While I’m always committed to answering every single email I get (benprunty at gmail), I often get a lot of similar questions, so I thought I would put them all here for reference. I’ll update this whenever necessary. Also check out my interviews, or interview me yourself on my ask.fm page.
What equipment/software do you use to make music?
Where’s the best place to buy your music?
Right here: benprunty.bandcamp.com.
What the heck is Bandcamp?
Bandcamp is a music store, kind of like iTunes, but for cool, hip indies. It allows you to buy music directly from me, downloadable in any file format you want (yes, even FLAC), with no DRM, ever. You can also stream the entire album, for free, as much as you want, before you decide to purchase it. Once you do purchase an album through the service, you can also stream it from the Bandcamp mobile app. Mp3s you buy from Bandcamp can be easily imported into iTunes.
Do I need a Paypal account to buy your albums on Bandcamp?
Nope! You can purchase any of my albums with a credit card.
Why isn’t (insert album name here) on Spotify?
I’m slowly releasing my catalog to Spotify, but I need to let albums spend time in stores first. In the meantime, you can stream all my albums as much as you want, for free, on Bandcamp.
Is the FTL soundtrack available on vinyl?
Why isn’t Color Sky/Cipher/Fragments/etc available on vinyl?
Producing a physical release of any kind is incredibly expensive, and I am a one-man operation. In order to make a vinyl release happen, I would need one of two things. I would have to have a lot of extra cash on hand to handle the cost of designing, producing and shipping a vinyl release. After that there’s no guarantee that I would even make back my investment. OR I would need to have a record label interested enough to do it themselves, like what Iam8Bit did with the FTL vinyl.
Do you use authentic hardware for your chip sounds? (i.e. Game Boy hardware or an NES chip)
Nope! Everything is done with software synths and effects.
Why did you go with Cubase instead of (insert name of DAW here)?
Back in 2001 or 2002, when I was in college, I asked famous game composer Jesper Kyd what he used, and he said Cubase. That was why I started. Now I continue to use it because I’m really, really good at it.
Can I license your music to use in my game/YouTube video/livestream/school project/whatever?
There’s a lot to cover here, so I’ll split it into general rules and follow up with exceptions to those rules. If you think your question falls outside the scope of this guide, feel free to email me.
1. First of all, I cannot license any of my game or film soundtracks for any other project, ever. Just to be clear, here’s a list of all music I can’t license for anything:
FTL Advanced Edition
Cipher: The Score for Banking on Bitcoin
2. I can’t license music out for free. If you want to use one of my tracks for your podcast intro or your YouTube show or your short film or game or whatever, you need to pay me. Sorry! If you are willing to pay, email me and we’ll talk about it.
A. Chromatic T-Rex is the exception to #2. You can license anything you want from that album for free, as long as you tell me about it first and credit me somewhere.
B. If you are a student making a project or thesis for school, feel free to use any of my music, including soundtracks, for your project. As usual, please let me know first and put proper credits where appropriate. If your project becomes commercial later on, you need to either remove the music, in the case of my soundtracks, or contact me to negotiate a license.
C. If you want to use my music as part of your video demo reel that you use to sell your services as an animator/videographer/editor/whatever to potential clients or employers, you may license any of my non-soundtrack music for free. This is assuming your video is only used to as a method to sell your services and is not a standalone project of its own.
D. If you are a livestreamer and you want to play my music during your livestreams, that is fine. I see this as promotion. No licensing or permission is necessary. Just please credit me somewhere and include a link to my bandcamp page. However, if you want my music as, say, the theme music of your livestream, then see #2.
Can I have sheet music for FTL?
It doesn’t exist! I compose almost everything directly into my workstation, so sheet music is irrelevant. I agree that an FTL piano book would be awesome, but I just don’t have the time to do it. The closest thing I have is this rather flawed article. UPDATE: The unofficial Ben Prunty wiki has collected a ton of Ben Prunty sheet music from around the internet, much of it by Sphaxh137.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring game composer?
I heard you went to school for Audio Engineering. Does this mean I should too?
Not necessarily. I actually ended up with a two-year degree in audio engineering mostly because I couldn’t afford to go to Berklee for music or Full Sail for game development. The audio engineering classes themselves were mostly recording local rock bands, mixing, mastering, and occasionally doing sound effects. The mixing skills alone were incredibly valuable. This doesn’t mean that this is the only path to a career in game audio.
UPDATE: I wrote a whole article about this: How Useful is My Degree? Should You Go to College?
Do you give lessons? Can you teach me to do what you do?
Yes! Sort of! Join me every Saturday at 2pm PST/PDT at twitch.tv/benprunty. Here I write music live and share insights into my creative and technical process.