Pricing Custom Sound Work

Indie loop garden does not claim to represent the artists featured on the site. All business negotiations are between you and the artist. All pricing is completely at the discretion of the individual artist.

Looking for that ball-park figure? Believe me, we thought long and hard about different ways of presenting prices. Pies, pyramids, flow charts, you name it we drafted it. In the end we just came to the conclusion that throwing out figures would be more misleading than helpful.


Cheap Advice

Before you start, try dividing your propoesd budget by the number of hours the composer is expected to put in. It may sound simple, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who ask us to create tracks for hourly wages comparable to that of a teen burger flipper. Many composers are happy to think about money in terms of an hourly or daily rate (see Creative Fee - below)


Insider Knowledge

We figured that you devs might appreciate a little insight into how we composers come up with the asking price that we do.

Even though a composer may quote his or her 'rate per minute' as a single amount there are actually at least two factors they are taking into consideration:


1. The licensing/buy-out fee: dependent on the platform and  distribution of the game

2. The creative fee: dependent on the number of hours required to complete the work


The Licensing Fee/Buy-out fee

Any music that is widely distributed as part of a TV broadcast, a film, or a game requires a license. The license fee is the compensation paid to the composer for their (legally binding) permission to use the work. In games license fees bear particular significance due to the lack of royalties.

In TV, composers get paid royalties every time their work is broadcast. Royalties come from the broadcasters and the amount they receive is dependent on the average viewing statistics for certain times and channels. This means the amount they receive is proportional to the number of people experiencing the work. Royalties form an essential stream of income for composers, providing a small level of financial stability many professional composers count on in order to survive.

In games however, there is currently no equivalent system in place for royalty collection and distribution. Therefore the composer will generally receive a one-time 'buy out' fee to license their music instead. Since there are no royalties, the size of this fee is generally calculated based on (an estimate of) the number of people that will be experiencing the work as part of the game.

Factors directly affecting the size of the buy-out fee are the profile of the game and its development team, and its distribution. As an example a game released by a large company on three different platforms in 10 different countries will require a larger fee than a small time iPhone game released in the UK only.

The terms of the buy-out fee may or may not transfer the full copyright (intellectual property) of the work to the developer. In many cases it is simply not necessary for the developer to obtain all the rights to the music. However to use the music outside of the terms set out in the license agreement the developer must either own the full copyright, or ask for an additional license.


The Creative Fee


If the license fee represents compensation based on the game's future success, the creative fee is compensation for the hours of work done during the production phase of the game. Composers' hourly rates will vary but remember, even one minute of music can quite easily take up to eight hours to produce, especially in orchestral music.

The process requires a whole host of different steps to go from an idea to a finished piece:

- discussing direction with the client

- sketching out initial concepts

- performing and recording the instruments

- producing and programming the track using software

- receiving feedback, redrafting, making adjustments

- mastering the levels and producing the finished article

General tips


If you require live instruments expect to pay extra for studio hire, engineer costs and session fees.
If you want a big detailed orchestral composition (virtual or otherwise), you should expect to pay more than for loop based electronic composition, since it will require more hours of work to produce a single minute of music.
Commissioning several short tracks is generally more expensive than fewer longer tracks...
..but bigger projects allow us to bring the rate per minute of music down
We are open to flexible, creative forms of payment. We WANT to work with you on your creative vision. Can’t afford to pay everything up front? No problem, we’ll work something out. Can’t offer cash but have something else to offer us - exposure/gear/great graphic design or web skills? No problem, we’ll hear you out.


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