Sean Beeson: Media/Videogame composer
Yup, that’s Tim Burton’s latest hit …and also one of our SoundCloud users’ creative productions. Meet Sean Beeson, an award-winning media composer. Sean created one of the themes for the Alice in Wonderland trailer. While most of our users are DJs, producers, or bands, we also have a lot of people like Sean who are involved in other sound-related pursuits. Working mostly in the video game industry, he’s composed themes for Mecho Wars, Disney’s Pixie Hollow, and Assault Heroes 2, just to name a few. We caught up with Sean and asked him a few questions about how he uses SoundCloud in his profession.
Hi Sean, firstly, tell us what is it you do.
I write orchestral/orchestral hybrid music for interactive and linear media, be it games, film, or TV! Of the three, I prefer to score games, mostly out of the love I have had for gaming since I was a young child. While I do work with live players, my forte as a composer and producer lies in the realm of digital orchestration and production.
How did you get into sound design for games?
I have always loved games, music, and game music. As a kid, I could be found constantly humming my favorite game scores, (Strider FTW!) so it when I discovered that I could create my own music, it was only natural for my musical ambitions to gravitate towards scoring games. All through college I scored smaller games, and after a few years I was able to form my passions into a career.
How does the process work? Are you sent videos of gameplay to score, or just concepts?
I would prefer to receive prototypes of the game so I can implement my music for testing and auditioning purposes, however more often than not, I will receive a lengthy document, describing the game along with some concept shots, and sample music. This all of course depends on who the client is and how far along the game is in the development cycle. In rare cases I am able to play a game, beginning to end, before writing a single note!
In what way has SoundCloud been useful to you?
I originally choose SoundCloud simply to offload stress from my website’s shared hosting, as I would receive thousands of play/streams a month. However, SoundCloud has been useful in many other ways, one of which is social networking. I love how I am able to easily share my music on other sites while retaining a centralized tracking system that is maintained by a third party. It means I can do with my music what I wish to do, and not have to worry about maintenance!
Lately, I’ve been sending private sets/reels of music to clients as well. Instead of having to load music to their servers or to my own, I simply throw it up on SoundCloud for them to hear!
Has the advent of games for the web, iPhones and console downloads affected what you do?
Absolutely. It is affecting all composers in some shape or form!
In the last three years, a majority of my work has been in the casual gaming sector, both downloadable and retail. However, the boom of social gaming has led some of my previous clients to venture into the world of web, and socialized gaming. While these kinds of games certainly hold a lot of potential for audio, many require a small fraction of the audio assets as compared to their predecessors. I do think though, as time progresses, their demand for quality audio will grow substantially.
However, the mobile application market has exploded. Much of the work I lost from the above mentioned situation, has been replaced by developers needing a killer score for their next big App! For the most part, the kind of music I am writing is similar, but I have found the work to be even more rewarding and lucrative.
What are the favourite projects that you’ve worked on?
Two of my favorite projects have to Steampirates for the iPhone:
and a game that I will be working on in the future called Bounty Arms:
I really enjoy creating exciting and inspiring music for games, and both of these projects have allowed me to write unique music and collaborate with fantastic individuals!
Do you have any tips for those looking to get into game sound production?
Yes, my four P’s: Patience. Practice. Persistence. PR.
Like any creative and competitive field, it can take a long time to break in, so you have to be patient. It years of hard work (with many more to go) for me to get where I am at. Sure, it can happen overnight for some people, but for many it just takes time! While you are being patient…
…Practice! Practice writing music for games, even if that game doesn’t exist. Make yourself create music during good times and bad, and become accustomed to your best and worst working habits. It is important to know how well you write music under stress, illness, sleep deprivation, and other limitations, as you will face them all during your career. The more you practice, the more you will be ready for them. During all of this practicing you have to be…
…Persistent! Don’t back down. Remain determined, and focus on your goals. In this career, if you let up a little, you can give up a lot. It is important that you are persistent in keeping up with the technology, and knowing who the players in the industry are. This is not to say the harder you push, the more successful you can become, because the significance of persistence relies on…
…PR! If the world never knows you compose for games, how can you expect developers to know? Take the time to find out who the players are, what they do, and how YOU can help them. The more you you can help others, the more they will be helpful to you and your career aspirations. Create a website, share your music, and let people know you exist!
Really thoughtful insights, Sean. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us! It’s always interesting to discover the different ways that people are using SoundCloud; videogame scoring is certainly one of the cooler things we can imagine. We’ll be talking to two more people in different sound-related industries this week, so sit tight! More to come.