Welcome to the Video Game Music Academy
If you’re a relatively-new game audio professional, or you’re an experienced composer/engineer looking to make a stable living doing what you love, you’re in the right place. This page will give you the information you need to kick-start your career and find the right resources for you, so let’s get started!
I’m Dan Hulsman, and I started the Video Game Music Academy to help game music composers and sound designers level-up their careers by being more productive, more creative, and more profitable as artists. The short version: I have a unique combination of expertise in sales, marketing, business, music, and education and a track record for helping people find success with their careers and businesses. For the longer version, check out the About page and you can read the Video Game Music Academy announcement post to learn more about what to expect.
Defining Your Game Audio Endgame
There’s a lot to master if you’re going to go pro with your game audio, but before you start you should make sure you know what you’re aiming for. If you’re working towards becoming a full-time composer or sound designer, read my post about The Math of “Making a Living” to set a financial goal for yourself. Otherwise, you can easily lose sight of the forest through the trees and the goal of “making a living” could become an endlessly-moving target. Whether you’re hoping to make game music a part-time or full-time income source, make sure you have a goal so that you know when to celebrate your wins and recognize when you’re falling short.
What to Expect
If you’ve never tried to make it in a service-based industry like game audio, you may not know exactly what you’re getting into – and that’s OK! Let’s quickly take a few minutes to dispel some of the myths surrounding the industry and what it takes to succeed to keep a realistic perspective.
- Becoming ‘successful’ does NOT happen overnight.
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s good to reiterate this point. “Making it” in the gaming industry has several unique challenges, and meeting those challenges is hard. It takes a long time and some hustle to build up a personal brand, get your music out there, and create the circumstances which allow for success. I’ll do my best to teach you everything I know to help you succeed, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to take action.
- There’s usually more than one RIGHT way to do things.
You’ll have to have some level of mastery over several different skills and tools to be successful, and there are plenty of people out there who will tell you which DAW is the best, which sound library you need to invest in, or what to charge for your music. Informed opinions can be helpful, but it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is different and there are many paths to creating awesome game music and sound for developers and players. There is no magic-bullet solution for any part of your career, which means that you have options – that’s a good thing!
- It is TOTALLY POSSIBLE to make a full-time income in the gaming industry.
You may have heard phrases like “the music industry is dying,” or “the gaming industry is one of the hardest industries to get into,” or “don’t get into this industry for the money.” YES, the gaming industry has some unique challenges, and it CAN be difficult to make money in the industry if you don’t know what you’re doing… But let’s do a quick reality-check. The gaming industry is BOOMING, and the indie game scene is taking off like a rocket with no signs of slowing down. Some schools are even teaching children how to program and create basic games! This means that the number of games in need of audio is growing as well, which is good news. If you’re a solid musician or sound designer who knows the basics of marketing and selling your services, you will find that there are plenty of gigs to go around.
- You do NOT need a bunch of expensive gear, software, or a professional studio to be successful.
Some of the most successful folks are operating very modest setups while still producing fantastic music and sound. Can expensive sound libraries and an 88-key digital piano with weighted keys help? Sure, but your success doesn’t have to hinge on acquiring a bunch of stuff. Everyone’s needs will vary based on the type of projects they work on and the scope of those projects, but don’t be fooled; You can get by just fine with a minimal setup.
Access the Resources Page
Just like Link in the Legend of Zelda, you’ll want a small arsenal during your game audio adventure. With so many options for software, gear, apps, books, and more it’s easy to get lost in the weeds trying to find a solution to a specific problem. The Resources page is my carefully curated list of recommended tools, educational resources, and services to help you along the way. I don’t have any endorsement deals with any of the products, and I’ll only be recommending products which I have personal experience using myself. Bookmark this page: I’ll be referring to it often!
The Video Game Music Academy Blog
The VGM Academy blog is divided into the skill areas that you’ll need to have some mastery over in order to lead a balanced career in the gaming industry. Those areas are:
- Music Composition: The artistic stuff. Music theory, songwriting, composition, and all that fun stuff.
- Mixing & Producing: Taking your raw creative material and polishing it into a finished product.
- Networking & Marketing: Getting your music heard, promoting your services, and finding opportunities to work with game developers.
- Selling Music & Services: Pricing, contracts, positioning, and basic selling skills to help you close the deal on gigs.
- Tools & Technology: Software, instruments, libraries, apps – that sort of thing.
- VGM Academy Updates: Significant updates regarding the VGM Academy website, or letters from the creator.
Subscribe to the VGM Academy Newsletter
Enter your name and e-mail address over yonder to get awesome, free content delivered to your inbox. No funny business, no spam, just free content – starting with an audio interview with Transistor and Bastion composer: Darren Korb. I hear that the person you had a crush on in high school thinks that VGM Academy Newsletter subscribers are totally hot, too. Sounds like a win-win if there ever was one.