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Opinion September 30, 2021

Top 5 tips for musicians wanting to compose for games

Top 5 tips for musicians wanting to compose for games

Pictured: Belinda Coomes 

This year’s Melbourne International Games Week kicks off this weekend with High Score: Composition and Sound Art for Gaming, the must-attend (free, virtual) event of the year for musicians and sound artists interested in learning more about the world of music in games.

As well as keynote presentations and networking opportunities with some of the top names in the games industry from Australia and abroad, sessions across the two-day event will focus on the craft of composition for interactive media, as well as offering insight into the strategies and challenges of the video game music business.

The event will also include two full days of A&R sessions with some of Australia’s finest writer and publisher talent.

One of these writers is Belinda Coomes, a Melbourne-based music composer specialising in composing for games, including Ring of Pain and Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Rising.

Exclusively for The Music Network, Belinda shares her top tips for artists wanting to dip their toes into the world of composing for games.

1. Network

Get out and meet people in the games industry. Games developers are passionate people who care about what they are creating, so show that you are passionate about games, music, and their project. But come from a place of honesty here – don’t run around telling everyone their project is the greatest if you personally don’t believe it. People are very good at reading if you’re not genuine.

2. Understand your client’s needs

If you understand your client’s needs, you can help them achieve their goals. You may not be working directly on a game, but if you can help a developer or studio in some way, you will be perceived as someone who is helpful and of value, and therefore they are more likely to recommend you to others.

3. Educate yourself

Learn as much as you can about games, composing, audio production, business, social media tools, and more. You will probably never stop learning. Because you are not only a business owner/service provider (providing audio services to the games industry), but you are also an artist who needs to promote yourself and get yourself noticed.

How you do this is up to you based on your skill sets, personality type and geographic location. But see it as a creative problem that you need to solve.

4. Play

Play games to get an idea of how music is used in different kinds of games and spend some time analysing what is happening with the music in the game.

5. Hone your craft

Spend time working on your craft and improving your music ideas, music structure, music arrangements, music production, making virtual instruments sound real etc. And have an idea of where the level of production needs to be for what you are wanting to work towards and where your music is in comparison to that. Best way to do this is to get feedback on your music from individuals who work in the industry and know where that bar is.

One last thing: all of the above really depends on what it is you want to do. There are many avenues in game audio and knowing what you want to do can help you focus on what you need to know and help create a clearer path of how to get there.

And if you don’t know what there is in game audio, check out a local event like High Score. It covers many aspects of audio in games and will help you on your way.

The free, online conference High Score streams on Saturday 2 October-Sunday 3 October and is open to worldwide participants. Registration is open now.


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