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Choose Your Clients Wisely

When I first moved to Seattle in 2012, I had a huge goal I wanted to accomplish: work on a game that gets released on Steam.

Unlike today, Steam was a closed-off platform. If you had a game there, it was practically guaranteed to be successful because it was such a curated space.

Imagine my sheer jubilation when I get offered to work on a game that was already pre-approved to be on Steam shortly after moving to Seattle! Huzzah! I met with the client, and we agreed on the payment terms. All I had to do is wait for them to sign my contract and send over that sweet sweet cash.

So, I sent over my contract... and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then, I followed up, politely (and desperately) asking them to sign the contract so that I could get started on the project.

They responded right away, and told me I was suddenly too expensive, and they'd me to do more sound for less than 50% of my price, and instead of taking a month to finish the project, I only had one week. It was a terrible deal, but like most anyone in that scenario, I sweatily considered it. "It would be worth it for the exposure" my brain kept telling me.

I ended up saying no. Even 1 year into my career, with no gigs and no other income, I knew that would be a really bad move.

A few months after that game finally came out, I ran into the producer of the studio, and he told me "sorry it didn't work out on the project. Honestly, we were looking for someone who didn't respect themselves as much as you do."

Later, I found out that the person who ended up taking the gig did a great job, but never worked on any other games afterward. The development dragged on for years longer than was initially quoted, and it practically destroyed that guy's career in game audio due to how little it ended up paying. Imagine doing several year’s work for a single week’s pay.

Just because a client can pay you, doesn't mean they're worth working for. We get so wrapped up in getting the gig, that we don't realize that doing a project can actually be a loss.

Choose your clients very wisely. Your career depends on it.


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