How to become a composer for video games

A friend contacted me to ask how to go about becoming a composer for video games. Here is my advice to him:

If you’re looking at composing for games, get involved with the indie scene. Look at indie-attractive sites like Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter and see if anyone’s looking for composers. Search for game jams. Regularly check sites like Tigsource and Meetup. Rack up shipped title credits to use for your portfolio. When you feel ready establish yourself with real living wage fees.

Reddit at your own risk:

gameDevClassifieds

I need a team

You’ll have an advantage if you do your homework before asking for a demo review. It behooves you to know who you’re making music for and what they’re expecting. On the technical side be aware you’re expected to deliver stems and loops, google articles and get practiced with those.

Be a professional and have a website ready with your work and contact info on it. Set up a real website where the URL is your name and your demos are plain to see and use! Your portfolio will attract similar work. Do work for pay and if you feel it’s not what you’d rather work on, in your free time make a portfolio that focuses on your preferences.

Examples of game composer websites:

Mick Gordon

Jesper Kyd

Sonic Mayhem

Jason Graves

Go to events like Gamesoundcon and GDC. Have business cards ready, nice ones. Meet people and get to know the community. If you plug into  on Twitter you’ll see a lot of the community as well.

Understand that as a freelancer you are a business owner. Learn how to manage your business! And if you’re American have a tax person who knows what they’re doing. If in doubt, use mine: Alyce Bonura (No I don’t get a commission for recommending her.)

Most obvious of all, if you want to work on games, you’d better be playing lots of games. Know your medium.

Additional contributions by @mattesque and @ashtonmorris.

More from Ashton Morris, Freelance Game Audio: Getting Started and Finding Work