Music Australia News

Composing for Video Games: A 101 Guide For Getting Your Music Heard

Source: Movie Pilot
Scarlett Di Maio
| December 16, 2016

In April the Australian Government released a comprehensive report called Game on: more than playing around: The future of Australia’s video game development industry. According to the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association’s (IGEA) submissions to the report, the global interactive games industry currently generates US$60.7 billion a year.

The IGEA have forecasted that the value of the interactive gaming industry will increase to US$96 billion by 2018, with an annual growth rate of almost 10%. This compares favourably to the global music industry, which is estimated to account for US$52 billion by 2019, with an annual growth rate of 0.8 per cent, and the film industry, which has an estimated value of US$107 billion and a 4.4 per cent annual growth rate.

Mr Tony Reed, Chief Executive Officer of Game Developers’ Association of Australia, observed that the growth rate of the industry is “certainly significantly higher than any other creative sector, but it is higher than most manufacturing industries as well. Our audience grows daily. There are billions of people playing games and new people joining that fray every day.”

On the home-front, the IGEA revealed earlier this year that Australian sales of interactive entertainment reached $2.83 billion in 2015. There are approximately 225 businesses in Australia’s game development industry. Approximately 98% of Australian homes with children under the age of 18 have a device for playing interactive games. 68% of Australians play interactive games, with the average player being 33 years old. 27% of players have attempted to make their own games, with 9% having studied or planning to study interactive game subjects. As technologies evolve, we can expect to see these stats increase significantly over the next decade.

However if you wish to pursue a career in the video game industry in the area of music and/or sound design, it is evident there is a lack of opportunities for people to study, network, or seek funding. The good news is our attitude towards the interactive gaming industry is shifting, with the Australian music industry beginning to instigate productive ways to connect game developers with musicians and vice versa.

2016 saw Vivid Live present an informative panel called Cultivating Creativity in Australia: Video Games, Bigsound did a panel on Gaming, Music & Gamification and Face The Music did a panel called Game On: Music and Video Games, just to name a few.

So if you’re a musician or sound artist and want to get involved in video game sound design or soundtrack composing, where do you start? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Research Australian game developers and reach out to them directly. Remember that game developers are busy people, so keep your emails short and concise – an intro, short bio and a link to your music. As a starting point, check out The Other World Agency and League of Geeks.
  2. Follow the career tips of other successful video game composers. We recommend checking out Australian composers Mick Gordon and Danny Armstrong, or American composer Tommy Tallarico who tours live video game concerts.
  3. Get networking. Attend Australian conferences and networking opportunities like PAX, Melbourne Games Week or RTX Sydney. On the global front, check out the Game Developers Conference or the Ottawa International Game Conference.
  4. Follow Facebook pages like IGDA, forums on net and other online resources like the Video Game Music Academy.
  5. Seek career advice from the relevant organisations and bodies, like the IGEA and Creative Australia.
  6. Check out game development and sound design courses by JMC, TAFE, AFTRS or at your closest University. A handy tip is to look for local sound designers on LinkedIn who detail their previous educational & work experience.
  7. Listen to video game music podcasts, radio features and sound design documentaries.
  8. Get creative! Play lots of games and make lots of music.


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