Current / Recent Soundtrack Work

 



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My new EP was released today. It contains 4 new tracks and is entitled "Secret Fork In the Road". These tracks originated as concept tracks for an adventure game I had planned to work on.

It can be found at iTunes as well as many other online destinations.

I'm interviewed here on Oddworld's Dev Diary:

 

http://www.oddworld.com/2014/03/dev-diary-michael-bross-composer-dream-job/

 

I've been working on music for Oddworld's upcoming Oddworld "New N Tasty" release, which is essentially a reboot of the Abe's Oddysee game.

Here's an article on its latest progress at Game Informer.

 

My team and I recently completed work on a 110-minute score for Ratchet and Clank: Into The Nexus.

Take a look at the behind-the-scenes video:

 

http://youtu.be/DNCf4RwpDHs

I recently completed work on Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus.
Here's some info about the game...

http://blog.us.playstation.com/2013/10/03/ratchet-clank-into-the-nexus-hits-ps3-november-12th/

Firefall is a gme I've been working on for some time now, so I'm happy to see that it finally hit open beta this week. Something exciting I did for it lately was the live action trailer that was released in tandem with the open beta.

Check it out here.

If you're interested in downloading one of my albums, a great place to go is the Bandcamp site. My music is usually a little cheaper to buy here than places like iTunes or Amazon. Check it out here!

I'm close to completing work on a new album and will be announcing it soon. Hoping to have more info in the next 3 weeks.

You can find a track I posted from the Oddworld Stranger's Wrath soundtrack here:

https://soundcloud.com/michael_bross/shadow-across-the-land


I wrote this for the main menu of the game. What do you think about it? Send me an email here.

I've been working on music for Kings Road, from Rumble Entertainment. It's really been an awesome team to work with!

I recently completed work on Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault, Insomniac's upcoming game published by Sony.

 

I created the score for this game last year. Sony has finally released the soundtrack on iTunes. You can find it here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ratchet-clank-all-4-one-original/id532284976 

It's been a busy year for sure. As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm working on the latest Ratchet and Clank game from Insomniac, which will be published by Sony. This release is part of a franchise that has sold 35+ million units. it's my second project with Insomniac.

I also continue my work on Firefall. This is something I've been working on for a while now. If you haven't seen it, here's a clip from last year where I'm interviewed about the soundtrack: Firefall interview.

Also, a project that has been fun to work on is "King's Road" from Rumble Entertainment. Learn more about it here where you can sign up for the beta.




Here's the new Ratchet and Clank title I'm composing for:

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2012/05/30/insomniac-announces-ratchet-and-clank-full-frontal-assault-for-psn.aspx

I was recently interviewed by the "Designing Sound" site:
 
http://designingsound.org/2012/05/interview-with-michael-bross/

I don't have all the details yet, but wanted to let you know that a soundtrack release for Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is planned from Sony. Will post more in the near future when I know more.

I worked on a really exciting project from 2002 - 2005. It was a game called "Oddworld Stranger's Wrath". I was the audio director / composer and was part of the Oddworld Inhabitants team. The game was published by EA, but EA didn't really give it any marketing love. The game received lots of critical acclaim but because of the lack of backing from the publisher, the game didn't sell as well as expected.

At the end of last month (Dec. 2011), though, it finally saw its release on the PS3. This is very pleasing to me because the original team put so much passion and work into it. Congrats to the JAW, Ltd. for bringing it back to life.

Anyway, it's available on PSN.
Check it out! And give me a shout if you find you're diggin' the music. I wrote almost 5 hours worth for it.

 

Yesterday I came across some notes I put together when I released my Subway Meditations album back in 2009. Thought I'd post them here to give you a little background on the concept of the album:

http://bross.com/subway_meditations_artist_notes 

Matt Gosper at popular Australian game site Stevivor reviews Ratchet and Clank: A4O and say this about the music:

"The visuals and music direction in All 4 One are just as crisp and gorgeous as the previous PS3 titles..."

 

Site link:
http://stevivor.com/review/ratchet-clank-all-4-one/

 

I've made available a track from the Oddworld Stranger's Wrath soundtrack that has never been released before. Enjoy!

Go here

 

I'm pleased that reviews of the A4O soundtrack have been generally very positive. Here are three more.

The "Worth Playing" review:

"The soundtrack is pretty decent, too, featuring an epic score produced by composer Michael Bross, who worked for the Oddworld series. His unique touch fits the Ratchet & Clank universe extremely well."


From the Gamer Node site:

"...features a great soundtrack"


And a review from beefjack.com review site:

"The musical score of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One also helps add feeling to each level: a traditional, bouncy sea shanty adds to the experience of the water based levels, while a somewhat creepy tune adds to the dark forest. As with the environments themselves, the music adds variety to the game."

The musical score of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One also helps add feeling to each level: a traditional, bouncy sea shanty adds to the experience of the water based levels, while a somewhat creepy tune adds to the dark forest. As with the environments themselves, the music adds variety to the game.The musical score of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One also helps add feeling to each level: a traditional, bouncy sea shanty adds to the experience of the water based levels, while a somewhat creepy tune adds to the dark forest. As with the environments themselves, the music adds variety to the game.

a4o


Australian-based site Capsule reviews Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One and gives a positive review of the soundtrack:

"The music of the game isn’t bad. It is quite good, actually. The music usually fits the action on screen and happens to bring some of the charm of the series. One particular track in the game that deserves a mention is the main theme. This track is often used in the various tracks throughout the game and it is a track worth listening to. It is quite catchy and somehow fits with the overall theme of the game, which is quite good."

My YouTube channel is now set up. More content coming soon:


http://www.youtube.com/michaelbrossmusic

Slant Magazine review says this about my score for A4O:

"Music composer Michael Bross turns in a rousing score..."

Full review of game here:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/games/review/ratchet-and-clank-all-4-one/129

 

Review of Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One from  VG Chartz site mentions the soundtrack...
"…there were a few levels with genuinely moving background music that reminded me of Final Fantasy XII in the best of ways."

Review of Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One from  VG Chartz site mentions the soundtrack...


"…there were a few levels with genuinely moving background music that reminded me of Final Fantasy XII in the best of ways."

 

An IGN review says this about the A4O soundtrack: " I couldn't believe how catchy the theme song was..."

IGN review 

My mixer may be old school, but I love it.

Some artists are intent on creating exactly what they envision in their minds.

Sometimes I’ll start with specific ideas, but more often I’ll start with a general idea of where I want to go and then explore from there.

I like the idea of making room for the unknown. It makes the process of creating more interesting to me and allows me to grow. Even mistakes I make in the process are potential opportunities.

Unintention is a hidden gem.

It allows me to break into new territory and to try and avoid stagnent ideas that have been stated over and over.

 

Here's a link to a video interview for the Firefall project:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW75kbk17Qo&feature=player_embedded

Here's a link to a video interview for the Firefall project.

 

I had a session the other day with a live orchestra for the Firefall score and worked with an orchestra in Prague.

I raided my kitchen and found some old pots and pans which I used for percussion on a track. You may notice in this pic that there are also rulers. These I used for "drum sticks". Sometimes I like to use objects as instruments in music that weren't intended to be used as that.

Music can come from anywhere and anything if you listen or look for it.

 pots and pans

 

Over the years, I’ve gotten a ton of email from many of you asking how to break into creating music and audio for games. This information is for all you aspiring composers and sound designers who are looking for that first step.
Cheers,
Michael
===================
I’ve never heard anyone successful in the field say that becoming a working composer or sound designer was easy. The road to get to that point can seem especially daunting for those starting out, and with good reason. Many of you find that after much effort, that first real gig is still elusive.

Well, I believe the most difficult step is the first step. Why? Because it’s hard to get that first job without experience and it’s hard to get experience without that first job.

If you are looking to become that successful composer or sound designer, below are some thoughts that may help you out. An important point to keep in mind is though I’m speaking from my 18+ years of experience in the field, others with ample experience will have differing opinions on what is the road to success. That’s what you need to keep in mind. Very important! There is no one path to success in this field. Everyone, more or less, finds a unique way in.

Following are some points to keep in mind as you reach for the first wrung on the ladder:

1. Build Relationships
Building relationships is the most important thing you can do for your career (along with nurturing your talent). Believe it or not, I know of a successful game composer who says that building relationships is more important than talent.

There’s so much competition out there and there’s a lot of great talent vying for the same gigs. You’ll have a difficult time getting gigs if you don’t know anyone. 

The kind of people you want to meet are those who make the decisions on hiring composers and sound designers. Every scenario will be different, but generally the people you want to target are audio directors, audio leads, producers, and creative directors.

Like the film industry, the best way to land a gig, permanent or freelance, is to get out there and network, meet people and make the commitment to develop relationships. Generally, decision makers would rather hire someone they know directly or via personal referral instead of bringing on a "cold" hire. Quite simply, it's all about trust. For anhy open position you see on job boards, there are many that never get advertisted and are filled through networking and personal referrals. btw, that's how I've landed most of my gigs. You'll find this especially true with contract positions. Most of them are never posted anywhere. The jobs are taken long before it even gets to that point.

How do you get face-to-face time with decision makers? One idea: offer to take them out to lunch so you can ask questions about the field, the creation process, etc. Don't count on getting a job like this right off the bat, but the essential thing is your making contact.

Relationships take a long time to build. You can't be in a hurry. Getting that first good gig may take a couple years (or more). Remember that though talent is important, it’s not totally about how talented you are. I know of brilliant people who aren't reliable or are difficult to work with (that is, they can’t be trusted), so I wouldn’t hire them for a gig. People hire those they trust. Cultivating trust doesn’t happen overnight.
2. Location, Location, Location
Where you live can improve your chances of working as a composer. Move to a location where there is a concentration of game developers. Here in the U.S., there's Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. I live in LA where many of the biggest developers and publishers are. U.S. cities such as Austin, San Diego, Chicago and Boston have game development communities, too, but they are smaller. For our Canadian friends amongst us, there's Vancouver and Montreal though the scene is, as of this writing, smaller than that of LA and SF area. I'm not as familiar with developers in the UK, Europe or elsewhere, so you'll have to do your research if you want to work there.

Why live where the developers are? Even with all of our modern modes of communication, the most effective way to develop relationships is face-to-face interaction. You can’t do face-to-face if a potential client is in Los Angeles and you are in Toledo, Ohio.
I’m not saying that you can’t meet some success living outside a developer hot zone, but I am saying that you’re chances of success will greatly increase if you are in a place where it’s easy to get to meetings, have lunch, attend functions, etc. with decision makers present. It's easier to remember a face than an email.
3. Building a Resume
The great Catch-22: As I said before, it’s hard to get a job without experience. It’s hard to get experience without a job. I believe the hardest step is the first step. Sometimes you have to get creative and “create” experience:
A possibility is working on MOD projects or no-budget indie games to start. You will most likely not make any money, but it will give you experience as well as showing that not only are you dedicated to getting a gig in the industry, but that you have an understanding of how to create audio for games. I know. Audio is audio, no matter what medium, right? Not totally true. Games tend to be technically quirky when it comes to producing audio. Showing that you have that knowledge and can speak the language will help.

I think working in other mediums can be helpful, such as film. It’s hard to get these gigs, too, but working/collaborating with student filmmakers will help you build some experience and a pool of work to show off to potential clients/employers. Starting at the bottom can be frustrating, but you have to start somewhere.

4. Be A Gamer
I know of companies that passed on hiring talented (and experienced!) candidates because they didn't have knowledge of the game industry or an enthusiasm for it. 

You’ve gotta love it! Play the latest and greatest games. Keep up on industry news. For starters, a good news source is www.gamasutra.com. Know who’s developing the hottest games and know who the publishers are. Know what games have great audio. Learn what makes great audio in games. Attend events like the Game Developers Conference where you can attend seminars, lectures and round-tables with pros in the field.

5. Demo Reel
A demo reel is essential to getting gigs. There’s little chance of getting hired if people can’t experience your work.

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what should be on a demo reel. Here’s my opinion. You should have 2 demo reels:
A. A general reel. This is a reel you’ll have available whenever people ask for it. There’s nothing worse than being asked for a reel and not being prepared to give one. Get one ready before you try to get your name out there.

For composers- I like the idea of “less is more”. Don’t show off an hour's worth of material. Don't showcase the whole farm. If someone likes what they hear, they will ask for more. Ideally, I think 10-20 minutes of material should be fine. Tracks between 1-3 minutes are best. If your demo is online, you can get away with having more content than that but keep the navigation clean and easy. Genre diversity across tracks is nice but it's more important to show off what you are good at.

Sound designers/editors- people usually respond better when it's set to picture as opposed to an audio-only demo. Show off 4-6 scenes /cinematics /movie clips between approx. 1-3 minutes. 

B. A customized reel. This is the reel you put together to cater to the needs and ears of a potential client/employer. I believe that this is much more effective than a general reel in getting gigs. If an audio director is looking for electronica and all you send him/her is orchestral and jazz tracks, chances are you won’t get the gig. Always customize when possible. Which leads us to this point: Know your target! Do your research. What games has the company developed? What games has the person listening to your demo worked on? It will give you a much better idea of their aesthetic. It's always disappointing to interview a candidate who doesn’t understand the need of the project or the background of the company or the key people.

btw, a demo reel should ONLY show off your best work. NEVER send work that is unfinished or rough. Why? Because you can’t expect listeners to bear the burden of imagining what should be there. Audio directors usually have a stack of demo reels waiting for them to listen to. If a demo reel doesn’t sound brilliant, it’s too easy to move on to the next. Don’t make it easy for them to throw your demo in the “No Good” pile. Leave nothing to the imagination. Show how great you are and not how great you could be.

It's helpful to reference current games (and even film) out there to see what kind of music or sound design is being used. For composers, don't copy the style of a game's composer but create something in that genre that is uniquely you. It's quite natural to be influenced by other composers or musicians and to take elements of other artists' work and make it your own. That's how art works, but I believe that nurturing a unique, emotionally moving sound is valuable to success.

Demo reel formats--
Up until a few years, I thought that CDs or DVDs were the best way to show off work. I still think it’s important for you to have your demo reel in a format that you can put in someone’s hand, but having your demo on your web site is much more essential. It’s more likely that someone will listen to your work if you send a link as opposed to sending them a disk. The hardest step is getting people to listen and people will only listen if it’s convenient, so make it as easy as possible for them.

Additional idea for networking: start by asking for a smaller “yes” (“can you give me feedback on my demo reel since I value your opinion?”) before asking first for a big “yes” (“will you hire me as your sound designer for the project?”). Ask for feedback and advice on your demo from decision makers (audio directors, producers, creative directors, lead sound designers, music supervisors, etc.). It's a good way to establish a relationship and get people to open up to you. It also shows you're open to feedback and criticism, which is essential to successfully making a living in games. Game development is about collaboration.

6. Get Your Foot In a Different Door
Maybe you aren’t having much luck meeting the right people after pursuing it for a while. Well, there’s more than one way into the house than directly through the music/audio door. I’ve known of more than one person who started as a game tester at a game company before getting into their desired position. Game testing doesn’t have much to do with audio and the pay is crap, but it gives you these advantages:
A. It allows you to work in the same building as the audio department. Walking down the hall to chat with the audio director and building a relationship suddenly becomes much easier. Getting that audio director to listen to your sound design reel is much easier after you’ve run into him/her in the halls for 6 months.

B. It gives you insight into how games are built. Decision makers like to know that you understand how complex the process is and that you understand something about that process. You can’t be knowledgeable about audio or music exclusively. Having a grasp on the whole game dev process is advantageous. You don’t have to be a programmer, but you do have to understand the development process.

7. Showing Gratitude
Always say “thank you”! If a producer takes time out of their very busy day to listen to your demo, thank them. If you ask for advice and a successful veteran composer takes some time to reply back, thank them. At the end of any gig you work on, always follow up in some way with a “thank you”. Even if you don’t get the gig, thank those who took the time to see what you have to offer. Producers, audio directors and audio leads are faced with an overwhelming amount of tasks in the heat of a project and work long hours. They are often sacrificing time with family and friends to see the project through. So, if they give you some of their attention and focus, let them know you appreciate it.

I’m not saying you have to fall to your your knees and kiss their feet or give up your first-born child. A simple, sincere “thanks” does the trick. It’s an easy thing to do. And it shows maturity and professionalism. Even if it seems like a detail, people remember those things.
8. The Statistics of Pain

I'm here to tell you that you will face more rejection than acceptance. Don't get too discouraged because this is normal.

I definitely can say my work has been passed up far more than it's been accepted, and I'd bet that most successful game composers and sound designers out there have experienced the same. After college, I even worked as a bicycle messenger and also at a record store for a few years before I made any headway with composing work.

You know all that junk mail you get in the mailbox in front of your house? Most of us throw it away, but somebody out there is sending it because a small percentage of people are interested in buying. A mailing campaign like that is usually thought of as successful if 5% of the recipients make a purchase. 

So, for every 100 mailers, 95 are rejected and only 5 turn into sales. That rate of rejection seems like a pretty dismal success rate, but it's not.

For you, it will be the same. You will probably knock on a TON of doors before one opens for you.

Opportunities always exist. You just have to prepare yourself for them when they arrive.


......
Hope this info helps you.
May you find find fortune and fantastic projects to be a part of.

-MB

This is a re-post of an article I wrote back in 2007 or so. It's still pertinent so I thought I'd share...

.....

Over the years, I’ve gotten a ton of email from many of you asking how to break into creating music and audio for games. This information is for all you aspiring composers and sound designers who are looking for that first step.



Ratchet and Clank news and my involvement picked up by GamerLive TV:

http://www.gamerlive.tv/article/hollywood-composer-michael-bross-scores-insomniac-games%E2%80%99-ratchet-and-clank-all-4-one 

 

Insomniac Games officially announced my involvement on the Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One project today.


A few of the media sites that picked up the news:

Game Informer

Dual Shockers

GamerLive TV

 

A few of the media sites that picked up the news:
http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2011/03/29/oddworld-alum-scoring-next-ratchet-amp-clank.aspx
 http://www.dualshockers.com/2011/03/29/ratchet-and-clank-all-4-one-soundtrack-to-feature-michael-bross/
http://www.gamerlive.tv/article/hollywood-composer-michael-bross-scores-insomniac-games’-ratchet-and-clank-all-4-one
http://ctrlaltkill.org/2011/03/29/oddworld-composer-to-craft-music-for-ratchet-and-clank-all-4-one/

 

 

Oddworld has released some of my music tracks in celebration of the Oddboxx game release, which contains 2 games that I worked on:
http://www.oddworld.com/?p=297

Oddworld has released some of my music tracks in celebration of the Oddboxx game release, which contains 2 games that I worked on:

http://www.oddworld.com/?p=297

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