Asset Store Profitable Business Q & A

Posted at 03:20 on 25th August 2021 by WOW Sound in Business Insights

Have questions regarding our music licensing business and how we handle our bespoke projects?

๐Ÿ’ฌ Generalโ€จ
WOW Sound Business' and Bespoke Project Q & A

๐ŸŒ
BUSINESS ASPECT

Q: I haven’t seen a clear answer anywhere: are you allowed to offer the same audio asset (SFX, music) in different stores at the same time, or do you have to sell it exclusively through one store?

And let’s say it’s a song… could I also promote it as a song elsewhere (i.e. try to license it for TV, put it on streaming platforms, and so on) – as long as I don’t get a request for an exclusive license from a client? 
(8 Mar 2018)
A: Yes, you are allowed to offer the same audio asset in different stores at the same time on non-exclusive stores. So far, all the game asset stores we mentioned in this post are non-exclusive stores. Certain stores like PremiumBeat (non-game) only accept exclusive music tracks, meaning you cannot sell your music tracks on other stores.

Regarding the 2nd part of your question, I would think it depends on your client. I am sure you could also work out a contract that benefits both you and your client. So what I can imagine is that if you already have a music track that has been licensed a few times but your client wants an exclusive license to the music track. One way I might work around this problem is to let my client know how many times the track has been licensed before. Then I might offer a lower price for the exclusive license and also stop selling the music track completely. 



Q: How do you decide the price of each pack?
(18 Nov 2019)
A: We decide the price of each pack by the length of the music, the amount of effort it takes to create the music, and if the music contains recorded live instruments. Some genres of music like orchestral music take a lot more work, so those genres of music, we would usually price them higher. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yes, I agree that they are many packs and tracks that are going at a really low price, and I do hope that they can sell their music at a higher price but it’s up to the sellers. And having a lower price point does not equate to having more sales, so we price our packs at a price we feel good about! Pricing of packs is also a trial and error process. It takes time to find the sweet spot!


Q: Does the corona virus effect the process of making new sounds and the assets sells for those recent months passed by? Do you guys think it can effect the future of making sells in asset stores? (24 Jun 2020)
A: So far the corona virus hasn’t affected our sales much. In fact, the sales are getting slightly better for the past few months. I don’t think the corona virus will impact the selling of assets and I believe that the gaming industry will only continue to grow, which means there will still be need for assets! People will still be buying assets but the competition will get tougher as more people will be making assets during this time plus more people have been entering this market of selling assets. So making your asset stand out from other asset sellers is important ๐Ÿ™‚


Q: Do you believe that creating your own website to distribute your assets was worth it? If so, at what point did you both decide to move in that direction?
(13 Sep 2020)

A: It's a big YES! Definitely worth it to create our website, and we are thankful we already got it running since 2018! To be honest, the competition on the various asset stores are getting tougher. Just adding new assets does not equate to having a higher revenue; it just helps to maintain the same level of revenue. (At least in our case).

But selling on the asset stores helped us to reach many customers and even gave us custom work. We only started creating the website after seeing a steady flow of sales, and when we keep receiving emails from buyers wanting to use our music in other media or wanting to purchase individual tracks.

The stores also take a 30% commission. When we make a sale on our website, we only need to pay a 30 cent + 4.4% fee on PayPal, so we get close to 95%.

But the best thing is that we can offer a more extensive range of license tier for games and media on our website, unlike on the asset stores, it's just one price for all games/project of different budget/audience reach. I feel that this helps to attract better customers who are willing to pay for music for the right price. (As compared to other music libraries, we are very affordable!) [The price of music in the asset stores are really low! Unless you are making so many sales, it's not easy to make a living out of it]

We are getting the most revenue from our website sales, although it took about one and a half years to get here. We are making less sale on our website, but the quality of each sale is higher
-> Each transaction can range between $1-$1000 (of course, a $1000 is very rare!). And having your own website, you have more control over search filters, licenses, SEO, space to create blog posts/tutorials, showcase your products, and so on! Our focus now is always on our website ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Selling on the asset stores is more like marketing purposes, getting extra revenue, and an excellent place to get some good deals (humble bundle on GameDev Market/unreal engine sponsored content).



Q. I'm just starting to dive into composing music for video games after a few years of selling stock music. What advice can you give me for beginning of my journey? Where should I focus my attention, to which genres and markets.
(11 Aug 2021)
A: Any advice we can think of is to give customers looped music, and also in variations. For example, you can look at this music track: Unicorn Dream

We gave a FULL Loop, Lite Loop, no Drum Loop, and a Short Loop. I realized that quite some game devs used the Lite version instead of the full version. Somehow selling in packs of 5-10 tracks seems to work for us as well. 

To reply to what you should focus on, simple, casual, cute music seems to sell the best if you like composing such music! Our Japanese RPG-inspired music and some orchestral music are quite well received too. Cute, casual music sells better on Unity, and orchestral music sells better on Unreal Engine.

Different asset stores attract different kinds of developers, I guess! However, we usually focus on selling the game music genres we love and work from there. We believe strongly in creating music and sound effects you love and not just create music that's 'sellable'. We tried that before and it was miserable. There will be a need for every genre of music! We often get inspired by new games/anime we come across, which gave us the idea to create music in that genre. 


Q: How important to your business is individual track selling? Do some of the visitors from the game asset marketplace decide to buy a single track from your music pack, and go to your website to do so?
(20 Aug 2021)
A: More than 50% of purchases from our website are single tracks. This is something that customers requested and asked about before we started our e-commerce. Last time when the game asset stores limited the license to just video games, customers also asked for license to use for their YouTube videos.

It's pretty important that our business sells individual tracks. For our new revamped website, we are going to start selling individual sound effects too! We did a small survey with some of our customers and they are excited to buy individual sound effects! Our customers want to see more curated playlists and to have curated playlists, you need to be selling individual tracks.


Q. How do you make a license anyway? Do you just write your permissions and license terms in a text file and provide it with every sale, or is it something more complicated. (20 Aug 2021)
A: Every website has its own terms of use and license. It's up to you to decide. We have a term of use page on our website, so if the customer buys anything from our website, they will be subjected to the terms of use we have.

We do not send a text file with the license terms, but our website has an automatic invoicing solution to show them what they bought and under which license. We did a lot of research on the various licenses and edited them to fit what works for us.  


Q: I wonder is it worth registering music with any of those PRO organizations. Legally you own copyright for your music as soon as you create it, but having it registered somewhere would kind of make me feel more safe. (20 Aug 2021)
A: We register music with PRO because a Korean broadcast station used our music for their channel, so it's good to have the details to submit the cue sheets. Alternatively, you could protect your work on copyright stamping websites. We are using Protect My Work. We pay a yearly fee for the service and it cost 1 Pound per song registration. We used this together with a PRO as a PRO doesn't actually serve as a copyright stamp for your works.

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ TECNICAL ASPECT

Q: Would you recommend a SFX cicada-type loop OR manipulated spoken word as the best choice for watermarking music? What are the most important pros and cons for each in your opinion? ๐Ÿ™‚ 
(4 Sep 2020)
A: We prefer to use a spoken word(brand/company's name) as our watermarking choice for music and sound effects. Not too sure about its pros and cons, but we would like to use the watermarking to let the listeners know that these music and sounds belong to the same audio library! It might help them to remember our brand name as well!


Q: I really like your watermark! It's wobbly in timbre (I assume this makes it harder to 'edit out'), yet the words are really clear. Do you have any tips for mixing the voices (any specific effects or layering recommendations)? 
(4 Sep 2020)
A: Our watermark is a very simple 2 voice layers of both me and Sing Ern saying the same thing (WOW Sound Audio Library)! We did not process it at all. We usually just adjust the watermark audio level to fit the music/ sound effects track. Nothing special to be honest! ๐Ÿ˜†



๐ŸŒ BESPOKE PROJECT ASPECT

‍Q: I have a couple of questions about rights today. Is it legal to deliver SFX to a game developer if you're using mainly samples from libraries? Are you obligated to mix those samples with other layers so that you won't go against EULAs? End user licensing agreements from sample developers usually state that you can't use their samples individually or by themselves in a music track so that people won't steal them. But what about games?


Also, how do you deliver your work? Is it a zip file with all the samples in wav format inside titled: "Gunshot 01.wav" for example?
Last question: Does the developer send you a video clip of the gameplay for you to use as reference or do they send an entire Unity or Unreal project folder for you to open and interact with the game? (11 Jun 2019)
A: [Sample Library EULA]
'Samples from libraries' meaning instrument libraries, right? Yes, we mix samples with other layers, so the layer is not an individual layer. However, each sample library has its own EULA. For example, Omnisphere does not allow users to use their samples as sound effects. If you want to use their samples as sound effects, you must purchase an SFX license different from the music license.

I think it's the same for games too, and it's still music, just that it's in a game now. We do not deliver music that has only one single layer or instrument. Still, if needed, it's likely a piano piece, we try to make sure the piece is more complicated, and people can't rip out individual notes from the track and build their sample library. Most of the EULA we read so far usually requires at least three layers of instruments. But we are not that sure ourselves too, maybe it's kind of in the grey area. 

[Delivering Work]
We upload our SFXs in a google drive folder in both .wav and .ogg format for our clients. For bigger games, usually, there will be more folders like 'UI', 'Music', 'VO' etc, and you upload your SFX into the respective folders. But it depends on the client, the first client I worked with, I delivered the audio assets in person. So I'll visit their studio and pass them the files through a hard drive, and they'll give me feedback. But that's back in 2013!

Most game companies will have an excel sheet with all the sound assets they need with the description and the naming convention. Different companies will have their naming conventions, or sometimes you are the one that comes up with the naming convention.  

Here are some examples of the naming convention we had. Usually, there will be an underscore '_' instead of spaces because I think the game engine doesn't work well with space:
-> CZB_AUD_White_King_F2_EXP
CZB is the game, AUD for audio, F2 is 'Final Draft 2', and EXP means it's done and exported.
-> Characters with various SFXs tagged to them
gh_feather_attack1.wav
gh_feather_attack2.wav
gh_feather_attack3.wav
gh_feather_deploy.wav
gh_feather_die.wav
So in the example you gave, it will probably look something like "Gunshot_01.wav"

[Gameplay Video]
Haha, it's like what you mentioned. It could be a video clip of the gameplay or a build of the game. Probably not the actual unity/unreal project file they work on, but they export it out as a build on iOS, Android, or PC. iOS, you'll most likely need the app TestFlight, and for Android, I can't remember, but it will be straightforward for PC. You can even request a Windows/Mac build.

For SFX, we will have some form of animation because we will need to sync the SFX to the animation. If they send us a build, we will screen record a video of the game and work from there.

For music, sometimes they'll give a brief without any gameplay footage or images! Everything depends on the workflow of the game company!


Q: So how do YOU handle payments when you get an offer for custom work? Do you sign a type of a contract or something? Legal part of this business is so confusing sometimes, but essential I guess. (16 Aug 2021)
A: Great question! We have contract templates for music and sound effects where we list the terms of use, budget, timeline, the number of changes, and items (music/SFX) to let our clients preview. The contract ensures that we are on the same page if any discrepancy arises. 

We usually take a 20% down payment before starting any work with new clients. Since we are also a company, we need to report our revenue correctly, sending invoices for our payments.

We feel that now there are many available online payment options like PayPal and Stripe that handle all sorts of payments. Our Singapore Bank transfer works well too, and we need to send the client our bank details, although there is usually a fee on overseas payment. So do check what’s the bank fee and compare which payment method makes the most sense.




๐ŸŒ QUESTIONS WE ASKED FELLOW CREATIVES

[ File Format ]
Q: Do you sell all your audio packs in 24-bit, 96kHz? Previously we have been selling our SFXs in 16 bit, 44.1kHz, but we are considering selling our new SFX packs in 24 bit, 96kHz from now on.

Do you think to sell them at that quality is needful and makes a lot of difference? Because if we were to sell our SFXs in that quality, it will take up much more storage space on our website.

The highest audio format we ever gave our clients in a game is 16 bit, 48kHz, and in videos are 48kHz, 24 bit. 
(5 Apr 2019)
A: I've been contacted by a company to license some of my SFX to them and they requested that my 96 kHz was dropped to 48 kHz before delivery.

This is because a small number of video editing software users experience issues with that sample rate on their video suites. 
I'm going to finish my Effective Trailer Series in 96k just to have consistency all throughout that series but all new sample packs after that will be recorded at 48 kHz 24 bit. Now I have an excuse to choose 48k and save some disk spaces.


[ P.R.O - Performing Rights Organization ]
Q: I am just wondering if anyone here registers their music with a P.R.O? Right now I'm looking at BMI and Ascap, does anyone has any experience working with them as a writer or even a publisher?

Although our music is target mainly toward the game industry where there are no royalties to collect, but who knows one day someone might use our music for film/TV, so we are thinking of registering our tracks on WOW Sound with a P.R.O. (We do offer a license to sync our tracks to TV/film on our website)
 (11 Apr 2019)
A: I'm registered with BMI USA since 2016. The application process is really quite simple - just download the form off their site and fill it in (hard copy), since you aren't located in the US.

From what I've heard, ASCAP works better for people who are more of songwriters and from the teams I work with, most composers still prefer BMI as the popular choice. BMI's reach is quite far internationally (lots of affiliates globally), I'm guessing that's why this is the case. 
I'd recommend BMI! 


๐Ÿ“ข Have more questions?

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