As Dungeons & Dragons, and roleplaying in general, has boomed in recent years so has the demand for custom artwork. Players and DMs are commissioning portraits of characters, hiring cartographers to produce professional maps of homebrew fantasy realms and indie designers invest time looking for illustrators to bring monsters to life.
What about the audio aspects of D&D and other tabletop games? There are platforms like Syrinscape that provide soundboards and access to some tracks so you can bring your games to life but Custom Nerd Music is different and new.
Rather than line up the music and sound effects that best fit your game’s flavour and critical scenes, Custom Nerd Music lets gamers commission musical themes for their characters, and at a fraction of the cost that a professional illustration would cost.
A basic theme, the bottom tier offering, is one to three minutes in length and commissioned with a brief description of a subject and a musical style. It’ll set you back only $30.
Geek Native reached out to Nic Delcambre, the talent behind Custom Nerd Music, to find out how this was possible.
In your own words, can you tell us how Custom Nerd Music works?
Absolutely! A player or DM sends me an email through the website, specifying which package they’re looking to purchase (basically, how many songs.) Then we have an email conversation about the type of music they’re looking for, its intended purpose, themes, characters, etc. The more information I have the better. Then I go off and write and record their songs, which I send to them via Dropbox.
The tracks themselves are created using Sample Library technology, so all the instruments you’re hearing are real, just not recorded live for these tracks.
So, if I wanted to gift a friend with an orchestral theme for their character would I be able to pick a Basic Theme, tell you a bit about the character’s background and behaviours, pick a musical style and then let you do all the hard work? How long does it take?
Basically, yes! The length of time it takes varies based on complexity, length, how many themes you’ve ordered (when there’s more than one I always try to tie them together,) and also how much I’ve got on my plate at the time. Generally, given those factors, it can take anywhere from a week to two months!
How on earth did you get into this?
I’ve always been writing music. I’ve scored a couple of small feature films and short films. But given my want to score big, orchestral music and my lack of current film or game projects, I figured I’d better put my love of orchestral music and tabletop games/RPGs together!
Plus, I wanted to share the special feeling of having music unique to YOUR character and YOUR campaign. Music can be incredibly powerful, but when it’s written for something else, it doesn’t have quite the impact. You can use Lord of the Rings music for your campaign, but it just makes you think about Lord of the Rings. Better to have your own unique, sonic landscape. DMs put an enormous amount of time and effort into their worlds, and the soundtrack that accompanies them should be just as rich and nuanced.
I imagine some Twitch channels will be interested in Custom Nerd Music as they are likely to use audio more often, for more people and in an impactful way. Have you had any commissions from streams yet?
I had one commission a while ago where the person said they might use it streaming, but I never saw it in practice.
How does copyright work? If I order music from you, is it mine to use as I see fit afterwards?
Yes and no. I do retain all copyright to my works (’cause, ya know, I made ’em) BUT players are free to use the tracks however they see fit as long as they’re not monetized. I want players to use the music however they’d like, but as with any music in media, if it’s being monetized then they’d have to pay royalties.
Tempted? You can check out Nic Decambre’s site over at Custom Nerd Music.com.
Creative Commons credit: Underwater Fantasy Concert with Mermaids by Nassima-Amir.
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