Sometimes a slightly uncomfortable part of the process, wether it’s audio or any other business project, is the bid. What are you worth? How do you compare your prices with others in a similar marketplace? Are you afraid of being too expensive and losing the bid to a lower bid? These are all legit questions that creep in when we are presenting a bid for our services. My strategy has changed over the years. When I was newer and less experienced, I would always strive to be the cheapest in order to get the job. I usually got them, and ended up putting in a ton of work and ultimately getting paid very little. As my level of experience and skill developed, my prices went up, and that trend continues to this day. I still bid for projects within the framework of market value, but I am now leaning toward the higher side, despite “the economy”. Our tendency is to think that “getting the job:”is more important than losing it to a lower bid, but I no longer feel this way. What I’ve found is that I need to find the client that understands my value, experience, and high level of service. I always over-deliver and bring my work in on time or sooner. My level of experience and client history clearly demonstrates that I can work on a large pr small scale, and always live up to and often exceed client expectations. So even if my rates are higher than others, and I lose some clients who are price-shopping, that’s ok because the clients that do hire me are willing to pay the higher price to get a better and more experienced service. It’s what I refer to as “natural rolloff”. You will lose a few clients but you will command higher dollar for your service, and the higher price equates to better product. If you’re newer in the industry then you are wise to take the lower price route until you have developed your skills and clientele to the point that you can get higher payment for your service. Remember, there is implied value in your brand - if you’ve developed your brand and are dependable, you can get to the point where you SHOULD be charging a higher price.
This can certainly be a daunting task for any sound professional - being given the sonic keys to an update of a classic old school video game. How true do you stay to the original? Do you give it a modern facelift or go totally retro? The answer, I believe, is to get a vision for what the team is presenting and adjust accordingly. I’m currently in production on a classic game reboot, and the design is a deliberate update, futuristic approach to the game while maintaining the classic elements of play. So it’s built around the original, but with a decided “this isn’t your father’s version” update. Other than giving a fresh, dub-step influenced, modern re-work of the classic theme, we’ve gone very futuristic with all the sound design, patterning it after the computer and technology sounds of the Iron Man movies. So in this case, it’s a step forward with a tip of the hat to the original, but in some cases, going totally retro will work too. The key is to talk to your producers, and listen. At the end of the day, success in the audio industry is like sales - it’s about 60% listening to the needs of your client, and 405 creating and managing the audio (great topic for a whole other blog).
Went to the SIEGE convention in Atlanta from Oct 5-7. Didn’t realize it but Georgia, and Atlanta in particular, has quite an indie game community. I saw some fascinating indie games and met some really talented folks with great ideas - and thanks to conventions like this, they have an outlet for their ideas. I sat on a few audio panels and chatted with some of the coolest and most talented audio artists that I’ve ever met. Audio is essentially an isolated art, and I forget how important it is to get out there and mingle with other like-minded audio guys and gals. It reminded me, after years at a giant corporation, that there really is an audio “community” out there, and it’s healthy to get involved.