Have music streaming services made albums irrelevant?

Six months ago I conducted an experiment. I was dissatisfied with the way instrumental soundtracks I had created (for low to midlevel independent video games) were performing on iTunes and Spotify. Because instrumental music generally does not generate track sales I was not breaking even on distribution fees. I had also spent the last several years studying software development, so I had some ideas about the programming logic to run a music streaming network. Feeling that I had nothing to lose from past unprofitable releases, I decided to re-title my music from a number of projects and repackage them as one large lump “album” and upload through my distributor instead. I omitted the names of the original soundtracks and picked an album title with several popular music genre keywords. I also used free stock art and my personal name as the artist rather than any kind of moniker.

I did all this to test the importance of quantity and keywords as it effects music steaming services. Would this be more effective than releasing the original game soundtracks individually and marketing the music on the strength of those brands? The answer was a surprising and resounding “yes!” Halfway through the renewal period I was already turning a profit. I was onto something. So what exactly is happening here? I have some ideas.

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Miss Bullard’s School For Former Ladies released

Quibble Quills’ debut Miss Bullard’s School For Former Ladies was recently released! The game is a visual novel set in Victorian England with elements of romance and suspense. They did a Kickstarter last year and now came through with the final product.

Miss Bullard’s School for Former Ladies is the only Old Continent boarding and etiquette school for women of “unfortunate circumstance”, who are not quite as normal as they once were, but still wish to enter society as convincingly human as possible. 

You play as Lillian Graham, the daughter of a respected trader from the New Continent, who attends the school after fits of nightmares and possessed sleepwalking deemed to have magical origin. While it is unclear what is happening to you or what will become of your humanity, your job is to unravel the mysteries that surround you and the location itself. Separated from society and moved to a new place at such a trying age can be intimidating…but perhaps you will not have to face it alone.

This project was a pleasure to be a part of the whole way through, and I’m happy to see it getting positive responses from the crowdfunding backers. In particular it was great to work with a developer who allowed me to write variations on a musical theme, such as with the boarding school track and romance tracks. I really enjoyed turning the pristine “welcome” track into an intense and spooky final battle! Often game developers think that using the same melody in multiple pieces of music is repetitive and lazy, while when done well it can actually be iconic and add emotional connection because it connects different parts of the story together. Some well-known examples of this are Star Wars and Final Fantasy, where character themes are reused and changed as the story progresses. For me as a melody writer who strives to make catchy themes I was in my element. I also appreciated how the developer listened to me when I had feedback, and I did everything I was capable to give them the soundtrack materials their story needed to be successful. It’s key when a client understands that their success is my success too.

Thanks for a fantastic project, Quibble Quills! I encourage anyone who likes visual novels, period pieces and excellent writing to check this project out. :) The soundtrack is available on my Bandcamp page too.

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Roommates theme song passes 400,000 YouTube views

My Name In Lights, the theme song for Roommates passed 400,000 views across all of YouTube yesterday. One of my most popular songs, and really good for an indie game. I enjoyed working on this one because the main character, Max is a lot like me when I was a college student and I got to kind of poke fun at myself. The game is about college dating humor kind of like American Pie and LeetStreet Boys was a great match to perform the song. The game was picked up in the Humble Bundle and covered by Rooster Teeth and some other reviewers too and was generally well-regarded.

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GamaSutra article on theme songs – part 2

I wrote a second article on theme songs for games in GamaSutra, which was made a featured post. You can hear work in progress versions of Lost In This Night. Thanks to George Sanger, Natasha Cox and Celso Riva for helping me with this.

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Cursed Lands theme song and lyric video

Thanks to Natasha / Boossara for a stunning vocal performance, George Sanger / The Fat Man for guitar, Rachel Aw for the lyric video and of course Winter Wolves Games for making this project possible. This is one of my favorite projects in a long time. Don’t be surprised if I start promoting it a lot. ;)

Currently looking for new work making theme songs like this, which I’m super passionate about. If you are interested in something like this please contact me to discuss the project and opportunity.

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