How to Choose a Composer for Your Game

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you thinking about whether or not to hire a composer for your game? As a game music composer myself (learn more about me), I have worked with many indie game developers and indie game studios and understand the difficult choices that you have to make in finding the right person to work with and join your team. Here are some tips that I hope will help you in your search for finding the best composer for your project...

1. Know what you want

Do you want someone who will become a longer-term contributing member of your team or do you want someone that you can turn to on an ad hoc basis? Is this a one-off project or are you looking to establish a relationship with a composer that you can work with on several projects? 

2. Know what kind of person you want to work with

This is the same for whatever job / role or project you are hiring for. It is always easier to find someone who will work well with you, if you know what attributes and type of character you are looking for.

In most cases I believe that it is important to find someone that you can

·      Trust to deliver amazing music for your game

·      Communicate easily with

·      Respect and who respects you, your team and your vision

·      Discuss your ideas with openly

·      Bring to life your vision for your game.

(Also see 6 Ways to Spot a Bad Composer Before it's Too Late!)

3. Know what kind of music you like

Many composers can write in a variety of styles, however, they will also often have a certain style that comes across in all of their music. First, identify what type of music you are after for your game and the different styles that interest you.

Then when looking for the right composer for your project, listen to what they’ve done in the past and see if it lands well with you. Listen to the quality of the audio, the melodies and tunes, the style of music – and establish whether you like what you hear or not (now that you will hopefully have a much clearer idea of what you’re looking for).

Have a browse through my various game music soundtracks to get some ideas and inspiration perhaps around what you might be looking for, for your game.

4. Think about what you’re willing to spend

Every game developer has a budget (or a lack of budget) to work with! Be really clear about how the music to your game fits into this. How important is the music to you and how important is it to the game? See my article on 5 Reasons to Invest in Great Game Music.

Some games rely quite heavily on having great music to bring it to life.  The quality of the music is often what makes the user experience either a brilliant and memorable one or a bad one. In other cases, the music takes a backseat – in which case you may want to spend less time and money on it compared to other aspects of your game.

Depending on where the music fits in the great scheme of things – think about the type of composer you are therefore looking for. Do you have a big budget which will give you the opportunity to work with a big budget composer – who will offer high production value, epic sounding, fully-orchestrated scores? Or do you have a more modest budget to work with? 

Finding the right balance between finding and enticing a good composer to collaborate with you, whilst also managing your budget can be an interesting challenge! However, once you’ve found the right composer for your project – you should feel that the collaboration and music is worthwhile and truly enhances your game. 

5. Think about how you want to work logistically

Do you need to see your composer in your ‘office’ in order to work well with them or are you happy to work virtually? Do you like emailing / skyping / sharing files through dropbox or Google Drive etc. Think about the type of set up that works best for you and make sure that whoever you work with, also thrives under that same set up. 

Finding the right composer for you can sometimes take a bit more time than simply picking a track from a production library and placing it into your game – but once you’ve found the right one, it can be the start of something amazing!

If you think I can help, contact me now, to explore how we can work together to great music for your game or project!

About the author: Ninichi is a freelance composer and sheet music publisher. She is the in-house composer for games company Quinton Studios and enjoys working on a range of composing projects for games, film, media and other commercial uses. 

Explore more of her articles & game music on her site or contact her to work with her on new projects.

Follow her @ninichimusic