Some music for making money to.
January 19, 2013 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for perspectives on what music composers generally charge for work on video games and films.

I've been composing for several years. I've done some short film scores (gratis for film students), and I just wrote all the music for my last company's most recent game. I didn't charge them because I enjoyed it, it was a good way to generate demo material, and I was already getting payed well as a software developer.

But now I'd like to actually do work for hire, and I'm not really sure what the going rates are for music composers in games and film. I understand there are a million composers out there already, but as it is something I love doing, that's not important to me.

Some factors I'd like to know more about:
  • What do unknown composers on the scene usually charge versus established composers?
  • Is it usually charged per minute of finished work, or is the time involved in client-initiated rewrites also part of the final bill?
  • I understand that most composers provide package deals where they subcontract out to copyists, conductors, and musicians, but where in the process does that get hashed out vs. just using good samples?
  • Do rates differ much by genre (for example, electronic versus realistic orchestral mockups)? Believe me, I'm not making a judgement call based on the talent required to do either, but I'm wondering if that's a perception of game producers and film directors.
posted by hanoixan to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, composers usually charge a flat rate with some limitations in the contract on how many back-and-forths they'll do without extra charge. Exactly what the deliverables are gets hashed out then too -- some producers will have very firm ideas about what they want, others will be guided by the composer, and some will be very price-sensitive -- for those, you need to know going in to negotiations what your costs will be and whether it will be as profitable to do the subcontracting as to do the straight score delivery.
Rates seem to vary more by budget of the project than they do by genre.
This is definitely something you should take to an entertainment lawyer. There are several potentially sticky issues, especially when you get into music licensing, deadlines, and final ownership of the project. Projects that have a budget for music also have a budget for legal, and you can be certain that their lawyer is not on your side.
posted by katemonster at 1:05 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

For film music, my rate for independent projects typically starts at $100/minute of music,and varies depending on a lot of variables. This is assuming that it doesn't require hiring any additional musicians, and there aren't any unrealistic requests. Projects that I fall in love with may get charged less, projects I'm not interested in may get charged more.

If there is a film studio behind it, prices go way up.
posted by markblasco at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Film Music Magazine has a survey pdf.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:08 PM on January 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

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