“As with any freelancer or small business, to make a modest living from digital music, DIY musicians need to diversify their skillset and increase creative output.”
The acquisition of Bandcamp by Epic Games got me thinking about the creative opportunities for independent music artists. However, making music for video games requires a different set of skills. Music production for games is very different from writing free-form songs. The process for developing game music is similar to film scoring.
Film composers are generally commissioned by film makers, their creative freedom is limited to the on-screen visuals. They have to consider timings or repeating motifs. Much of the music overlaps and might sound less effective in isolation.
Interestingly, notice how the music you hear while watching a film has greater impact than the soundtrack album. The audio is mixed differently for cinema or streaming.
Logic Pro Ideal For Composing Game Music
DIY musicians can never hope that, by chance, one of their songs is chosen for inclusion in a blockbuster movie! But video game music is a more tangible opportunity. Many, many more games are produced than movies. Digital audio workstations (DAW) such as Logic Pro are perfect tools for composing digital music for games.
Game music needs to loop seamlessly and each part must be interchangeable. Like a jigsaw puzzle that has more than one solution. Because the action is controlled by the user. The composer consults with the game designer to determine all the possible scene variations. Just like film making, there will be storyboards and animated sequences to work with.
Commercial Music Funds Creative Freedom
If you can establish yourself as a skilled professional in game music design (or even film scores), then eventually your time is freed up to focus on creative projects. A reputation in delivering high end commercial music raises your profile, which means you have a better chance of selling your personal music, the albums you really want to make.
Most of us won’t be rock stars or Hollywood film directors. Instead we can improve our practical skills in music production. The next best thing is being at the cutting edge of technology, knowing how to produce music for a game, video sequence or advertisement.
Bandcamp Not The Only Game In Town
The streaming market is now beginning to widen. Even before selling to Epic Games, Bandcamp were no longer the only ethical music store. Resonate are a cooperative business and a platform worth considering for indie artists as an alternative. Though the listener reach is only in the thousands, the music streaming choices for fans will increase.
There are also options for artists to directly sell their music to fans by setting up their own store. This business model relies more on physical product sales, such as merchandise, including vinyl. While making CDs or vinyl is certainly desirable for indie artists, the market share is very tiny and contrary to the much publicised resurgence of vinyl.
Finding Success In A Fragmented World
There are many routes to achieving your goals in the music business. From commercial music, session work or sound engineering to marketing and music journalism. All realistic ways to make a living from music, that allows you to develop your skills and creativity as a musician. With economic stability you are better placed to then explore passion projects.
However, it is a difficult world we now live in. The global pandemic largely eradicated physical interactions. Networking with other people is vital to success in any business. Music making, more than any other industry, thrives on connections and spontaneity. Digital technology has changed music forever, so the only choice for musicians is to adapt.