(no, not that kind)
Hey developers, want to make sure you’re getting the best composer available? Sure, make sure their resume is in order and they have good references. But let’s face it, unfortunately our industry is infested with unqualified composers who got their careers through certain degrees of nepotism.
Here’s one way to weed out the unqualified: the blind audition.
Orchestras do it all the time. You don’t go in with preconceived notions about the music which affect your listening. It’s all about the music. The composer who has the best music wins the demo reel contest and you can go from there.
Somebody in your company needs to be the point of contact for the composers. Have the composers send all their music to this person, have them strip any identifying information, and then have them send it to the decision makers. After all the votes are in, reveal who had the best music.
For best results, give each composer some money (for their time and talent, really $1000 spent here will pay off later when you realize how you could have wasted much more on a subpar composer) to write 30 seconds of music with a good amount of description for what you want. Make the music relevant to your current game so the music from the winning composer isn’t wasted. Perhaps make it a cut scene that they must write music for. You will see how well each composer follows direction and how they do under pressure. For the sake of landing a contract, I guarantee they will do their best.
If you don’t have money to spare, just have your contact person take 2 or 3 similar pieces from each demo reel and prepare them for you.
It’s all about the music. Well, and they have to work well with other people and have excellent communication skills. But at least with the blind audition, you know your top choice will have the mad compositional skillz to help take your game to the next level.