In the post, I share my experience performing with Video Games Live and pass along some expert-advice from video game music composer, VGL Producer, and CEO of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.): Tommy Tallarico.

I also I’ve always wanted to see a Video Games Live show, so when I heard they were going to be in my city this March I was excited.  I did not, however, expect to experience my first VGL show from the stage.  A HUGE shout-out goes to Shota Nakama of the Video Game Orchestra (the orchestra used for this performance) for inviting me to join the performance – it was truly a blast.

Video Games Live + the Video Game Orchestra = Lovely People and Awesome Music

Personally, I don’t do the whole “reviews,” thing because I don’t find them to be very useful, but I do want to briefly mention that the show was incredibly fun to be a part of.  I was blown away by the talent and graciousness of the Video Games Live team.  Specifically, I want to mention Tommy Tallarico, Laura Intravia (performer, arranger), Eímear Noone (conductor, VGL), and Shota Nakama (founder, Video Game Orchestra).  The talent and passion of these people was incredible to be around, and I hope to have another opportunity to work with them soon!

Who is Tommy Tallarico?

Dan Hulsman, Video Game Music Academy (left) with Tommy Tallarico, Video Games Live (right)

Dan Hulsman, Video Game Music Academy (left) with Tommy Tallarico, Video Games Live (right)

Tommy is a huge influencer in the video game audio space.  If you don’t know who he is and why you should be taking advice from him, I’ll give you the bullet points about who he is:

  •  Composer & musician, having worked on over 250 video games since 1991 – including Earthworm Jim, Unreal, Cool Spot, Spider-Man, Pac-Man World, Prince of Persia, and many more;
  • Founder of the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.), a non-profit membership site, resource, and watering hole for game audio professionals and wannabes;
  • Former host and producer of The Electric Playground – a daily television show that covered movies, TV shows, comic books, gadgets, and more;
  • Advisory board member for the Game Developers Conference;
  • Executive Producer, CEO, and lead guitarist of Video Game Live – an immersive concert event featuring music from the most popular video games of all time.

In summary, Tommy knows his shit and you should listen to his advice.


A Letter from Tommy Tallarico: Advice to Video Game Music Composers

After the performance, Tommy graciously sent me a lengthy, value-packed e-mail containing the advice he gives to new composers so I could share it with the Video Game Music Academy community.  Here’s what he wrote:

Whenever I speak at schools/universities/conferences, etc. I always talk about how passion and networking is just as important as talent! Believing in your dream and working/doing whatever it takes to get there, never giving up, etc. is most of the battle.


As gigantic as the game industry seems, it’s also a pretty tight industry and very easy to get into (unlike film/television, etc.) especially if you know and meet the right people.
Networking and keeping a positive attitude will allow you to achieve anything you set your mind to!


You’ll want to prepare some kind of demo CD (or easily e-mailed links) of your work so that you’ll be able to let people hear what you are capable of.


In regards to game audio specifically, there are a few things you can do to put you ahead.
1. Join the non-profit organization G.A.N.G. (Game Audio Network Guild) at Over 2000 game audio professionals from around the world are involved. There is a student membership which you could qualify for. An amazing resource for anyone looking to get into the industry. The website has a ton of info and it’s like the Facebook for Game Audio folks! If you join the Guild, make sure to check out this story on “How to get a gig”:


[Editor’s Note: Tommy is Founder & CEO of G.A.N.G.]


2. Get the book “The Complete Guide to Game Audio” by Aaron Marks and “Audio for Games: Planning, Process, and Production” by Alexander Brandon ( has them both). Incredible resources, advice and insight!


3. Join the IGDA (if there is a local chapter in your area). They also have some great resources on their website such as:


A great place to meet up and coming game developers and like minded people in your area.


4. Check out the website There is a TON of game audio information and they do a monthly magazine called Game Developer Magazine.


5. Aside from joining G.A.N.G., the BEST advice I could give you is to definitely attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. This is the networking mecca of the entire game industry! Over 15,000 game developers from around the world and nearly 1,000 game audio composers, sound designers, etc. are there. An absolutely fantastic place to meet and network with people. And you’ll learn more in 3 days than you’ll ever imagine! There is special Game Audio Pass for around $700, and as a member of G.A.N.G. there is a $50 discount as well.


I hope this helps.


Talent is important, but just as important is “networking”. The above mentioned things will really help you to increase your profile among the people who you need to be in front of.


Good luck!




Tommy Tallarico


President, Tommy Tallarico Studios, Inc. (

Executive Producer/CEO, Video Games Live (
Founder/CEO/Chairman, Game Audio Network Guild [G.A.N.G.] (


There you have it!  Tommy’s advice is good: get out there and meet your peers.  Do it online. and do it in person.  I urge you to check out some of the resources he recommends, and get your hands on a copy of the latest Video Games Live album: Level 4.

If you have any experience with the resources Tommy recommends, share your experiences in the comments below!

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