[SOLVED] Ideal budget for professional Jap OP & ED songs?

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Quinn-G
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[SOLVED] Ideal budget for professional Jap OP & ED songs?

#1 Post by Quinn-G » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:49 am

My personal VN project is coming together nicely enough for my tastes. I'm confident that I can handle the writing, art and programming by myself (though I'll admit the latter is thanks to a lot of tutorials and tips found in the LSF threads), but I couldn't compose a good tune if my life depended on it, much less write Japanese lyrics. I started learning Jap on the side just to be able to read untranslated VNs in the future, but I'm not quite there yet. XD

Picture this. I made a Kickstarter and raised a decent sum that will serve solely to produce the songs I need. More specifically, a kick-ass opening song the likes of Sora no Kodou from Sunrider: Liberation Day and four more emotional ending songs for each heroine's route like in Grisaia no Kajitsu. Then, I contact a Japanese music company like, say, Elements Garden and go all:

"Yo! I've got *insert number of funds here* yen from a Kickstarter! Compose five songs for my game, onegaishimasu? :3"

What would be the ideal budget? And on the off chance that there are people on LSF familiar with the inner workings of the Jap music industry, how much does a single song cost to compose approximately?
Last edited by Quinn-G on Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ideal budget for professional Jap opening & ending songs

#2 Post by Abnelia » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:21 pm

It's a really hard question to answer.

Basically when someone ask how much I need to get paid to create music I watch some info :

is there a non-exclusive license ?
How many minutes of music the games need ?
Wich style of music do you need ?
Do I need real musician ? or singer ?
Can I mix myself or do I need someone to do it ? (like a real sound engineer if the music is record with musicians)
Do I need to put the music myself in the game ?

And this is only for the music.
I need to ask all this question because each step needs times... and a lot of times for some.
And now I need to multiply times and my fee.

so for you.

We can use the opening theme exemple.

So you want a kickass opening by Elements Garden.

Well Elements Garden are famous people and more importantly they are elited composer... so I estimated the fee will be 2000$/min, maybe less if you need something more simple to write or even less if you don't own the license for the music (But I don't talk about the song writer). So if we use Sora no Kodou let's 4min30*2000=8500$
Now you need to record the band:
You need score : if you have some chance the composer will take care, if you want something more complex be ready to add some $.
You need a studio with an engineer : let's say you need 4h, and they cost 100$/h = 400$
you need to hire musicians and singer (a simple band so 1guitar, 1bass, 1 drum, 1 piano and 1 singer). it's 5 people, each of them cost 75-100$/h = 500$/hour, here for 4h = 2000$
It's the main title so... you really NEED an Expert for the mix. Add 300-500$

In the end for the main title you need : 8500+400+2000+500 = 11500 $(US)

But keep in mind you can always negotiate, and there is always some fee unexpected.
There is also a lot of young composer who certainly can do something for a more small budget.

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Re: Ideal budget for professional Jap opening & ending songs

#3 Post by D.ray » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:04 pm

If your dead set on a hiring established Japanese musicians with a good portfolio expect to pay a premium. That's even if you can manage to convince them to do the songs for you. Sometimes money isn't enough. And be careful you don't pay an obscene amount of money either. For example, if you're paying 11 grand per song, something's totally wrong (sorry Abnelia). With that kind of cash, you could go to a pro producer with gold records and have him record, mix and master a 10 track album for you in his fancy studio. Or hire really good composers who do all the work for you. It's essentially in the ball park of an entire music budget for a pro commercial release. Most game composers are multi-talented and can usually play or program all the instruments that are needed and have their own studio for recording, mixing and mastering. That takes a lot of the cost out of the equation.

If you can nab an established Japanese composer with name recognition, I'd say around $1000 per minute sounds about right for a base price on what they would charge.

I'd say be realistic and narrow down those 5 songs to 2. A kick ass opening theme and closing theme with vocals included. And if you really want Japanese musicians, look at independent artists/groups. They'll usually have singers on hand too, and they're prices are reasonable. Around $100 to $300 per minute of music. Plus less paperwork and legal mumbo jumbo to go through.

You could also forgo the Japanese musicians and just hire U.S based ones. Helps with the language barrier and might be cheaper too. There are plenty of capable composers that can do opening/closing themes. If they don't have vocalists who can sing in Japanese, just have them do the music and than hire a vocalist who can sing in Japanese over the tracks. I've been involved with a project like that before.

Once you've got the songs with the vocals done, you can hire someone else to compose the instrumental tracks for your OST. Overall I'd budget a couple hundred for something like that. If that's still too much, you can search around and find someone willing to do it for something that's more in your budget. But if you plan on starting a kick starter, I'd say it's better to find the composers you want first, find out how much they would charge for the work you want, and than set that as the goal for the music budget on your kickstarter.
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Re: Ideal budget for professional Jap opening & ending songs

#4 Post by Quinn-G » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:48 am

Elements Garden is only an example. But in either case presented by you two, it seems the required amount of money is much bigger than I originally anticipated. Ouch. T-T

Well, I've got my eye on a couple freelance composers' Youtube channels who are also big visual novel fans (chief among them being JB AnimePiano), but that's mostly for the game's original soundtrack. It's not the part that worries me the most in terms of funding (although that will depend on how much the Kickstarter amounts to in the long run), that's why I asked about the OP/ED songs specifically.

The musical part of the project is literally the only thing I can't do by myself. Model and texture CG starships and backgrounds, draw character sprites and expressions and write a story with an acceptable prose? I love doing all three. Program the game itself? I can get by with tutorials.

...Compose a decent tune? No f**king idea.

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Re: Ideal budget for professional Jap opening & ending songs

#5 Post by Abnelia » Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:02 pm

D.ray wrote:If your dead set on a hiring established Japanese musicians with a good portfolio expect to pay a premium. That's even if you can manage to convince them to do the songs for you. Sometimes money isn't enough. And be careful you don't pay an obscene amount of money either. For example, if you're paying 11 grand per song, something's totally wrong (sorry Abnelia). With that kind of cash, you could go to a pro producer with gold records and have him record, mix and master a 10 track album for you in his fancy studio. Or hire really good composers who do all the work for you. It's essentially in the ball park of an entire music budget for a pro commercial release. Most game composers are multi-talented and can usually play or program all the instruments that are needed and have their own studio for recording, mixing and mastering. That takes a lot of the cost out of the equation.
well for my defense I only work with soundtrack and movie music.

so the price I know are mostly for video games other than visual novel. And yeah you can pay 11000$ for 5min of music with a renown composer (and by that I mean international well known composer who won price... like an Hans Zimmer) if you buy all the license. (it happen, mostly for AAA company, but I think a group like Garden are renown composer)

I never say it was the price for ALL music in ALL video games, neither there is no other composer with other price, neither there was no negotiation. I was speaking about this choice of group, and use it for this exemple.

Maybe I needed to complete with other stuff about price for different composer.
And well, mostly I need to just share this :http://www.designingmusicnow.com/2016/0 ... -campaign/

But please don't say sorry to me. It feels offensive, and Like I don't know my shit. Thank you.

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Re: Ideal budget for professional Jap opening & ending songs

#6 Post by D.ray » Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:18 pm

well for my defense I only work with soundtrack and movie music.

so the price I know are mostly for video games other than visual novel. And yeah you can pay 11000$ for 5min of music with a renown composer (and by that I mean international well known composer who won price... like an Hans Zimmer) if you buy all the license. (it happen, mostly for AAA company, but I think a group like Garden are renown composer)

I never say it was the price for ALL music in ALL video games, neither there is no other composer with other price, neither there was no negotiation. I was speaking about this choice of group, and use it for this exemple.

Maybe I needed to complete with other stuff about price for different composer.
And well, mostly I need to just share this :http://www.designingmusicnow.com/2016/0 ... -campaign/

But please don't say sorry to me. It feels offensive, and Like I don't know my shit. Thank you.
When I meant sorry, I meant it as please take no offense since I used your example of cost as being very extravagant for Quinn's situation, and that it would be more of rarity for most games to pay such a price for one song. Especially considering most people here work in the indie scene or sometimes release games for free. I have no doubt people do pay thousands for a single song when your talking top tier composers, and for triple A games or any high end commercial use.

That's a nice article you linked, and there's great stuff on it, but I still feel those prices are still skewed on the higher side, in my opinion anyway. The thing about game audio is there are so many factors that go into the cost of it, and you can avoid a lot of those costs, but still retain quality.

I think part of the problem here is we're talking about different spectrum's of composers and music, and different approaches for music for projects. For example, there are a lot indie, semi-pro and pro composers that keep costs down by doing a lot what the article listed for themselves, such as playing the instruments that are needed, or using software, usually it's a combination of both. As I mentioned earlier most can also record, mix and master their own material too. All of this cuts down on cost, and the savings are literally passed onto the game developers. With this method, you've literally just done away with all the fee's for studio, recording engineers, editors, mixers, mastering engineers and live musicians.

Now I'm not saying all composers and groups work this way, or that they don't ever hire additional outside help, but it's common practice enough that I feel it's erroneous to imply, like the article does, that it's a requirement. But again, this depends on the type of project, the type of budget, the type of songs and the type of composers/groups you want.

Again, wasn't try to offend here.
Quinn-G wrote:Elements Garden is only an example. But in either case presented by you two, it seems the required amount of money is much bigger than I originally anticipated. Ouch. T-T

Well, I've got my eye on a couple freelance composers' Youtube channels who are also big visual novel fans (chief among them being JB AnimePiano), but that's mostly for the game's original soundtrack. It's not the part that worries me the most in terms of funding (although that will depend on how much the Kickstarter amounts to in the long run), that's why I asked about the OP/ED songs specifically.

The musical part of the project is literally the only thing I can't do by myself. Model and texture CG starships and backgrounds, draw character sprites and expressions and write a story with an acceptable prose? I love doing all three. Program the game itself? I can get by with tutorials.

...Compose a decent tune? No f**king idea.
Honestly the price for music has a wide spectrum. You could go into the musicians recruitment forum on here and find prices range from $10 to $15 a minute, all the way up to $100 per minute and more. Some composers are even free. I wouldn't worry about not finding composers for your VN. Although you probably will end up paying more for tracks with vocals.

Personally I'd probably charge around $300 to $375 for a full length (3 to 4 minute) song like Sora no Kodou, and that'd would be the lowest I would go, also partly because it's not much of a complex song. It may seem like a lot, but if you have to factor in the composition itself, the time it takes to find tones for the guitars, bass, and drums, to do the proper setup for the instruments, than do the actual recording, the programming of drums( I program drums), then do the editing, the mixing, any cool sound design, or production tricks and finally the mastering, it's quite the effort. It's even more so when you have vocals since you need to do the vocal melodies,harmonies, lyrics, then record, edit, tune, mix and master those as well. Then let's not forget part of that $300 to $375 fee is actually going to the vocalist. Thankfully I've got enough experience and a good workflow to have a good turn around time for a commercially competitive sound

You would probably be right in hiring someone to do the music. It's good to know your limits and just hire someone else to do the job you don't know how to do. Creating music takes passion, time and money that may not be feasible for everyone. If you do have the desire and time, I would still encourage you to dabble in learning music. Even if you never write a song, you could learn enough to appreciate music on a deeper level.
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Re: Ideal budget for professional Jap opening & ending songs

#7 Post by Quinn-G » Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:23 pm

Hey, don't you guys start a fight over this, alright? :P

As it stands right now, my VN isn't at a stage where I have to worry about the musical side of it yet anyway. I'll be sure to remember your respective tips on the matter by the time I release the demo and get the kickstarter... well, started. XD

Thanks a lot to the both of you! =D

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Re: [SOLVED] Ideal budget for professional Jap OP & ED songs

#8 Post by LeetMusic » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:15 pm

Different music producers have different rates depending on experience and credentials. Hans Zimmer is gonna charge more than a college student. Suggest contacting a musician whose work you like and discussing your project with them.

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