Music in the Gaming Industry – Getting a Job as a Game Composer
Have you ever wondered who creates the music of Wizard101? Today we have a guest blog from Nelson Everhart, talented composer for KingsIsle games! He’s sharing some really helpful tips about how someone can get a job as a game composer.
People often tell me that I have the best job on the planet: writing music for video games. While it’s not all (ahem) fun and games, it’s hard to argue with that statement. I get to be creative, I get to play with sounds and computers, I get to build emotions and energy, and I get to work with other people to create worlds. Having a lot of people around the globe hear and appreciate my music is really cool too!
How does somebody get a job as a game composer? There are two parts to the answer.
The first is that you have to know and practice your craft. Sure, I studied music composition in school, but I also wrote music for fun pretty much every day. I also played in bands (many of which I started), was the musical director for a ton of community musicals, and composed for anything I could: student films and projects, dances, and plays.
I didn’t know I was going to make a living writing music, I just knew I loved writing it and it seemed my music worked well accompanying other media. Consequently, I practiced writing music for everything. I videotaped (ask your parents what that means) TV commercials and movie trailers, and wrote music paced to the images and messages I saw. I loved when everything came together to create an emotional moment that moved people. If I were doing this again today, I’d be downloading videos and open-source games from the Internet and showing my work to a huge number of people.
The second part of the answer to the “how does somebody get a job as a game composer” is that you have to put yourself in a position to FIND the job you want. A lot of people, some who may be better composers than me, think that the world is going to offer them a job just because they’re good. That’s not the way it works; you’ve got to create something you’re proud of AND THEN get that out there in the world where somebody’s going to see it. Then you have to do that again and again… so you prove it’s not just a fluke. And then do it again for good measure!
Just because a job is fun doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Don’t feel like writing? Well, too bad, because you have a schedule to keep! This applies to any commercial art… writing, illustrating, sculpting, composing: you need to be really good at finding your own inspiration, which can be challenging.
Working with other creative people sometimes means you have to work the way they want you to work. Ideally, this matches up with how you’d be doing things anyway, but sometimes it doesn’t. Artists often get the reputation of being ego maniacs, but if you can learn to work with other people’s ideas, more people will be eager to work with you.
Because I work for myself, I constantly have to find my next job! Even in the middle of a project, I still have get out there and network with all my friends and contacts to remind them I’m out here in case they have any work that could use my music. People like working with those they’ve worked with successfully in the past, but it takes time and energy finding and maintaining those contacts.
But after all the hard work networking, being creative on demand, and collaborating with other creative individuals, nothing beats sitting back, turning up the speakers and seeing your hard work shape how people will feel about a new world!