Four Books To Jumpstart A Career In Game Music

The game audio industry can sometimes be tricky to navigate; most game composers are freelancers who essentially run their own businesses.

Fortunately, game audio is home to a warm and supportive community, and there are game audio experts who are passionate about sharing their tips and perspectives in the form of books. These are four books that I’ve personally found helpful in my game audio career:

Composing Music For Games: The Art, Technology, and Business of Video Game Scoring by Chance Thomas
Written by Emmy award-winning game composer Chance Thomas, “Composing Music For Games” is a thorough primer on all things related to game audio. This book has a lot to offer for both newcomers to the field and longtime veterans.

The part of this book that I found most beneficial is the business section. Thomas, a keen businessman himself, shares invaluable advice on rate negotiation, contracts, financial management, and the holy grail of freelance game audio: finding work. The book also contains a generous amount of guest contributions from experts in the industry. I’d recommend “Composing Music For Games” just for this section alone.

Family-First Composer by Steven Melin
Though this book was written for someone who is a parent or has a family to take care of, anybody can find in Steven Melin’s “Family-First Composer” an abundance of relevant, up-to-date, and practical tips for striking the perfect balance between a meaningful career and a healthy work-life balance. Melin dives in deep, helping the reader identify their “why”, and then provides immediately actionable items to start working towards successfully finding work.

Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio by Mike Senior
Home audio production has come such a long way; the barriers to entry are lower than they’ve ever been, and anyone can produce quality music with a laptop – it just takes a minor investment in the right software, and proficiency in the right skills. This book helps with the latter by providing insanely in-depth solutions to bring out the best with the gear you have.

A Composer’s Guide To Game Music by Winifred Phillips
This book is packed with an incredible volume of content, ranging from in-depth discourses on the approach to writing game music, to practical and personal anecdotes about Winifred Phillips’ own experiences in the game industry. Phillips’ writing style is both insightful and accessible, and I walked away with a clearer perspective of my career path. It’s also worth noting that Phillips also actively maintains a very helpful game audio blog on Gamasutra.

Game audio doesn’t have to be uncharted territory. If you’re looking to break into game music, I hope you look into these books and find value in them. And if you feel like you’re going at it alone, remember that the game audio community is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive – reach out to someone and make friends!