Posts Tagged ‘ indie

Soul Brother OST / Lone Survivor IGF

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to finally present to you:

SOUL BROTHER – ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Available for purchase on Bandcamp on 11/9/11, with iTunes to follow in around a month.

So, without further ado, let me tell you a little about the project.  When I originally made the game, I figured it would be fairly small, and not have many players.  That of course all changed when it was picked up by [Adult Swim] Games!  The problem was I’d used loads of really famous samples, and if lots of people were going to play it, there was no way I could get away with it.  (It’s true, musicians do ‘get away with it’ all the time, because more often than not when sampling, the record the sample appears on doesn’t go on to make enough sales to warrant the sample owner chasing it up.  I’ll admit I’ve done it myself on my drum’n’bass work, although only on smaller releases.)

So this means I had to either clear or remove the samples.  Removing them would have been simple, and saved me a lot of money, but I felt that, even if the sales of the OST were less than the cost of the samples, (which is quite likely to be the case) people would appreciate it as a labour of love, which it definitely is!

The Ins and Outs of Sample Clearance

I was asked by a friend to recount my experiences with sample clearance, and it’s been a long and difficult process.

In the end, I removed a great deal of samples from the intro track, which had load of classic early-90′s hip-hop vocals and cuts… It would have cost tens of thousands to license them all, if I could even track down who owned the rights.  So I ended up re-working the track with my own vocal stylings and a bit of vocoder.

The problem was that left Mr.Soul, the ‘theme tune’ of Soul Brother, and the track Mirko, both of which used samples from classic house track ‘We Can Rise’ by Copyright (strangely ironic name), on Defected Records.


Defected are known for licensing their samples regularly – in fact it could be said they actively court it as a source of revenue.  They release all of their tracks as acapellas in compilation albums, and for many dance music producers it’s quite a tempting prospect to listen through them when looking for a vocal hook.  I’ve used plenty myself, in some cases as placeholders I then get a vocalist to re-record, but in the case of these tunes, the vocals are integral to the hook and feel of the tunes… I just wasn’t prepared to compromise, even if it meant making the project at a loss!

The Process Itself

The first step was to negotiate the retaining of the rights to the Soul Brother OST from Adult Swim.  Normally you sell the rights alongside the game, but I was very keen to keep the rights as the music had already taken as long as the game at that point.  Amending the contracts in this way took a lot of back and forth, but we got there eventually!  Once that was done I needed to work out how much it was going to cost…

First you get in contact with the label who owns the vocal.  The standard agreement is a percentage of profit along with a flat fee for each track.  Once you’ve settled on these numbers, contracts are drawn up.  Once I knew the cost I could get back to [Adult Swim], and once they were happy that there weren’t any gotchas (for example, restrictions on the reuse of the music on any ports, sequels, movies, TV spinoffs… etc) they were happy.

The tracks then need to be ‘published’ – a term used to descrive who takes responsibilty for collecting royalties.  Fortunately I still have a publishing company from my drum’n’bass record label, Space Music, so that stage was fairly simple.

The final stage is then to register the tracks with PRS (the Performing Right Society.)  This is where the majority of royalties come from, they track public performance of music using a number of different heuristics (it’s all a bit black magic.)  But of course they can’t track tunes they don’t know about!

I hope this explains a little about the process to those considering sampling…

Defected Records

The Album Itself

Now I’d like to say a little about the album and where it’s come from.  There are 11 tracks, of which 6 are from the game itself.  Each of these 6 tracks has been majorly re-worked, improving the production, adding new elements, additional vocals and so on, and extending them, etc.  I originally spent about two months on the in-game music, trying lots of things that didn’t work (and trying desperately to avoid falling back on chiptunes!)

Since then I’ve probably put another few weeks into those tunes, and I hope you’ll agree that the OST versions are a lot nicer!

The other 5 tracks are all unique to the OST.  Three of which feature me singing…  Which is, err, quite a new thing for me.  I often put little backing vocals on my d’n’b work, and used to sing in indie bands when I was younger, but this is the first stuff I’ve actually released with verses and choruses and so on.

Some of these additional songs have actually been in the works since 2008, when I was first experimenting with electro-house.  Nothing came of it at the time and I shelved the music until now.  I spent another few weeks completely re-working these tracks to bring them up-to-date, and make them fit with the existing tracks.

Launch

So that’s Soul Brother OST.  It will be available for purchase from this Sunday 11/9/11 (in UK date format.)  For now you can head over to the Bandcamp page and listen, and make up your mind whether you’d like to indulge come Sunday!

In the end, it’s something I’m really proud of, if nothing else because it’s the first project I’ve done which I feel somehow bridges my life as a musician and as a game designer…  hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did making it!

*   *   *

One More Thing…


I know this is going to come as a surprise to those who read my last post… but!

LONE SURVIVOR IS BACK ON.

Wait, what?

LONE SURVIVOR IS BACK ON.

Yes, that’s right.

After a series of long discussions, emails, and tweets from friends and supporters of the project, I figured it really would be stupid to give up at this point.  I admit, I panicked.  I really felt it was too full of problems to be fixable.  But what I’ve done is to break it down in baby steps, try and get to the root of what the problems actually are, and whether there are ways to fix them.

Well I think I finally have a good idea of how proceed.  So my plan is to go all out for IGF now (it was always the plan – I just bottled it at the last minute.)  I do have a tendency to do this: it’s the third hiatus on Lone Survivor, and even Soul Brother fell off the map for over a year at one point.  In the end I realised that this is my last real chance to secure a future as an indie developer…  and it would be foolish to blow it.

I’ll be totally honest and say that development funds are running short (I have about three months living money left, until I hit the emergency cash reserved for finding another job.)  So, if you’d like to help in some way, I won’t be using the donation model (I much prefer to sell something rather than just ask for money) – the best way you can help me is by heading over to the Soul Brother OST page, and purchasing it!  There’s a low minimum price, but you can pay whatever you like…  So if you really feel like giving me hundreds of thousands of dollars for your copy of the OST, you’re more than welcome!

Seriously though, every purchase will really help Lone Survivor along the way.  So even if the music’s not for you, you can consider it a donate button if you like!

Thanks so much to everyone who’s supported me through this difficult time.  I hope to have it finished by New Year, but if it runs over I’ll consider taking preorders to help with the final push.  Either way, I promise to not stop until the game is done, and put every bit of remaining blood, sweat and tears into it.

Yes, you can quote me on that!

All Change Again

So if you’ve been following my twitter feed, you’ll have maybe noticed my recent announcement.

“I’m going fulltime indie again!”

I was sort of forced into doing it last time (around October last year) due to being made redundant following the release of Kinectimals.  During that time I made Soul Brother, but was re-hired at Frontier.  I began working here again in December, and have been for the last four months.  I’m working on a great project, which I can’t reveal of course, so really my choice has nothing to do with dissatisfaction from work.

During this time back in the industry, I’ve had plenty of time to think about the possibility of making the indie hobby into a career.  As I enter my mid-30′s, I realise I’m not getting any younger.  And as I have been given some financial leeway by the sale of Soul Brother, there really is nothing else stopping me from taking the plunge.

So, for the second time in a year, I’m announcing Superflat Games is my full-time job.  And this time for good hopefully!  I’ve set up a real business account, and put my life savings into it, which should keep me going for close to a year.  I hope to finish Legend of the Starmen in less than 6 months though.

I’m wasting no time, and have already begun serious work on the new game.  It’s already feeling quite fun and I have to stop myself playing it (a good sign, I hope!)  I have figured out the class system (there are three) and how the multiple weapons / items you can pick up work together.  As this is mostly code and design, there’s nothing new to show in screenshot form yet (well, ok, have some rocks:)

Anyway, I look forward to sharing proper progress with you guys.  And I suppose it’s a good time to announce I’ll be adding the usual Donate button to the site when I am self-employed next month.  If you’ve ever enjoyed my work or want to help me keep making it, you could always send a few bucks my way…  Money is a bit more of an issue being self-employed when you have a wife and child to support, but if I do ok from a future game I’ll be sure to take it down again!

Anyway, here’s to the future, beautiful games and indie life.