How to Find Game Audio Gigs (Especially In a Small Town)
Listen to the audio version of this article here. Okay okay, I know I've opened a LOT of these emails with Australian lore, and you know what? We're not about to slow down. Australia is the gift that keeps on giving. Today, we're going to talk about the Australian Culture Terrorists. Back in 1986, a priceless Picasso painting was stolen from the National Gallery of Victoria by the self-appointed ACT.
Their demands? They wanted more funding for the arts and more prizes for artists. Yes, that's it. Eventually, the painting was found (the ACT gave it back of their own volition), in good shape and clearly well-cared for, and the culprits were never found. This small group of thieves did the unthinkable: robbing a piece of priceless art from a museum, and demanding a better life for artists. Even though this group was likely incredibly small, they did something hugely difficult. While we love hearing stories of the small-but-mighty, we sometimes think being in a small town is a big detriment to us - but it can be leveraged much in the same way: Our small surroundings can lead to big things. So, let's get into what to do to build your game audio career if you live in a small or middle-of-nowhere town. But first, we have to hit what it feels like to be in one of these places If you're somewhere that's out in the middle of nowhere, or doesn't have a huge game industry community, it can be ludicrously discouraging, especially if you're seeing people "make it" over and over in a big game industry city. And while I'm referring to being in a "small town" It doesn't just mean a physically small place. Basically, I'm talking about living far away from any sort of game industry hub city - places like Seattle, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Berlin, London, Melbourne, etc. I know many of the people reading this aren't in a big city, but still want that game audio career, and sit in their homes, watching all those people in Los Angeles living it up, wondering if the same is possible for them - without needing to uproot their entire lives to the fiery hellscape of Southern California. In a word, yes It's very possible, but you have to do things a bit differently than if you're surrounded by game developers 24/7 in a more industry-focused place. But what is it, exactly, that you need to do? If you find yourself outside of a big hub, then there are a few things you need to get really really really really really really really good at:
Being apart of online communities
Sharing your work via social media
We all know networking is hugely important, and that it's the key to succeeding in any artistic field, so let's dive into this deeper. Note how all of these things have to do with being online and networking? That's because the further away from a hub city you are, the more online you need to be. If you're not seeing other driven, highly-skilled game developers regularly around you, then you simply have to go where they are: the internet. I'll be writing more articles on all of these points soon, and already have deep-dives of each of these skills covered in my upcoming Game Industry Pro course as well, but let's do a brief overview: When it comes to online communities Discord is the god-king of this arena. In fact, I think in a small matter of time, Discord is going to far exceed the upsides of networking on places like Twitter and Instagram for game audio. In some respects, it already has beaten social media handily - especially considering you don't need to make any sort of "content" or posts to make the most of it. Know that joining game development communities and actually being apart of them is hugely helpful to your career - especially if you're not already established or don't live in a big hub city like Seattle. But that doesn't mean social media is now useless It's still ludicrously helpful for people to know what we're doing, what we're up to, and to see that we're still actively making audio on a regular basis. While something like a website and demo reel are more static, social media can get updated far more frequently, which can lead people to contacting you for work based off of your latest posts. I know quite a few people who have gotten a lot of AAA and Indie work entirely from their Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube posts. It's a huge help. But, even more old-school than social media is email. No one thinks about getting good at email But it will pay huge dividends because... well... everyone has an email address. You can use email to get one-on-one meetings with developers, ask questions to potential mentors, network with VIPs, or even just break through the noise and stand out as a composer/sound designer in someone's mind. If you can send a short, thoughtful, personality-filled email, then you have literally everyone available to you at a moment's notice. Notice how I said "personality-filled" and not "professional." The skill in writing a good email is knowing exactly how to talk to someone in such a way that they'll respond to you, and not sounding uptight and staunch like everyone else does. Keep it short, don't be boring, and keep it ultra specific. Say things that only a pro would be able to say, and if you're asking a question, only one super-unique question at a time. Just like that, you can build a massive game industry network sending one thoughtful email a week. "But Akash, you chocolate cinnamon pork shoulder ragu" I hear you say, "I hate doing all this online stuff! Can't I just focus on the music/sound?" While it's absolutely possible to build a career without being super "online", it's also incredibly difficult, requires a lot of in-person meetups, and, if you don't live in or near a big game industry hub, a fair amount of travel. Can it be done? Yes. Is it easy? Absolutely not. If you want to start making a living off of game audio, and don't live in a big city, it would be in your best interest to get good at this stuff. So, let's cover what we went over today
It's absolutely doable to create a great game audio career from a small place, or a non-game-industry-hub
Being "online" is extremely valuable to being in a small town and still finding work
The further away from a hub you are, the more online you need to be
I, too, one day, shall become a legendary art thief. Just watch
So, while we may not be a small cell of master thieves going to steal a Picasso Our humble beginnings don't have to hold us back. In fact, things can go just fine in our careers. In future articles I'll be diving more and more into the intricacies of networking online to help you upgrade your career this year.
And if you'd like to get those articles before anyone else, as well as free game audio courses, and free sound effects
Then sign up for my newsletter here. You'll gain instant access to eBooks, free sounds, free courses, and deeper dives on all the advice I give through this blog.