are a powerful tool. You know best how much time it takes to compose a complete cue/track. You need the client to make decisions so that you can deliver. If a deadline is coming it is okay to remind the client of it since you are both in the same boat.

    Did the client have any temp tracks or placeholder music? To save yourself from working for nothing, have the client give your reference music. It sheds light to the mind of the producer/director. Has the client expressed genres he likes or associates with the game? Any artists?

    If you start to get frustrated or confused, just confront the client about the indecisiveness (I guess that is the word..?). "Sit down" with the client and talk through piece by piece what is his vision and especially how he wants the player feel. Game music is about arousing emotions and telling a story in the end.

    I never begin composing unless I have more or less clear understanding of what the client is thinking. !!NOTE!! Culture and language can be a major major MAJOR hinder in artistic communication.

    What ever the case, ceep calm and stay professional! There isn't really a silver bullet there. I guess it was one of the bigger Hollywood composers that once expressed that being a composer is sometimes being like psychologist. You must interpret often vague and/or contradicting descriptions of directors and somehow make sense of what they are trying to tell you whether they are actually saying it or not.

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  • Charge an hourly or daily wage... They make their mind up much quicker when they are paying for your time.

    They will also make more of an effort to portray exactly what they want so you do not waste the time they are paying for.

    I do 3D and 2.5D artwork, and it is about the same way. They want you to work endlessly for free to come up with some masterpiece for their game, yet they are too $#%!ing lazy to even spend time sketching or describing what they want. Most of the time the work is to Par , but while you are working for free, they will abuse your time to the fullest extent possible. As soon as you set cash boundaries for them they decide on things really quick. Their art visions suddenly become LUCID.

    Ask them to give you links to song they like, and want you to mimic. Then you have at least a starting point. Ask what they like about the song. The instruments? The beat? They way it is uplifting or down beat?

    It is good to give them little time up front so they see who you are and how you work, but after a hour or so, start the meter running. Free samples are great to get your name around but you need to make sure your employer is serious too.

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