music

4 Ways to Source Music for Your Game

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Music is an important element to any game. As a game music composer (see more about me!), I really believe that it helps to enhance the overall experience, to bring it all together and to set the general tone of the game. Great music can help to make your game more memorable, more fun to play and can even to make it stand out.

However, it is not always easy or obvious where to find the right music for a game or which approach to take. If you’re wondering what your options are and which way to turn, perhaps this article will help. There are also many other useful tips, articles and resources on my blog so do take a minute to browse through those as well.

In the meantime, here are 4 of the main ways to source music for your game:

  1. Stock music library

  2. Asking friends or a student / amateur musician

  3. Hiring a composer

  4. Making it yourself

1. Stock Music Libraries

These are also sometimes referred to as royalty-free music libraries, production music libraries or simply stock music. For those on a really tight budget, stock music can be a good option as it offers a variety of music available to use on a royalty-free basis, at a very low price. Some music is completely free, sometimes it requires attribution, other times you’ll have to pay but usually a low fee between $5-75 per track. Here are some of my tracks available to license on a royalty free basis.

There are also music packs available from certain sites, which are often even cheaper. They offer many tracks that you can download in one go and which can essentially make up your entire soundtrack. However, there are downsides to bulk packs and stock music generally in that they won’t be customised to your game and so are unlikely to fit perfectly and creating consistency across a full soundtrack can be tough to do.

It can also be quite a time consuming process to go through lots of tracks to narrow down and find something suitable for your specific needs. See the article: Pros & Cons of Using Royalty Free Music in Games to explore this a bit more.

2. Asking friends or a student / amateur musician

Do you have a friend who could help with the music? Is there a student or wannabe composer who might jump at the chance to get involved with your game? If so, this could be an avenue for you to explore further.

Friends are often happy to lend a hand, especially if it’s your first game and there are many student musicians and hobbyist composers out there who may get excited when they learn about what you’re developing. The downside with this option is usually to do with time, quality and reliability/accountability.

If you’re relying on someone to help you out for free, it’s difficult to hold them accountable to you and to make sure that they deliver what you need, when you need it. This can be absolutely fine if you too are a hobbyist and/or are just trying things out for fun, however, if you’re serious about getting your game to market then you may want more ‘serious’ folk in your team.

For composers/musicians starting out, their experience may be lacking and so you may find that the quality of music and the ease with which you can communicate and work with them is challenging. You’ll need to be patient and to be willing to spend time guiding them. You may need to spend time going back and forth quite a bit until each track starts to sound like something you’d like to use.

3. Hiring a composer

This is probably the most ‘professional’ route you could take and so if you want high quality music, which is customised and created specifically for your game, this is the best option for you. It does, however, come at a price, and so you will need to be willing to invest in the music to your game. (See 5 Reasons to Invest in the Music to Your Game).

There are many different types of composers out there, with some specialising in certain styles/types of music and some specialising in certain fields – so not all composers will have experience creating game music for example (they may be a classical composer or a film composer), and so it’s important to learn as much as you can about them and their music and composing experience, before deciding who you want to work with.

This is why I make it easy for people to listen to examples of my game music and to see my credit list and testimonials so that you can hopefully get a sense of what I’m about: - what I’m like to work with, my experience and music. This is the type of things to check out when trying to decide who you might want to hire and work with.

Here are some tips if you want to explore this further: 5 Top Tips for Hiring a Game Music Composer for the First Time

4. Making music it yourself

If you are a musician and feel that you have all the skills needed to create great music for your game, then I’d definitely consider this as an option. The great thing about doing it yourself is that you will have full creative control. You can decide what you want, when you want it and when it’s good enough for your game.

The downside though is that if you take the time to create the music for your game, that’s time taken away from possibly doing something else. So, you will need to have that time to dedicate to the things that you feel are important or you will need to prioritise and think carefully about how you want to spend your most precious commodity.  Making music can be an incredibly fun process if that’s your kind of thing, however, it is very time consuming. So think carefully about what’s right for you.

See Pros & Cons of Creating Your Own Game Music for more on this.

Those are the 4 main ways to get music for your game. I hope this has been useful for you and helps with your decision-making and next steps. It is also very possible to combine some of the above options and so don’t worry if you’ve made a start down one road but feel you might want to explore another.  It’s still all very possible to do. If you want to talk through this some more, contact me to explore how I might be able to help you with your game or project. Good luck! 


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About the authorNinichi is a game music composer and music enthusiast. She has composed the soundtracks and music to several indie games, films, tv shows, podcasts and more. Contact her: to explore working with her on your game, film or media project.

Check out examples of Ninichi's game music & read more articles like this on Ninichi's blog

Follow her @ninichimusic

Introducing the Game: Calico - Out on Kickstarter Now!

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Interview By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

What is Calico all about?

Calico is a cute and cozy community sim game where the player is a magical girl who inherits a cat-cafe. They are tasked with filling the cafe back up with new fuzzy friends, furniture, and wonderful baked goods. ‘

Who’s it for & where did the idea come from?

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‘Our game is for anyone who loves cuties, pastel, magical girls, or just needs a nice break in a cat-cafe. I was surprised when we started, at how few other games there were like this. The most exciting thing for me is that you will be able to pet and interact with every animal, including play with cat toys, and being able to play with animals you wouldn't in real life, like red pandas! We also have a magical aspect which will allow the player to do things like enlarge the cat to ride like a horse. Who wouldn't smile at that?’

When will we get to play it?

‘If funded, we expect to release some time in 2020, but for those a bit more impatient we have a demo releasing along with the Kickstarter! Check out our Kickstarter page to see how to download it.

Our game is set for PC, but has the potential to be on any platform depending on demand and funds.’ 

Tell us about you! Who’s been involved in creating this wonderful game?

‘Calico is the first game being produced by CatBean games! We're a small team of only two people based in Seattle, WA. The first half (me) grew up in NYC and then Minnesota, coming to Seattle 5 years ago for the game dev scene. Before this, I worked as a freelance illustrator, as well as a community manager at various companies including Microsoft and Holospark. Our other half, Andrew, moved here to Seattle from Illinois and previously worked as a programmer. He switched to learning Unity programming, and is the more technical half of our team.

We've also been working with a few incredibly talented individuals for areas that the two of us can't cover. 

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Freelance Composer Ninichi (ninichimusic.com | @ninichimusic) is our music magician, creating adorable music to to go along with adorable visuals. 

Diego De la Rocha (diegodelarocha.com | @diegodelarocha) has been helping us with animation, creating super cute magical girl movements.’

Why have you launched a Kickstarter & what are you hoping to achieve from it?

‘We wanted to try to avoid relying on a publisher if we can, seeing as our game is centered around themes not generally represented. We're hoping with the Kickstarter that we can raise enough funds for living expenses to allow us to work on the game full time.’

Why should we support you & what rewards are on offer?

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‘I hope that anyone who is like me and has wanted a game like this to exist for a long while will find everything they wanted in Calico. I believe we need way more cute and cozy games, and hopefully people agree!

I'm very excited about our Kickstarter rewards, a few of which involve putting your own pets into the full game!’

Where can we find out more? 

What are your plans after the Kickstarter?

‘Our first plan is a little self reward. We will be donating to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA for the chance to get up close with a real Red Panda! 

After that, it's going to be some intense time at our desks, trying to make Calico the best, cutest, and most heartwarming game it can be!’

Wow awesome! Thank you so much for sharing everything with us. I wish you the very best of luck with the Kickstarter. Everyone please show your support for this heartwarming game now by visiting calicogame.com!


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About the Author: 

Ninichi is a freelance game music composer & big supporter of indie games. If you need help with the music for your game or project, contact me now to explore how we might work together. 

Learn more About me (Ninichi) and check out examples of my game music here.

6 Ways to Pay a Game Music Composer

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

If you’re working on an indie game, there will come a time when you need to start thinking about the music for it. If you want to explore commissioning a composer or collaborating with one on your project, then it’s useful to understand what your options are when it comes to paying them.

I’m a game music composer and have worked on a variety of indie games (see my credits). I’ve enjoyed each and every project and love working with the indie developers and indie studios that I’ve connected up with. Whenever I speak to a new potential client– the same question arises around how much I charge and how to pay for the music.

So, hopefully this article will help you give you some ideas of what the options are and how, from my own experience and understanding, game music composers get paid…

To summarise the main options – you can pay a game music composer:

  • per hour

  • per minute

  • per track

  • per project

  • royalties / revenue share

Or some combination of the above.

1. Paying for time

Some composers have a price per hour. In some ways this is fair in that they are effectively billing you for the time they spend working on your music, however, different composers work at different speeds – as well as offering music of varying quality.  Therefore, if you decide to work with someone based on their ‘per hour’ fee, make sure that you have some kind of understanding of how long they tend to spend on a piece of music – otherwise you could be receiving a much larger bill than you expect.

Composing music has various complexities to it and different composers will use different methods / processes / tools and techniques.  You could be getting a bargain if their price per hour is low and they’re quick, but you’ll have to make a call on that.

2. Paying per minute

This is very common as an option and is often what tends to work well for game projects. This is usually because most music tracks in a game will be a minute, a minute and a half or two/three minutes long – on average. Some are longer – for example title tracks, or music in story-based games where the player might be stuck in an area or on a particular level for quite a long length of time and so a 4-5 minute track, could be an option but generally from my experience, most tracks have been between 1-3 minutes long, and by working based on this per minute rate, it seems quite fair for everyone.

The composer can judge or estimate roughly how long they would need to spend to create a minute worth of music – and they will base their price per minute on that, and you can decide how long you want your tracks to be based on your budget as well as what fits the game.

Feel free to browse through some of my game music tracks to see what they sound like, what their average length is and just to get some ideas!

3. Paying per track

This is best to do when you need quite long tracks otherwise working with a per minute rate could get quite costly for you. Having said that longer tracks do take more time and so when offering you a price, the composer is likely to take this into account. 

If your game soundtrack requires many different tracks, then the composer is more likely to be happy to work with a per track rate. They will know that the project as a whole has multiple tracks that they can get their teeth into and you may find it easier to manage your budget and payments if you’re paying the same amount for each piece of work.

4. Agreeing a price for the whole project

If you have a large project and a large budget then this is a great method to use. You can agree upfront how much you want to spend on the music elements for your game (or project) and you can hire your composer there and then, to do all of it.  That way everything is agreed and you’re sorted. You can have the peace of mind that you’ve hired a professional to deliver the game music and that you’ve agreed the pricing – so the budget for that is all sorted.

5. Royalties & 6. Revenue Share

Many indie game developers decide to build their teams and to work on this basis. If I’m honest, I’ve been invited on several occasions to work with this type of deal, but I have mostly turned them down.

Although some of these projects look really interesting, unfortunately – the reality of it is that working based on a payment model, which has no guarantees is just not appealing, especially when I have other paid projects to get on with. Also, I have a greater belief in the success and potential of a game or project when the person I’m working with (i.e. the indie developer / indie games studio or filmmaker), is willing to invest in it. To me that shows that they really believe in what they are developing and that they’re willing and keen to do what it takes to make it the best that it can be.

So there you have it! There are lots of options and opportunities for you to explore in terms of how you can work with a composer. It’s definitely worth asking them how they usually work, what they prefer and telling them what your own preferences are.  By having that conversation you will also probably get a sense of what they’re like to work with and that should help you to decide if they’re someone you actually want to work with at all – or not!

If you want to explore working with me on your game or any other project, please contact me now and we can get talking! 


About the authorNinichi is a freelance composer and music enthusiast. She has composed the soundtracks and music to several indie games. Contact her: to explore working with her on your game, film or media project.

Check out examples of Ninichi's game music compositions and soundtracks & read more articles like this on the Ninichi music blog

Follow her @ninichimusic

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I’m a game music composer (see some of my music) and have worked with various indie game developers on their projects and have found it a very rewarding, fun and simple process. It could be this for you as well!

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