How to break into the video game music industry

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to rethink their working lives in what is being dubbed “the Great Resignation”. Perhaps you too are considering a change of career path? Or maybe you’re a young student just starting out on your journey? Either way, a good piece of advice is to pursue what you love. If music is your passion and gaming is your hobby, why not consider a future as a video game music composer?

The gaming industry is currently worth more than $90 billion. It employs a quarter of a million people in the United States alone, in a diverse array of roles. Video game music started out as something of a novelty back in the early 1980s. But today it represents a significant portion of the industry, and one which continues to grow. If you want to know how to break into this particular market, there are several important factors to consider. 

Understand The Industry

Arguably the most important is understanding the industry and realising how different it is to other more traditional media sectors. Composing for television and film, for instance, is nothing like creating music for computer games.

A good example would be in a first-person shooter game, where your character is hiding away in a corner of the map. Have you ever noticed how the in-game music quietens down? That’s because the game is intentionally built to make everything as immersive as possible. Audio engineers are layering the music. When the action kicks off, the volume increases to ramp up the tension and the adrenaline. This kind of layering doesn’t occur in other, more traditional media.

Learn The Market

Half of the battle with any industry is understanding your audience. If you are the target demographic, it makes it incredibly simple to know how to develop a relevant product. It’s important that you play games yourself, to understand both the competition and your customers. You don’t necessarily have to spend every waking hour buried in a console, but you do need to keep your eye in.

It’s also crucial to understand exactly what type of games we are talking about. Each area of the industry requires its own skillset. Developing sound for a mobile game is completely different to a high-end console, for example. Then there are wildly varying genres, such as sports simulations compared to real-time strategy games. And all of that is before you even consider other forms of gaming, such as MMORPGs, virtual reality or online gambling,

That’s right, even internet casino games need composers, especially in the case of video slots. Music is a key element of these games and you need to understand the niche just like any other. A good way to learn such games is to play them for yourself using bonus money provided by the casino, without needing to risk cash of your own.

If you’re in the UK, casino comparison sites will point you towards the latest free slot machine games at fully licensed sites. They advise on where to pick up casino offers like free spins and no deposit bonuses. Websites of this nature also explain exactly how to claim the offers and provide other helpful advice. For instance, they help players to understand the most popular payment methods, such as debit cards, e-wallets and mobile payments like Apple Pay.

Develop A Showcase

Nobody is going to hire you without some kind of showreel. A good way to begin would be to create a MOD. If you are capable of altering an existing game and improving it with your own sounds, what potential employer wouldn’t be impressed? And with any luck, the gaming community may pick it up and run with it, offering free, viral exposure.

You could also consider building some kind of interactive demo. Instead of simply listing a selection of sound files on a website somewhere, show off your creativity and really try to catch people’s eye.


When you have some kind of portfolio, you need to spread the word. Reach out to as many people as possible and broaden your professional network. Conferences are a great place to start. You can listen to experienced speakers, learn from those already inside the industry and of course, make connections who may potentially hire you.

But on the flip side, you also need to develop a thick skin. As with any creative industry, people are going to dislike some of your work. No matter how great it might be technically. Learn to block out the noise and stay on track.