Be a Supporter!

How to make it as a Freelancer!

  • 1,040 Views
  • 10 Replies
New Topic Respond to this Topic
MaestroRage
MaestroRage
  • Member since: Aug. 22, 2006
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 24
Musician
How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-06-27 14:46:17 Reply

So Bad-Man-Incorporated brought up an interesting point in an earlier topic where somebody wanted to hire a producer for their Unity project. There was a bit of interesting debate in there which I feel could be beneficial to the young and aspiring producers here. Many of us were little fledglings here ourselves so I'm hoping by sharing my experiences and insights I can help others from making the many mistakes I, and many others, have made. I hope others will chime in as well.

First I would like to focus the discussion in terms of only working on hire on game and film projects. Independent music producers who want to pursue a career in creating albums and selling their own material is an entirely different beast.

Lets start with the first thing that comes up a lot.
How do you find work?
A: Work is everywhere you look. It really is, there is never a shortage of projects you could be a part of. You see those games on the front page on NG? Armor Games? Kongregate? King? All those games are produced by somebody. Every one of those has sounds and music.

By immediate extension, each and every one of those is a possible future gig/collaboration!.

The best and first bit of advice I give to the budders is you must be always pro-active! Never wait for somebody to find you because you could literally be waiting years. If you are serious about wanting to start a career half of this battle is legwork.

Talk to the developers! If there's a project you are sitting there going "man, I could have done better", then find their contact info and tell them something along the lines of "hey I was playing your game [name of whatever], and I really enjoyed it! I'm an audio producer and I feel like there's a lot of room for future collaborations between us. I would be super stoked if we could work together in a game! Here is some of my work to show you what I can do!"

Bam! You just extended an invitation to foster a working relationship. Some of my closest friends and long term business partners were born from this.

Word of mouth plays a big role in the next step. Once you've gotten a few gigs coming in and have a ongoing relationship with some people realize that your work reflects your potential. Developers do not recommend people who they feel is going to make them look bad. This flash game development eco system is very tight knit. It's much smaller then you would imagine. True there are thousands of them but you'd be super surprised how often I'd run into Developer A who worked with Developer B, who is my client.

It works on our end too. I don't recommend friends who I feel will not do a good job, because then Developer A is going to question my judgement and ability if I go around recommending sub par producers. So give every gig you get with 100% intensity. Even if it's just a tiny 3 sfx project, or a 30 second loop thing. If you agree to do it, then do it right.

So... so much more I can say. But I don't want to overwhelm everybody with a HUGE wall. I'd be very interested in hearing of other people's experiences, and i'd be more then happy to field any questions.

BrokenDeck
BrokenDeck
  • Member since: Jun. 7, 2003
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 40
Musician
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-06-27 14:48:51 Reply

Bookmarked

Also there's a lot of up and coming music composers who are working for little to nothing and / or not charging enough for their services.

What are your feelings and opinions on that? Does it devalue our(s) worth as musicians? Or should we grovel at the opportunity to work wherever we can (even for free)?

Breed
Breed
  • Member since: Mar. 23, 2009
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 11
Musician
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-06-27 15:05:49 Reply

Good topic man.

It boils down to 3 things that make a successful freelancer. Good work, good reputation, and luck.

Yeah luck seems like a crappy thing to rely on but thats how the biggest steps are taken. When I say luck I mean that if you are actively pursuing the first two things, then every once in a while a really great opportunity will come up randomly and its very important to jump on them and do the best you can with it. This is a portfolio based industry more or less, and everytime you land a gig that is of a higher caliber then you have ever done, you are taking a step in the right direction. But directors/animators usually want someone who has the experience of working on that level before, so getting the gig many a times is just lucky. Of course, as time goes on, and your client stream becomes more vast, the luck factor slowly withers away, but for most people it will always play a role in success.

Reputation and networking are the social aspects that will influence your success the most. It has a lot to do with just being a reallly friendly and productive person in general. Being available whenever youre needed, meeting deadlines, and bringing some fun into the process. But those arent the only things that make or break a good reputation. As a freelancer in any market, you need to consider yourself a small business. You should have an organized and defined image. A good logo and intelligibly designed sites can really help to.

MaestroRage
MaestroRage
  • Member since: Aug. 22, 2006
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 24
Musician
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-06-27 15:08:48 Reply

At 6/27/12 02:48 PM, BrokenDeck wrote: Also there's a lot of up and coming music composers who are working for little to nothing and / or not charging enough for their services.

What are your feelings and opinions on that? Does it devalue our(s) worth as musicians? Or should we grovel at the opportunity to work wherever we can (even for free)?

This is a very subjective field and one that could be argued until the end of time. Many composers will vehemently disown anybody who works on anything for free. But I feel like these composers have either forgotten what it's like to start from ground zero, or have failed to recognize the sudden change in the market and over saturation of producers.

To answer one question. Does it devalue our worth? yes it does. Developers who only encounter producers who say "i'll do it for 10 bux!" learn that music is worth 10 bux. As developers grow up this misconception tends to grow out but only because suddenly they find that nobody is wiling to do it for 10 bux at the quality they want.

THAT SAID. I do feel that aspiring producers should take on some projects for "free" to build a portfolio and to learn the business. Creating music on demand verses creating music on inspiration are VERY different and this crucial difference can make or break one's career. Or at the least clarify to them if this is really what they want to do.

The real gem in your question though, is pricing.
How do you determine what you SHOULD be charging?

There are many resources. I would recommend a few.
www.Musicianwages.com | Musician Salary Survey.

If you can't see that second link, basically it says producers of the starting tier charge $300-$600 per minute of finished music on an exclusive basis. Basically work for hire. Non exclusively you are looking at $100-$200 per minute. In the indie flash dev scene (ie what you find around flashgamelicense.com I find that $100-$150 is the most devs are willing to go. With 100 even being "zomg no wai D:!".

MaestroRage
MaestroRage
  • Member since: Aug. 22, 2006
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 24
Musician
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-06-27 15:19:44 Reply

I forgot to mention in my previous post. Do the projects for free, if they are small scale. Like for example flash games. If EA comes to you and asks you to write something free should never even come up in conversation lol!

Additionally it's actually a bad idea to undercut yourself to the high tier developers. They will question your professionalism and whether or not you plan to take their project seriously. They will demand quality from you and a low price tag also indicates you can't afford to dedicate enough hours on their stuff before you must move on to something else to keep living. Also a low price tag generally indicates the producer is overbooked due to their very exploitable rate.

Nobody wants to wait 3 months on some loops they ordered. Nobody wants to work again with somebody who takes 3 months to deliver.

ZStriefel
ZStriefel
  • Member since: May. 30, 2009
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 18
Audiophile
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-06-28 13:02:32 Reply

I think a big thing too, is you gotta find your niche. Play to your strengths. Don't try to be everything to everyone. And even if you can.. Pick something that makes you stand out. A service that a dev might need, that other providers don't supply.

Whether your niche is doing retro video game music, or orchestral, or whatever. Pick a niche. But ultimately you gotta decide what level you want to take yourself to. And thats a whole other topic right there. But definitely find something that makes your services unique.

Another thing i think should be mentioned is a big big no no. Don't overbook yourself. I know like 90% of everyone is gonna be like "OH MAN IF ONLY I HAD THE LUXURY OF BEING OVERBOOKED LOLOLOL" yeah, no. Don't fucking overbook yourself. You'll go insane. And you'll ruin everything. If you need to compensate workload to survive financially, you're not charging enough. Don't let your work slip. Better to have less work, and to have less people to keep happy at once. Because then you can truly focus on giving them service they're glad they paid for.

When you're all done, and they say "omg i can't believe how great and helpful and blah blahblah" doesn't even matter how much you have to revise, or edit, or how much you charge. They're gonna stay loyal to you because of excellent service.

Also, like chucko said. Devs talk to devs. Never NEVER NEVER trash talk a dev, or service provider to another dev or service provider. It's a tight knit community, and it always gets around. Any bs drama you have with a past client, keep that to yourself. Chances are, thats your new client's buddy and now he's uncomfortable with you.

KadajMetal
KadajMetal
  • Member since: Aug. 9, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 06
Musician
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-07-03 18:19:32 Reply

Thank you for the great advices.I'm trying to find my niche and start building a network on newgrounds.I need to focus on one type of music and perfect it so it will sound incredible !
"Don't overbook yourself" is also a great advice that I try to apply in my life in general.I can't maitain relations with hundreds of people I like neitheir can I be good at a lot of things.But when I decide to do something I want to do it the best I can.Focusings and perfecting one thing is the key !

NickPerrin
NickPerrin
  • Member since: Jan. 3, 2008
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 08
Blank Slate
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-07-03 22:43:31 Reply

Listen to these man's words! They are wise and come from a place of experience.

Just don't follow any of his advice on personal hygiene. You've been warned.

Tydusis
Tydusis
  • Member since: Feb. 6, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 06
Musician
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-07-03 23:57:36 Reply

At 6/27/12 03:19 PM, MaestroRage wrote: the best advice ever

Bookmarking this epic advice!


Latest Creation: Wiretapped Wormhole | Website: Tydusis.com | Also, check out this webcomic I like: Inhuman

BBS Signature
MaestroRage
MaestroRage
  • Member since: Aug. 22, 2006
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 24
Musician
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-07-05 12:57:13 Reply

Somebody asked me a few great questions via PM and I felt this information would help others also, so here it is.

The first Question was:

A lot of starter devs have nothing to their name money wise and want to do rev share. What is an ideal rate to accept?
This is a great question because it ties in directly with what you perceive your own worth. And of course naturally what they're asking. If they want 3 sfx from you asking 25% is ludicrous.

So you have to sit back and ask yourself. Okay, what do you think this game is worth? What can you expect for it to bring in sponsorship wise. This is a very difficult arena to navigate because there's no real way of knowing. A sponsor might REALLY like the game and belt out thousands. Or, they might take your super polished, massive RPG game that took 3 years to make and go "ho hum, here's a couple hundred".

Side note: Here is an incredible resource to see what kind of games sell well and in what quantity.
https://www.fgl.com/report_monthly_site_sales.php

You may need an account to see it. But spend some time and figure out what kind of games bring in what kind of money if you're totally lost on what a game is worth.

ANYWAY. After you figure out a number. Say this game is expected to bring in $2000. Okay, now the developer is asking for 3 minutes of music and 20 sfx. You ask yourself, How much would I ask for if he wanted me to do this for a flat rate? In my case I would have considered this for around $500 several months ago. Okay, so I would need 25% to break even. That is what I would propose.

Sometimes you'd get much more, sometimes much less. The rev share game is all about numbers. Many of my friends who have gone pure rev share claim they bring in more money now then they did doing stuff flat rate (though imo that's because they didn't charge what they should have).

So remember, the formula goes

Flat Rate you'd ask for the Project / Expected Game Return = % you're asking for. Swing higher if you think you can snag it.

Methreee
Methreee
  • Member since: Oct. 25, 2007
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 06
Blank Slate
Response to How to make it as a Freelancer! 2012-07-06 03:40:39 Reply

Thanks guys, the business side of music is mostly foreign to me, and that's where I'm headed.