A different type of project - stay or leave?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by oniman7, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. I'll say now this is not about a band, but a mobile game I am doing sound and music for. I hope this part of the forum works because it's a very similar type of question I have.

    Anyways, I'm really clicking with the team and I like what I'm working on and it's giving me some experience doing things that people in the field might be asking me to do.

    However, I've discovered a disturbing problem recently. When I joined, it was a modest indie game and we were just going to work and hopefully reap the rewards later and be able to focus on doing it full time. This was already a lofty goal.

    Now, however, the project lead seems to be fixated on gaining large amounts of money to finance the game. At first it was $100K. Then $250k. A week ago it was $500K. And now it's $800K. He wants to put everybody up on a salaried position of three to four thousand dollars a month for 6 months (the estimated completion time of this game). I believe there are 12 or 13 of us, which puts us at two hundred to two hundred fifty thousand dollars. He is estimating $50,000 a month in cloud server costs for 3 months (after which he expects the game to start paying some of its own costs) as well as marketing, travel expenses, conventions, etc. I am still not seeing $800,000 as being a necessary goal, but so be it I guess.

    Our marketing guy raised this same issue and it was not met well. I am of the belief that as an Indie game being developed for iOS and Android, we could probably launch for $10,000 or less if we really needed to. I really don't see all these expenditures as being necessary. However, if he does manage to secure any decent amount of funding, I will be getting paid for my work, no matter how unsustainable the rate of spending is. This will include bank loans, which could potentially put him in a lot of debt, but I would still get paid initially and it would technically not be my worry from there. He's also in support of buying technology for all the groups with the funding received, including computers, software, and recording equipment.

    When he wanted to raise $75,000 from indiegogo and more than that from Kickstarter, I called it into question. He first wanted to raise the $250,000 from Kickstarter alone, but that would put us in the top 12 Kickstarter game launches ever, and not one of those have been a mobile game. Most have been inivative (like the Ouya gaming console) or have a following or a big name like Tim Schafer and Double Fine. He compared us to another game called StarForge, which is a completely different game (a First person shooter on PC) with a totally different market and gameplay strategy. They went on Indiegogo asking for $75K and got $130K. Our Project manager says he "doesn't see any reason we couldn't do even better than starforge" and thinks we have more to offer. In my opinion, we are offering a well thought out (and presumably well made) indie mobile game that will be fun and well constructed but not noteworthy. He sees it as a beacon of hope and a return to the morals of mobile gaming instead of just charging people for premium content and something innovative and fresh that people will be willing to shell out money for. I think we need to accept what we're offering and aim for much lower and see it as what it is.

    Contracts will be coming soon. My IP will stay my own until such time as I receive full payout for the agreed upon sums ($150 per song and $50 per sound effect, as well as the potential for bonuses or a portion of the original funding). If the funding doesn't pan out, I'm free to take my stuff and leave. In the meantime, it is keeping me busy and giving me a goal to work towards, as well as allowing me to gain valuable experience.

    In the end, do I stay for the experience? Is it my worry if I get paid and this guy bankrupts himself with expectations and expenditures that I know to be unreasonable? Is it OK to hang around if he gets the funding (even if he owes every bit of it back to somebody) even if the game doesn't get launched but he buys my assets? That is the way of the free market, and it his (potentially borrowed) money to spend on a business enterprise that he sees fit, but I can just see him going 6 figures in debt because of it. We're planning the crowdfunding campaign in January. I'm thinking of staying to see if funding pans out and then giving him time to see about these angel investors and other loans he's talking about. Should I stay until these are pursued and then leave if the money just won't come? I've never been in a situation like this. I like to trust my gut feeling, which says that the plan in this form will undoubtedly fail, but I don't know what that means for me. Advice is appreciated.

    Also, for those of us whose names are colored alcoholic beverages, I am 17 and the ages of members on the team vary greatly.
  2. It's not your risk really. Someone else is in line to put his money on the line and take on the debt. If you take on a salary you come out ahead, worst case scenario all you lose is the time you spent on it. And even that sounds like it isn't too long term of a project.

    Plus, you're 17 so you can probably afford to take a bit of risk for something you enjoy doing. So assuming you enjoy it I say you might as well pursue it with eyes wide open and hoping for the best.
  3. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Stick around. If it fails, you will learn a TON about what to do and what not to do.
  4. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    You don't have to worry about anything besides doing a good job and getting paid.
  5. I would stick around, do good work, get paid for it, and leave the business worries to the investors. Your risk is being associated with a failed project, leave it out of your CV.

    You could leave, be proven wrong and regret it. Some other guy gets to be the next big game sound writer.

    Maybe you have other opportunities you would rather to be getting into. Do that and don't look back. So long as you are doing good work your conscience is clear.

    What does it matter what an old wino thinks?
  6. Surely these investors aren't going to hand him that sort of money unless they expect a decent return? Investment companies are usually not run by fools. Either way, as everyone said, it's really not your problem. You raised your concerns, the boss disagreed, so if he wants to stick you on a fat wage, you may as well take it. I know nothing about the type of work you're doing, but at 17 I imagine you'll learn a lot from the experience. Plus, you never know, your boss could be right and the thing might make a fortune. Just make sure you get some stock options if that's the case.
  7. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    What do you personally have to worry about? I'd do it.

    It seems as though you'll get paid if you do the work, and if they don't pay, you can walk.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Well this project is going to trainwreck, hard. Since your a paid employee (and this isn't your day job) ride the train right up to the crash. You will get to walk away unscathed (and probably unpaid) but you will get a lot of insight in how to ruin something. Your project manager obviously has no idea how the whole system works, you do. You will never get that kind of cash on kickstarter for this game. You need real investors, which is something this guy cannot get. What you should be doing is working with what you got and hope that something good comes from the finished project, what the leader wants is to get paid the whole way through, not going to happen. If he wants somebody else to pay for the entire game I don't see why he didn't just sell the idea to another company and walk away to collect the rewards.

    Consider it as a cover band... your BL wants to get paid to learn the covers even before the first gig, even before the prospect of a first gig, without any kind of reputation in the industry... find investors for that, let me know how it works out.
  9. I used to write and produce jingles for a smallish jingle house doing major commercial work. I learned quickly that I was really only invested in my part of the project. In other words, I had nothing to worry about beyond the sound design and music. It seems to me that you may be a bit too emotionally invested in the other areas of the project. You should only concern yourself with doing the best sound design you can under whatever set of circumstances they present. Also, make sure your money is documented and walk if they try to lower your financial interests.

    If you do good work on a failed project you will still have some good material for your resume and your reel.
  10. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    So, I think this is the first "should I quit" thread in the history of TB where the prevailing opinion isn't "Yes, absolutely, of course, obviously, why haven't you quit already?"
  11. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Every business involves people who have different risk / reward strategies. The salaried people have low risk and a predictable but finite reward. The investors have high risk, but also the possibility for a very high reward. Any of us who works a salaried job is in the same boat as you, but maybe we're not quite so close to the nuts and bolts of the investment side of it.

    My suggestion: If you think that the investors are taking a risk, don't sweat it. So they lose a couple hundred thou. That's not the end of the world. All you need to take care of is whether the job that they are offering you makes sense.
  12. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    Wow, we are thinking the same. That is one of the first things I noticed also.
  13. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I'd stick with it as long as the checks are good. If you think you aren't going to get paid, take your material and run.

    Sounds like the guy is trying to get paid through leverage, and get a nice advance. It's common in some industries, but it's a risky endeavor none-the-less. You seem to know that it's risky, and it doesn't sound like you have much to lose. You have time to see how the risk plays out.
  14. throughthefire


    Oct 1, 2010
    Pretty much all this advice is business based (I've ran businesses for a long time... some successful, some not).

    Write the songs, and register them at the Library of Congress for copyright (http://copyright.gov) in YOUR name.

    When the game owners pay you, sign over *in writing* copyright for the songs you wrote.

    I don't think you can copyright a sound effect? I may be wrong.

    Make sure you have a contract in writing defining what you do, and the rate you should be paid. Also define the exact difference between a sound effect and a song; e.g how long does a song need to be before it qualifies for the 'song' distinction and higher rate of pay?

    Anyway; do what you're doing, and keep doing it until they fail to pay you and/or the project falls apart.

    The business aspects are none of your business; leave them to the owners (the project leader should not be involved in the financing, either; he doesn't have a clue).

    Whatever happens, do NOT become a full director in this debacle; otherwise you may become liable for its debts (even if the company is under LLC protection, you can still be sued if there are financial irregularities - which I can guarantee there will be)

    Remember to keep a record of all payments made and expenses paid, and do your taxes.
  15. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    I guess it all comes down to what your contract with this company has to say.

    I do not work in that industry so I don't know about any of the particulars as every field has it's own business/legal hurdles. I do not think that you need to worry too much about the companies debts other than whether or not you have a paycheck, but you already realize this is a temperary job anyway. Go for it, take the paychecks you get, add this to your resume and move on. Then play your game and enjoy.

    I think throughthefire has it right.