Game music

8 Top Tips on Building a Strong Working Relationship with a Freelance Composer

8 Top Tips on Building a Strong Working Relationship with a Freelance Composer.jpg

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

Are you thinking about hiring a freelance composer to work with but aren’t quite sure about how it might work or how to ensure that it works well? If so, don’t worry. It is a completely natural feeling especially if you’ve never worked with any freelancers before and it’s important to address your concerns and to make sure that you find the right person for you and your project.

I’m a freelance music composer and have worked with clients and projects all over the world – including working with game developers, filmmakers, podcasters, TV producers, marketers and more (see my homepage to get to know me, Ninichi a bit better!). I work from my home office and have never met many of my clients, yet my working relationships with each one feels really strong. There’s a sense of trust, my clients know that they can rely on me to get the work done and done to a high standard, and that I will always do my best to create music that embodies their visions. They also know that I will always be there to respond to their needs whenever they have something to say, ask, explore, feedback on or to work on further.

I can only share what I have learnt through my own experiences but hope that these will be helpful to you in ensuring that you are able to foster strong working relationships with the freelance composer and actually all freelancers that you decide to work with. So here are a few tips and ideas that come to mind but in essence most of it comes down to good communication.

If you aren’t able to communicate effectively with a freelancer, whether that is a freelance composer or any other freelancer, you won’t have any chance of building a strong relationship with them. This may sound obvious but is so critical and important that I believe it’s definitely worth mentioning. So…

1. Be open, honest and upfront

That is about what you want, need and are hoping for in relation to the music you require for your project. The more you can say about what you’re looking for, the easier it will be for your prospective freelance composer(s) to determine whether or not it’s something they can help you with or not.

2. Offer constructive feedback

Make sure that you are clear about what you like and don’t like about what they’ve done and guide them towards what you’re looking for, but don’t be harsh and be sensitive to the fact that they are most likely trying to deliver good work to you, so if it’s not right the first time, try to be patient and understanding. To do this well check out: How to Communicate Effectively with a Composer.

3. Keep your communication channels open

Make sure that you’re there when they need you. They may want to ask you some questions or get feedback from you on their music. Try to be as prompt as you can in offering your thoughts and in keeping the momentum going. If you’re both available to each other when you need each other, working together will feel quite smooth and easy.

4. Make sure that there isn’t a language barrier

It’s a little tough to say but in truth, everyone needs to be able to communicate with a work colleague (freelance or otherwise) at the same sort of level, so if you feel that they aren’t understanding what you’re asking for, then they aren’t the right freelance composer for you.

5. Don’t get hung up about terminology

Your composer is the specialist in music. You aren’t expected to be nor should you try to be as it could end up confusing everyone. Just try to explain in as simple terms as you can, what you’re after – in terms of mood, style, context for the music etc. and you should be fine.

I myself tend to ignore most music terminology. Obviously I know some and have been trained but I don’t find it helps to use it. I believe that keeping things simple is much better for everyone. Music is universal and there are many different ways to describe it – so go with whatever makes the most sense to you and a good music composer should be able to turn that into something grand! Also see: How to Work Well with a Game Music Composer

6. Listen to their music before contacting them

I find that the people I work best with are those who have taken the time to look around my website and listen to a few examples of my previous works. That means – checking out my music show-reels, looking at my credit list, listening to different examples of my music, and generally getting a feel for the type of music I compose.  If you understand what your freelance composer is capable of, you can get a sense of what’s possible for your own project and you can determine this yourself to some degree by listening to what they’ve done already and seeing if you like it. 

It’s also easier to work with people when they pick out certain tracks that they liked from your previous works as it gives me a great indication of the type of sounds, style and moods that they particular like.

Also see: How to Choose a Composer for Your Indie Film or How to Choose a Composer for Your Game

7. Offer reference tracks as a style guide

In order to help your freelance music composer understand what you’re looking for and what you have in mind music-wise for your project, it can really help to have reference tracks.

This can be there to offer inspiration and to help the composer understand the mood you’re hoping for, the musical instrumentation that you like and are imagining for your project and the flow of the kind of pieces you like.

8. Don’t micromanage but don’t be elusive either

In order to build a strong working relationship with your freelance composer, don’t micromanage them. The last thing they want is to be having to report back to you every hour or so. They need time to get into the creative zone and to focus on creating great music for you and your project. So, you need to be able to trust whoever you’ve chosen to work with, to be able to get on with the task at hand and to deliver great music to you when they’re ready to.

At the same time, don’t be elusive. Don’t be hard to contact or slow in responding to them if you can help it. Getting feedback on music quite quickly after it has been done is really helpful for composers since they’ll be ‘in the zone’ and it can be really useful to keep that momentum going and to continue working on your project whilst it’s ‘hot’!

If you're looking for a freelance composer to work with and want to have a chat, feel free to contact me now. I'm more than happy to help and explore things further with you. Also check out some of my other articles in case they're helpful too:

Need help with music?

Let me help! Get in touch now :-)!


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

Follow her @ninichimusic

Introducing the Game Music for Tank Tank Rush


By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

This is the third article in the 'Introducing the game music' series. Each one tries to offer a little bit of insight into what lies behind the music for a specific game I've worked on. As a game music composer, I really enjoy the process of connecting with and working with such a wide range of talented game developers. I've found that each one has their own vision for their game and it is my job to help ensure that this vision is brought to life through the music and the game's soundtrack. 

Now, let's take a look at Tank Tank Rush... 

What is Tank Tank Rush?

Tank Tank Rush is unique blend between an artillery and side-scroller game, created by the amazing talented Antonin Duboc (@PutschMobi) - owner of Smart Game Studio. In the game, you control a soviet army tank and fire your tank gun at the enemy. The game is set during the Great Patriotic War on the Eastern Front and this is where all the action happens!

The game is still in development, but it's definitely one to watch for those who like shooting things and like a bit of tank fun!

What’s interesting about the music for this game?

The setting for this game makes it quite unique and required quite a specific style of music i.e. a USSR style military march. I worked with Antonin – the solo developer to the game, and composed the theme tune to Tank Tank Rush.

The track gets played in the game during the start menu and so it sets the scene for the game and is the first thing that one hears when looking at the game.

I was asked to create something that has a mix of feeling solemn and being something that one might listen to before going to war i.e. something that gives you courage for battle.

I wanted the game music to sound quite distinct and to work well with the look and feel of the game.

Antonin was also very clear that he didn’t want any other music within the game itself and so I felt that it was important to make this main theme tune track something special.

How did I go about creating the music for this game?

I listened to other music from this era and in this style to ‘get into the zone’. For me this is always an important step in creating any new piece of music as it gives me a good sense of the style when something specific is needed and is also a great source of inspiration and ideas.

I have experience in playing military style music and have heard quite a bit of it in my time. I’m a classically trained musician and used to play in various orchestras and so have a solid grasp of what an orchestra can do. I’ve also actually studied a few of the Russian composers in the past and so felt quite comfortable with this style. I’m very lucky to have had a lot of experience across a wide range of musical genres, which I think helps me a lot when it comes to being able to compose for different projects.  I love listening to different kinds of music and the variety that comes my way when being asked to work on and create new music. 

Any other thoughts or tips when creating game music?

I've created the music for several indie games now (have a little listen) and absolutely love it! One of the amazing things is how different each game can be and therefore, the wide range of music styles I've had the opportunity to create music in.

One thing I'd say is not to limit yourself when deciding what kind of music you think could fit your game. Take the time to explore different styles and to understand what you really like yourself vs. what you feel others may like to hear when playing your game. You don't have to do what others do necessarily either. Let your creativity flow and let your composer work with you to find a unique sound for your game. (Also see: How to Communicate Effectively with a Composer)

When creating music for a game, it's always important to fully understand the setting for where the music fits with everything, so that when composing, you can create something that will enhance the gameplay and immerse people into that world and specific section of the game. 

All music in a game is important I feel, however, the main theme tune should certainly be given extra attention since it's the tune that should stick in people's mind for a while and that they are most likely to associate with your game. 

I hope some of this has been interesting! Good luck with your game development and if you'd like some custom music for your game, get in touch!

Other articles in the 'Introducing the game music' series:

You may also like:


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

3 Basic but Important Game Music Rules!

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

When it comes to the music and/or soundtrack to your game, it’s really important to get some basics right. For some people it’s easy to identify and decide on what sort of style and mood you want for different parts of your game. For others, it can be really tough, since there will be various different options and directions that you could go in, and it can be hard to tell what would fit best and be most well received by players of your game.

It’s challenging for me to help you choose the right music for your particular game without knowing much more about it, but there are some general rules that I hope may help you in your decision making around what kind of game music you might like for your game and also where you might want to get it from…

1. Game music is there to support the gameplay

That means that it should NOT be overwhelming or too distracting. It is there to enhance, engage and support, not be the centre of everything. Great game music adds to the experience and heightens the emotions that you feel as you move through the game.

If working with a composer, it’s important that they understand this and aren’t the type to create music that takes away the focus from your game. A good composer will know how to create music that has that precise balance that’s needed to capture one’s attention enough to be interesting and fun to listen to but which is still something that sits neatly in the background to the main gameplay.

2. A lot of game music loops

Most game soundtracks will consist of looping tracks, which are between 30 seconds to 2 minutes long, on average. That means that although the tracks shouldn’t be overwhelming, they also shouldn’t be too repetitive either.  They may be played over and over again depending on how long someone plays the game for, and so ideally you’ll want your music to be fun and engaging to listen to several times. 

This means that you probably want your composer to have a real talent for melody and for developing tunes in a way that they can be repeated several times without becoming boring or annoying. Tunes that are too simple, can be often too easy to remember and hence when they’re repeating often, it becomes irritating. However, tunes that are too complex aren’t memorable or catchy at all and thus aren’t usually great to listen to.

3. Consistency and coherence

Whether you’ve decided to work with one composer, multiple composers or to source your music from elsewhere, it’s important to think about the consistency of the music across your soundtrack and within your game.

Across your game you will mostly likely want and need a variety of different types of music to bring out different aspects of your game. Whilst the variety in the moods and potentially styles and important and useful to help bring your game, game areas/locations and characters or situations to life, it’s also important to have a sense of consistency and coherence across all of the game music.

It needs to sound as though it’s all part of the same game and fits well within the game world. This is often tricky to do if using music from a wide variety of sources because the styles, instrumentation, sounds etc. can all be quite different. To someone playing your game, if the music doesn’t have that sense of coherence, the game may feel quite disjointed.

I hope you’ve found this article useful! If you find yourself getting a bit confused when it comes to the music for your game and/or would like some help with it, do feel free to contact me. I’d be delighted to work with you on your game music and look forward to hearing about your wonderful project!


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

How to Detect a Bad or Inexperienced Composer

If you’re thinking about hiring a composer for your project – whether it’s a game, a commercial, a film or anything else, it’s important to find the right person to work with. There are many composers around, however, unfortunately we are not all the same! As with other industries, there are good ones and bad ones and it’s important to know what to look out for when doing your due diligence and deciding who’s best for your project.

Read More

Introducing the Game Music for Arty Swirly Colourful

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By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

This is the second of my 'insight' articles which aim to offer a bit more of a glimpse into how I created the music for different games. This one is called Arty Swirly Colourful and I was really excited when asked to work on the soundtrack for this game. Everything that I learnt and discovered about the game was quite inspiring and so I wanted the music to reflect the calm and beautiful world as well. See what you make of it...

What kind of game is Arty Swirly Colourful?

Arty Swirly Colourful is a beautiful exploratory game created by the talented game development team at Owl Sanctuary Studios.  It’s a narrative driven game where you take on the character of a photographer sent into a stunning park – the ficticious Green Bay National Park, where you are tasked with taking photos. These photos are meant to recreate a series of paintings created in the park 100 years previously.

The game is set in a beautiful world populated with interesting wildlife, park rangers and other people to talk to, amazing surroundings and more. The music therefore is designed to reflect the gentle and calming nature of the surroundings as well as the emotional journey that one takes through the different areas of the park.

What is the music like?

The main mood for the music and for the game is that it is relaxing and soothing. The team at Owl Sanctuary Studios were very clear that they didn’t want any heavy electronic sounds and that they wanted a relaxed yet fun vibe. Playing the game and moving through the park is meant to be a chilling and gentle experience and so I’ve tried to make sure that the music supports this.

The first set of tracks composed for the game, are designed for the summer scenes. There are plans to build out the soundtrack further as the game develops and grows but for now we have focused on making the summer tracks fit the various settings and areas within the game.

What are the different game music tracks?

There are 5 tracks that I worked on:

Swirly Summertime – which is meant as a track for the daytime in summer, within the game. It’s therefore on the cheerier side yet still calming and soothing to listen to.

Early Sunrise – is meant to have that feel of awakening, discovery and a sense of wonder around what might be and what opportunities lies ahead

Summer Sunset – is at that beautiful shimmery time of day, when the light is it’s most beautiful. This is important for the photographer / player of the game and so hopefully the music reflects this sense of beauty.

Open Terrain – is meant to feel more airy than the daytime Swirly Summertime track.  Who knows what you’ll find in the open areas! It’s a mystery but a fun one!

Forest Trees – is a track that would play when you’re in the forest terrain. Here, I was trying to blend a sense of magic, mystery and calming quietness.

Have a listen to them and see what you make of them! Hopefully you’ll find them just as relaxing as the Owl Sanctuary team do!

A few other things that could be interesting to share about how I worked on these with the Owl Sanctuary Studios team:

  • we communicated via a combination of emails and Discord

  • there was a good range of tracks to use as inspiration, ideas and as references

  • the team listened to each of the tracks to make sure that they all agreed on and liked them before signing each one off

About the authorNinichi is a freelance indie game 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

Introducing Shakey’s Escape Original Game Music Soundtrack

Shakey's Escape Original Soundtrack by Ninichi - cover art with Shakey the cat sleeping

By Ninichi | Contact | Follow

I ran a poll on through my Twitter account (@ninichimusic) asking what people might like to see more of on my blog.  The top votes went for ‘Updates on my music’ and ‘Game music tips’.  So, I’ve been thinking about what I can share about the music I’ve been working on and here is the first blog of hopefully a series of them, which offer a little bit more insight into the game music and other music projects I’ve had the privilege of working on, and how they’ve come together.

I’ve also done several interview style blogs, which have generally been received well and so although it may be a little strange interviewing myself – I’m going to use that kind of format to hopefully make these easy and fun to read!  So here’s goes my first one!

What’s Shakey’s Escape about?

Shakey’s Escape is an adventure game about a cat, Shakey whose owner kicks him out of the house and from there on, your journey begins! You wander the streets coming across various puzzles, villains and much much more.  

It’s a game developed by Smashing Pixels, also known as Doobly HQ. Earlier on last year I wrote an article taking a closer look at the game just as it was about to launch: Introducing the Game: Shakey’s Escape.  It’s now available on Android and i0S and is free to download.

What’s the soundtrack like?

The original game music soundtrack consists of 10 tracks, which I would probably separate out into 3 different styles and/or moods:

1. Dreamy and relaxed

For the main menu track I tried to create a dreamy feeling. It’s when Shakey the cat, is snuggled up by a lovely, warm fireplace. In the music I tried to make it feel cosy and relaxed, and I think that the harp helps greatly in achieving this.

2. Light and sneaky

A lot of the game music that I composed for this game fall into this category. This is because the bulk of the game is when Shakey is exploring different places. There’s sneaking, discovering, playing, jumping, getting into trouble in lots of different ways – and I tried to reflect this in the music.

Since Shakey has just been kicked out by his original owner, everything that he sees and discovers through the various levels of the game is a new experience. So, there are elements of danger, mystery, uncertainty and cautiousness in the music too.

A few things that you may notice when you listen to the game music, is that a lot of the soundtrack is in a minor key and I’ve chosen to use a lot of pizzicato strings.  To me, that was a way to create that sneaky, jumpy, cat-like feel.

3. Fights & Action

As one may expect, there are some fights in the game! Shakey’s adventures aren’t all just wandering around and discovering new things. There are villains that cross Shakey’s path and that must be dealt with!

So, for the levels and sections where there is more action taking place, the music becomes more intense to reflect this.

You may also notice that the music style changes as you get to the higher levels. It becomes more energetic, urgent sounding and retro. These are the tougher levels, which are much more difficult to get through and everything that Shakey is experience is really out of his comfort zone e.g. trying to fly a helicopter!  The music, therefore, is more intense and faster to reflect this.

What did I enjoy most about working on this soundtrack?

Shakey’s Escape is the first original soundtrack that I’ve released and so I’m really honoured to have worked on it with Rob, the developer of the game.

It has been such a fun and rewarding journey to see the game develop and the music develop alongside it. I saw lots of clips of the game as I worked on the music for each level of the game. That really helped to give me an idea of what I needed to make the music work well with, and it was also just really stimulating and fun to see how the game was coming along.

By the time we finished working together, I couldn’t wait to see the full game released!  It has been really well received so far and I just hope that the soundtrack does the game justice and gets just as well received as the game itself!

Is the soundtrack available and what’s next?

Yes indeed it is. Shakey’s Escape Original Game Music Soundtrack is available:

In terms of what’s next for me – well, I’d love to do more game music soundtracks as well as other music projects. So, if you need some help with your game music soundtrack, let me know (i.e. contact me here)! I’d also love to release more of the soundtracks I’ve done (check out my discography here) and sharing more blogs/information on them too, so watch this space!


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