Freelance Game Audio: Getting Started and finding work.

3. Cold Calling

Cold calling is contacting a developer or artist out of the blue that you don’t know, telling them that you appreciate their work and would love to work with them if the situation arose.

Honestly it must be annoying for some developers. I talked to an awesome indie studio at GDC and they said they get about 1-2 emails a week from random composers. But if you’re nice and polite and aren’t just spamming every dev in the world then how can anyone blame you.

You want to find work and you want to do your best. I have never received a rude reply from a dev and I think they understand our situation. Here are some tips for cold calling.

No.1 Do research. 

Look them up. Have they ever finished a game? Does it say they already have a composer or sound designer on their web page?

Are they serious. Do you think they will complete this project? Does their website or devlog look like they have put any time into it? It will be hard at first but after a while you will be able to tell if a team is dedicated or not.

Look at Moonlighters Devlog, it’s amazing! The concept is great, the art looks awesome, they have updated their devlog consistently, they have custom art for explaining the game mechanics, etc. It’s just so well thought out and that says a lot! Look for signs of professionalism like this when searching for games to get involved in.

No.2 Do not copy and paste!

I write every cold call email from scratch even if they might be similar at times. I always try to reference that I have seen all of their materials and mention what I like about them. I will even reference games that might have been their inspiration while making this. I am polite and not in their face (or at least I do my best to be).

No.3 Brevity = Longevity.

I have learned to keep things simple and sweet, there is no need to write ten paragraphs in a cold call email. People are busy and they might be getting a lot of CC emails already, so keep it on the short side.

No.4 Keep it at or slightly above your skill level.

I do not email Blizzard or Activision out of the blue. That would be a waste of their time and mine. Yes, shoot for the stars, but don’t have your head in the clouds. I will email an amazing indie team who I feel has superior quality to anything I have worked with, but I will not email anyone way way out of my league. Just use your best judgement. 

Today I actually got a reply to a cold call email I sent seven months ago. Here was the original email I sent to them.

Hi XXXX team!

I ran across your develog today for XXXXX and I absolutely love what you did with the trailer. I am a big Bomberman fan myself. It’s nice to see that style of game being re-vitalized. 

Your website said that you are on the lookout for exciting collaborators so I thought I would get in touch with you. I am a composer and sound designer and I would be very interested in working on XXXXXX if you are still looking for an audio person. It really looks like a fun game, and I’d love to contribute to it.

All the best and good luck with the game, it looks awesome!

Kind Regards,
Ashton Morris

Yes, I cringe when I see how my old emails look, but oh well. They originally replied that they already had a composer and I said “ok good luck with the game!” But today they said that they are actually looking for someone because that person is unavailable for whatever reason.

Also, I keep a spreadsheet of who I contacted, when, and notes if they reply. I don’t want to email the same person twice on accident and keeping dates helps you keep in touch with people.

I am connecting with people all of the time even when I have a lot of work. You never know what can happen in the future. Here are a few places to follow interesting games and find interesting people.

Tigsource Devlogs Really awesome development logs for all types of games and developers.
Visual Devlog Map This connects to Tigsource and creates a mosaic of images from Devlogs. Its pretty cool.
Twitter Devlogs This is a good twitter account that follows devlogs.
Kickstarter This is less populated than it used to be but you can still find really cool games to support here.
#screenshotsaturday Follow this on twitter to see some really cool games in progress.
Nerd Time Screenshot Saturday This person hand picks great #screenshotsaturday tweets each week.
I Need A Team – Reddit A place to find collaborators (usually non paid teams).
twitter I see so many cool games on twitter. Often they are retweeted by someone you follow.

**Bonus** If you wan’t to read another great blog with insights into cold calling in game audio, check out Steve’s “Cold Calls Getting Warmer” post.

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